Far Cry 3
I was very surprised by Far Cry 3, I’m in general not a big fan of open-world games like Skyrim* (except for stuff like GTA IV, Saints Row The Third, Sleeping Dogs… an open-world is really great for THAT type of game) and the sole game in the series I had played was Far Cry 1, which, I thought, had great graphics for the time but was otherwise quite dull (and it was the reason I never even thought about playing Far Cry 2). So when I started FC3 I got the great graphics I expected, but pretty much everything turned out to be a delight as well and I was hooked pretty soon (little annoyances like hunting animals so it’s possible to carry more money etc. couldn’t spoil my fun). The story itself certainly isn’t the most original (that’s not meant to be interpreted as a negative connotation), but the story missions ARE quite unpredictable throughout, many games don’t even try to pull this off.
FC3 doesn’t have many characters, however, the ones it got are kinda memorable enough, first and foremost Vaas. Of course. I guess there’s been said enough about him, he IS as awesome as everyone is saying but I don’t necessarily agree that the game could have needed a lot more of him. Maybe his scenes are so powerful, because he’s not overused. It’s also unexpected AGAIN (:P), most other games with such a character would have done exactly that. It’s great that someone could finally resist the all to common urge to squeeze the last out of a good idea (consider this being void if they are already working on a game titled “the vaas chronicles” or somesuch :P).
The gameplay has a lot going for it, the skill system, loot sack, crafting […] is on par with what some games are offering that outright call themselves RPGs. So for a straight up action game this is quite something. The same is true for the game world, the 2 islands in the game are really big (although the second island is smaller on the map, it always felt longer to get anywhere than it did on the first one, what’s up with that? :P) and yet both of them offer tons of stuff to discover, even outside of missions there is no stumbling around for hours without SOMETHING happening (at least). Combined with the stunning graphics, which are almost photo-realistic at times, it could be the game that pulls off the open-world mechanics better than most others so far. It was fun to explore a bit for once, it wasn’t just about running towards the next story mission as fast as possible. Every player who ever jumped into the water and was attacked by a shark knows what I’m talking about. That’s FC3 for you.
As great movies always have great music too, FC3 comes with a noteworthy soundtrack (available WITHOUT all the, at least 8, licensed songs of the game – of course…). It easily succeeds in reinforcing already intense situations during the story missions. The ending credits took like 30 minutes to finish, but because of the music alone I didn’t want to cancel it. After those it’s back to the island without the story. For me this was the first time I started doing many of the different activities, I didn’t even try earlier. There’s seriously a dozen of them, at least.
I guess it’s about time to mention poker, which they implemented really well, it’s more than just a little gimmick. Players could learn poker from FC3, if they don’t know the rules yet. I didn’t like such a mini-game in a game that much since KotOR had Pazaak… I played all (side-) missions, activated all communication towers, freed all the outposts (an activity I enjoyed especially), collected all “letters of the lost” (and once again I still don’t understand all of the island’s secrets :P) but only half of the relics and I doubt I’ll go get the rest. :P
Although it is about time, it’s kinda hard to move on from this game, because the island and exploring it is so damn beautiful, every time I think about uninstalling it, thoughts cross my mind like taking one last flight over the island with one of the many hang-gliders, that just wait for action on lots of vantage points.
PS: In the cave, where Jason’s saved friends are gathering during the course of the story (btw: why are they trying to fix an old boat for their escape, when there are new ones standing around everywhere? :P), there’s the option of having some flashbacks focusing on them – I had like 2 or 3 of them and then it stopped, it felt as if there was supposed to be a story there, but if there was, I must have missed it. I guess this would have been worse in an RPG. I would have wanted more story for the too abrupt/short ending as well… :(
*Not to mention that I hate it, that now everyone seems to be copying Skyrim as much as possible, simply because this game sold lots of units (as if that would guarantee the same sales for their game…). BioWare already talked about making Dragon Age III “open-world” because of… SKYRIM and now there are even rumors CD Projekt RED is gonna give The Witcher 3 the same treatment. Ugh! It doesn’t make sense for every kind of game! There must be a compromise between large, empty and boring worlds and narrow tunnels… There is, in fact – many games used to find it.