fast blog — Far Cry

A massive game of exciting gameplay and brilliant graphics interspersed with periods of intense tedium.

Intense tedium? Yes, the designers took one of the worst mistakes from the abysmal Halo and in a fit of exceptional idiocy sledgehammered it into Far Cry; games saves are made automatically and, without exception, the automatic saves are made at the wrong moment. The result is bouts of intense tedium. I find myself repeating some puzzle I’ve already solved again and again just to get to another problem which I have yet to resolve. Right now, for example, I’m flooding a chamber with sea water to get up to the next level, swimming up through a hole in the ceiling, crawling very slowly along sloping passages, then being killed by a baby cyberdemon. This unnecessary repetition is so tedious. Yes, solving it the first time was mildly entertaining. Similar things have happened at other times in Far Cry. In fact, it’s so annoying that I’ve just about given up on continuing with the game. The challenge I haven’t solved is not easy, and I’d happily spend time trying to get past the cyberdemon, but I will not happily spend time getting bored shitless by an idiotic and amazingly obvious design flaw beforehand.

The problem I find is that if a game, no matter how good otherwise, contains something that is obviously unthought out, then I have some reluctance to get involved in the rest of it despite the amazing graphics and otherwise excellent gameplay. It’s as though the designers don’t understand the concept of a real world, you know, the thing that interrupts games from time to time and demands attention? It’s simple, stupid: the right time to save a game is when the player commands so, and the wrong time is any other time. Ok, if the game designers want to throw in extra save games, so be it, but they should not deny the player the command. It isn’t the game that has to deal with the real world. This fashion of taking away save game is like insisting a bus driver has to go through busy junctions wearing a blindfold; it’s just plain stupid.

This blatant fit of foolishness detracts from an otherwise excellent game, which has a clear inheritence of the inconsistent but impressive Codename: Outbreak, with it’s gigantic island settings and great freedom of gameplay. Far Cry’s graphics are gorgeous, the vehicles well–implemented and believable (unlike Halo and Unreal Tournament 2004), the story line not too ridiculous, the challenges difficult, the fight well balanced.

There is, however, one weakness in the gameplay. You have to kill, or get killed by, every computer controlled character. You have allies, but only in set scenes, never partners in battle. This changes towards the end of the game. But even the secondary characters in Codename: Outbreak sneaked when you sneaked, ducked with you; this one happily stands up in low cover (and does’t get seen). This is a weakness.

Another weakness is no doubt a problem of designing such a massive game; I’ve got stuck in a couple of places. You know, sneak into a corner, discover it’s oddly shaped, and can’t get out. The problem is the game, like every other first person game, does not assume the player is made of flesh, flesh that can be depressed and squeezed so a person can edge past things. Skin is not rigid. I can’t think of a game that doesn’t make this error.

I’ve enjoyed this game, with it’s massive and numerous settings, but I can’t recommend it because of the tedium caused by the no–save–game design error. Pity.