Choosing Between Bad and Worse

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For a guy who found a terrible game so deep he didn't even get the ending right. You die either way, you shoot yourself or blow yourself up. Yay nonsensical arbitrary ending! The story makes no sense unless you add speculative input, like he did, which by any writing standards is awful. Lack of choice wasn't a choice, it was the only option in a shitty made linear time sink which was what Far Cry 2 was. I gave the game two chances to be anything but time sink and it failed in every way shape and form to be a decent game.

People searching for a higher meaning in this game are wasting their time because there isn't any philosophical epiphany to be had in a game that lacks fundamental parts of narrative/plot/environments/game play/characters.

Le Tueur:
For a guy who found a terrible game so deep he didn't even get the ending right. You die either way, you shoot yourself or blow yourself up. Yay nonsensical arbitrary ending!

Rob Kunzig:
One of you will bribe the border guards with a suitcase full of diamonds, allowing the refugees to escape, and the other will blow up a mountainside, stalling the pursuing army and killing himself in the process. By the way - taking the diamonds means blowing your brains out after you make the delivery. You, too, are the disease, and you can't leave with the innocent.

Le Tueur, he said that. You may disagree with him on the game (we've had this tête-à-tête before, so I know you do) but he got that detail right.

I think you may be giving the game more credit than it deserves. It doesn't strike me as a particularly sophisticated narrative they're developing, instead it felt more like they were just trying desperately to rip off Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness. I mean, the place you go to find him is even called 'The Heart of Darkness'. Could it have been any more obvious? Far Cry 2 was about as subtle as an elephant in fake nose glasses.

Really enjoyed the article, nicely done. Good to see people exploring what games say about conflict, especially conflict in places that are generally far removed from most Americans' experience and worldview.

I was at a game developers' meetup at SXSW this year, and we were talking about how best to portray foreign conflicts in a way that would serve as an exploration of the violence rather than an exploitation of it. Our general conclusion was that the best way to do this would be to make a game about war where players don't take on the role of soldiers-- cast them as civilians, or photojournalists, aid workers from Doctors Without Borders, or even as UN investigators trying to find and stop the flow of arms. Essentially, the best (and most innovative) thing you can do in a wargame is take away the player's weapon and send them to perform complex tasks while trying to avoid getting killed. It would not only be something new to action gaming, but could give players new perspectives on conflict when they're having to deal with the ramifications of violence, rather than doing the violence themselves.

I really wouldn't call the ending a "good" ending. If anything, the world was full of black vs black morality and only at the very end is the "grey option" apparent. And I mean, throughout the ending sequence inside the Heart of Darkness you:

- Find all of the buddies who helped you dropped in just to say hello and kill you, so you have the pleasure of murdering your only friends in the country.
- Killing the two warlords you personally helped rise to power after realizing the terrible mistake you made, invalidating almost everything you've done for the factions.
- You either choose to die or shoot yourself helping people after realize how miserable of a person you really are. And if you pay attention in the end, after the explosion, you DO hear a gunshot, so it's a pretty heavy implication that whoever did take the diamonds did in fact kill themselves.

So overall, I'd say that's a pretty goddamn somber ending. You did something nice, but still, it's quite a downer of an ending. I certainly didn't feel happy about ANYTHING after that.

One of the reasons I really liked that game.

Personally I found the game itself to be so so, and the ending to be terrible. The things mentioned in this article are purely accidental. It's not even like HAZE, a bad game that actually had an intentional message about video game violence. It's just a bad game that can be misinterpreted as being deep. Anyone who'd followed it's development at all would know that. Choice was the big thing they hyped, they lied. Just like they lied about it being designed for the PC first, when in fact it was clearly designed for consoles all along.

The part where your buddies betray you is pretty obvious proof that the writers just didn't give a crap. There's no reason behind it whatsoever except to provide a final boss fight. They all team up to betray you. Every single one. Even the ones who you fought tooth in nail to the near death to save who miraculously survived and didn't bother to tell you about it for no reason. Even the ones you fought side by side with in the second part all the way til the end. You end up leaving one of them behind in the prison just because they don't give you the option to take them with you. The whole game is just a mess of not giving a crap about the choices they made such a big deal in the pre-release hype about giving you.

It's not some deep philosophical look at war or war crimes. It's just a carelessly designed deceptively advertised game with some cool mechanics like full first person everything, animations for getting into vehicles, first aid health system and randomly placed buddies.

Yup, that's definitely what they were going for. That poignant "choice is a luxury" angle is absolutely why the game had no coherence. I mean it's not like the developers were too lazy to include a choice system.... Or have an actual, believable African country with people in it. Nah, who needs to SHOW the civilians you're fighting for? They're not important to the allegory. Just the infinitely re-spawing enemy checkpoints and repetitive missions. Now THOSE are important.

Overt Sarcasm aside, Far Cry 2 was a failed attempt to accomplish something big. Yeah you could hire a horrificly bad voice actor to spout some words from Beyond Good and Evil.....but it won't matter, if you can't make the story in any way coherent.

Interesting take but I disagree. Choice was a gameplay mechanic promised but not delivered. Far Cry 2 was a game that, despite a stunning environment and great immersion techniques, felt like it had it's legs cut off. The lack of friendly AI speaks to this in spades but also the linearity which seemed clumsily implimented to make up for the fact that they couldn't deliver on the promised free choice.

Thing is I would have fully applauded Far Cry 2 if it set out to make this statement. But it didn't for one second feel like this was intended. It seemed far more likely that the original intention was lost under budget or time constraints and something else was cobbled together from the rubble. The finale, both the (spoiler) betrayal of former allies and Jackal's bizarre final solution may have been giving a "we're all basically fucked" statement but it was clumisly delivered and for the most part illogical.

But I think we're talking about two different things. I'm approaching this from almost game reviewers perspective while Rob is more pointing out how the game reflects actualities in the real world. Whether intentional or unintentional there is value in that.

Either way, as a game, Far Cry 2 remains one of my biggest disappointments.

It's strange how if you read a classical novel about (say) whaling and decide that it's about (say) the plight of the lower classes in the 19th century you're writing an essay but if you do the same to a video game you're reading too much into it.

Yes, video games as a rule haven't figured out this whole 'show one thing that actually means another thing' very well, and when they do it they rub the analogy in our faces. That doesn't mean such analyses are worthless or pointless. At least they're no worse than the same applied to other media.

Without having actually played the game in question I can hardly reply, but considering the huge amount of elements that had to come together to make this a deliberate style choice, and how difficult it is to keep the large team required to create a modern game all on the same as far as something as ethereal as tone is concerned, and how, as someone already pointed out, the Crysis and Far Cry games always came away for me more as tech demos for Crytech than actual games, I can see how this is an opinion that's hard to defend. Not to say that deliberately bad design isn't something that can be employed to actually create a feeling - from the confusing objectives of the Mondo series to the glorious mess of Randy Balma: Municipal Abortionist - but sometimes bad design is just bad design. But even so - what about the Death of the Author? Do you believe Ray Bradbury when he says Fahrenheit 451, a novel about a society that demands all books be burned, is not about government censorship?

I'd rather be pretentious.

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