Thursday, 30 October 2008

Bored by Far Cry 2

After four days, I've come to the conclusion that like many big budget releases, it wasn't quite what it was billed as .....

Nice game world, very pretty graphics, plenty of space to explore. And it definately said huge draw distance on the box ...... well, not really, apart from some parts of open savannah it's still pretty claustrophobic, battles still take place at what in reality is very short range, and dense foliage and meandering cliffs keep the visual range down.

But it is pretty, and graphics are something which have always been spurred on by the FPS genre. And the world is big and open, but with what Ubisoft give with one hand, Ubisoft take away with the other....

The plot is utterly linear, not quite the freedom of choice to work for which ever group I wanted to. The AI cheats (acceptable only when you can't tell it's doing it - a horrifying blow to game world immersion when it's so blatant). There's the slightest of excuses when you accept a mission for a faction and are then told it's secret so everyone you are working for will shoot at you.

That's just a poor excuse for not having to bother with thinking, teams, or real tactics. And then there are sequences were you are set up to be trapped and fail because the devs couldn't think of a more imaginative way to get you from section of the game to another. Again the open ended nature of the gaming environment circumnavigated to linear progression.

So, it's accept mission, blast way across country to objective area, blast objective area, blast way back through respawned enemies and checkpoints exactly as they were the first time to get to debriefing. Repeat.

And if Rambo wasn't bad enough, random encounters. I mean random encounters?! The bane of RPGs since inception. Nothing happening? Enjoying the view? Doing an impression of Attenborough and spotting the cute zebras? Random spawning truck appears and crashes into you all guns blazing.

I don't take Ritalin, I don't have a deficit in my attention, I don't fiddle with my gun if I don't move in 10 seconds. But the game does. Keep still for 10 seconds, feel free to look around with the mouse, but don't use the walk/movement keys. When lying in wait to ambush an enemy or simply enjoying the scenery your view is suddenly obscured by your character fidgeting with their firearm for no good reason. It takes literally seconds, not of inactivity, but not walking for this to happen. Back in the day when trolling meant something, games used to play animations or dialogue after several minutes of complete inactivity (i.e. Tomb Raider - "Are you still there?"), but really..... seconds?

And that is a good illustration of the mentalitly of the game. It's not the Thinking Man's FPS, it's a shallow Rambo game with pretty trees and linear, repetitive game play.

At least the dialogue was superior to most games.

"Wait for my signal, then you come in all Vin Diesel like and top the See You Next Thursday" - that made me laugh, though I've noticed that British characters get a lot more vitriolic swearing in games than other nationalities. Can't remember hearing an American accent in a game say See You Next Thursday.

At least the swearing in this doesn't seem off, unlike in say my pet hate Crysis. The hackneyed dialogue was the real crisis there, not North Koreans or an alien invasion. It seemed to have been written by a petulant teenager who had read the Big Red Book of Cliches.

Remember kids, swearing isn't big or clever, regardless of whether the desperate execs of big games publishers happen to think it's how to corner the "mature" market.
"We need to make our games seem more exciting, darker (I hate that term...), throw in the F-bomb and plenty of claret so we get the nc-17/rated18. That way the kids'll think it's really mature to play it."
Maybe they just listen in on XBL too much.....

Anyhow, four days off, so back to my own devepment.

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