Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Many (Minor) Missteps of Far Cry 3


Guys, I'm hooked on Far Cry 3. Seriously, somebody pull me away from this thing. I've beaten the story, cleared out all the outposts, and collected all the relics, letters, and memory cards. And now I'm considering starting it all over again because there's no one left to kill.

But when you spend this much time with a game, you really start to notice all the minor flaws. After spending dozens of hours running, swimming, gliding, spelunking, and parachuting over every inch of Rook Island, I'm starting to notice the seams.

Even great games have little niggling issues, and this one is no different. They don't detract significantly from the overall experience, but they're there nonetheless. Here are all the things that have been bugging me while playing Far Cry 3.




Constant Notifications

Every time you pick up a relic. Every time you pick up a letter. Every time you pick up a memory card. Every time you fill up your loot rucksack. Every time you get a skill point. Every time there's a new objective. Every time you harvest a new plant. Every time you skin a new animal. Every time you meet a new person. Every time you go to a new location, drive a new vehicle, or use a new weapon.

Far Cry 3 is always bugging you to read something, manage something, or spend something, and it all totally breaks the flow. I don't care about the description of a bear while it's mauling me. I don't care about the description of a hibiscus flower when I'm just trying to make a healing syringe in the middle of a firefight. And good lord, I don't care about the descriptions of any of the relics ever because they're all the same description.

There's no option to turn any of it off (yet) so for right now, you'll just have to endure all the nagging pop-ups.




Mountain Climbing

How am I even supposed to scale this? I'll tell you how: by going all the way around and finding the developer-designated pathway up. Sometimes you can finesse your way up by continually sprinting and jumping, but it feels really clunky and you might end up sliding all the way down to the bottom.

For a game that gives you easy access to cars, ATVs, jet skis, hang gliders, infinite parachutes, and eventually a badass wingsuit, it feels a little prudish that you don't just have a grappling hook or some climbing pickaxes.




Context-Sensitive Buttons

In the middle of a chaotic firefight, this can mean a swift (and frustrating) death. Sometimes, when I'm low on health and I start holding triangle, the game thinks I'm trying to switch weapons. Sometimes, it decides that I didn't actually want it to do anything at all, that I just wanted it to know I'm still here. But no, game, I'm trying to hurry up and start the long heal animation so I don't die.

It's even worse in co-op and multiplayer where you'll launch into a reload animation instead of reviving a downed teammate and end up dying yourself as you just stand there over your friend like an idiot, reloading.




Lack Of Healing Options

In Far Cry 3, you heal yourself with medical syringes you craft from specific green plants you can harvest around the island. If you don't have any syringes, you'll launch into a painful-looking animation like the one above.

Now, when I'm embroiled in a hectic shootout with a dozen guys and a tiger on a burning hilltop, I don't mind burning one of my syringes to heal quickly and get back in the game. But when I'm alone and safe and have plenty of time for a long animation, I shouldn't have to waste a syringe.

For whatever reason, the medical syringes are the only type mapped to a face button instead of to a customizable spot on the directional pad. Two spots are reserved for your camera and for rocks. If I want to, I should have the option to swap one of them out for a medical syringe, which would make healing in a pinch easier and would allow me to heal manually outside of combat.




The Frame Rate

I'm playing the PlayStation 3 version of Far Cry 3, and for as fun and engaging as it is, it's not so hot on the technical side. After you've seen how gorgeous and smooth the PC version is, it's hard to look at the console versions the same way.

I can deal with a game having a paltry presentation because it needed to simplify geometry and remove effects to maintain a smooth frame rate, but Far Cry 3 on consoles doesn't have a smooth frame rate. Mind you, it's not nearly as bad as the atrocious Assassin's Creed III, but it still holds the game back.




Far Cry 3 makes some pretty major missteps too, and I'll be covering those as well, but these minor ones are what stick with me because they're always there. It's unfortunate that the game has these little flaws here and there, but it's still a fantastic experience overall.

        

26 comments:

  1. The mountain cimbing and the healing stuff are so true mate

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    1. Not really, the mountain is there as an obstacle, why should you expect to be able to climb it? Maybe they should include some tunnelling equipment in the game so you can drill and blast a tunnel to get to your destination?

      While I agree with wasting a healing syringe, are they really that hard to craft? I stopped using them after a while, and in fact only used one invulnerability one when hunting bears with a machete, (I was getting a bit sick of the game by this point), and even on Warrior the game wasn't that hard.

      I agree about the notifications and nag screens, but are surprised the author never mentioned the piss poor economy and ridiculous crafting requirements - You need the scrotum of the Yellow Big Mouth Munchkin Aardvark in order to carry a few more dollars in your wallet...seriously? I stopped searching for lootable crates after I quickly reached my wallet limit in the early part of the game. Pretty much nothing to spend it on except ammo and body armour.

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    2. @Grr: The mountain is an obstacle, yeah, but they give you so many tools for everything else that by the end of the game, why does the mountain still need to be an obstacle? They make getting DOWN a mountain not an obstacle anymore, so why not getting UP it? Just Cause 2 let me scale mountains super quickly and that kind of mobility is one of the many amazing things about that game.

      Healing syringes aren't hard to craft, but it's just a waste using one outside of combat then needing to make one to make up for it so I'm not having to pop my thumb back into place or whatever in the middle of a firefight. The invulnerability one I used once as well, just to take an outpost. Really fun being invulnerable.

      As for the economy, I guess I always wanted more money because I really wanted to collect the signature weapons, and those were all priced pretty highly, so I found myself always blowing money on ammo, body armor, and the signature weapons. Always something to save up for. And the need for special animals didn't really bother me because it felt like a cool reward when I'd take down a special animal, you know? Once I finished crafting, I stopped doing the hunting missions because there was no incentive. It's not realistic, of course, but I still never really questioned it.

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    3. I understood everything that was mentioned in the article, but found that on the whole I disagreed with it. I agreed completely with the mountain thing, as I felt that overly frustrating, and some pickaxes would have been really fitting with the context.
      The healing I somewhat agreed to, having to waste a syringe everything I fell down a cliff or something where I was wishing to simply re-locate my shoulder (Despite the fact I can carry and fire my gun just fine... huh).

      However, as for the money issue, and I agree it was an issue, I seem to have found the opposite- I had too much money. I found myself buying camos for weapons I never used purely so the pissing notification would go away for having $10,000 in my wallet. I guess it must come down to play style. I ignored the campaign until a great deal of the map was uncovered and all the outposts cleared, resulting in my looting countless enemies and chests.

      The updates regarding animal and character were actually welcome to me. I found Far Cry 2 lacked serious character depth, and killing all the leaders who you couldn't quite remember from the factions you kept on mixing up... It was frustrating, and playing it back now reminds you of how much progress FC3 made, and the character updates were a large part of that, in my opinion.

      I loved hunting down animals to make equipment, but I found I ran out of anything to do with the first few story missions, so introducing more advances equipment as you progress (updates for the gliders using animal hides, or pelts to drape yourself in to camouflage yourself in grassy areas...)

      Just my opinion on the game, that I have top say I loved.

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    4. @Ben Reynolds: Really, money was only an issue for me once I started unlocking the signature weapons. Those are pretty expensive. Before that, money wasn't much of a concern, so I'd agree with you there. It's only the signature weapons that started to break the bank for me.

      The depth in the characters was welcome, and I really liked how much detail they put into everything; I just found that it really broke the flow of the game for me. It would pop up with notifications in the middle of a fight, while I was in story missions, while exploring for relics and other collectables, etc. So it's like, I'm glad they put in the work, but ultimately I just found it kind of annoying because it was constantly reminding me to read them and taking me out of the game. Messed with the immersion to have the game pop up every 5 minutes about what type of flower I just picked up or what new type of deer I just skinned, you know?

      But yes, totally awesome game. I've only been writing about some of the more negative aspects recently because they were distracting me from how great the game is by and large.

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  2. well, why don't you raise the capital and manage the huge over head required to make a game like this, where is yours, I'll buy it and give it a try. oh wait your just some guy sitting in his/her parents basement going boo hoo hoo.

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    1. Man... what is wrong with you

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    2. It's cold and damp in his parent's basement.

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    3. And while you're waiting to get out of your parent's basement, learn how to use the English language

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  3. Yep, because if anyone ever criticizes a game on anything, they must be "just some guy sitting in his/her parents basement going boo hoo hoo."

    I still love the game. I think the guys who made it are super talented and made an excellent game, one of the best of the year. But it's not perfect, and there's nothing wrong with admitting that. Again, still a totally awesome game.

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  4. I'm on PC, the frame rates are great and run butter smooth on ultra settings at 1080p. The radial menu is a big problem for the PC, it is counter intuitive and being able to assign weapons to hot keys would be much better. I agree on the healing, I hate wasting a syringe. The constant pop ups are annoying. I have to keep pressing Esc every thirty seconds. The other thing I hate are the patrols. I kill one patrol and before I'm done looting the bodies which only takes thirty seconds a second patrol shows up, I kill them and a third, and so on until I kill about five to six patrols in a row.

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    1. I tended to just avoid them as much as possible because I liked the tension of trying to hide. Just reminded me to go take the outpost.

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    2. You don't "need" to hit escape, just ignore the message as it will pass. Also weapons are hotkeyed 1-6. 1-4 for firearms 5 and 6 for explosives, 7 and 8 for crafted syringes.

      Re: patrols, you must be early in the game - I stopped looting before too long since money isn't hard to come by, and apart from the occasional grenade everything else is junk.

      If I play through the game again, I will unlock the radio towers but not liberate bases, as it becomes boring without the occasional patrol coming along. I liked just leaving a random landmine every now and then, and sometime later a multi-kill message would pop up on the screen ;)

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    3. @Grr: Messages pass, but they were just a constant source of annoyance for me. Killed the immersion and I just felt like I needed to check them. It's just silly to give me explanations for EVERYTHING. I know what a bear is, Far Cry. And yes, I already know what the description is for the shark relic I just got is because I've read it 15 times already!

      But I totally agree: if I played it again, I'd leave a fair amount of outposts un-liberated. Really cool use of the landmines though. I don't think I ever used them.

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    4. NOPE. It was people like you that made the developers turn Far Cry into such an easy game. Whining about patrols and outposts in Far Cry 2 and now look what we have! They made it too easy so SHUT UP. Deal with it. I don't want this type of feedback to make Far Cry 4 even EASIER than this game was.

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    5. I think the developers understand that. After all, they just patched in an option to reset all the outposts. I didn't like that stuff in Far Cry 2 because I just didn't like the controls in that game. But now that the game feels good, I liked the patrols and stuff. Far Cry seems good about giving options for people.

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  5. I'm trying desperately to overcome the boss in Citra's Palace... I'm playing on the easiest level. It has killed me dozens of times now. I'm pretty much on the verge of giving up at this stage with, as far as I can see, nearly half the game still to play, but not accessible until I pass this boss. I have a growing sense of frustration at not being able to get to the game I've payed for because of the high difficulty level at this point. Am I alone in this? I kill the red-masked figure (occasionally) only to get swamped by the enemies that follow (and according to a YouTube video I watched, I've still got to re-kill the masked figure after avoiding the boulders he throws at me! I don't want to wimp out here but this is mad...

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    1. I have no advice for ya....I smashed him first attempt. Just stick with it I suppose

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    2. It was a pretty annoying fight, yeah. Just keep backing up when the guys are all rushing you and don't be afraid to sprint away to avoid be overrun. The big guy was a bit easier for me. Keep running until he throws a boulder, then aim for his mask. Good luck!

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    3. Apart from it not being clear on what I was supposed to do initially, (it confused me because this game leads you by the nose so much I was waiting for something to happen), I found it fairly easy. Just shoot it in the face with the arrows, melee the guys who attack you, then shoot between incoming boulders - they are quite easy to dodge by sprinting up and down the place.

      You need to kill Vaas before you can get to the second island - sorry!

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    4. shoot your bow when the guys are running at you. it'll blow them up before they even get near you ;)

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  6. For me there are a few more missteps... For sure i felt the boss fights (the red monster and killing Vaas) to be remarkably more difficult than the rest of the game and at both points I wast just about to give up and leave the game when I managed somehow to get through. But it was more based on luck than on anything like fighting skills or so.
    And then there are several places where a long intro scene is shown over and over again. For example I guess I heard the Vaas speech on insanity a dozen of times for sure until after 10 minutes I got killed while taking out the nearby outpost and trying to get to this helicopter.

    -Ralf

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    1. I thought the red monster was pretty annoying, but I didn't have much trouble with Vaas, the Australian guy, or Hoyt. I guess after this many years of quick-time events, they just don't pose much of a challenge anymore.

      As for the repeating cut scenes, I remember messing up that helicopter thing once, but I don't remember having to watch it again. Maybe I did. It's not skippable? Maybe I just didn't mind because I love that speech (and I only had to watch it one extra time).

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  7. While I do agree that the mountains with sections limited on grass are nigh immpassable at times, I do however see that and have almost always seen this as a personal challenge to the player to "create" a way around. I However wholeheartedly agree on the health syringes mapping issue and on the button configuration issue (in which one button does multiple tasks that may be detrimental to the players health at times). The one thing I almost fully disagree with on your "missteps" list is the issue of the framerate: while I haven't played the Playstation 3 edition (and of course comparing most games to their PC counterparts is akin to comparing Betty White and a hot actress of your choosing) the Xbox 360 edition (in which the system is the lesser of the 3) has seemingly no framerate issues at all even in the highest points of combat. Perhaps that's because I treated my copy with the respect it deserved and installed it to lower load times? I Digress.
    The main issue if any would be that in the console edition you can eventually outgain spawn zones (to a degree) for minutes at a time where creatures take time to repopulate into your current zone. While that may not deal with the framerate directly, it shows the loading times can stress the overall engine and the experience it brings with.

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