Pete Davison: Bang

Posted on June 9, 2011 by

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I often labour under the mistaken assumption that I don’t like shooters. I know, I know, to assume is to make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”, and to incorrectly assume things about yourself is doubly stupid because after all, you should know yourself pretty well by now.

But anyway. What I mean to say is that I’ve fallen a bit out of love with recent shooters. Sure, they’re pretty, and spectacular, and they make a bucketload of money. But they’reboring. With a lot of modern shooters, you have two choices: incredibly linear, tightly-scripted single player campaign, or endless hours of multiplayer against people you will never, ever beat because all they do is play Call of Duty all day.

In the Ubisoft sale a while back, I picked up the two Far Cry titles for an obscenely low price, along with Crysis. I tried Far Cry 2 briefly and am looking forward to delving into that later, but the original Far Cry in particular is reminding me that the genre can indeed be fun if handled correctly.

The difference is in feeling like you have a choice of how to handle things. In my (admittedly limited) experience with the Call of Duty series, it’s very scripted — go here, do this, proceed to this mission objective, use this weapon right now because we say so, BAM — car chase, things exploding, save this guy, oh you can’t because it’s scripted that he should die, etc. etc. But Far Cry is a bit different. Besides featuring hilariously atrocious voice acting and the most sarcastic protagonist I’ve ever had the pleasure of looking out from behind the eyes of, Far Cry’s objectives are less tightly scripted, being of the “There’s a thing you have to do about a mile away” variety, and then leaving it up to you how you approach it.

Do you steal a vehicle, powerslide through the middle of a bunch of enemies then pick off the rest with a mounted rocket launcher? Do you swim out to sea, jump atop a rock and pick them off from a distance? Do you lie in the bushes, observing their patrol patterns and assassinate each of them quietly one at a time? The answer is “yes”, because you can handle situations in pretty much any way you please. The “all guns blazing” approach rarely works, but that’s good — it forces you to think of solutions that are a bit more creative.

Even the indoor missions, while necessarily slightly more linear, have multiple paths and alternative routes to try. Do you open the door, throw in a grenade then clean up afterwards? Or do you crawl through the air vent in an attempt not to be seen? It’s top-quality stuff, and the simple fact that when you die you don’t have to go back and handle the same bit in the same way makes the whole experience infinitely more appealing than a more linear — albeit probably more spectacular — recent title.

So, good job, Far Cry. I am enjoying you. And I am looking forward to your sequel, despite it apparently having literally nothing to do with you.

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Posted in: Pete Davison