Far Cry 2 was such a promising game, its stunning African setting dragged you in and it laid out a deep, living sandbox that was very easy to get lost in. It had a seriously impressive engine and features like the destruction of vegetation, buddy system and fire propagation turned heads. It pioneered many things and there was certainly no lack in ambition among the Ubisoft team. The game itself was a really good experience, but it fell just short of being a really great one. In my opinion there are three main things that held back the last game and will have to be addressed in order for Far Cry 3 to reach its true potential.
Story and Voice Acting
The storyline was one of serious high and low points; it varied between moments or real excitement and drama to ones of complete and utter confusion. The lack of cut-scenes did deepen the immersion but sometimes meant the player had no clue what was going on. I mean I still have no idea what was going on during the scene at the end where all of your buddies turned up for no reason and started shooting each other.
One of the reasons this came across so poorly was the fact the game relied on the in-game characters explaining everything. This would be fine except for the fact Far Cry 2 had some of the most shockingly bad voice acting I have ever seen in a AAA title. Not only did every enemy seem to be voiced by the same South African actor but the main characters were sometimes borderline incomprehensible. The Jackal, the player’s nemesis spoke so quickly, monotone and under his breath that honestly I still don’t know what he was talking about half the time. Considering he represented the pivotal moments in the story, this was quite a limitation. Maybe with a cut-scene here and there and by hiring some actual actors the story of Far Cry 3 could be as immersive as the sandbox.
Another major problem the many players struggled with was the pacing of the game. You would regularly be forced to travel literally miles between missions and other points of interest. This would be fine if cars didn’t wreck on foot high rocks or every enemy at every checkpoint would pursue you as if you were the worlds most wanted man no matter what. This meant players often never made it to the next location and spent hours wondering around nowhere, a big turn-off for casual players. It also broke up the story, making it even harder to keep track of. Red Dead Redemption provided great example of how a wilderness could stay interesting and keep the pace of the game and is something Far Cry 3 could stand to learn from.
This problem ties into pacing as well, the world would have been much easier to traverse if you weren’t attacked at every corner. Why the AI sees your yellow car as different to all the other yellow cars driving past is lost on me and could be very confusing and frustrating. The enemy AI also completely broke the sandbox combat that Ubisoft had tried to implement. The idea was you could approach each mission however, whenever and from wherever the player chose. This didn’t work out however because as soon as the first shot was fired, every single enemy in the compound would immediately charge your exact location; this meant every encounter ended up the same way. With a rebuilt enemy AI, the combat could become much more rewarding and the world less frustrating to traverse.
If these are all addressed and Ubisoft continue to push the game across the board, Far Cry 3 could turn out to be something special. E3 next month should start to shed some light on this long silent project.