Sunday, February 10, 2013

Far Cry 3: Beaten

By which I mean the main story is beaten.  Yes, I have...a lot of the side-content tied up as well, all the radio towers sorted, all the outposts liberated, most of the hunts completed, etc. etc. but the crowning achievement is, clearly, finishing the story to the game.  The rest is just the gravy to that meat, if you will.  Continuing the metaphor, I will say that I do believe I preferred the gravy to the meat by the time the last portions were scattered about my plate which is rather unfortunate.  To the point where I can comfortably say that I'm glad that I'm -done- with that because now I can just focus on flying around the island (sometimes literally thanks to the wingsuit) and picking up things, doing things for the last few bits of single-player trophies so that I can move on to the next game.

I could review Far Cry 3.  I kind of wanted to review it.  But we'd all be better served if I simply deferred you all towards Chance's review of the game which was the sole galvanizing factor that inspired my own purchase and playthrough.  I agree with his review 95% where my only take-aways are perhaps more my own grievances than actual issues with the game.

Which is exactly why I'm going to spend the rest of this post pointing them out.

I'm going to one-up Chance here for my first point.  To his statement that Hoyt is a little disappointing and boring after Vaas, I will see that and raise it with the statement that the entirety of the game after Vaas is just a mess.  A lot of Far Cry 3's personality, a lot of its build and its structure was made on the back of Vaas.  Not only just his character, his performance and what he stood for, but his counter-point to Jason Brody.  The imagery is plentiful in the game and the marketing - Vaas and Jason are one in the same, cut from the same cloth so to speak - it's just that Vaas has fully given in to himself, his whims and his psychoses whereas Jason still has that shred of humanity still.  They're perfectly played off of one another and the foundation of the entire game is built on top of their rivalry.

When Vaas is out of the picture, he takes part of that foundation away.  That looming threat of his way of thinking finally perveying its way into Jason's head, that idea that, perhaps, Jason could aspire to something more than the pissant with a knife stumbling through the jungle, even if it's not something tasteful.  Though, that's not entirely fair as Jason does eventually find his footing, he grows and becomes a warrior in his own right, but with Vaas around, being what inspired that change mostly out of fear, there was always a chance of regression.  Vaas was Jason's fear and without Vaas, Jason is simply the flaming sword of retribution, poised to cut a charring swath through the rest of the organization Vaas was a part of.

Which sounds really cool, right?  You would think that would be awesome.

But it's....just not.

After all that build with Vaas, Hoyt might as well have been some hobo they dragged in off of the street.  And in execution, that's....basically what he was.  You go from this story where the protagonist and antagonist are just five paces removed from one another to a story where the protagonist sees the antagonist as a target and the antagonist sees the protagonist as a rat.  It's bland and uninspired .  To their credit, the actors involved (Hoyt and Jason's VAs, I mean) try and they do nicely in their jobs, but you're only as good as what you have to work with and what they had to work with just wasn't good.  Hoyt -could- have been made interesting, even in the wake of Vaas, but it simply wasn't in the cards (ha!) for him and that is really unfortunate.

Similarly disjointed was the change in pace from the game's wonderfully crafted and personal ideas in the jungle, in the Vaas sections, to the areas in Hoyt's section that involve you shooting about twenty privateers per mission while also blowing up at least two things with not much else to it.  It's a delicious display of destruction to be sure, but it's all style and no substance.  Where I was having fun with the story missions beforehand, I simply saw the latter group as chores to be worked through.  Inevitably, each mission, I just ended up being forced to run from cover to cover, plinking away with my Bushman Assault Rifle all the while, looking wistfully off to the side where variety sat, waiting to be utilized again in the form of sections where I could actually pull off stealth (the missions allowed for very few places to hide and stalk from, forcing you into the open, and whenever a body was found, no matter the circumstances, everybody knew it was -you- that put it there); areas where sniper rifles where the weapon of the day, where I could take my time and remember what it was like, being able to savor the moment when Jason inhales, lines up a perfect shot and pulls the trigger, exhaling as a spray of red bursts into the air like fireworks on a summer's eve.

While "the last third of the story pretty much sucks" might be a damning statement to most games (and likely should be one here), I can't help but state that, you know what?  It's all just water under the bridge.  When you're playing Far Cry 3, enjoying all of the nuances you find yourself getting more and more comfortable with, there's almost nothing to compare it to.  It's breath-takingly gorgeous, the jungle feels alive and the games many, many reasons to explore only reinforce that again and again.  Most of all, getting around, carving out your own story in the backyards of the Rook Islands is just fun - no bones about it.  I can't even begin to regale the stories that I have about each and every outpost that I liberated today - because there is a story for each one - which is an amazing thing in itself.  It manages to strike a perfect balance for any type of playthrough that you might be doing, which is something we clamor for and laud when we find the scant few examples of such a thing that we have.

It's for that reason that my big long angry rant about the Hoyt section and all that's involved is just my 5% of straying out of complete agreement with Chance's glowing review.  And in a sense, it's not even much of disagreeing, I'm just hammering on something far more than he did.  The capacity for sheer fun that Far Cry 3 has within its confines is staggering, and that makes it a truly great game.  Definitely one of 2012's best, which is something I certainly never would have expected before I played it.

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