Mini Review: "Human Slavery 90210"|
Unfortunately there's a great deal of aggravating design chaff getting in my eyes between the parts of the game that are actually good. So much of it is "hey! You're playing a game! Don't dare forget it!" I think a lot of it could be fixed with a patch.
Here's what I'd patch:
Something in the pause menu to tell you what quest you are on.
Option to minimise the HUD, eg no messages, no minimap.
Option to make those transparent outlines of enemies invisible through solid objects. Why does tagging an enemy give me magic x-ray vision?
-Alternatively, option to turn tagging off. I can't aim at an enemy without tagging them so can't simply avoid magic x-ray vision.
I'm a bit baffled by the day-night cycle. It appears to be blindingly bright midday all the time, but occasionally it isn't. Not sure that is working correctly, but a watch would be nice.
A "hardcore mode" for the people who, like me, thought Far Cry 2 was perfectly pitched. I find it idiot that an enemy can stare straight at me, crouched or not, from feet away and not see me, or need to see me for several seconds to fill a bar to see me. Ridiculous.
An option to make those stupid "can they see you yet?" bars disappear. You know what tells me an enemy can see me? THEY SHOOT AT ME.
I like the spirit of a lot of what they've tried to do with the scope of the game and especially improving the storytelling aspect (eg motion capture/acting) though I personally preferred Far Cry 2's story (if not the ending and the uniformly fast delivery) but from moment to moment the game seems full of concessions to the pissants who couldn't cope with Far Cry 2's brilliant stab at greater realism instead of having the systems be a series of minigames cobbled together.
Sadly it seems that every aspect of the game which is fantastic also has a horrible balancing issue:
Variety of animals is fantastic. A tiger's head being a bullet-sponge is ridiculous. Needing certain pelts to make certain equipment is fun, as mini-games go, but is also ridiculous and "gamey". I'd have prefered some asshole disabled-taxidermist Tom Nook character who demands certain pelts in exchange for certain equipment, and his house gradually fills with the stuffed animals you've brought him.
Variety of enemies is (so far) pathetic. Guys in red shirts. Some slightly different guys in red shirts are starting to appear, but they are all uniformly easy to drop on the hardest difficulty. I would say that I enjoy sneaking up on them, but even that is horribly compromised because they always all face the same direction, so it's like shooting fish in a barrel. I've yet to come across an area as difficult, variable and interestingly designed as even the basic areas in Far Cry 2. I can only hope this changes as I progress further into the game, however FC2 had great areas from the very beginning.
I'm liking the cut-scenes but I'm not sure they are part of anything except some cool lines for the game's trailers, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere cohesive. Nor does it seem particularly "insane" or mysterious, it's just some Human Slavery 90210 storyline so far, which is a serious disparity of tone.
I haven't had a game shit me as much since Dragon Age Origins, which probably means I'll still be re-playing this in five years time (just re-bought Origins the other day because I'm sure I can get a female Dalish Elf character to marry that poncy king THIS time.)