Thursday, March 14, 2013

Can't stop, shooting

I love Far Cry 3.

It is the finest example of an open ended shooter I have ever played because it gets the first, most important thing right and only then adds on more. Then it gets all of those right as well, but that is besides the point. An open ended shooter is, first and foremost, a shooter. That actual act of shooting and, in this case, sneaking need to be enjoyable. Having a world full of things to do on the side is meaningless if the core of the came, the shooting, is bad. Far Cry 3 nails this first: sneaking works just fine and it does it without cluttering the hud up with extra gauges and warnings. When sneaking fails and it is time to throw down the shooting is precise and visceral. Almost all of the weapons are usable, the line exception being the bow. I just can't be bothered to get the hang of it when there are so many other options.

Once the shooting is done it is time for distractions and Far Cry 3 has them in spades but it wisely makes all of them optional. Not in the mood to hunt for skins to make a new wallet? Fine, go race? Don't want to race? Fine, go climb a radio tower in a new area and uncover all of the collectibles. Bored with that? Ambush the nearest base and turn it into a fast travel station. By the time I have done all of that there will be a new story mission right around the corner, so the pace never slackens. It ebbs and flows but never gets boring.

If I must offer criticism, it is easy to over level yourself early by emptying out sections of the map before moving on in the story. I have purchased all of the abilities available at the moment and have six or seven more points that I cannot spend. I have crafted the many of the best items by systematically annihilating all wildlife that crosses my path. What worries me is the second half of the game will offer no further rewards for exploration, that a de facto level cap will take effect and there will be no reason not to bounce from story mission to story mission, speeding the game on to its conclusion.

Still, Far Cry 3 may yet dethrone the first S.T.A.L.K.E.R. as my favorite open world shooter. That is a tall order, and unless the tone darkens significantly it won't quite make it, but to even be mentioned in the same breath is high praise indeed.

This is also going to make to very hard to play Darkstalkers Resurrection tonight.

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