Comparing Games Pt.2: TWD (and Far Cry 2) vs Far Cry 3

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I better write this soon, before I forget what Far Cry 3 was like. I really did try to forget about it though, for a whole week after I finished the game. I’ll start with some positivity! (Post Script: Today, I learned that no matter what I do, I always have a lot to talk about. A blessing and a curse; prepare for a long sit.)

Some things I really enjoyed about were…

  1. Being able to approach the game in a wide variety of ways.
  2. A world (more than just physical world) that gave me a reason to explore and a lot of fun things to do.

But of course, these things weren’t perfect. It might even have been more painful to have them be imperfect after they presented so much potential. (If you’d rather skip to the part where I *compare* the games instead of spouting my opinion about only one, please scroll all the way down. But close your eyes, there are some big (IMO) spoilers down there.

 

Number One – The Variety of Approaches Available

When I started the game, I immediately knew how I wanted to play it. I wanted to play it like an Assassin’s Creed game. The stealth mechanics were way too fun to ignore. The thing I might’ve liked most about FC3 was the vast character customization in it. It reminded me of an MMORPG, with skills in different trees and linked to each other, based on progression. I knew how I wanted to play and it gave me the tools to play that way. Great.

Over the course of the game, I strived to “liberate” outposts by eliminating every enemy silently and without anyone else noticing. This gave nearly triple the xp (if I recall correctly) than what I’d normally earn from taking the outpost another way. (I also did this because it was a prerequisite to one of the character upgrades. If I wanted to be able to silently sprint by the end of the game, which would’ve been terribly useful, I needed to take a certain amount of outposts without being seen.)

This was potentially the most time-consuming way to approach the game. In my opinion, it was also the most rewarding. I’d spend maybe 20 minutes scouting a base and making a plan before striking. As the game went on though, it (obviously) got harder to keep people from noticing me. About halfway through the game, it became almost impossible to keep enemies from coming across a dead body, and start sprinting around telling everyone else in the place. This frustrated me. Something I enjoyed so much, gradually became some unreachable goal.

One day, I came up behind an outpost, crawling through the jungle as I always did. Most of the gaurds held machetes and shotguns. At the first sign of trouble, they’d come charging to find me. (Chargers, they were called.) They definitely weren’t the kind of enemies I could be sloppy with, but what made the outpost so hard to take silently was how they all had each other in their sight. Kill one, and they’d all notice.

At first, I thought “Screw it” and threw a grenade over the fence between me and them. It took 1 or 2 of them but made the rest of them swarm the forest, looking for me. I wasn’t prepared to take half a dozen angry pirates; I’d been roaming around with a silenced SMG, a silenced sniper rifle with a high-power scope, and a compound bow. I died and respawned nearby. Instead of demonstrating the definition of insanity, I decided to try stealth one more time.

It was already established that I couldn’t take the place by force, at least not with my current weapon set up and I had no other weapons because, up to that point, I’d only played the game stealthily. So I took my eyes off of the machete-bros and looked for a way to get a step up on them. I found two snipers camped out roof tops, just overlooking the little courtyard where everyone was hanging out. I could take the snipers out silently and have a better view of the place. So that’s what I did, using my skills to get around the courtyard and behind the buildings with snipers. That’s where I found my big break. There was a caged tiger, previously hidden from me, now across from me in the courtyard. They’ll know that something’s up, I thought, but at least I’ll have time to take some of them out. I shot open the door and immediately, the tiger mauled the guy kneeling in front of the cage. All the other guys turn to shoot at it and I use that time to gracefully remove the backs of their brains with my bullets.

At least I’m still alive, I think to myself, taking in the sloppy mess of cleared outpost. But they must’ve known someone was out to get them; they must’ve known that I’d arrived. I didn’t like that. The usual message popped up.

“Outpost liberated,” as I expected. But then, something I didn’t expect: “Undetected.” Turns out, it doesn’t matter to the game whether or not your enemies know that someone’s bumping people off. To remain “undetected”, they just never have to see you.

I just wish somebody told me earlier. That’s another problem with this nearly perfect game. There are apparently some important things that you have to find out on your own. Just a few.

I have to admit though, apart from some things that made the game a little really easy (being able to see spotted enemies through walls), the gameplay was amazing. If not for some painfully awful things (maybe just one thing: the story), I’d play this game over and over again. But it isn’t time yet for that particular topic. I’m not done talking about the things I loved about FC3 yet.

Number 2 – A Beautiful World to Explore (the physical islands and the stories behind them)

Another thing I love about this game is the world it let you explore. It was visually beautiful; a mixture of island huts, villages, and slums; relic, crumbling WWII bunkers and rusty anti-air cannons, standing firmly against an invasion that never came; and damp, mossy ruins from a civilization past. And of course, the jungles, rivers, and mountains of the place.

Every area had its own identity, from mountains to caves and tiny islands, each with their own secrets. Every building had a story to tell, sometimes quite literally through Lost Letters that could be found still held tightly by the decomposing bodies of the soldiers they were entrusted to. I was hooked on finding them from the very first letter. It told the story of a group of Japanese soldiers, stationed at the island during the Second World War. The letters came from a few different soldiers and a scientist who accompanied them. This is what I learned of the soldiers, revealed in the order which I read them since they came in parts that could be found in any order.

SPOILERS NOW. I KNOW I’LL STILL BASH THE GAME LATER BUT, IN MY OPINION, THIS WAS THE BEST PART OF THE GAME. If you plan on playing this game, please avert thyne eyes.

The soldiers were sick and dying, some of infection, most of a strange illness. The Major went crazy and killed a private. The Major believed that the Private was a weak soldier. The Private told the Major that the radios were scrambled. The Major needed the news to organize their defence of the island. He was convinced that the Americans would land at any time. He wondered if the island was really cursed as the legends said.

But the Private, his name was Tadao, also wrote a letter. To his wife and daughter. It started with the words “I know you will never read this…” Private Tadao was in charge of the radios. Before he destroyed them, he heard news about his hometown, Hiroshima, and how the war was over. He didn’t want anyone else to know the sadness that he knew.

These letters had me poring over every inch of the map, looking for anything that looked like Japanese ruins (until I realized that I could buy treasure maps cheaply. The sense of adventure was taken out of it a little but I already hated the game by then.) But then I started coming across letters that were… less than interesting.

Did the soldiers survive? How did they feel in that situation? Did they ever find out what happened back home in Japan? No, they all died of sickness. Then there were some boring, emotionless letters from a scientist who was involved in a secret project of no actual significance. And some letters about an evil monkey. I felt like I got ripped off. Nothing else to say about it.

Spoilers off.

Oh, and I forgot to mention. Those ancient, indigenous ruins? They don’t tell nearly as much of a story as the bunkers did. Generic warrior culture, it seemed to me, for the most part. How’d they build such grandious structures? Seems to me all they did was fight. But who did they fight? Other than the occasional asian invader, there really wasn’t anyone to fight. Perhaps they fought each other. The game never hinted at that, as far as I could tell.

All in all, I think it was a beautiful game. It blended so many things that it almost didn’t seem possible that so much interesting could fit on one island (technically 2). But for every great story that the game started… it ended a dozen badly. Right. It’s that time of day. It’s time to be negative. I have a feeling that I’ll speed through this part. Negativity is really tiring. This post may or may not have taken 3 hours to write so far. Lol.

The Part Where I Actually Compare the Games that I’ve Mentioned in the Title

I think that the weakest part of Far Cry 3 is the story. The only thing that kept me playing was the amount of fun it was. When I ran out of fun, I played for the Lost Letters, an epistolary(means written through letters) side-story that started off more interesting than the main story but ended terribly. When I ran out of Lost Letters, I played to get to the end because I was only a few hours away from it and I thought I might as well finish it before I moved onto something that seemed more interesting at the time (Dishonored).

“But [Insert Name Here]! You don’t even play games with stories! How can you be so critical about the only one you do play?”

Throughout the game, I looked for characters to connect to. The main character, in my opinion, didn’t have enough personality to connect to. As far as I could feel, he was just a blank canvas for me to paint on. He was who I chose him to be. But that didn’t help.I met other characters in the game and I looked for ways to help them out, like I used to on Far Cry 2. But there was no such thing. The game’s narrative was painfully linear, and the only choice you do get to make seems to (don’t quote me on this) somehow mock you.

The Walking Dead taught me that being given powerful options that are tied to how deep, relatable characters react to you creates a very immersive game. Far Cry 2 taught me that characters whose existances are relevant to the gameplay, if not so much to the narrative, can get people emotionally invested in the game.

In my opinion, the gameplay for TWD wasn’t much fun. But guess what? I didn’t care. I was emotionally invested. Far Cry 2 is similar. The world in it is quite boring, not that pretty (I don’t think a majority of the game is meant to be pretty), and the action gets repetitive. But I still found nice things in it, in the people I met and the things we went through.

Far Cry 3 was more fun than both of these games. It’s gameplay was much, much more fluid, intuitive, and satisfying. But a single thing ruined it, for me at least. There wasn’t anything *human* to hold onto. (Well, there were a couple things but…) It is a beautiful game but the higher you are, the farther you’re liable fall, and the game just happened to fall in one aspect.

I heard news (don’t quote me on any of this) that the story of the game is supposed to be a satire, making fun of the world of violent video games and the hormonally unstable teenagers and young adults who play them and are unwilling or unable to mentally separate them from the real world. But if at the end of the game, I’m audibly shouting (in my head) for a guy who I spent half the game trying to kill to come save me from how boring it all is, I think you’ve just made a bad video game. Sorry.

Come back soon for Part 3, where I promised to really compare things! I’ll try my best!

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