Steampowered Sunday #3
I guess at this point Steampowered Sunday is a real thing now. I have friends nudging me in certain directions towards games I have in my steam list that I have yet to play. Today I intended to play one game, but wound up playing another as I didn’t really plan ahead and pre-emptively install it. So instead I decided to choose a game I did install over the Christmas break but never got around to playing. One of my good friends snagged Far Cry 3 from my Steam wish list and gifted it to me during the insane Christmas sale. I had always heard really amazing things about the game, so it sounded like something I would enjoy.
Already Installed DirectX Checkbox
Be warned today’s post is going to be far more about the frustrations of trying to play a game… than actually playing one. I had installed Far Cry 3 beforehand, but never actually fired it up. So of course when I went to launch the game I had to suffer through the usual steam bullshit that involves installing every driver and redistributable known to man. You would think that by now steam would have figured out a way to set a machine level flag that says “we’ve made this sucker install directx over 10 times, surely we can take it easy on him now”. On top of the normal bullshit… I had to deal with something I had never seen before called UPlay.
I guess this means that I have never actually played a Ubisoft game on the PC, since this seems to be required to play any of them. For starters it took a truly silly amount of time to download and install, and then it prompted me for a login. Since I didn’t think I had an account, I stubbed out the normal “Belghast” login, only to be told that it already existed. At this point I scratch my head because maybe at some point in the past I did in fact set up UPlay. I notice there is a handy reset password option, so I went through the steps to reset it to my email address.
At no point did it say “dumbass you don’t have an account”, it just said it would be sending an email to reset my password. I waited a truly silly amount of time, refreshing the email window, and apparently locked my account out in the process. However no emails actually arrived even after scanning the bowels of my gmail account, and sifting through half a dozen broken english versions of “your battle.net account is being banned” phishing attempts. Turns out I am guessing I really do not have a UPlay account, either that or it was somehow set up on the PS3 and seemingly irrelevant to my PC. So either this happened or there really are more Belghasts out in the world, as a result I had to set up my account on an old username that used for years.
So finally I am able to log into the game and launch it. I am greeted by the usual cinematic that I ignore and keep pressing the escape key trying to skip out of as soon as possible. It appears that I am a rich d-bag, and have equally rich and d-bag friends that are amped about spending my trust fund on an island vacation. Apparently also at some point we think it is a great idea to skydive onto a pirate held island… because you know the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney never harmed us… so surely the real thing will just give us candy or something. Color me surprised when we manage to get kidnapped and held for ransom so our equally rich and d-bag parents to pay.
At this point after spending the first hour of the morning trying to get into the game due to the frustration that is UPlay… I am wanting to slaughter everything in sight. Just give me a gun, point me in the direction of a slaver and I will go Rambo on their asses and save the day. Conveniently for me, every single bad guy in the game seems to be wearing the same red shirt and red hat… making it super handy for drawing crosshairs down on them. I love it when bad guys shop at the same place, because I can’t be bothered to think before blowing them away.
But Wait… Stealth Time
There are few things I hate more in the world, than having to sneak around and be stealthy in video games. So when I finally get control of my character what do I get to do? Sneak around and avoid being seen as I play through a super on-rails cinematic. This is one of the things that frustrates me the most about modern games… namely those that started their life originally as a console game. They seem to relish the concept of making you play through a bunch of shit before actually letting you play the game. If I have to follow a predetermined path, while doing a sequence of events that are unchangeable… it is a cinematic. Letting me control my character as I go through the cinematic just makes it all the more unhinging.
For me the ideal intro to a game like this is the Elder Scrolls style… you arrive as a prisoner, someone breaks out out and then bam you are on your merry way causing mayhem. I guess the more I think about it… Oblivion and Skyrim both had some pretty frustrating “follow the dumbass npc” sequences early on… but they felt brief enough and in both cases you got to diverge from the script heavily if you desired. This on the other hand was sneaking about following a path set aside by your macho army brother… all the while you have nothing that you can really do other than throwing some rocks. Man I am a badass at throwing rocks… let me tell you.
Can It Be Fun Time?
So despite your best attempts at avoiding being seen… your dumbass brother runs right into the pistol of the big baddy that you met earlier in the cage. So you get to play a fun game of trying to mash your space bar hard enough to keep your brother from bleeding out. Guess what… he bleeds out regardless of how hard you play whack a mole with your keyboard. In a strange turn of events… instead of just shooting you in the back like you would think the big ultimate bad guy would do…. he decides to release you out into the jungle. So once again I am thinking to myself… man can I finally have control of my character? Can I finally play this game and do shit at my own pace? NOPE!!!
What you get to do now is have a weird sequence as you run through the jungle avoiding bears and helicopters flying over, flashing the tree line with spotlights and trying to shoot you. During this odd sequence you are once again following a predetermined path, and you seem to be able to take damage but never actually die. At one point it told me to bandage myself, which I did… but it really did not seem to have much to do with success or fail. Eventually I followed the path, went out onto a rope bridge… I lost a fight with a helicopter and just like baby Moses got tossed into a river only to get found by a seemingly friendly stranger.
Thanks Three Dog
While he sounds absolutely nothing like him… this dude for some reason reminds me of Three Dog from Fallout 3. So I completely missed his name, because in my head he will forever be Three Dog. Basically he saved you because you have the heart of a warrior… which if funny because up until this point all your character has done is whine constantly about being in the jungle. I seriously expected him to break out the Dante from Clerks “I’m not even supposed to be here today”. Essentially he sets up the premise of the story. The pirate slavers are taking over the island and these mystical tattoo warriors are fighting back. Since you escaped the camp alive, you are going to be their great white hope to save the day. You will learn powers that somehow show up on your tattoo because… magic reasons.
So at this point… I am finally starting to wonder if I get to play the game yet or not. Three Dog gives you some cash and lets you go shopping for a weapon… which basically means you get to buy a pistol… because all you can afford is a pistol. Now he sends you out into the jungle on a few missions… the first of them is to destroy a jammer on a near by radio tower. All in all this goes pretty safely other than the fact there is a static spawn snake that just sits there are the base of the tower. A bullet to the head and you are up the tower and mapping the world. It seems that as you open up the towers you allow the vendors to get new and spiffier stuff.
Once the actual game started after wading through what felt like three hours of bullshit… it was pretty fun. Essentially the game play is a lot like Just Cause 2, where you move around the map weakening the presence of the enemy forces in your area. Unlike Just Cause however you actually capture the elements for your blue team. Unlocking new stuff gives you new power-ups in the form of magical tattoo powers, and unlocks new weapons. Additionally in each outpost you capture there is a mission board that gives you hunting and kill missions. Hunting seems extremely important in the game as it allows you to upgrade your backpack… allowing you to carry more weapons and equipment.
The kill missions however seem extremely frustrating. I took the first one, and like always I paid little attention to the mission introduction. Look I am a big dumb monkey, give me a gun and point me in the direction of the enemies and I will destroy them. I however rapidly failed the mission because guess what they wanted me to do… that’s right sneak around and do some ninja stuff, using the nifty new takedown move that Three Dog just taught me. I have a feeling that if this is the case… I will likely avoid these entirely because like I said before… stealth is not a thing that Belghasts do best.
Will It Blend?
All in all the game really is pretty fun, once they actually let you play it. This game would have been so much better had they just created a simple reason for you to escape and let you pick up from the moment you get rescued by Three Dog without having to suffer through the horrible on-rails pseudo game play. Hell I feel like it would have been better had your parachute just landed you in the middle of the native camp, and they simply told you that your family was captured. Bam instant call to action, and instant adventure time. If you can suffer through two hours of crap, then the game is pretty fun, or maybe you don’t dislike the modern on-rails psuedo-cinematic as much as I do.
In either case it is worth a play through, so long as you don’t end up paying much for the game. This is definitely not going to be in the same league for me as Skyrim, Bioshock, Dishonored or even Just Cause 2. However it is still pretty fun and I like the map control aspect of the gameplay. I just wish there was more direct action early on that let me run amok and cause mayhem. Granted you have to understand that I have not played Far Cry 2 either, I have only actually played the first one. In that game you pretty much dropped straight into the action, and I was expecting the same from Far Cry 3. I figured sooner or later I would give a review that I didn’t just absolutely gush over the game like I did about Hammerwatch and to a lesser extent Steamworld Dig. I give Far Cry 3… 3 Mehs out of Meh.