A note to the developers of Far Cry 3


    The following was my recent contribution to a forum post on the prospects of Far Cry 3.  For the record, I don't know if Ubisoft is making Far Cry 3.  Even if another Far Cry sequel is unlikely, I hope that Ubisoft will take the assets and mechanics that worked well in that game and fold them into whatever else that they are working on.  Assassin's Creed: Out of Africa here we come!

    FC2 was one of my favorite games of 2009.  I played it mostly on the 360, though I own a Steam copy as well.  The gun play was great.  I loved the safe house mechanic; having my own personal space within the game, in this case, a room full of guns.  The score, by Nimrod Studios, was haunting and is on my ipod to this day.  I disagree with the assessment that the environment was lifeless.  It was positively filled with flora and fauna.  I also thought that the systems for and the support of user generated content in multiplayer were the most advanced of any cross platform title that I have seen.  The mutliplayer had its issues but I saw some truly amazing stuff come out of the community in that game. 
     
    I played the shit out of Far Cry 2 and I loved it.
     
    That being said, I will agree that the game had many weaknesses that I hope will be improved upon in the next version:
  1. But I'm on your side!   
    So, you're a merc, doing odd jobs for two opposing factions in a civil war.  Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what mission you're on or what faction you happen to be serving.  If the soldiers from either faction see you, they start shooting, no questions asked.  What on first glance seems realistic reveals itself to be simplistic from an engineering stand point; a narrative conceit that explains away the fact that they did not include any dynamic system of loyalty, ala Assassins Creed, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. , etc.
  2. A beautiful world, devoid of people 
    Yes, they built a beautiful world.  I spent many a night wandering through that jungle with nothing but a silenced pistol tensely gripped in my hand, a machete in my teeth.  One thing missing though; the people.  For most of the game, you might as well be wandering through a nuclear wasteland.  Throughout the course of the FC2, the player has minimal contact with civilian NPCs.  There is a third faction in the game that is meant to stand in for 'the people' caught in the middle of the war.  But the missions and narrative of the 'underground' faction seem rushed and tacked on, a substitute for something else that could have been a lot more deep, fraught with conflict and consequence.  What I want is Tears of the Sun type scenarios, where you come across villages being massacred and you have the choice to either stop it, join in the killin, or stay in the shadows and let nature take its course.  Also, include an alignment system based on those choices.
  3. The buddy system 
    The buddies in the game only show up after you've been shot and you're bleeding out.  They will pull you out of the fire and cover you long enough for you to heal and get back in the fight.  Other than eventually betray you, that's all they do.  Oh yeah, they also get shot and force you into the only moral choice of the game; save 'em, leave 'em, or give 'em a mercy kill.  Not bad, but I'd kinda like a buddy who will actually go on the mission with me, maybe help me take our a half dozen mercs Sam Fisher style before the shit hits the fan.  The shortcomings of the buddy system really highlight the absence of any kind of cooperative mode.  Online coop would have been sweet.  Am I the only one who looked longingly at all of those technical trucks and wondered why I couldn't get a gunner or have someone drive me around?   Also, not a single motor vehicle in this game comes equipped with a rear view mirror.  The only time you know guys are chasing you is when you start to get shot.
  4. Crank up the Creedance 
    What this game really needs is some helicopters, in both single and multiplayer.  I realize that the vast environment might not seem as big from the air and that flying around could break the game in so many ways but you can't have modern jungle warfare without a little air support.  In the single player,    it would be fun just to be chased by helicopters and take them down with RPGs and Carl Gs.  Than hang gliders are fun but not good enough.
  5. Support the community - As I said, FC2, even on xbox, had a very decent multiplayer community that converged around the map making tools.   This demonstrated a great untapped potential for user generated content on consoles.  It seems to me, this happened despite Ubisoft's disinterest and lack of support.  The main reason, I think, that developers and publishers have been so ambivalent on user generated content, is that they have not figured out a way to effectively monetize.  At this point in the console life cycle, the sales model that has been almost uniformly adopted is that of pushing $20-100 worth of canned DLC.  Instead of seeing custom content as a threat to this order, the developers should find a way to tap the user creativity and innovation, to somehow encourage that post-release supplemental income.   
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Davison leaving Gamepro

Hot off the press, for me anyway.  This evening's feed tell's me that Jon Davison is leaving GamePro.  That didn't take long.  I've always been a fan of Davison's work.  He may not have directly conceived the One Up Yours podcasts but he certainly was a big part of making them awesome.  I'm not even in the What They Play demographic, but I have to appreciate what a great gaming website for parents it has become.  I Also thought Davison was doing good work with the long format approach at Gamepro.
 
He didn't pull any punches with his farewell address either.  In the gaming industry, at this day and age, It's refreshing to see someone actually be honest about their reasons for moving on.  In the positive way that I have often found Davison's work to be thus far,  it's very critical. 
 
This is just wild speculation, but am I the only one thinking what an unbelievable coincidence it is, that veteran game journalist turned game developer turned game promoter Jeff Greene is also out of work, this very same week?  Of course it's a coincidence.  I'm sure.
 
Davison's departure message alludes to the fact that he's headed to mobile gaming.  Which side of the road will Davison end up on?  Development or Criticism?  Wherever he goes, many are sure to follow.

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