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SummaryMy summer game!
The GoodLast year from June to September I beat Far Cry 3 on the normal difficulty. It has a strong casual, tropical feel that fit the mood.
First-person driving: While typical shooters -- Halo, Battlefield have third-person perspective driving, Far Cry 3 only lets you drive vehicles in first person perspective. It's a fresh experience, seeing the big wheel on your screen.
Killing sharks with bows. A well-timed shark kill is satisfying.
Mild horror elements. This is a very mild survival horror type game that anyone can play. Animals can jump at you and eat you but it's not terrifying.
Rocket launcher can reliably blow up vehicles and a group of enemies, creating an impressive visual feast.
There is a special little gameplay mechanic that I really enjoyed -- you can carry bodies of enemy soldiers, to move them to a discreet location, -- this mechanic is common in stealth games, Metal Gear Solid, Hitman, Dishonored, you name it. The problem is the player often feels forced or compelled to carry every enemy body to a safe location, and it gets tedious. Not in Far Cry 3. In this game, you can ONLY move enemy bodies during a melee takedown sequence. The act of moving a body always comes right after a suspenseful stealth takedown, which spices things up immensely. Also, moving bodies always comes with additional risk, -- another good design choice -- if the body is discovered, but you aren't, you're still good. So it's often better to just leave the body there, and minimize YOUR chance of being seen.
There is a poker mini game where I managed to bluff the AI players several times to win over $1500. The AI feels natural and will try to bluff from time to time too.
The BadNo experience gained killing animals.
The game features a stupid day-night cycle. Since I'm usually playing this on a sunny summer weekend, the nighttime gameplay severely hurts the mood.
Clunky menu. It's some of the worst menu design in gaming -- you have to press Start, and then press several more buttons, to do a very common thing in the game -- make potions. This design needs to go.
The entire game world looks identical. Trees, ocean, mountains, rivers. I can never tell where I am just by looking at the scenery. Never.
The two islands are essentially deserted, abandoned places, with absolutely no modern buildings, very little human activity. The cars you drive are probably from the WWII era. The setting is just very barren and monotonous.
A save system that doesn't follow the modern gaming standard. In Far Cry 3 you cannot save during a mission, but you still have checkpoints. The confusing part is, unlike most modern games, the checkpoints are gone if you quit to the Xbox 360 home screen or turn off the console. Or maybe this is just the way Ubisoft does it. I might play some Assassin's Creed to find out.
Finally there is one single worst game design element in Far Cry 3 that, more than anything else, should be the reason why you shouldn't play it. The Y button (healing). Unlike any other shooter, where you either heal automatically (without any button presses), or heal when picking up medkits/food, in Far Cry 3 you heal by performing surgery on yourself (long press Y button). This healing ability is unlimited, but it comes with a 5-second unbelievably lame cutscene. So when you get injured (which is a lot of the times), you face the unthinkable dilemma: either die, or watch this 5-second cutscene. Dying seems more fun to me.
The Bottom LineYou have two stages in Far Cry 3.
Stage one: oh I'm so weak anything can kill me this is Dark Souls I gotta play strategically and carefully.
Stage two: oh I unlocked all of these amazing guns and abilities. I'm untouchable. I'm a one-man army. Now when does the game end?
The most satisfying part is late Stage one and a couple hours into Stage two. After that it's all routine. Unlocking the best guns in the game means a guaranteed win.