My review of Farcry 3 was a fairly positive write-up. For the most part, I liked the game and I had a fantastic time playing it. It was action-packed, made you work for the win and had a nice layer of humour laid on top of it, that made it seem self-aware enough to win it a nomination for best FPS of the 360 generation. However, in that review, I never really got a chance to cover what went wrong with the game. Farcry 3 is the kind of game, where you will find it amazingly fun for 80% of the game and then it hits one of its many flaws that stops you dead in your tracks and realising how poorly conceived it actually is. These flaws are often small and only pop up occasionally, so it felt petty taking them too much into account, but I wanted to write up a separate article, explaining these criticisms, because I think potential buyers should be aware of the game. If anything, knowing these flaws might improve the overall experience, as you are aware of them beforehand. And I must insist that Farcry 3 is a terrific first-person-shooter.
3 – QUICK TIME EVENTS
Quick time events are one of the scourges of the gaming industry. On paper, they seem like a good idea and actually, I am a fan of them. The idea of a quick time event is limiting your control of a game to pressing or mashing certain buttons on cue, so the game developers can create a scene somewhere between a cut-scene and an actual part of the game. What I like about them is that they can spice up a part of the game and give more of a climatic feeling to a boss fight. Take Tomb Raider: Legend or Anniversary. After defeating a boss, there would be a small quick time event, so the actual execution of the enemy would feel more cinematic. It worked really well, in my opinion, although when the fans got grumpy, it was one of the first things that got cut.
Farcry 3 has quick time events, but they are handled totally wrong. The first problem is that the entire boss fights are done through quick time events. That is lazy game developing. It might look cool the first time around, but the end result means that we have essentially had that boss fight climax taken away from us, so every end of a chapter in the game doesn’t have as much of an impact as the gamers deserve. It also decreases the effect of the build-up, as after a while, we realise that no matter how much a good villain the game creates in Vaas and Hoyt, our encounter with these interesting bad guys will end with one of these thrown-together Quick Time Events. It really hurts the satisfaction factor of the game.
2 – SIDE MISSIONS
I don’t have a problem with the side quests in themselves, seeing as Farcry 3 is heading even further in the direction of an open world game (and will continue to do so in the future). Side quests are a necessary feature to include in the game, as without them, it does seem that the developers are wasting all of this open space they have to play with (see next point). However, while I don’t have a problem with the side quests themselves (some are badly thought out, but so are side quests in ‘Dead Island’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto V, so it seems a low blow to criticise Farcry for that), the mechanics of the quests get on my nerves. When you begin a side quest, you have to see it out until the end, before you can move on. Maybe this feels more realistic, but the first time, you decide to talk to a stranger to get an additional mission on the go (most of the time, I like to juggle several objectives in games like Fallout and Skyrim), and, to my horror, discover that if I leave the ‘mission area’ I will have to restart the quest.
This also means that side missions only make use of the immediate area. Therefore, finding stashes of blood diamonds is relatively easy, as there is only a small area to hunt for them in. It would be so much better, if you could agree to kill a warlord, or hunt a rare animal, or even deliver a supply drop to a civilian in need, but get to it in your own time. It might make Farcry 3 seem a little bit like a copied and pasted open world game, but seeing as we already get that impression from the ‘skill tree’ and ‘fast travel’ mechanics, I think it could be a welcome evil to the game.
1 – THE MAP FEELS LAZY
Skyrim is mainly to blame for this, seeing as it taught us how beautiful an open world game can truly be. In Skyrim, if you were to walk to a random area in the game and ask someone to venture a guess at where you were, that person would probably be able to recall that exact alignments of mountains that exact tree formation. In Skyrim, every forest clearing has its own story and never before as a game so lovingly embraced its location. However, even before that, open world games were making use of memorable locations. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was just as diverse and memorable and Fallout always has interesting camps, so while the majority of the game might feel a little generic, when we hit an important location like Primm or Megaton, we felt a wave of relaxation, something that a game like Fallout desperately needs.
So why does Farcry 3 not have these features? The map feels lazy, as if it has been randomly generated, rather than lovingly built. The home towns feature nothing other than a shop and a few quests. There is never really that home feeling that we get from San Andreas’ Grove Street, or our home in ‘Skyrim’. Nothing in Farcry 3 really grabs you, more interested in its story than any memorable monuments. Even enemy outposts merge into one, once you have taken out all of the enemies and captured animals. I think Farcry 3 is easily forgotten as an open world game, as it feels too linear. The world may look beautiful, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression. It might seem like a small complaint, and I must stress that I still think Farcry 3, on the whole, is an incredible game, but when other, simpler games are getting the finer details right, you have to wonder why Ubisoft seems to be dropping the ball with them.