Magnificent And Important Advent Calendar: Day 24

And so our journey comes to an end. Santa, King Of Hell, has been slain. And all that remains is for us to divine the game of the year from his black and smoking entrails. But what could that be? And what is love? Haddaway didn’t know. But we do. Read on for enlightenment.

It’s… Far Cry 3!

Jim: Well, I did say I liked it. But how much? Enough to take Game Of The Year? That seems like a lot. I couldn’t have imagined that being the case at the start of the year, and yet here I am going back to blow up sharks and run over gaudy pirates in a stolen jeep. And there I am arguing the case for Far Cry 3 in the RPS advent calendar meeting. And what’s that? I am playing Far Cry 3 until the sun comes up? What does it mean? Well, it means that Far Cry 3 was a far better game than anyone could have predicted.

2012 has been a magnificent year, and yet the majority of games that have disgorged their gameplay into our leisure-time digestion seems to have come with some kind of issue or related difficulty that has left us indignant and hissy. Not all, perhaps, but most And that’s true of Far Cry 3, of course – there’s a myriad of wonky or downright ugly bits under the hood, not to mention all that mystic bullshit – but, somehow, miraculously, that hasn’t dulled its edge. It’s a rich, noisy fanfare of a game. It’s a razor-sharp cleaver, lopping off the end of the year for itself. It works hard to make an open world actually mean something, and to really let us make the most of what huge horizons and seething jungles can offer.

It’s also absolutely an antidote to so much else that I’ve played this year. It’s as if the bright beaches and absurd fire-propagation were dissolved in a glass of tropical fruit juice to clear the hangover of a prodigious and sleepless year at the keyboard. It’s not grimdark, but it does have sex and gruesomeness. It’s ultra violent, and still manages to give us comedy bear-attacks. It’s unflinchingly unrealistic – with tigers fighting Komodo dragons, and it has hang-gliders parked at pretty much every location where it might fun to fly off the edge of a cliff, and genuinely terrible hallucination sequences – but it remains electric and terrific fun throughout.

I think it’s the pitch and structure of it that impressed me most of all. It’s a broadly mainstream, accessible shooter, and yet unlike anything else this year.

The idea that games are theme-parks is often used as a criticism, but I think here it is a positive analogy. Far Cry 3 is as moronically dumb as the experience of theme-parks, and just as clever in the construction. It knows, and it enables us. It’s an engineered marvel, and at the same time nothing more than a wide-open shooting gallery. It’s never real for one moment. It’s seriousness only underlines how much the game can’t actually be taken too seriously. And that’s a good thing.

I’ve waited a long time for a game to throw me quite this much rope. Time to do something stupid with it.

Alec: I respectfully disagree with everyone else. The protoplasmic, Shoggothian mouths of the RPS hivemind often bite each other in disagreement behind the scenes, but this site’s democratically-chosen game of the year was perhaps the first instance where I felt alienated by the honorifics of my esteemed colleagues. It’s not so much that Far Cry 3 is so troubling in terms of how it depicts race, how its only notable and openly non-straight character is also a rapist, how its cast are so unlovely, how it uses magic as a crutch, or even how all this was made so much worse by the discovery of the cake-having-and-eating, failed subtext to such unpleasantness. That aspect of the game troubled me indeed, but frankly I know from long years of eye-rolling that the noisier end of the videogaming spectrum ritually fails to be smart and sensitive even when it isn’t also trying to be some perverse, indulgent experiment in browbeating the player.

No, what for me keeps Far Cry 3 from deserving this pedestal-placement is that it’s so damned shallow. Beautiful open world filled with activities and open to a choice of stealth or steroidal frenzy it may be, and this is certainly something I enjoyed immensely, but beyond that it’s just box-ticking. Complete all the subquests, kill all the animal species, collect all the memory cards, climb all the radio towers… Click on icon, click on icon, click on icon. That’s entertainment, yes, but no more. It’s the traditional MMO grind with tight, flexible FPS controls applied to it – again, I do not mean to brand that a negative, but these are temporary distractions that speak only to compulsion, the burning need to complete and collect.

I admire that Far Cry 3 has made these lizard brain-pleasing activities look and even feel so spectacular, but I felt no lasting resonance from the icon-collecting it ultimately was. It gave me no stories to tell, and when it all finished, even aside from my distaste about those arrogant, addled ending sequences, I felt so hollow. I’d collected all those things, visited all those icons, and for what? Others, including my colleagues here, presumably took far more from the minute-to-minute experience and action than I did. I enjoyed it for sure, especially the flexible chaos of conquering enemy guard outposts, but it was always driven – undermined – by that great need to check off another box on the game’s great to-do list. The game could never surprise me – in what seems to be the Ubisoft studios’ design attitude now, I would know full-well what to expect at each of those icons. In fairness the story missions were the exception, and they did take me to unexpected places and sights, though I had to accept those unskippable and unpleasant cutscenes as the sacrifice for this.

Many compared Far Cry 3 to Skyrim, but for me it was much more akin to a leaner and more satisfying Assassin’s Creed, which has so often been so guilty of boiling down to a series of shopping lists. That map overflowing with activity icons seems to be a Ubisoft staple now, and even though it can of course be ignored, I still find it – and the structure that it is simply the surface-level herald of – robs these games of all the joy and adventure of organic exploration and discovery. I did not ever feel I was having an ad-hoc, unexpected journey in Far Cry 3, save perhaps for the earliest hours when a bear or tiger attack was still terrifying and not yet the perfunctory engagement it would become once I was armed with a couple of decent weapons.

I am grateful for Far Cry 3 and very pleasantly surprised by how much it did and so slickly too, but in a year that has given us so much I cannot possibly consider this to be its highlight. It’s a far cry from the best of 2012. Esteemed colleagues, I wag my (bony, RSI-plagued) finger at thee. Humbug!

Also it didn’t take long enough to collect all the bags. Put some rhinos and elephants in there and then we’ll talk.

Nathan: Warbird, I will never forget you.

Our paths only crossed briefly, but that was enough. No, scratch that: it was perfect. I was raiding an enemy outpost – my silenced sniper clicking and clanking as I darted into position behind some gigantic ruin of a WWII gun emplacement – when I first saw you. You were barely visible behind the bars of a ramshackle cage, but even then, I could tell you were different. In part, it was because I could sense something within you. Some kind of quiet ferocity, perhaps. But also, it’s because I still don’t know what the fuck kind of bird you were. Some kind of peacock emu? The offspring of an ostrich and a penguin?

But then, they noticed me.

I’d gotten too close. I popped from cover and picked off a couple as they closed the distance, but others flanked me. I fled into the tall grass nearby, nursing both my wounds and my sniperly pride. I’d taken too much damage to re-engage immediately, so I waited until they began to cautiously creep back toward the outpost. Then I circled around the back to begin my counterattack, and that’s when I noticed you. Like, I mean, really noticed you. You looked all puffed up, full of feathery avian rage. And that’s when I realized: we were the same. You wanted vengeance too.

Then a stray bullet caught your cage, and you got it. Slowly. Methodically. I watched in awe as you gracefully waddled into position and – just as soldiers turned in bewilderment at the inhuman screeching machine slaying their eardrums – pounced in a flurry of beak, claw, and gangly limbs. But only after that did you legitimately surprise me. Because you just let me be. We were mere feet apart, and you chicken-danced away, stage left. To this day, I haven’t harmed a single one of your kind, because who knows? It might be you.

Yeah, that mostly sounds silly, but there’s a kernel of feeling to it. I get to own these moments – whether they’re rife with unbridled, tigers-and-fire chaos, bizarre intimacy, or both. And I can set them off by running in guns-a-blazing, meticulously scouting and sneaking, or meeting somewhere in the middle. No, it’s definitely not the first game to take the power fulfillment fantasy route, but it might just be the best. Each and every element is weaved together into a glorious tapestry of player-controlled chaos. It’s a world that’s so obviously designed just for me, and it spares no expense to show its affections.

In that sense, Far Cry 3’s the anti-Far Cry 2 – a game which was, in turn, unabashedly anti-player. Totally dominating a shootout? Oops, your gun broke. Having a nice morning stroll? Never mind, bad guys everywhere. Breathing? Haha, malaria. And admittedly, I loved Far Cry 2 precisely because it wasn’t like other shooters at all. It despised me. But there’s room enough in my heart for both approaches, and – like its predecessor – Far Cry 3’s penchant for generating amazing stories is completely magical.

Truth be told, I don’t talk about games with my friends all that much. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I love games more than just about anything, but they’re my job. I guess I want to be more than simply Mr Videogames or something. But I could not shut up about Far Cry 3. Pretty much everyone who knows me now knows Warbird by extension. That story’s been spread around enough that it’s probably due for a major motion picture adaptation any day now.

It’s a bit odd, too. I could definitely be accused of a bit too readily ragging on most Shooty McMacho games in general, but I’m drawn to one that’s about merciless killing, tattoos, and colonization. And yeah, it’s allegedly a criticism of some of those things, but it’s certainly not a graceful, well-articulated, or even particularly apparent one. But in some ways, Far Cry 3 feels like the end of an era. It’s the big, dumb, loud, vaguely offensive cartoon shooter cranked up to 11 million. This is the game countless developers have been trying to create for years. The arms race is over. Far Cry won. Maybe now – finally, mercifully – we can all move on and make something brand new.

Sure, you’re annoyed. You liked Game Y and Game X better, and it doesn’t make sense when we’ve been so critical of it on a number of occasions. I’ve only published two truly confrontational interviews this year, and one of them was with the writer of this game. I’ve written a post titled “What I Loathe About Far Cry 3“. But I can assure you, it’s the game of 2012.

None of us was expecting it. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware it was due to be released this year, so far off my radar was the third game in a series I’ve never much cared for. Jim’s review encouraged me to install it, but I figured it’d be one I saved for the Christmas break, when I had the time. Instead I found the time by not sleeping much for a few nights. I’m old now – 35 – and it turns out staying up until 4am playing videogames isn’t a thing my body finds particularly endearing any more. But Far Cry 3 insisted. The older I get, the more capable I am of playing in sensible portions, stopping a game when it’s time to meet someone for coffee, acknowledge the existence of my wife, or indeed, go to bed. Far Cry 3 bypassed all that, and I just had to keep playing.

That’s enough for me. Right there, that’s enough to seal a GOTY title. It’s so compelling, so engrossing, and so balls-out fun that why would I want to stop when I can see the next village to clear out over a hill, which will likely offer me a new hunting challenge, and wait, is that a cave? The main quest may have been a bemusing confusion of an attempt to do something clever by doing a lot of things stupid, but it was only an occasional interruption to the real game I was playing. And you know what – a lot of those main plot missions were great! No, they wouldn’t have been great if they were the whole game, but they were lovely intermissions – suddenly the game was Uncharted for a bit, then it was Tomb Raider, then it was Just Cause 2. But you always promptly returned to the wider world, and its adventure-playground.

And absolutely crucially, it’s a really great shooter. That’s too easy to overlook in the fuss. The movement is utterly brilliant, the sliding into cover, the skidding down hillsides, the swift, generous sprint. The gunplay is fantastic, different weapons handling very differently, with broad variety and adaptability, so you can create the four-part arsenal that perfectly suited you. And damn, that bow is incredible. Adjusting for trajectory, boosted with skills, taking out a deer from 50 feet makes you feel amazing. Silently taking out a guard on a tower makes you feel like James Bond meets Hawkeye.

There’s no other game this year that I’ve found as fun, as compelling, and as absorbing. Until Far Cry 3 came along I was going to be pretty miffed that I wouldn’t have something like 1000 Amps or Scribblenauts Unlimited as our goatee choice. But now I’m extremely content with this in the top spot. XCOM may well have deserved it too – it’s outside of my territory – and Dishonored was a very special game from 2012. But Far Cry 3 grabbed me harder, pulled me in further (despite its mad narrative), and just let me have the freedom to run around and have all kinds of fun.

Adam: These are the first words I’ve written about Far Cry 3 since I actually played the damn thing, or at least the first seen by anything other than the unblinking eye of the hivemind. I’m unabashedly infatuated with the moments that the game produces so there’s a strong temptation to describe some of those moments and leave it at that. The time I drove a jeep over a cliff edge, twinkling green and blue stretching to the horizon, dived out of the driver’s seat an clung to the scree as the vehicle toppled down, end over end. The slow, careful descent that followed. The gunshots in the distance.

How about the first time I saw a Komodo dragon, after hearing the panic of its prey, who were also my prey, the mighty white hunter killing man and animal alike. I’m not entirely convinced by the deconstructionist nature of the characterisation but even before John had spoken to the game’s writer, I found the means by which bags and holsters are fashioned from carcasses comical, intentional or not. This is an island on which it’s possible to buy enough ordinance to equip an army but there’s not a single person willing to sell me a carrier bag.

I’ve got a magical tattoo. I’ve killed hundreds of people. I’m carrying grenades in a pouch made out of a dog’s hindquarters. The whole thing is bonkers, a hallucinatory holiday with a b-movie horror beginning and a bewildering sun-kissed beauty. The story is the setting. Impossible islands that would be paradise but for the murder-birds, poison-dragons, leaping tigers and angry men. There are so many endangered animals, all of which exist to be turned into some sort of satchel, that nothing is endangered anymore. What a joy that there are actually still so many tigers in the wild, I think to myself as one chases me over a waterfall.

Almost everything that I loved in Far Cry 2 is here and there was so much to love in that game. It was a failed experiment, an inspired confusion that should never have been abandoned. There are many games that fall by the wayside because they fail to live up to their promise, their best features forgotten and apparently abandoned. Spore comes to mind. Far Cry 2’s attempt to alter what we expect from a first-person shooter could have been similarly dismissed and the great surprise of Far Cry 3 was the willingness to learn and to improve rather than to jettison and forget.

I think it goes too far, replacing the endless respawning with none at all and providing a playground that can be too quickly emptied of its playthings, yet it’s an open world game that offers so much to see and to do that I frequently experience a sort of gratitude that I can load it up, to live and die in its emergent episodes. The problems that it suffers from are far more severe than those of other games in the calendar but that it provides so much joy in spite of them still has the power to shock, even after weeks of play.

For almost every blunderingly off-key note, there’s a performance and sliver of characterisation that deserves acknowledgement and appreciation, and for every scripted, hand-holding mess of a mission there are a hundred possible scenarios waiting in the undergrowth. In a year where Spec Ops: The Line demonstrated the power of a sand-shrouded yet blatant assault on the brutality of gaming’s warface, Far Cry 3’s landscape of colourful, cartoon brutality is peculiar. Every foray into the grim and the ugly feels like an uncomfortable insertion, a striving for a meaning or impact that is at odds with the playful world, where hunting, gathering and exploring are all possible precursors to moments of Looney Tunes calamity.

Ducking into a guardpost to hide from a patrolling vehicle at night, only to see it pull over as its occupants declare war on a pack of rabid dogs can be tense, unnerving and eventually hilarious as I drive away, leaving the red teeth and claws of nature to feast on the stranded gun-bastards. I construct scenarios, utilising every stage that has been set to enjoy an ambush, a gun fight, a car chase or a spot of sniping. Almost everything that I attempt feels right, even when it goes horribly wrong.

If someone had suggested in November that I’d spend more fulfilling hours with Far Cry 3 than Dishonored I would have raised an eyebrow and talked to somebody more sensible instead. If that same person had said that Ubisoft’s game would make the act of moving through a world feel anywhere near as smooth and solid as Arkane’s I would have spluttered an incomprehensible dismissal. And yet those things are true.

When I played Dishonored, I realised that no game since Mirror’s Edge had made me feel as if there was a physical entity behind my window on the world, leaping, slamming into walls, climbing, sliding. Far Cry 3 doesn’t have Arkane’s architecture to clamber across but the sense of being in a physical body is equally impressive. It does the seemingly simple things – the shooting, the falling, the running, the swimming, the driving – so well that it makes their actual complexity clear.

There have been tighter, more cohesive and more efficient games this year but Far Cry 3 does two things that I never expected. It’s a blockbuster first-person shooter that I actually enjoyed and it’s an open world game that everybody can and should learn from. I’d be happy to praise it effusively simply because opening it is like opening a toybox or visiting a park, but what seals it for me is the evidence that its designers are willing to learn from and elaborate on accidents and mishaps. Far Cry 2’s sequel could have been a bid budget exercise in cowardice, forsaking what had come before, but instead we have, at least in part, a fulfilment of a grand idea.


  1. pilouuuu says:

    I agree. Great choice, RPS. Merry X’mas, everyone! :-)

    • mentor07825 says:

      Merry Christmas to you too, and everyone else as well!

    • serioussgtstu says:

      Regardless of which game gets the silly title of ‘best game’, I think we can all agree that 2012 was an unbelievable year for gamers. And thanks to RPS for being comfortable with letting Alec point out why Far Cry 3 isn’t such a fantastic game, right in the middle of its game of the year award. That’s real democracy that readers can respect.

      Merry Christmas RPS!

      • DrunkDog says:

        Hey look, no SpamBot (yet). It looks like even demented, nonsense-spewing, cyber-shite-selling automatons are taking a few days off over Christmas too. A Christmas miracle indeed.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I didn’t believe the haul of FIVE GOLD RINGS until I checked my true love’s bank statement! Buy all natural mistletoe online and put the sprig back in your lovelife! Free X-Box account for first three wise men to click!

          • marlin says:

            Very good LionsPhil. Pssst…don’t want some turtle doves do you – beautiful plumage.

          • sinister agent says:

            That’s wonderful Sandra, but did you know you can discount replicas 50% cheap only for one low price? READ MORE.

          • Imbecile says:

            That’s truejenny, tho your spelling is too good. Mine wos too, but I couldn’t believe that shed recieved $3764 from the sale of wholemeal digestives. When I followd this link I couldn’t believe how easy it wad to follow teh link. It was so easy. Mmmmm

        • Cloudiest Nights says:

          I bought fortytoo virgins from a pimp in Guatamala. You can too like my aunt may and then some! With 100$ in bank and extra cash too boot too!

          • Hematite says:

            Oh come on now. You know that disagreement makes ppl more vocal then agreement.
            People that are fans of the game feel satisfied, and have probably already said their piece before today.
            thing to keep you busy for xmas

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        Talking of democracy, it is interesting to see that the comments here appear to be an inversion of the article. This will obviously change, but I have found 6 comments agreeing this is GOTY worthy in 4 pages of comments. The user base view seems to be the mirror opposite of RPS.

        • Gorf says:

          Oh come on now. You know that disagreement makes ppl more vocal then agreement.
          People that are fans of the game feel satisfied, and have probably already said their piece before today.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Now you mention it, I am sure your ad hoc speculation is more valid than the evidence of actual black text arrayed on this digitally transmitted webpage in front of our eyes. Back to school for me

          • Unaco says:

            While you’re there, you might want to ask them about sampling and selection bias. Here’s a hint… Commenters on Christmas Eve, in the 10 hours since the post went up do not equal the RPS user base.

          • Gorf says:

            So are you saying I’m wrong?
            You honestly think as many ppl will bother with “See I was right! RPS has validated me and my superior opinion of games” posts.

        • Unaco says:

          Everyone who owns and likes/loves the game is playing it, and doesn’t have time to take objection to people enjoying a game they don’t rate.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            I’m waiting for “only cool people like far cry 3 and they’re all our having fun on Christmas eve”. That would be an even better irrational denial.

          • Unaco says:

            My speculation is just as valid as your equating commenters with the RPS user base.

            Edit: Also, you didn’t get an invite? Guess we know why you didn’t like FC3 then…

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Someone said you were going to be at the party so I opted for root canal surgery I didn’t need instead

          • Unaco says:

            Nice deflection!

            Do you see though why you cannot assume the RPS User Base disagrees with the verdict from comments? Or are you just ignoring your initial mistake?

      • Captain Joyless says:

        Funny, I was going to say exactly the opposite: 2012 has been a terrible year for games generally.

        With the arguable exception of Dishonored (query the extent to which Dishonored is a throwback to Thief, but, regardless, still an exception to what I’m about to say), nearly every notable AAA-production this year has been a remake or a sequel. If this is a “good year” for games, what’s next year? XCOM the Remake 2? Far Cry 4? Borderlands 3? CODBLOPS 3? Assassins Creed 4? HALO 5? Another WoW expansion? Crusader Kings 3? Scribblenauts Definitely Unlimited? Natural Selection 3? More superhero games? Guild Wars 3? Go take a look at Yahtzee’s Zero Punctuation list, or the steam top sellers, or any publication’s list of best games. Hardly anything but established franchises.

        I just don’t see any evidence that the large or even medium-sized studios are capable of producing anything new. Sorry but we are staring into a creative abyss.

        (There have been plenty of indie exceptions: FTL and Gimbal being two of my favorites, but those are not games that are going to occupy many people for 100+ hours)

        • sinister agent says:

          AAA budget games are one part of the field, the rest of which is fluorishing and expanding rapidly. It’s been a terrific year for games, and the only way you can say otherwise is if you deliberately focus only on the worst part of it and pretend the rest of it is just a footnote.

          Fuck the huge studios. They’ve always put out predictable samey tenth sequel mediocrity, with the occasional utter disaster or masterpiece. It’s so well known that it’s barely worth commenting on anymore. Judging the whole of games by that is like saying a year must be bad for films because Hollywood released another ten shitty comedies about occupation x in WACKY SITUATION y.

          • Captain Joyless says:

            Your argument might carry more weight if the “game of the year” on RPS wasn’t Far Cry 3.

          • sinister agent says:

            Except that I already noted that they can produce an occasional gem. And there are 23 other games on the same list. And RPS don’t all agree on it. And even if they do, so what? RPS aren’t actually right about everything, you know. Stalker was shit, for example.

          • fish99 says:

            ” Stalker was shit, for example.”

            Credibility -> Toilet.

        • Stone_Tigris says:

          Two things.

          One, what makes a game a “AAA” production is usually it being part of a franchise as that is what has been shown to sell. I myself have spent hours on Far Cry, Borderlands and COD, doesn’t make them bad that they have a number after their name, just shows it’s connected in some way.

          Two, we are not in a creative abyss, we are innovating new products (i.e. Dishonored). But to fund these innovative products, every once in a while, a franchise has to be created and kept alive. I’m not trying to defend EA, Activision and Ubisoft (The Axis of the game industry…) but not every employee is not innovative, they are usually the people who become indie game creators.

          – Stone (Merry Christmas everyone! <3)

    • Unaco says:

      Hanukkah ended last week. Enjoy your bastardised Pagan festival of indulgence.

      • Squirrelfanatic says:

        Go back to bed Unaco. Everyone else, happy holidays, whatever it is you are celebrating!

      • The Random One says:

        I think you’re mistaken, Unaco. The bastardised Pagan festival of indulgence doesn’t start until February. Now we’re celebrating the bastardised Pagan festival of consumerism.

    • Vartarok says:

      (Slightly) DISSAPOINTING! ;__;

      Not because of the game, but because what the game represents. XCOM and Dishonored were more important!

      • 2helix4u says:

        This game has a worse save/checkpoint system than any game I’ve played this year. It also has instant fail stealth missions you have to complete in order to progress past the first bit of the game and get to use guns.
        When the game first set me free I ran over to a lake to see what was in it, at this point my character died because I’d gone out of bounds when I didn’t know I was on a mission.
        The writing is rancid and self-important, I’ve seen one of my friends have a lot of fun with this game but I personally have spent 3-4 hours trying to get into the game, and I literally mean trying to get into it. This game loves to waste your time, no quicksaving in missions, no real quicksave at all actually, if you quit an open world mission you don’t just remove the objective you respawn miles away back where you originally were and you can trigger these missons unknowingly by reading things in the game world.
        Its supposed to save your progress when you go to a mission but it doesn’t always. This results in you running to a mission for 30 minutes, skinning and collecting on the way, then getting run over or something and having to start all over again. The instant-fail stealth mission (the 2nd mission, i believe) broke my spirit, stop putting these in games. There’s no checkpointing in the mission either so its just kill these 8 guys without alerting anybody and oh by the way you don’t have any stealth abilities yet.
        Sure I’m a noob who needs to l2p but its 2012 if you have multiple instant fail stealth sequences in a game that is not about instant fail stealth you need to take your game back to the drawing board.

        I have no doubt there will be many sarcy comments from John and lots of discussion in these comments, but yeah, I think some of us can’t help but feel a little sad that in a year with dishonored, xcom, ftl the big award goes to the ironiracist manshoot with poor infrastructure. I mean, thats what every other videogame blog is for.

        • AmateurScience says:

          You know these things are meaningless right? This is 5 guys whose opinions we value telling us their opinions – with which it’s totally OK to disagree.

        • noodlecake says:

          Regardless of those things it’s still a tighter, more fun, more epic experience than FTL, XCOM or Dishonoured. My nomination for game of the year is Awesomenauts but I’m happy with this as a choice. It’s a fantastic game despite people looking for racist connotations that aren’t there.

        • darkChozo says:

          What mission are you referring to? The only insta-fail stealth mission I recall doesn’t happen until rather late in the game (and it’s stupid when it happens). The second mission does have something of a stealth element, in the sense that your ally can die if you start the attack and then fail to take the outpost quickly enough, but that’s hardly insta-fail stealth.

          Checkpoint system seems rather hit and miss, depending on whether you are a quick-save kind of person or not. Personally, I never had trouble with the save system, but I do think the developer should include it, if only as an option for those who like it.

      • colossalstrikepackage says:

        I’m in the Alec camp here. Far Cry 3 was a fun game which exceeded VERY low expectations. Games like Dishonoured and X-COM set far higher standards, met them, and showed that blockbuster games could be something more. Then there were the unexpected ones like the Walking Dead. I guess I thought that RPS would champion games that were exceptional – and not merely okay.

        • noodlecake says:

          Look. Just because you didn’t like Far Cry 3 as much as the majority of people who played it, doesn’t mean that RPS have no taste in games. I’ve put way more hours into this than Dishonoured. The fact that you are restricted to a handful of powers in that game if you don’t want a really fucked up ending kinda ruins it… As well as most of the ways through usually ending up feeling completely iffy and botched no matter how many times you reload. They probably wouldn’t be like that with the other powers that look cool but I aren’t allowed to use. Also the story was lame. The art style is gorgeous though…

          • ParadoxEternal says:

            so putting more hours into a game is a plus? To me, it’s not about quantity but quality. I enjoyed my 20 hours with Dishonored more than my 30 hours with Far Cry 3 or my 35 (and counting) hours with Borderlands 2. I enjoyed my 2 hours with Journey more than the four of them, I enjoyed my 72 minutes with Home more than those, and enjoyed my 12 hours with The Walking Dead more than any of them. There’s nothing wrong with a game having a ton of good content, but I’ll take less amazing content over more good content any time.

  2. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    But is it art?

    (Or is it just not very good art)

    EDIT: What happened to the boardgames? Is that not happening now?

    • Norskov says:

      I think something got in the way: link to

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        Oh no! Get well soon Rab if you’re reading this!

      • spindaden says:

        Thanks for posting this, I was about to have a bit of a go at Rob with a snide remark, now i feel bad.

        Get well soon Rob, being sick at christmas sucks.

    • John Walker says:

      The final part goes up today at 2.

    • pilouuuu says:

      I think it is art. As much as something like Rambo is art. It’s ridiculously violent and it is funny because of it. One of the things I like the most about FarCry 3 is the procedural stories that happen here. Like a tiger attacking some enemies in the distance. It’s like a real world, where not everything functions around you. It’s what FPS and sand-box should be all about.

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        Rambo (unless you mean the 2008 rehash) wasn’t particularly violent. It was mostly a study of post-traumatic stress syndrome and isolation, and was a rather intelligent film. Certainly more so than we’ve seen in any shooters thus far.

        But I’m missing your point, aren’t I?

        • AndrewC says:

          Ooo! Film pedantry! I want to play! First Blood is about PTSD, but Rambo: First Blood Pt 2 is about killing Asians.

        • ParadoxEternal says:

          go play Spec Ops and then re-think your thought that Rambo was more intelligent than any FPS we’ve seen so far. And while this is a less similar comparison, BioShock. System Shock 2.

    • Snakejuice says:

      The Encyclopædia Britannica Online defines art as “the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others”.

      Yes, it’s art, most media is.

      • The Random One says:

        Pssht! That also defines, like, BUILDINGS. I don’t think anyone would be as mad as to say architecture is an art!


    • PopeRatzo says:

      “But is it art?”

      It kind of is.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        It is un-meta-art.

        It contains art. It is of art.

        But it has descended below and transcended beyond art, thus occupying a shadow realm precisely congruent with but separate to art.

  3. Imbecile says:

    Great game with plenty of flaws. It might not be my no 1 but it totally merits being a candidate.

    • F3ck says:


      It has some amazing moments – truly wonderful moments – but almost in spite of itself…this game needs a mod gutting the scripted/linear parts…

      I had a dream last night where boat-loads (literally) of pirates and mercenaries were landing at various docks all over the island(s)…and I only had so much time to arrive and pick them off (or sink the boat or booby-trap the dock, etc) or that area would be hostile again……sort of a sandbox island-defense game…

      …what was I saying?

      Oh yeah, seems 2012 was a great year for good games.

  4. Metonymy says:

    As someone already mentioned, this was one of the worst years for games in a long while, and it really shows with all of these indie titles making their way into the list.

    I would criticize your choice for #1, but it’s pointless, since it’s not like there was a better one. FC3 was uninstalled after 30 minutes of piddling.

    My personal #1 for 2011 was FTL. That, along with X-com and SPAZ, are the games that I most want a sequel to.

  5. caddyB says:

    Fine, I’ll buy it.

  6. mouton says:

    Boohoo, no Spec Ops anywhere. Oh well.

    • Terragot says:

      I’m glad. Any game which orders you to perform actions, then blames your integrity for those actions isn’t a clever game worthy of anyone’s time. As there is no choice to be made by the player, by Spec Ops logic, the only way to no be a hypocrite with that game is to ignore it, and not play it at all.

      • Obc says:

        but wasnt this the whole point of the game? to see the farce of the hypocritical facade real world FPS are? and if you have come to the conclusion that the only winning move to not play the game or atleast be critical of it and by the same logic of other real world FPS games than I’d say the developer did everything right.

        • NathanH says:

          There’s no such thing as a “real world FPS” and nobody thinks that there is.

          • Snakejuice says:

            In this context, I think “real world FPS” might mean “modern military shooter”?

          • Obc says:

            @snakejuice: yup, though by choosing the moniker “Real World FPS” i wanted to include all the WW2 shooters and other shooters set on earth during non-fictional eras too.

      • drewski says:

        The game doesn’t really blame you for doing the things, really. It blames you for wanting to be a person who does those things.

        “You want to be a hero? This is a hero.”

        • NathanH says:

          The point is that nobody wants to be those people. Not really.

          • drewski says:

            I’ll let the other 7 billion people on the planet know you’ve decided for them.

          • NathanH says:

            Come on, you wouldn’t really want to actually be an FPS protagonist would you? Like, actually be them? Surely not.

          • drewski says:

            No, but mostly because I don’t have quickload IRL.

            Why do I want to play as a person that does these things? Why do I want to play a character who tortures people, burns them alive, murders hundreds or thousands on the say-so of some dude in a suit in a cut-scene…

            Why is that my recreation? What does that say about me?

            Press x to waterboard.

          • Unaco says:

            You guys don’t want to be Gordon Freeman? Fair ’nuff.

          • NathanH says:

            I’d say it doesn’t say an awful lot about you. It probably says that you like fast-paced action challenges in a well-defined tightly-constrained environment where you receive immediate feedback regarding your actions. It probably says you like military-based stories too. I don’t think it says much more.

            I think people need to recognize the distinction between playing as a protagonist and taking the role of a protagonist. You don’t necessarily have to get in-character and try to think like the protagonist all the time, especially when the protagonist is doing things the player doesn’t have a choice about. A game can just be a story in which you play some of the actions out; you don’t have to believe you’re the person doing them. Why do you play some of the actions out? Because they’re fun actions to play out in a risk-free harm-free environment.

            As an extreme example, who really thought they “were” Arthas in the Warcraft 3 Undead campaign? I doubt many people did. They were just playing a strategy game with a story and it happened that the protagonist of the story was at that point slaughtering people.

            Unaco: I would not mind being Gordon Freeman if, as in gaming, I was operating in an environment where the correct action was clear, the consequences of my actions were immediately apparent, there was no long-term consequences to my choices, I was immune to pain, and could reload whenever I wanted to. Remove these caveats and no, I would bloody well not want to be Gordon Freeman!

          • drewski says:

            Why does playing that sort of game also have to include torture, murder of civilians, burning people to death, indiscriminate mindless killing without consequence, and all the other “heroic” stuff modern cinematic action games like to throw at players?

            That’s the question Spec Ops is asking – why do we want to play as THAT guy? Surely I can have a ” fast-paced action challenges in a well-defined tightly-constrained environment where you receive immediate feedback regarding your actions” without having to massacre hundreds of people from a C-130.

            Why is *that* our action challenge of choice?

            And I mean personally, by far the best shooters I’ve ever played have been System Shock 2 and No One Lives Forever 1/2, both games marked by a very sharp and distinct lack of torture or murdering innocents. Why is it that the games which glorify macho brainless Jack Bauer style “anyone who isn’t me I can do whatever I want to because fuck ’em” is the action game of choice?

            Why do 10 million people a year want to play as a mindless brutalising thug? Why aren’t action games challenging without being dehumanising?

      • Xocrates says:

        Ironically, that’s why I found it so clever. It places the agency of the action at the hands of the player, even if it doesn’t provide any other option.

        The only winning move was not to play, and the game rubs your face in it.

        Just the knowledge that someone had the balls to make a game like that makes me giddy.

        • Urthman says:

          And I chose not to play! So I win at Spec Ops! I am the best at that game, according to the developers.

          Nice of them to let me win without even taking my money.

          • Imbecile says:

            Heh. Its interesting to me that three games in this list have taken a similar approach to this ie the only way to win is not to play. To me that’s a stupid way to make the point. Give me an in game alterative that doesn’t involve wasting my money and I’ll take it. The other alterative for me is to not buy the next fame you produce and im fairly sure the publishers wouldn’t be too happy with that response.

          • drewski says:

            I really don’t think that’s what Spec Ops is trying to say.

            You don’t “win” in an art gallery, either.

      • Skhalt says:

        I’m with Terragot here, I don’t understand why so many people praise it as a clever food for thought. At pretty much every opportunity I had been looking for another way, and been denied it, so why should I feel guilty of anything?

        Example: Why should I kill one of those two hanged man? Can I cut both ropes? Why yes, I can, but a couple of magical snipers kill me if I do. Can I kill the magical snipers first then? Why no, because your assault rifle seems to be little help against two magical snipers. Okay, I’ll play along and kill one of the hanged men. The magical snipers leave me unharmed and the villain tells me over the radio that I am an evil person.

        Then, end of the game, SHOCK, it was an hallucination all along! Those two hanged men were already dead! Ah ah, see, clever! Mindblowing twist!
        Erh, really? So why would magical snipers kill me if I did anything but shoot at one of the bodies? Why didn’t the NPC companions ever tell me I was shooting at a dead body? Did someone see my suspension of disbelief around? What, it threw itself out the window? Madness!

        • USER47 says:

          I am pretty sure you can save both hanged men if you are fast enough:). Not that it matters in the end obviously, but still:).

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          Can I kill the magical snipers first then?

          Yes, you can. I chose not to shoot either of the hanging men but instead attacked the snipers. And they shot back, but I beat them.

          I never thought to shoot the ropes though. Huh.

        • kaliper says:

          The game forces you to make a decision here, just as Walker thinks he is being forced to keep going and killing people in horrible ways. But you don’t have to. You can stop playing the game/Walker can stop playing the ‘game’, by walking away as you/he could have done the entire time. How meaningful this theme of player agency is may be debatable, but it sure is different from any other shooter I’ve played recently and that’s what I really liked about Spec Ops.

          • mouton says:

            This theme of choice is not conducted perfectly, but it is much more meaningful than in, what, 99% of games out there. Even if the game fails for someone, it fails while digging far deeper than most.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            ??? Player agency refers to the player’s ability to act within the rules of the game. It doesn’t refer to choosing to play the game in the first place. Spec Ops has no player agency, so it’s treatment of it as a ‘theme’ is nonexistent and laughable.

          • Xocrates says:

            @Runs With Foxes: What? Are you even aware of how dumb that sounds?

            As a Player, if the game doesn’t progress without you taking an action, no matter how simple, you have agency.

            Never mind the baffling implication that a game is an entirely self contained experiment. That’s nonsense and you know it.

            Just because you choose to randomly define the rules so that things fit in the category you want them to, doesn’t make something “nonexistent and laughable”

          • AngoraFish says:

            @Xocrates A ‘game’, by definition, has rules. Dropping out of the game is equivalent to taking your bat and ball and going home – ie not playing (by the rules). The suggestion that deciding to stop playing a game you paid good money for is somehow equivalent to continuing to play is, frankly, nonsensical. You seem to be arguing for the sake of argument.

          • Xocrates says:

            @AngoraFish: I never suggested that. And frankly I’m not even sure where you got that idea.

            However games are not self-contained. They need and affect outside elements (the players, at a minimum).

            You are not forced to play a game, and that’s much of what Spec Ops says. You could stop at any point but you didn’t. If the game required you to do something you didn’t like, but you did it anyway, this wasn’t the game forcing your hand, this was you choosing to do it. This might be for something as simple as you wanting to play the game you paid money for, but it doesn’t change the fact that the game only progressed because YOU wanted to.

            Yes, it’s taking the ball and going home. But so what? The game won’t mind. Frankly, the game is wondering why you didn’t do it.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Wheee, I won at Spec Ops, then!

        But doesn’t Far Cry 3 do the same deal, from what that head-up-backside-writer interview was saying?

        • Shooop says:

          FC3 doesn’t so much try as it just falls down 3 flights of stairs and then claims that’s exactly what it meant to do.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          Spec Ops and Far Cry 3 do have something in common. They both present scenarios more debased and violent than in other games, and then try to claim they are satirising those other games.

          • KenTWOu says:

            Seriously, what’s your problem with Spec Ops? Spec Ops is clearly criticizing those other games not satirizing them.

      • Shooop says:

        You’ve just accidentally nailed the point.

        The entire point is what Conrad says: “You should have just stopped.” The game was even saying, “You’re not going to like what you see if you keep going.” But as a player you want to keep going, keep on seeing what’s going to happen right?

        And so you see absolutely horrible things that even though you knew it wasn’t going to be anything good or uplifting. Like a movie or a book, if you didn’t like what you saw then it was your own fault you kept looking.

      • mouton says:

        First, it wasn’t you, it was Walker. You can guide his decisions to some extent, but in the end you are trapped on his doomed and deranged path. Yes, it projects the “blame” onto the player, but it filters it through the focalizer that is Walker.

        Second, the game itself discusses this point – your squadmate yells “We can’t do that! There is always a choice!” to which Walker replies “No. There really isn’t”. And, because human condition is such a funny thing, both answers are actually true. This exchange actually made me laugh hysterically when I heard it.

      • nearly says:

        but…that’s the point of the game. are you really that bothered by a game that labels you a hypocrite for doing exactly what it told you to do? a game that you can’t “win”? is a game really about “winning” for you?

        use your critical thinking. if the idea of genocide and mass-murder bother you so much, don’t play “no russian.” don’t play Spec Ops. and if you do, be prepared to experience cognitive dissonance.

        I guess this is why Far Cry 3 is a much stronger game of the year. people like you can just have their power fantasy wish fulfillment and not think about anything potentially harmful about reveling in such a fantasy. although, apparently, you can’t “win” at that one either. sorry.

      • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

        I’m glad. Any game which orders you to perform actions, then blames your integrity for those actions isn’t a clever game worthy of anyone’s time.

        But Walking Dead IS on the list though, you must’ve missed it, it’s day 4.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      hang on, despite it’s storey was not the rest of the game a thoroughly mediocre 3rd person shooter? I imagine the fact that the “game” part wasn’t much good is why it didn’t feature.

      • USER47 says:

        It wasn’t as bad as many people claim. While it had fairly standard shooting mechanics for this genre, the environment was really beautiful and I didn’t have a problem with gameplay. I enjoyed it much more than Gears of War, for example. But of course, the story is main reason to play it.

        • tobecooper says:

          I really love the art direction in Spec Ops. The background of the main menu changes according to the mission you play. All the posters, billboards and graffiti are beautiful and sometimes even transform before your eyes. Dead people you encounter are always placed in a very aesthetically-pleasing manner. It’s really quite memorable. Oh and the sweet loading screens with progressively more mad captions. Visually, it’s anti-brown.

      • AngoraFish says:

        The ‘game’ part of The Walking Dead was thoroughly abysmal, but it still featured.

      • Shooop says:

        I went ahead and bought it while it was on sale.

        Played the demo on PS3 and it was fairly bad because of the controls. It’s better on PC, but definitely nothing more than a standard “pop and shoot” game aside from the nice “weaponized sand” bits.

        Not terrible, but definitely not noteworthy. So give it spin if you can find a copy on the cheap.

      • luukdeman111 says:

        LOL….. As if Dear Esther had an impressive game part…..

        I mean, I love Dear Esther but holding the W key for 2 hours while moving your mouse around without challenging you in any way isn’t really what i’d call good gameplay…

  7. USER47 says:


  8. meepmeep says:

    I found the first two so…dispiriting…to try and play, but if the respawns are gone then ok, I’ll get this.

  9. Drake Sigar says:

    Every other game on the calender deserved game of the year more than Far Cry 3.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      ME3 didn’t, and the walking dead is barely a game

      • S Jay says:

        XCOM was Dishonored.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        At the risk of fighting off the ignorant cries of ‘hipster’, I think what really sticks in my craw is that this year totally belonged to indi games and small studios. Legend of Grimrock, FTL, Crusader Kings II, Hotline Miami – they were all fantastic titles unlike anything on today’s market, and they were also uniquely PC. There’s a bit of a lull in the AAA market now that consoles are in the process of changing over, yet still the GotY ends up being Ubisoft’s multiplatform open-world title? I’m also concerned that Far Cry 3 was the latest to be released, so it’s still new and shiny. How will everyone view Far Cry 3 a few months from now?

        • Ernesto25 says:

          RE FTL and Hotline Miami i really loved ftl and hotline was ok but i wouldn’t say goty over something like dishonored but it doesn’t spoil my enjoyment over them. I couldn’t name a GOTY due to it down to mood/feelings etc. The walking dead i love for its story but it has bare minimum of actual game play and illusion of choices. Hotline miami is a game like no other which i think YES whenever i have completed a level despite being frustrated while playing the level. FTL gives me the star trek fantasy Ive been craving since ME1. I’m glad there have been good indie title and AAA titles previous years i have been scraping around so am just hoping for more of the same next year.

        • Flint says:

          How will everyone view Hotline Miami, or any other indie game, some time from now? They can have just as much longevity or disappear as quickly from view as any other game.

          The great thing about RPS’ Calendar is that it does not care whether something is indie or AAA mainstream. A good game is a good game and if you only focus on what a game’s commercial credentials are… well, that’s a bit sad.

          I’ve not played FC3 myself (will probably give it a go at some point but waiting for a lower price simply because I’ve been burnt by both previous installments and I’m now acting a bit more cautious) so I can’t say whether I agree or not with its placement on the list, but the Hivemind’s opinions on why they picked it as their GOTY are well-explained, and logical in that respect. Picking something else just because it was more indie than FC3 would’ve been far more disingenuous for RPS.

          • Ernesto25 says:

            maybe like old PCG they should have picked each a personal GOTY. i was fine with their choice i assumed it would be XCOM a game i would probably never play unless i saw it for a fiver on steam.

          • Drake Sigar says:

            FTL has been out a few months, Hotline Miami a couple, I think that’s just enough time for the intoxicating effects to pass and provide a completely objective opinion, but let’s say it’s not. That leaves Crusader Kings II which came out in February, a game everyone is still talking about, constantly swapping personal stories (oh my god you just can’t get them to shut up!) You think anyone’s going to be talking about Far Cry 3 a YEAR from now? Maybe, but I doubt it.

        • Unaco says:

          Maybe the Hivemind chose FC3 regardless of it being a AAA game, and one from UBISoft no less. Maybe, it being UBISoft’s multiplatform open-world title didn’t come into the reckoning. I’m guessing these sorts of things are more to do with the game itself than all the ephemera that goes along with it.

          Also, would you rather this was the “Games of the first 10 months of 2012”?

          • NathanH says:

            For your last sentence, I think that the last two months of the year should go into next year’s analysis. It’s better to have some time to reflect after a game’s come out to determine its place. Also, it gives less high-profile games released at this time to have more of a chance to be noticed.

          • LionsPhil says:

            It’s sensible, but not really as catchy.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Gotta agree with that. Dishonored or XCOM where way better than Far Cry 3. Hell, Legend of Grimrock deserved to be GOTY.

      RPS is losing touch.

      • AmateurScience says:

        RPS is losing touch because some of the writers enjoyed a game more than some of the ones you and they really liked?

      • Jakkar says:

        Hate to say it, but I have found the flavour of RPS somewhat lacking in recent months. Perhaps over the last six, a steady mellowing toward all-inclusive, all-appreciative cosiness. There’s some fine alternative opinion and some good critical writeups but I keep finding myself surprised by the positive words on games I was simply expecting the Hivemind to give a hard time.

        I appreciate RPS for being the harsh voice of honesty and good taste in the online gaming press, and while that remains, this is the icing on a Christmas cake made of… LOW BROW TASTLESSNESS :<

        *hips frantically and falls overboard*

      • Wisq says:

        I haven’t played Far Cry 3 yet, but XCOM was monotonous after the first playthrough and only had “easy” and “horribly unfair” difficulty levels, and I felt like I should’ve really liked Dishonored but was underwhelmed and still haven’t finished it.

        Given how much my friends are ranting about Far Cry 3, and the quality of the scenes I’ve seen so far, I’m not at all surprised it surpassed those titles. Hell, even Yahtzee liked it.

  10. Ernesto25 says:

    Glad im getting it for xmas pretty good list bar ME3 imo. Seems like the very rough diamond of FC2…ahahaha has been improved upon lookign forward to it.

  11. 22raoulduke says:

    Alec is 100% on the money. It’s just an above average man-shoot-em-up with a below average script.

    RPS hivemind really chose the last big release of the year as the best? Less hivemind and more bowl of bloody goldfish.

    • John Walker says:

      Yeah! We just went, “Er, can anyone think of a game…” And said the one that we’d most recently played. I mean, ignore the words written above where we explain why – they’re probably just lies.

      • Ernesto25 says:

        So that’s how dear esther was chose for this list and not Max Payne 3! ^^ Anyway have a good Christmas john

      • Solidstate89 says:

        You know we can never trust the words of a T-Rex.

      • AmateurScience says:

        All those doritos have addled your minds. Clearly.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        I think they turn the decision-making process into a gameshow, possibly involving a big wheel. Obviously Alec came last.

      • Shooop says:

        Once I read the interview about how badly they botched their “satire” ending I sure didn’t feel like playing the game nearly as much. Attacking camps comes down to a rinse/repeat formula of sniping people and animal cages and the island itself is downright dull after you’re used to recognizing the sounds animals make so you can kill them safely before venturing on.

        And then throw in QTEs and unskipable cutscenes, characters who have the personalities of wet cardboard boxes because they serve no purpose but to hand out quests or be killed in aforementioned QTEs.

        The only surprise about FC3 is it’s not complete shit. It’s mediocre instead. Is that all it takes to impress you guys today?

        • Jehuty says:

          Won’t bother contesting all your points, you’re half right on a fair portion of them anyway, but come on, the outposts were brilliant! Sounds more like you were playing them in a very boring repetitive way. Tired of sniping and animal cages? Why not go in full rambo with lmg and grenade launcher? Why not throw rocks to carefully lead a heavy into a thicket full of mines, chuck a load of c4 around his body and run giggling into a bush while everyone else comes to investigate? Why not pretend you’re playing as Corvo and knife everyone in sight, finishing with a chained takedown into a knife throw? Why not shoot absolutely every last pirate in the butt with a bow, giving them a fetching arrow tail? There were loads of options.

          • Shooop says:

            The only technique that’s really viable for outposts is sniping and setting the animals in cages (that is if the outpost you’re attacking has one that is) loose. Otherwise the alarm sounds and it’s a standard “shoot the angry men shooting at you” affair.

            Trying to sneak into outposts is far more trouble than it’s worth thanks to enemies who par for the Ubisoft course variate only between hilariously inept or cyberneticly enhanced hyper-aware.

          • Nogo says:

            Did you know you can disable the alarms? I actually stopped doing the snipe route because it was easier to stealth kill one or two guys to reach an alarm box then take out the rest in whatever gleeful fashion you like (flamethrower, mines and drop attacks being my personal favorites.)

            And I’m not sure what you mean about the AI being hyper aware. They obviously operate by LOS and loud noises, so a silenced SMG/bow and judicious use of sprint/corners/bushes basically makes you the predator.

          • Hematite says:

            @Nogo: I just found out today that you can shoot the alarm boxes to disable them too! It only works for the ones you shoot, so you’ve still got to worry about any others. It makes snipering the checkpoints much easier.

    • DonJefe says:

      I think a lot more credit is due to the RPS writers. The main reason I love this site is that the really do think about games and take them seriously.

      With that said, I agree with Alec Meer as well. I am very surprised that something so run-of-the-mill as Far Cry wins Game of the Year. It is a visually stunning game surely, but apart from that I find it hard to see its merits.

      But then again, I have not loved FPS’s since the days of Wolfenstein and the first Doom. So maybe it’s just me being a old fart that finds more joy in strategic and tactical games like XCOM and Crusader Kings 2.

  12. Om says:

    Hmmm. Wasn’t the criticism of Dishonoured that it was missing something; that for all its tight design and slick mechanics there was a void where the story/plot/narrative should be? I’m surprised that the same criticism hasn’t been levelled at FC3

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      I believe they have been kidnapped by Tigers and irate Tapirs, and forced to say only nice things, lest bits of their ears be chewed off :)

    • Deano2099 says:

      More interestingly, a criticism of Dishonoured was that when playing it, they loved it and thought it was fantastic, but found themselves with no desire to go back to it and that it quickly vanished from memory, not having much lasting impact.

      FC3 hasn’t had a chance to do that yet. I do think if the two games’ release dates were swapped, Dishonoured would be in the top spot. Which is worrying.

      More worrying is that I’m still not seeing a good reason to play this game, past “it’s a good shooter, with lots to do”. The one interesting and different thing it tries to do apparently falls flat on it’s face quite badly.

      • yogibbear says:

        After about halfway through the game you can fling yourself of any cliffside and survive in one hell of a stylish entrance :)

    • thecat17 says:

      I’m pretty sure those critics didn’t bother to read most of the books, or looked through keyholes at the right times, and are too lazy to piece things together for themselves and not have everything explained to them directly.

      These are probably the same people who left objective markers on, and went straight to them without taking the time to really explore the world. Do not trust the opinions of such people, for they weren’t playing Dishonored the way it should’ve been played.

      • Stephen Roberts says:

        I find it hilarious that objective markers were in Dishonoured at all (and rune markers). They did themselves a disservice (a bit like being a games journalist then putting a big number at the end of your review, for example), and anyone that didn’t know about the choice should go back and play again. But, if you’re playing on a PC, you should go through all the options menus before you play. It’s like a ritual or something.

        The shift in design of games from Crysis to Crysis 2 is notable when compared directly. In the intervening years between these two titles, everyone became a total idiot and needed everything spelled out in flashing red text on the screen somewhere. That’s why Crysis 2 has a ‘suggested routes’ mode thing that genuinely suggests you ‘Avoid’ that tank that will blow you the fuck up in a split second if you go anywhere in it’s line of sight. It’s why ‘hold E’ turns up on everything you can interact with in Far Cry 3. It’s why every single mission (in every single game (bar none, no hyperbole)) has a floating circle to run towards. In Far Cry 2 the road signs changed colour. Mystical, but a little cleverer than shitting UI onto everything.

        TL;DR: Old man prefers Quake, more respect for the intelligence of game players. ‘Back in my day…’

        • Mad Hamish says:

          hear hear. And feck off to the people who say “well just turn them off then”. the games are designed around these features. e.g. Newer Elder Scrolls games. Go to this miarker and do something, got your markers turned off? Tough shit, turn them on because none of the NPCs, books or bits of paper are going to give you directions because the Devs assume you’ve got your magic brain GPS on.

          • WedgeJAntilles says:

            Yeah, Skyrim is actually impossible without the objective markers, and that really bothered me, especially after I started installing tons of realism-type mods. Dishonored did an okay job of it, though; most of the time I was able to figure out where to go from the quest descriptions.

          • sinister agent says:

            No it isn’t. I play it not only without any markers, but I’ve literally never even glanced at the map. There’s an entry-level spell that marks a path to your objective. Easy.

          • Narzhul says:

            @Skyrim, if you actually just blindly followed the objectives and markers and didn’t stop to think for yourself, you’ve probably skipped out on a couple of alternate rewards or quest endings. Some, albeit few of the quests are pretty well designed, with more than one way to finish.

          • Nogo says:

            sinister: that’s different from a quest marker how?

        • thecat17 says:

          I’d rather there be a choice for me, a seasoned veteran of certain first-person games, to enjoy the game as I see fit, and for somebody who hasn’t played a videogame in their life to play as they see fit.

          Dishonored does it right. The objective markers, the rune markers, the bone charm markers… they all weren’t actually needed for you to progress. I found it a lot more fun turning them off. And I understand why they were all left on by default, to appeal to the widest audience. As soon as I saw them, and noticed that the options menu let me turn them off, I did so. No big deal.

          And it was nice to see the before and after, to see all that unnecessary (for me, at least) clutter disappear from my screen.

        • sinister agent says:

          It’s optional, uses up magic, leaving you potentially vulnerable, and it makes sense within the game world. It also encourages you to still get caught up in stuff alongside what you’re doing, rather than just running directly at a marker.

  13. bateleur says:

    And Alec wins RPS journalist of the year! Congrats Alec! 8-)

  14. Stellar Duck says:

    I think I disagree with this. I’ve enjoyed my time spent with this game so far, but after 12 or so hours I’ve realised that the game is ultimately hollow. It contains nothing of substance aside from a a million time waster missions and hunting trips and the story isn’t enough to keep my interested.

    It’s so incredibly video gamey compared to the brilliant creation that was FarCry 2. After clearing the check points on the first island I find myself bored and without a reason to play. FC2 might have pushed a bit much against the player but FC3 doesn’t push at all. It just hands the player everything and demands nothing. It’s pretty but that’s about it, when all is said and done.

    • Skhalt says:

      That was pretty much my experience. Once I have had a taste of every weapon, tried all the takedown skills and generally goofed around experiencing everything, I realised I was done with the game and couldn’t be bothered with finishing liberating the first island or see the story through to its end. Just uninstalled the game and went for some Planescape: Torment instead (and I’m a completionist, it’s extremely rare I uninstall a game before I finish it).

      • Cleave says:

        If you play to the 2nd island you get much stronger resistance at the outposts. Generally a couple of heavies at each one and if you don’t disable the alarms you get several waves of reinforcements which can be challenging.

        Once you realise to just stealth in, disable the alarms and C4 the heavies it’s pretty easy mind..

  15. NathanH says:

    I’m happy that a game I haven’t played and will never play has won, because it means that I can’t disagree.

    Crusader Kings 2 was still better, obviously.

  16. Pliqu3011 says:

    Hmm. Good game, but certainly not a goatee for me.

    It’s a great game, but I get annoyed far too often by stupid design decisions – like the “mission zones” – to get anywhere near immersed. I’ve been even more immersed in say, Assassins Creed 3…

    I didn’t like the atmosphere and the colours. To me, the jungle looks more like a jungle in say, Spore, than the magnificent environment of (the first half of) Crysis 1 for example – which still is the best digital jungle imo, even though there were no animals etc.. It all looks so plastic and fake, like they took inspiration from a Playmobile pirate-set.

    The characters were mostly dull and unmemorable, and if they weren’t, they were _incredibly_ annoying (read: Dennis).

    The “game in the game” is really good though, and it’s good at making some memorable moments, but it doesn’t have that extra bit of “magic” for me, like Dishonoured had.
    It’s a very, very professionally made game, but they forgot to add some love in the mix.

  17. Sheng-ji says:

    I find it so interesting that three of the top four games in this list and so many great games this year are reasonably deeply flawed. It’s a year of games design, vision and sheer extravagance winning over polished safe titles and that’s great!

    Sometimes I think we obsess far too much about how many pixels in each texture or how quickly it is possible to complete a game or bugs when we ignore one massive thing, fun.

    Gaming’s golden age is still in full swing!

    • Keymonk says:

      While I agree with your general sentiment, the problem of fun in this context is that fun is immensely subjective, and hard to quantify in a matter that’s meaningful; some people think Dwarf Fortress is the funnest thing ever, others think it’s a dreary slog. So you know, it’s easier to fall back to ‘hard facts’, as it were, such as length and the amount of graphics (hee) a game has.

      But you probably already figured that. ^^’

  18. OrangyTang says:

    I’ve only published two truly confrontational interviews this year, and one of them was with the writer of this game.

    What was the other one?

  19. CmdrCrunchy says:

    There was no doubt this one is gonna be divisive, but personally I’m firmly in the camp that loves Far Cry 3 and believes it is the right choice this year. Then again, I thought Far Cry 1 was a cracker and I absolutely adored Far Cry 2 to the point of it being my personal GOTY the year it came out (FC2 haters can stop reading here), so perhaps that has some bearing on it. For me, it takes the best of those two games, and some of the best from other games too, and sticks them in a blender, turning ‘fun’ to maximum. The biggest gripes I had was the user interface, and the lack of the brilliant BRILLIANT map mechanic from Far Cry 2 (if only someone could find a way to mod it back in).

    I could write pages and pages on the singleplayer portion of the game and the stories it lets you craft under a hail of arrows, bullets, knives, tigers and flame, but I’ll let the real writers above handle that. I would like to extend a few words though to what has been less mentioned : The competitive multiplayer, slightly tacked on but a good blast with plenty of unlocks, and a ton of daily and weekly challenges to keep you busy. The co-op which me and my chums have been wanting for ages, which also feels very solid and is a massive laugh especially in the competitive bits. And finally the map editor, when making your own stories in their playground isnt enough, make your own stories in your own personal playground.

    My personal game of the year, and I’m glad its RPSs, and while I love it, i can’t deny its not for everyone.

    PS : Please keep the ‘Boo! RPS I thought you so much better then this!’ style comments out of this please.

  20. S Jay says:

    ” I wasn’t even aware it was due to be released this year, so far off my radar was the third game ”

    This is exactly why it got the best game of 2012: no one expected anything of it, so it surpassed the expectations. While great games like XCOM and Dishonored had a ton of expectations over them.

    I did not play Far Cry 3 yet, will wait for the sales.

    • KenTWOu says:

      While great games like XCOM and Dishonored had a ton of expectations over them.

      Expectations aren’t the problems, they are consequences of the real problems. Didn’t play XCOM, but Dishonored gives you special option to deal with your main target of the every mission non-lethal way. Great! It has special achievement ‘Clean Hands’! Awesome! It has special chaos system which changes the ending of the game (and the 9th mission) if you complete the game without killing anyone. Fantastic!

      When I think about these features, I really expect that the game has tons of tools to deal with usual enemies non-lethally. Instead it gives me choke hold and sleep darts. That’s it! And hundreds of ways to kill people creatively. My expectation isn’t the problem here, Dishonored weird design decisions that make non-lethal approach bland and repetitive is the real problem! Dishonored is a seriously unbalanced game, that’s why it did not live up to my expectations. And I think the game doesn’t deserve GOTY award.

  21. luminosity says:

    A game that took all of its strong predecessors’ problems and fixed all of them should be something that works better and yet… while I acknowledge there were many decision decisions in Far Cry 2 that infuriated and drove away a huge number of people, it’s a game that set up scenarios and memories that are as strong now as when they were laid down.

    Meanwhile, it’s two weeks on, and Far Cry 3 is already slipping away.

    • luminosity says:

      Also, why did they replace the brilliant diamond hunting mechanic with minimap icons that just give the location of everything away? Especially since they still had and used the code for it.


    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      The ending of FC2 with your companions turning on you really spooked me. The way they follow you down that valley, like a tidial wave of betrayal. Stayed with me for a long time.

      He looked tired, Old.
      Big chunks of hamburger ripped off his torso

      The jackals tapes stuck with me too. Yeah FC2 was a better story for me.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Whereas for me that set piece was a pathetically obvious twist I could barely have cared any less about. Contrived nonsense with absolutely nothing at stake – oh, boo hoo! I’ll have to do without some cardboard cutouts with godawful voiceacting who I’ve never once interacted with throughout the entire game unless I was pretty much forced to, and all because the story pulled a ridiculous “pop quiz, hotshot” moment with absolutely no foreshadowing! Woe, woe and thrice fracking woe! Lord, how I hated Far Cry 2’s story, but that twist and the pitiful, pitiful ending worst of all.

  22. SuperNashwanPower says:

    “I think it goes too far, replacing the endless respawning with none at all and providing a playground that can be too quickly emptied of its playthings, yet it’s an open world game that offers so much to see and to do that I frequently experience a sort of gratitude that I can load it up, to live and die in its emergent episodes. The problems that it suffers from are far more severe than those of other games in the calendar but that it provides so much joy in spite of them still has the power to shock, even after weeks of play.”

    I think this explains why I feel so differently towards this game. I found the fact it was so quickly emptied, and it’s frequent mis-steps, really eroded the fun. The open world, emergent bits were over in a flash and certainly didn’t eat into my bedtime as with the RPS chaps. I ate up the outposts and radio towers in a couple of sittings. Perhaps I am less forgiving. Perhaps it was the high expectations and anticipation I had for it (in the same way new years always sucks when you expect it to be great). For me FC3 didn’t do enough to elevate itself above its flaws and so wouldn’t be my GOTY. Glad to see a major publisher going in the right direction though

    EDIT: Ah managed to miss Alec’s bit. Yup, I feel much as he does about it. I always liked that guy ;)

  23. AmateurScience says:

    I like it! But I understand Alec’s point of view – I wonder if his reaction would have been less hostile if he hadn’t had to wade through Assassin’s Creed 3?

  24. strangeloup says:

    Rather hoping it’ll reach the sub-£20 point in the Steam sale, because I want to play this quite a lot but I’m also pretty skint. As it seems to be summed up best as “Far Cry 2 but better” it’s a dead cert I’ll enjoy the hell out of it.

    • luminosity says:

      I would characterise it more as Far Cry 2 but less challenging to the player. And by challenging I don’t mean difficulty levels, but in what the game demands of you to play it. Yes, malaria wasn’t fun. Yes, guns breaking on you could be a killer. Yes, respawning checkpoints sucked.

      But the thing is, all these mechanics added up to become something much greater than the sum of their parts. Combat is Far Cry 2 was a glorious challenge, a game that (at least on hard) pushed you to scout carefully, have a plan of attack — and then be ready to adapt and change things up on the fly when things went wrong. Whether it was fire turning the wrong direction and flushing you out, patrolling enemies gatecrashing your carefully orchestrated attack, a malaria attack right as an enemy vehicle pulled up into the sights of your rocket launcher, or a gun jamming at the exact wrong moment, no other shooter I’ve played has asked so much of me. None have asked me to be able to move, adapt and think on my feet in the way Far Cry 2 did.

      Far Cry 3 fixes all the problems people had with Far Cry 2, but in doing so it throws away that glorious gameplay. A tragic loss.

      • Cytrom says:

        Don’t forget the terrible, broken stealth mechanics, where all enemies in a 50m radius knew exactly where you were and immediately started shooting at you even through solid objects like a retarded doom monster just because knifed one of their buddies in complete silence in a secluded area, and they know your precise location regardless of where you were or what you did.

        Oh and the extremely long and repetitive car / boat rides from point A to point B, 9 billion times while you had to clear the same outposts with the same enemies every time.

        Far Cry 2 was a terrible game with some good ideas and interesting environment, with just enough good parts to keep your hopes alive and torture you longer. FC3 has the opposite ratio of terrible parts to good parts.

        If ubisoft could somehow combine the 2 and expand further upon it (like for example sidequests that are actually fun, meaningful and last longer than 10 minutes), the inevitable Far Cry 4 could be a real classic.

        Oh and FC2’s open world wasnt even open.. 80% of the time you were forced beetween natural barriers that you couldnt climb over, so you couldnt just go wherever you felt like, but the game forced you into tight routes.

        • luminosity says:

          No arguments that stealth was broken, and knife kills not being quiet especially so. But again, this fed into need to adapt. It meant you couldn’t find a good spot and stay there while sniping all your enemies down the way you could in 3 (and let’s not even discuss the brokenly overpowered takedown moves), a strategy that worked for me so often I had to stop myself doing it to not cheapen the experience. So yeah, a proper stealth system is nice and all, but it would be even nicer if it could be done without making it so trivial. Let’s not forget, either, the way you could ‘stealth’ clear an area by shooting an animal cage and watching ti take down an entire camp of heavily armed soldiers.

          As for the rides, for me it was a way to up the tension on my second playthrough — no saves between accepting mission and completing it meant that instead of being inconveniences, journeys were actually full of tension, especially as you moved on, and I would carefully make use of the bus system and plan my trips out in such a way as to get to and from a target area as safely as possible — something that rarely happens in games. With that said, the respawn timers on checkpoints was silly, no arguments there, but the answer was to slow it, not remove it completely.

          As for tight routes, that seems to be exaggerating it a mite. I’m not going to say there weren’t impassable barriers, but there was still plenty of choice in figuring out where to go to get to any point a to any point b.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Keys4me has it for £16.31 (registers on ubisoft manager)

  25. bigjig says:

    I still think Dark Souls is light years ahead of this, but whatever, Merry Christmas everyone! Kind of sad Sleeping Dogs didn’t even get a mention though :(

    • Gorf says:

      To me its not even subjective. Dark Souls is more then goty.
      But I’m very happy with FC3 and I couldnt agree more with the right up it was given today.
      ….and yeah happy xmas

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        I think you misunderstand the meaning of “subjective”.

        • Gorf says:

          erm, subjective is personal opinion right?
          I’m just being arrogant and saying its a fact not opinion.

  26. Agricola says:

    Yes the story was ridiculous. Yes the mysticism / voodoo and hallicination sections were annoying. But it was so much fun. A big beautiful world ripe for exploration and with reasons to explore it. Hunting animals, hunting people, the “what would happen if I do this” type of gameplay, the chaotic base takeovers, the thrill of seeing enemies get eaten by predators. So. Much. Fun.

  27. lordcooper says:

    I’d assumed this was Big Dumb Shooter 9065 on first sight. Guess I’ll have to check it out now.

  28. Paul says:

    Weird, for me FarCry 3 is very far from GOTY. Good game, but lot of missed potential, and many design choices are outright horrible.

    Frankly, I would give it to Sleeping Dogs. Now THAT is a game without stupid design choices.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Much as I liked SD, I’d call it a game without a single especially interesting or original design choice. Fun (best motorway shootouts in an action game since Crackdown) but not remotely GotY material for me.

      • Paul says:

        Fair enough, but I cannot think of any interesting or original design choice in FC3 either.
        And where SD was not original, each of its mechanics worked perfectly – its melee combat, shooting, driving, freerunning – all of that was of very high quality, and set it amazingly depicted open world Hong Kong, location which is quite unique for games. And the script was very well written too, with characters whose motivations and actions actually made sense.
        I cannot think of any design element in SD that pissed me off – while in FC3, there are plenty, like the whole checklist shallow design, shitty HUD/UI, shitty main mission design with restricted areas, shitty linear unskippable cutscenes…. I could go on.

        • Gorf says:

          I’m kind of upset Sleeping Dogs didnt get the recognition it deserves tbh.

        • Narzhul says:

          I think it says something when the ONLY thing that was wrong in Sleeping Dogs was that the girlfriends weren’t expanded enough, gameplay or story-wise.

          Everything else was goddamn top notch, and totally the goatee for me.

  29. Duke of Chutney says:

    After RPS north social last night, (which was awesome) i went and bought this thing. Only for some reason the product key steam sold me doesn’t work and after a few attempts at submitting i’ve had my uplay account banned. Merry christmas from Ubisoft i guess.

  30. Eight Rooks says:

    Cannot stop giggling at “I’ve got a magical tattoo. I’ve killed hundreds of people. I’m carrying grenades in a pouch made out of a dog’s hindquarters” for some reason (AND IN THE GAME, ohohoho, etc.).

    Haven’t actually got round to playing past the intro, since I got so determined to get the “proper” ending in ME3 I went and bought ME2 again to get a decent save the way I wanted it, and that’s had me preoccupied ever since. (My ass you only need to play singleplayer, EA, ta very much, grumble grumble.) Still, really looking forward to playing more of Far Cry 3, all the more so after reading this.

  31. AlwaysRight says:

    Merry Christmas RPS!

    I also respectfully disagree with this one. My GOTY was Dishonored, only because Dark Souls was a 2011 game for me (hate me). Walking Dead also gets an honourable mention for being the game that has brought me closest to tears. My award for most overlooked GOTY goes to Dustforce. Album of the Year: Actress – R.I.P.

    Happy holidays everyone, this community is the most intelligent and funniest on the internet and I wish all of you the best possible new year.

    Always Right
    x x x x x x x x x

  32. Baal_Sagoth says:

    Well, there’s something to be said for the momentum FC3 gained by sort of coming out of nowhere and being a very pleasant surprise for many. I’ve only seen lots of bits and pieces of the game and haven’t actually bought it myself so in the end I’m not qualified to criticise or question this choice. It certainly doesn’t look like an unworthy game and the explanations and different takes on your respective experiences are sensible and enjoyable to read.
    I can’t shake the feeling it’ll be too shallow for my tastes when/ if I get around to play it though. It really does seem like the sort of game that’ll bore me terribly after 4 or 5 hours. Maybe I’ll have my mind blown too, we’ll see.
    Either way, the Advent Calendar was very interesting and a lot of fun. I really enjoyed following all the choices and justifications for them. Good stuff!

  33. PhilWal says:

    Dec 01: FTL
    Dec 02: Borderlands 2
    Dec 03: Waking Mars
    Dec 04: The Walking Dead
    Dec 05: Stacking
    Dec 06: Thirty Flights Of Loving
    Dec 07: Guild Wars 2
    Dec 08: Legend Of Grimrock
    Dec 09: Lone Survivor
    Dec 10: Dark Souls
    Dec 11: Dear Esther
    Dec 12: Thomas Was Alone
    Dec 13: Mark Of The Ninja
    Dec 14: The Secret World
    Dec 15: Torchlight II
    Dec 16: Mass Effect 3
    Dec 17: Tribes: Ascend
    Dec 18: Planetside 2
    Dec 19: Day Z
    Dec 20: Crusader Kings II
    Dec 21: Dishonored
    Dec 22: Hotline Miami
    Dec 23: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

    Dec 24: Far Cry 3

    I was bored. 8-]

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Much appreciated. :)

    • Tritagonist says:

      Quite handy, thanks!

    • Muzman says:

      There’s usually a post like that once everyone sobers up

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        Whaz thatyousay?

        The hells you muz.


        More gin!

        • Laser-Pants 5000 says:

          You heard the old man, nother round!
          And turn up the music!
          I love thiz song!
          What iz love!
          Bobby don hurt me…
          don hurt me…
          no more…
          *passes out in vomit*

    • MajorManiac says:

      Just had a thought.

      Wouldn’t it be incredi-brilliant if an online store offered all of RPS’s best games of the year in a single bundle.

      Come on Steam, GOG, et all, I’m waiting…

    • The Random One says:

      I still find the lack of The Sea Will Claim Everything disturbing.

  34. philbot says:

    I loved this game. I had so much fun with it. Even the QTE’s, they felt right, because the game still allowed me to do so much. To the people that felt the game was hollow: I feel sorry for you, there was so much to enjoy in the process, you may have gone into the game with the wrong frame of mind.

  35. Runs With Foxes says:

    and yet unlike anything else this year.

    But a whole lot like many other games from previous years maybe? Far Cry 3 does nothing new, nothing innovative, nothing we haven’t seen before many times. It takes the typical GTA approach of an open world with an entirely separate main story and dotted with repetitive side quests and activities. It’s the same open world approach we’ve been seeing for over a decade.

    Far Cry 3 is only half a game. The outpost takes are good; that’s where the open world works, but only within the relatively small space of the area immediately surrounding the outpost. Everything aside from the outposts is dull or plain bad. The hunting missions that are all the same. The wanted missions that are all the same. The supply runs that are all the same. The story missions that are mostly really awful. Like COD-style rubbish for the most part, complete with QTE boss battles. There are even QTEs for walking forward on occasion. This is simply not game of the year material, not matter how much fun the outpost takes can be. It’s not even an advancement on Far Cry 2 in any way.

    Adam’s comment is the one I disagree with most:

    it’s an open world game that everybody can and should learn from

    Come on, people have been learning about this kind of open world for years now, and Far Cry 3 is arguably regressive in the way it completely shuts down the open world whenever you select a side activity. It severely limits the potential for interesting interactions to happen, and actually tends to eschew any kind of interesting systemic interactions lest the game get out of the designers’ control. The only surprise is that it’s somehow managed to charm people who critique games for a living (cheap shot I admit).

    It doesn’t take much imagination to see how open world games could be really special and fascinating. Imagine if Far Cry 3 took a Mount & Blade approach instead. Imagine if it simulated a conflict between various factions on the island, and you could side with one or another and contribute to the effort. Imagine if you could recruit villagers to fight for you, set up defences, make stealthy attacks or all out assaults on enemy supply camps to reduce their weapon and ammo stocks, or ambush their trucks, or, or, or. That kind of game wedded to Far Cry 3’s (mostly) good shooter mechanics would be worthy of huge praise.

    That’s the kind of open world we should be asking for. Not this done-to-death GTA approach, especially not when it’s coupled with some of the worst forced story missions of recent times.

    Also you forgot to put Miasmata on your list.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      Though I should say the highlight of the calendar was leaving Spec Ops off of it. Props for that.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        I can totally see why they didn’t include it but I’d take Spec Ops over the pointless, characterless, hamster-wheel tedium of Torchlight II any day, to name but one example. And no, not trolling. (Well, maybe a little. Seeing as it’s you.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      You have described something amazing.

      By saying it’ offers lessons worth heeding, I’m not suggesting everything should move in the direction of Far Cry 3. Some of the prompts are negative, particularly in the way that the world is too easily pacified for my liking, as I said above.

      As the comments and the post show, there will be disagreement, but I find the decisions, good and bad, fascinating and ambitious.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Is it sort of like that episode of the Big Bang Theory when Shedon tries to use operant conditioning to make Penny behave as he wishes? :). Praise UBI for the good bits in the hope they stop doing the bad bits!

      Plus a bit of negative reinforcement for Mr Yohalem’s writing from John. Nice cop nasty cop? I will admit my views sit more with Alec on this, but anyways. Merry christimas

    • thecat17 says:

      GTA didn’t have “mission zones” (unless, IIRC, it fit with the mission). At least you’re able to run/drive/fly as far as you like from the objective area 95% of the time without being told to rush back over some imaginary line or you’ll fail.

      I’m 2-3 hours into Far Cry 3 and I’ve already been disappointed twice after hearing promises of it being “open world”, expecting it to have the same level of freedom as the GTA games. The first time, it was after clearing that first village with Dennis and his cronies. Instead of fast travelling back to where I needed to go next, like the game was telling me to, I wanted to drive there and take in the environment. But not 20 feet from where I’d started, I got that mission zone warning: go back over the imaginary line or you’ll fail the whole mission. Despite having already completed it? And I was just going back along the same road from point A to B to get from B to A? It felt way too restrictive.

      Second time, I’d met the doctor and noticed the next objective was almost 2000m away. I’d also noticed a nearby hanglider. So, open world, right? But as soon as I put myself in it, not even moving from the spot where I’d entered the glider, I got the mission zone warning. Which I ignored and then promptly crashed into the side of a cliff, being afraid of crossing the imaginary line and having to replay from whatever the checkpoint happened to be.

      Still. I’m having a ton of fun regardless, and such issues could be fixed with mods. Assuming Far Cry 3 is moddable.

      • Gorf says:

        This is weird. I only got the “leaving zone” message once the entire game and that was at the begining somewhere.
        I even left a story mission zone purposfully later in the game and no message came up. I think if there is a scripted event in the story mission you are doing it will tell you to come back (it loads the area), or it was part of the tutorial on how to use fast travel, or sonething. Also there is an abandon mission option in the menu (not that I ever used it).
        I think you’ll find that if you continue playing past the start of the game you’ll see its not the problem you think it is.

        yeah its moddable.

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          I dunno Gorf, I had it a lot, but then I do tend to roam around a lot. The most infuriating was the mission where you must get to the chopper. I didnt want to go either of the two obvious routes – I wanted to go around to the right and behind the sniper post, which meant swimming up the river and going around a big rock. The game wouldnt let me, and instead I sacrificed a ‘ghost’ playthrough by being spotted by a doggie. The maps DID get more generous, and the comms base was a great map until you get indoors. But yeah – I ‘left the mission area’ on many occasions. I am an incorrigible explorer.

          EDIT: Oh also try this. Pull into the driveway of the hut near where “Dog Soldier” takes place (I think its where you pick up a weapon challenge). Trigger the mission, then try to drive up the road to complete it. You can’t because the driveway you entered by is the edge of the mission area. So I had to vault the fence and go by foot. Its only a small thing, but after a while it gets right up my nose.

          • thecat17 says:

            Emerging onto the beach, I felt my spine chatter to the growl from somewhere behind me.

            I didn’t have a boat, and only moments before had skinned an alligator that’d eaten a goat running along the riverside I’d just swam from. I caught myself feeling surprised that I felt such a jolt, like some primal urge in the back of my lizard brain filling the rest of my brainmeats with the growl of the beast. That was stalking me. And will use my intestines as some sort of demented string toy to play with. As I’m sure the mods that give you the clickable respawn anytime and from exactly the last point you’ve quicksaved ability will show you. Well, once they come out.

            I vaulted up onto a nearby crate, turned around with one mighty swipe, and held the ironsights key. It ran up quickly, positioning itself about 10m away and growling at my face for a good 24 seconds. Or what felt like it.

            I really wanted to see would would happen if I’d perched there on that crate like so many FPS legends before me. Except this time with ironsites. While pointed down at the growling beast prowling me. What would it do? Would it be intelligent enough to know that I wouldn’t shoot it unless it made the first move, then begrudgedly offer a nod of respect and go munch on one of the redshirts spraying gunfire in the far off distance? Would it get mauled by the long lost sibling of the alligator that had tried to kill me earlier, using it as an appetizer to work up an appetite for me because this was supposed to be the day that they were going to finally reunite and be a family again? Would I finally unlock its Crouching Tiger, Hidden My Face Into Most of Its Sharp Teeth move?

            It went into pounce mode. Gave a good growl again at my face. My precious face. And then the tiger turned 90 degrees, beelining with majestic velocity straight into the bottom of the river.

            As I swam there incredulously towards its non-animated husk to skin its guts out, I thought to myself:
            “Man. I really, really wished I’d had my video capture software of choice running.”

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        I had that same hangglider experience too. I switched it off for a bit at that point. I got a bit cross

        • thecat17 says:

          I just alt-tabbed to post this.

          The objective pop-up told me, “Explore the island, or meet up with Citra”. Thinking that I was free to roam, I went to go turn on the nearest radio tower to where Citra was. It made perfect sense to do so, because that part was in the blue of the map, where I couldn’t see any of the plant markers, loot markers, etc. And if the game was telling me to explore, then I wasn’t in any real hurry at that point to rescue the rest of Jason’s friends.

          I’m sure you can guess what happened.

          I’m not 130m away from the tower when I get the message, “You have failed the mission by straying too far from the objective”, or whatever it is. This time, I didn’t even get a warning. Just an automatic fail and reloading to some random checkpoint.

          I get respawned on top of a car I wasn’t driving. I back up to turn towards the direction of the objective. Right then, I get the “Warning! You will fail the mission if you stray too far” message.

          This is getting fucking ridiculous. I swear, now I’m considering waiting until quicksaves get modded in before finishing the game.

    • Shooop says:

      The biggest problem with FC3 is its open world is not even worth exploring.

      There’s nothing out there other than wild animals who will all either charge at you or run away, angry men with guns, less angry men with guns, and some old structures that have nothing but items you sell for money which you don’t need by the time you’re half done with the game.

      What good is a sandbox if that sandbox is so devoid of personality and things to see and do?

      Your idea would have been perfect for it. It would have given the player an actual purpose other than doing fetch and kill quests. Just reading your post makes me angry at the writers claiming “you were just a tool they used” because it’s now even more obvious that’s their cop-out for not making the player important enough to do anything other than fetch and kill quests. Laziness begets laziness.

      • Vinraith says:

        So it’s the Just Cause 2 problem? That is: a big beautiful game world with absolutely nothing in it?

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          I guess that’s true, but I didn’t find it a problem in Just Cause 2. That game was all about blowing stuff up, then moving quickly to a new place and blowing up more stuff, and it did that really well.

  36. Eight Rooks says:

    On reflection I think the only thing to actually disappoint me about the 2012 Advent Calendar is John not elaborating on his opinion of Hotline Miami. As in I’d really like to see a professional critic (whose writing I admire) talk about why the game didn’t do it for them, since I’ve come to dislike HM steadily more and more over time, and found several things about it utterly loathsome when I was first playing it. (From a design point of view, not the morality of it or what have you.) Most over-rated release of the year for me. The praise it got was just baffling, and deeply frustrating at that – even mainstream outlets don’t tend to gush that much over a new CoD.

  37. GameCat says:

    So this is true. Game can’t be RPS’ game of the year if it doesn’t have BEARS in it.

  38. popej says:

    It’s a good choice and it edged out X-Com for me. I think BL2 came close to Far Cry 3 for me personally to.

    However, all of the above were left trailing in the dust behind Dark Souls. I purchased it at release last year for the Xbox, and then bought it again this year on PC. It’s my favourite game two years running! In fact, it’s the game of the decade!

  39. AndrewC says:

    This is like when a director gets an Oscar for an decent film becuase the academy knew they overlooked all his genuine masterpieces. Like Scorcese winning for The Departed because Goodfellas got beaten by Driving Miss Daisy.

    So what I am saying is that RPS picked Far Cry 3 out of subconscious guilt at not making Far Cry 2 the best game of the year ever. For all of the years. Ever. Because it is so good. Ever.


    I really like Far Cry 2. I think I am being reasonable.


  40. JCJensen says:

    No fucking way that FC3 was a better FP game than Dishonored, which is a true GOTY! In less than a month this will be clearly apparent to RPS gentleman..

  41. NathanH says:

    Right folks, time to stop whining about what the RPS folk think about games, we all know they have no taste, it’s time for the main event: the twelve games of NathanH! See if you can get ’em! Admittedly one was released in 2009 but only this year appeared in a language I can read.

    On the twelfth day of Christmas, digital downloads gave to me: Twelve children murdered, eleven shards to conquer, ten iron doors standing, nine lands a-tapping, eight dwarf queens breeding, seven conclaves researching, six berserkers defending, five phase beasts, four crewmen dying, three colours to choose from, two ratman robbers, and a sectoid in a laboratory.

    • Stochastic says:

      Well, two of those are Planetside 2 and XCOM. It’s too early in the day for me to figure out the other ten. The “nine lands a-tapping” might be referencing Magic, I don’t know enough about Magic to say.

      EDIT: Thanks to the gracious aid of Google (thanks Google!), I think that two of those are Torchlight II and Warlock: Master of the Arcane.

  42. Wut The Melon says:

    Well, I suppose me not liking this game at all must really be due to a dislike of shooters and Ubisoft, because it’s rare for me to disagree very strongly with RPS. I think I can see why you’d like the game, and you’ve mentioned yourself that it’s still very much a flawed game (mission areas, tick boxes). The one thing I will say, though, is that they really should have made the foliage look better. I don’t understand how anyone can think those flat green things look good at all… they don’t react to lighting at all : (.

    • alexheretic says:

      RPS somehow managed to leaf that part uncriticised.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        Yeah. I think John has been a plant the whole way through

  43. abuzor says:

    Nice choice, and nice comments on your choice!
    FC3 might not be the best game of all times, but as Nathan said, it’s the pinnacle of gamy shooters, exhilirating while it lasts.

    Merry christmas to you all!

  44. khomotso says:

    I enjoyed FC3 for a few hours, I’ll admit, but in the end I felt underwhelmed, and uninstalled without finishing. It just wasn’t fun or interesting enough to continue. I think my complaints boiled down to the fact that it was too easy, and too flat a world and story to draw me in. Too cheap an experience.

    I cockily started my first game on the highest difficulty setting, not because I’m a deft shooter, but because I thought it might heighten the anxiety of the jungle survival experience. No such luck.

    In the first 90 minutes I had enough cash for all the weapons I would want or need for the rest of the game (silenced sniper rifle with laser sights, bow, and silenced pistol). Done with that part, and had no incentive to do any of the bounties or hunting for cash rewards.

    In the first 2 hours I had skinned all the animals needed for all the crafting I would want or need. Done with that part of the game, too. No incentive for further hunting.

    I enjoyed taking out the first few camps stealthily, but then grew annoyed at how preposterously easy the takedown action was. It works just as well from the front as behind – instant kill again, yay! – and skills acquired over time only multiplied its undeserved ease, as I could take out multiple targets. I felt like I was playing a cheat, and lost all interest in camp clearing close up.

    I enjoyed the silenced sniper rifle for a bit, but of course that, too, became predictably dull. The enemy wouldn’t bother about decent cover, and would forget about me so quickly — too repetitive.

    Travel and map clearing offered more drudgery. Get into a vehicle and race past all opposition with little worry. The utter mindless tedium of climbing radio towers – absolutely no risk or challenge, just the repetitive climb as yet one more hurdle thrown at the player.

    So now, what’s left. The story?

    I made it to the boss fight. Laughed at the game, and uninstalled. I’d seen what it had to offer, and was done.

    • Shooop says:

      Exactly what I did.

      The only inscentive for doing things isn’t to see what happens like Dishonored, but to fill out your stats and then you never have to do them again. It’s still a rigid, closed up system that pushes you to do something and offers you the chance to keep doing it long after you’re tired of it.

      You do all the hunting quests to get your gear upgraded so you can carry more money than you’ll ever need because you get guns for free by doing climbing puzzles called radio towers and guns take a back seat to the stealth kills which can be turned into base-wiping attacks (activate enemy grenade or take his pistol). So then what do you do?

      You clear out all the guard stations by using the same tatic of sniping them from a hidden area and/or shooting animal cages to let them do it for you. So then what do you do?

      You’d be hard-pressed to get anyone other than a Ubisoft employee to call the game’s story satire because it isn’t. It’s basically “Dances With Wolves” with AK-47s and profanity – dumb as hell. So then what do you do?

      You uninstall the game and forget it ever existed.

  45. Prolar Bear says:

    It works hard to make an open world actually mean something, and to really let us make the most of what huge horizons and seething jungles can offer.

    I’d like a longer explanation about this.
    I still haven’t played the game but I’m willing to try it before criticizing.
    Yet, Alec’s opinion alarms me a lot. After Dark Souls (I’m repetitive, I know), I doubt I’ll be able to play games the way I did before – I guess 2012 has brought me to focus on the more intelligent or artistic side of games. I can’t stand COD anymore, despite always being aware of its fundamental dumbness, for example.

    Dark Souls has meaning. It’s got an open world of sorts, and it encourages you to explore and understand it. Every place evokes different feelings and many (if not all) characters aren’t one-dimensional, often containing throwbacks to (and also reimagining) classic literature – all ultimately serving the goal of sending a meaning to the player. Which is largely subjective, I guess, since the game poses questions and almost never gives answers.

    Now, seeing this article makes me wonder: what kind of meaning has FC3’s world? Is it really okay for this to be game of the year, especially on a forward-thinking site such as RPS? Has this game really done something to advance the medium, or done something absolutely memorable that will be remembered through the years? Again, I still haven’t played this, but I can’t help but feel sort of puzzled.

    That said, a merry xmas to everybody!

    • alexheretic says:

      Yeah I played a game this year too, there was this thing it did that I thought was good. Now suddenly a game I haven’t played is game of the year, and it doesn’t seem to do that thing at all!

      • Prolar Bear says:

        Well, Dark Souls is only an example. What about Hotline Miami, Lone Survivor or FTL then? I believe that those games have left a very deep mark upon this year in gaming, each for a different reason.
        What I want to say is that FC3 doesn’t seem to have anything going for it as GOTY. (again, still haven’t played it)
        It may be a great game, but a game of the year ought to usually be something special.

    • Shooop says:

      “Now, seeing this article makes me wonder: what kind of meaning has FC3′s world?”

      Nothing. Nothing at all.

      The developers want you to believe it’s a commentary about how video games make you into “the chosen one” and you go from a nobody who can barely walk to an 80s action hero who saves entire continents from mustache-twirlers. But instead it’s just Dances With Wolves with AK-47s and profanity.

      • Prolar Bear says:

        Sigh, that’s disheartening.
        Overlooking the story aspects, is it fun? I dunno if I should bother with it at all. And I liked FC2 a lot: while not exactly a very intelligent (or cleverly designed) game, it was incredibly atmospheric and tried to tackle slightly more serious themes.

        • 22raoulduke says:

          If Alec’s opinion alarms you and “2012 has brought me to focus on the more intelligent or artistic side of games.” then hold fire.

          It’s definitely a fun shooter but the gloss wears off very very quickly, wait till it’s on sale for less than a tenner ;-)

          • Prolar Bear says:

            Thanks a lot! I guess there are better games deserving my money.

        • Shooop says:

          It is fun, but only up to a point.

          See it takes some of the worst lessons from RPGs – it encourages you to try new things like hunting and clearing enemy bases by dangling the carrot of better weapons and equipment. But you end up blasting through all that very quickly because what you begin with is so poor.

          Before you even get to the second half of the game you’ll have a shotgun that can kill any animal with one hit, a sniper rifle that fires explosive rounds, and melee kill abilities that can wipe out entire bases. So getting better gear to toy with isn’t an incentive to play through to the end.

          The only incentives left are the story and the setting then right? But neither of those are any good. The story as John even discussed with the game’s writer Jeffrey Yohalem is garbage. Yohalem practically shouts at him that it’s supposed to be satire. Why? Because it’s not. He failed so miserably at it it’s just complete shit. Only the events leading up to the final encounter with Vass touch on the subjects he pretends this game is really about but then they vanish as quickly as Vass dies. And the theme of rape is used purely as a device to make you hate a guy you’re going to kill and nothing else. The victim doesn’t have more than 5 minutes of screen time. And worse still, the very last thing he says to you makes the protagonist want to seek out and kill more people – not in self defense but straight-up hunt down and kill. He was just there to be used as a motivator for killing. The story we see and the one Yohalem claims we should be seeing are two completely different things.

          The setting is nice and colorful. I’ll give it that. But it’s just a generic tropical island with some animals strewn about it that either attack or run away. The remains of Japanese soldiers and their letters are just thrown in there to give you something to do. They don’t make the island feel like it has any kind of importance whatsoever.

          Far Cry’s Rook Island is just there to give you something to shoot people and animals on. After you’ve scaled the 20th radio tower or killed all the angry men with guns at the 30th outpost you don’t learn a single thing about the island or its people. It’s just there. And the very few people you can talk to have nothing to say other than, “Hey go here and kill this guy” or “Go here and find this item for me.” When you did that in Dishonored or Deus Ex you learned things along the way. In FC3 you just go through the motions and pick up your pay when the job’s done.

          An enemy in FC3 says, “To hell with this island. It and everyone on it can burn in hell!” I still can’t muster enough empathy to agree or disagree with him.

          • 22raoulduke says:

            Shooop you’re quite right.

            This isn’t just rubbish, it’s a nasty piece of work

  46. MajorManiac says:

    I’ve asked Santa for this game and hope its sitting under the tree right now. :)

    Happy Christmas everyone!

  47. Muzman says:

    The other bunch of significant gaming intellectuals, Idle Thumbs, gave this quite a drubbing
    Between what Alec says and the “What I hate..” article it’s all probably covered already. But I still propose some kind of celebrity deathmatch to sort this out.

  48. Gaytard Fondue says:

    link to
    Shows just a few minor things that are very wrong with the game while being extremely entertaining.
    Go read the picture descriptions.

    • alexheretic says:

      You posted this yesterday too, and I think I get it. You’re a gun enthusiast and these unrealistic errors annoy you. However, as I understand it this game has you crafting backpacks from badger scrotum (something like that right?). In terms for realism it doesn’t seem to really care. If it did care, it has bigger problems than the SIG SG 553 reloading clip animation having no visible bullets.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:


        Damn DLC packs

      • Gaytard Fondue says:

        Not a gun enthusiast after all. (Haven’t fired since I was discharged (mandatory military service))
        Just found the article to be very entertaining.
        IMFDB has some real gems.

  49. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    It *had* to be on the list somewhere, and after yesterday’s advent-crevice belonging to XCOM it’s therefore not a big surprise for it to take the top spot.

    The talking points regarding race, tropes and so on are a complete non-issue to me. I picked up on no problems, glaring or subtle regarding all that. Which leaves me open to simply judging the gameplay, which is great fun.

    Is it the best game of the year, weighing up *every* factor? I’m not sure. But is it ultimately the most fun? Probably, yes. I simply had a better time with it than I did with XCOM, Dishonored and the rest.

    So it’s a fair enough judgement IMO.

  50. jhng says:

    Well, this had been on my ‘Future Steam sale list’ but is now downloading as I write. It had better be good as the hivemind says…