Monday, December 21, 2015

Far Cry 3

I had eyed up Far Cry 3 multiple times on Steam sales in the past but had not bought it due to not having a computer that could run it properly. It is not exactly my type of game either. Eventually I did buy it, though, to see how the Ubisoft radio tower climbing experience actually is.

With a Ubisoft title comes Uplay, a piece of software that does not seem very widely liked. I had heard things about it but I was not that concerned. People tend to exaggerate. Like many do not like Origin either, but I probably have had fewer problems with it than with Steam.

Someone on Steam forums suggested getting Uplay first because FC3 probably comes with an old version that needs to be updated and that might cause trouble. I thought that was a solid piece of advice. I followed it and did not have a single technical issue with Uplay while I played FC3. The ad pop-ups when exiting the game were slightly annoying, though. On Steam and Origin they can be turned off.

GeForce Experience's supposedly optimized settings seriously failed me this time, suggesting the DSR option like with Thief. I guess Dunia Engine 2 the game runs on is more demanding than Unreal as my rig could only reach 30+ FPS with the super-sampling on. Thus I just ran the game in my monitor's native resolution.

I also had to switch the ambient occlusion setting from the suggested HBAO as that made every object and character have very off-putting shadowy outlines. Otherwise I was quite happy with how the game looked. The graphics are probably FC3's best aspect. There could be more variation in environments, however. Even the most life-like tropical jungle gets stale when it is all that there is.

Gameplay-wise Far Cry 3 did not feel very good at the beginning. Killing enemies (I played on normal difficulty) was challenging and the oddly placed mini-map on the lower left-hand corner was quite distracting. You cannot even stop it from rotating. Eventually I learned to ignore it and shooting, too, got better once I started getting the signature weapons. You do not even have to play that long to get the first ones.

The SMG and sniper rifle were my favorites. Maybe the latter could have been silenced but the explosive shots made up for it. The assault rifle on the other hand turned out to be quite the disappointment for the effort getting it requires (activating all the 18 radio towers). The SMG felt much better and more effective compared to it. And the rifle's suppressor did not matter at that point as I was at maximum level and taking outposts undetected served no purpose anymore.

I wonder why the first outpost the game pushes you to take has dogs in it. They make stealth capture considerably more difficult and one would think it would make sense to start from an easier outpost. I tried a good while before succeeding without detection. The lack of manual saving in the game made it more annoying than necessary as well.

Halfway through the game I also learned that enemies founding corpses does not negate a stealth capture. As long as they do not see you, you are considered undetected. Knowing that would have made things simpler.

With hindsight I should not have bothered with stealth at all, though. I beat the game with 100% completion, and for a considerable part of the end game I was no longer getting experience. I wish all games had some sort of minor progression system after the main upgrades are full. Something like the paragon levels in Diablo 3. It would not feel such a waste to explore the game after you have been maxed out.

I feel the wingsuit was given way too late into the game. It would have been nice to have it on the first island. Similarly limiting was the need to craft bags to able to carry stuff. And the way you progress in tiers felt artificial to say the least. Why could you not just go for the best bag right away? But at least you then get to carry four weapons among other things, which was quite the luxury compared to some other shooters I have played this year.

While the story in Far Cry 3 is not terrible, playing it is not something I would call a great experience. The story missions are not particularly exciting and sometimes even very limiting, like the one where you burn marijuana crops. Your character, Jason Brody, seems enthusiastic about it but I just wished the crops would burn quicker to end mission as fast as possible. And then the game resorts to awful QTE sections for boss fights, as if the developers could not figure out how to do actual ones in a first person shooter.

None of the characters in Far Cry 3 felt relatable or even likable. Maybe that is why so many of them end up dying. Jason annoyed me every time he opened his mouth and even Vaas -- whom many have praised as great villain -- failed to make an impression on me.

From what I have seen, Far Cry 3 is a typical Ubisoft game. It has lots of unnecessary gamification, and the world is open but is filled with the same activities. The later Ubisoft titles seem to follow the exact same formula and I think that I do not need to buy the following FC or even Assassin's Creed titles. I think I have seen enough from the developer/publisher now already.

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