One of my most beloved games of the past year is the sprawling and, at times, painfully ambitious Far Cry 2. The trouble is, I’m not entirely sure why I loved playing through it so much. At times I felt so immersed that I came close to retrieving my extra strength sun lotion from the back of the bathroom cupboard for fear of actually getting a sunburnt nose. Meanwhile, at others, I could have easily ejected and tossed the disc from my open window into the rainy night.
It is, without doubt, a game of extremes.
My love/hate relationship with this open-world FPS continues to intensify the longer I have been away from its grip. This has brought me to the conclusion that, rather than crying over spilt milk, I should concentrate on what its follow-up – tentatively titled Far Cry 3 – should add to make the series that little bit better. Welcome to the first edition of our new feature: Here’s a thought…
Friends don’t let friends get friend’s heads blown off
While I absolutely reveled in the feeling of loneliness and vulnerability FC2provided me with, I was left less impressed to know that I could kill rather indiscriminately. For a title that attempted to forcefully mould the player into a state of blood lust, it was disheartening to know that you would (almost) never come across an ally or, more importantly, a civilian on one of your many long journeys. When you did, they were usually inside a building and your gun would become unavailable.
While you do encounter “buddies” (more on those later) in FC2, they only appear when you’re shot down, or when they can’t take care of themselves and need your help. Therefore, unless they are around, you literally must hate everybody in sight. In this sense, the experience differs very little from the Space Invaders’, Doom’s and Super Mario Bros.’ of yesteryear.
There will be far more weight to the Far Cry 3 experience if there are checkpoints manned by soldiers that aren’t absolutely intent on shooting out your Jeep’s engine from sixty yards away, then running you over while simultaneously riddling your brain with bullets. Surely the “ceasefire zone” AI would be simple enough to manipulate for it to be included throughout sections of the map.
Far Cry 3 needs a more bustling environment, populated by a combination of friendly soldiers, civilians and those pesky psychos with amazing firing accuracy. Your main buddies must appear at less scripted moments, leaving you eager to know whether they’ll be around to save your butt or just passing by when you fancy a little chat.
This would lead to players becoming extra careful while taking aim at enemies and provide a welcome reminder that there is actually some good left in the human race. Meanwhile, the possibility of becoming a deranged murderer who takes out everyone and everything would also loom large for the more “experimental” among us.
Leaving on a jetplane, don’t know if I’ll be back again. Will you come with me?
“Massive” is the only word I can use to describe Far Cry 2‘s world. But is it big for nothing? It soon became tiresome to be driving across miles of desert and jungle to reach destinations that constantly seemed frustratingly far. Granted, this was part of the challenge – Ubisoft’s way of coaxing the player into ignoring certain paths in favor of the easier and selfish, yet less rewarding, ones – but it was far too confrontational to please the majority of players and, in the grand scheme of things, mattered very little.
Far Cry 3 should differentiate itself from its predecessor by better seducing the player into exploring equally large areas. To do this, there will need to be greater reward, a carrot dangling in front of the donkey, if you will: contrasting environments and buddies that stick with you.
Imagine playing through the first map for ten hours, knowing that eventually you would end up transported to somewhere completely different. The sandy railroads of Far Cry 2 could eventually become urban subway routes; African warlords being replaced by street thugs who’ve never so much as watched a documentary on the huge continent. Thrown from one extreme to the other as the story takes a twist that requires a long haul flight rather than an extension of the initial area, or the reparation of a bridge, would be hugely refreshing for both Far Cry and sandbox gaming as a whole.
What’s more, Far Cry 3 should suggest that players seriously consider their buddies (the guys and girls that would conveniently ask you to go out of your way before a mission in FC2) throughout. If you’re loyal, these people will travel with you to new locales and even accompany you, Rainbow Six-style, on tough missions. Snub them and you’ll be on your own when the proverbial shit hits the fan.
choice Rolls Royce
For a game that demanded you to travel around for miles upon miles, FC2 sure was short on varying modes of transport. While I realise that one couldn’t expect a Bentley to roll around in, the 2008 instalment would have provided a far rounder experience with a couple of motorbikes, a helicopter and even a bicycle to get from A to B on.
By throwing in a new urban environment in, Far Cry 3would push Ubisoft’s engine to the limit in terms of on-screen action, but you must wonder how games like GTA IV and Saint’s Row 2 can manage to have so much going on at once.
Therefore, in order to keep up with the times and bring enough to the table to keep players coming back, FC3 must up the ante in terms of vehicles. I’m not calling for an overload of cars and boats, just a few more to keep things a little more interesting.
They are the jungle! But they shouldn’t be!
My final request – before I lose you all by writing too many words – is the improvement of enemy AI. Having to deal with knowing that everybody in sight is out to get you is one thing, but then realising that they will spot you from a long way away, when it is rather impossible to do so, is another matter entirely.
Far Cry 3 must allow for players to use stealth tactics to sneak around enemies easier. By somehow failing to include this in the last outing, Ubisoft Montreal were again guilty of producing gameplay mechanics that harked back to the early 1990s, including the complete uselessness of silent weaponry. Spoiler: Everybody knows you’ve just sliced his throat.
FC2 did appear to have some kind of system whereby soldiers would have less chance of spotting you at night, but it was implemented in such a watered-down fashion that it was hardly worth the hassle. This time around it must give the player the chance to feel in control of situations via the utilisation of clever movement, use of cover and silenced weapons – whether knives or guns – not to mention an acknowledgement that people don’t have eyes in the back their heads that can see for miles.
So there you have it. Again, I’d like to point out that Far Cry 2 was, for me, a great game… I guess that I just feel Ubisoft would be missing a trick by not pushing for what could well be one of the great FPS games: Far Cry 3. Here’s a thought… Sign up to Gamer Limit here and let us know what you think by writing a blog that could well feature on our front page.