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. Jakkar says:

    Why did I find it first irritating, then bland, ultimately utterly boring? Is it because I play modded Stalker, because I adore Morrowind, because Dishonored brought back something of the glory days of Thief and System Shock 2?

    Am I the only one who thought Far Cry 3 was a shallow, unfinished, buggy, ugly, dissatisfying mess of a game? Or who didn’t want to kill all of the animals to be able to carry more animal-killing tools?

    • Unaco says:

      “Why did I find it first irritating, then bland, ultimately utterly boring?”

      Personal taste, perhaps. Maybe it wasn’t your type of game.

      “Is it because I play modded Stalker, because I adore Morrowind, because Dishonored brought back something of the glory days of Thief and System Shock 2?”

      I really don’t think so. The Hivemind are quite appreciative of Morrowind, and STALKER. They’re 2 of the games that have received a lot of praise on these virtual pages. Similarly, the ‘glory’ of Thief and SS2 coming through in Dishonored was something the Hivemind made a point of as well. So… The Hivemind play/love STALKER and MW, and saw similar things in Dishonored, yet they didn’t find FC3 bland, irritating, boring. So, I don’t think it’s your love for these games that means you found FC3 boring etc.

      “Am I the only one who thought Far Cry 3 was a shallow, unfinished, buggy, ugly, dissatisfying mess of a game?”

      Not in the least. There will be plenty, plenty people who feel similarly to yourself. You only need to scan this comment section to find 1 or 2 people who feel similarly, or any of the FC3 articles. I also heard Idle Thumbs weren’t too enamoured with the game… might want to check it out.

      “Or who didn’t want to kill all of the animals to be able to carry more animal-killing tools?”

      Again, I strongly doubt you’re alone in this. Although, I’m going to guess that most people saw it as killing VIRTUAL animals in order to be able to carry more VIRTUAL animal killing tools (which are VIRTUAL themselves).

      Happy Holidays.

      • Bushcat says:

        I do confess that this wild battle of sticks,spit and mind bolts does truly cause a fear in my shootin’ eye.
        Hooever. It must be said, that i do have some knowledge of the fella known as unaco,from the arps server.
        A more calm and collected fella under fire could not be found.
        Mines the A.R.See youse in the new year fella.

        A h-uile la sona dhuibh
        ‘s gun la idir dona dhuibh!

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      I think 90% of the comments, and Sir Alec of Castle Shotgun, agree to an extent with the general themes of your complaints

      • Jakkar says:

        Curses, what am I to do now to attain my vital sense of rebellious solitude? I must be UNIQUE, you hear me?!

  2. golem09 says:

    I got massively turned off by this game, once I found out that missions had to be carried out immediately after accepting them, with no way to even leave the missions area.
    Pretty much never turned it on again after my first evening with it.

    • Gorf says:

      Well you’ve missed out.
      Honestly ppl that havent played past the start of the game need to realise this isnt a problem.
      BTW there is an abandon mission option in the menu.

      • 2helix4u says:

        Clearly it is a problem because I also stopped playing for similar reasons.
        Also the abandon mission option resets your progress and teleports you back to a hub town which may be 20 minutes away

      • golem09 says:

        Yeah, I know there is the option to abort. But when I have a new terrain in front of me, and want to explore it, why can’t I just take the random fetchquest and then find everything while exploring?
        No, I have to run to the three blinking dots on my minimap, then run back to the mission start point and then go explore.
        That is the most stupid open world design I’ve ever seen.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      I forced myself to the end just to get it over with. I liked the comm station and airport missions, which I would recommend playing. The comms station in particular has shades of FC1 which I appreciated.

      Disappointing payoff with the story though.

  3. ScorpionWasp says:

    I guess the bottom line is, no game really deserved to be numbah one this year, but we have to work with what we have.

  4. Archipelagos says:

    This is kind of like giving Mandingo a pass because it has fantastic directing and a killer performance by James Mason.

  5. rapier17 says:

    FarCry 3 is certainly not my game of the year. It’s not bad, but it’s not brilliant. It lets itself down magnificently from the start – with the opening scene protraying the main character as being scared out of his mind and only getting through it because of his elder brothers confidence. Suddenly he becomes Rambo a few minutes later. He knows exactly how to load and use every weapon he comes across, he’s a crack shot, no fear about taking on 10+ enemies on his tod. I had hoped, foolishly, that they’d go somewhere with the main character being scared and that he gradually overcomes his fear and triumphs against the odds.

    Beyond that I have a long list of issues with the game and whilst it can be fun a lot of the time I’ve found little to compel me to play, besides the Japanese soldiers letters – those I am finding interesting.

  6. MountAndGames says:

    I am disappointed, but 2012 has been a great year regardless. Personally, the 3 games i have really enjoyed this year have been, in reverse order, Dishonoured (much more worthy than a playground game like FC3), XCOM, and (yes, crucify me) my personal GOTY is still Mass Effect 3.
    I think it deserves my personal title in so many respects – for example, the combat is sharper than it’s predecessors (admittedly, I really struggled to get into it since it seems like it should play the same as ME2 but really doesn’t).
    Secondly, the dialogue is streamlined really well – the big decisions are there, far more so than in 1 and 2, and we get control over what Shepard says enough to separate individual incarnations of Shepard, without asking us to choose each line of insignificant conversations (I love ME1, but it is guilty of this, giving 3 choices, 2 or 3 of which give the same line, and making us click for every word Shepard says).
    The multiplayer did not detract from singleplayer, and it really adds to the longevity of the game, levelling MP characters is fun and with the constant (FREE) expansions it’s so much more worthwhile than most tacked on MP – ie Dead Space 2.
    And finally, it closed all the storylines I had become invested in, and gave us closure. They then expanded the ending, for free, without caving to the pressure of a few noisy fans. I saw how Shepard and Garrus ended their love story, decided the future of the Krogan, resolved a centuries old war, shut down a group that had caused me misery for the best part of 3 games, and took on a role so much bigger than Shepard had in the previous games.
    I understand the complaints, it took me time to come to terms with the ending and work out what it meant. The story is quite linear, but Mass Effect always has been – Bioware told us a hell of a story over 3 games – an unprecedented success for both storytelling and series’ in the world of gaming, and they couldn’t get sidetracked into hundreds of possibilities and alternate storylines – that WOULD have effected the quality of the experience, far more than a few resources diverted to a supplementary MP. The story is presented so well, with such detail, that a few minor flaws in the graphics, combat and continuity don’t bother me at all – it more than makes up for them, giving us many more hours in the ME universe, with my Shepard, and a return to the style and characters of ME1 (arguably still the series’ best in some respects).
    If FC3 can be argued as game of the year on this site, given how much of it is distasteful, simple minded and badly designed, i think i’m allowed to argue for my GOTY, much as it may be loathed, this article proves a few flaws cannot take away from the experience of a game – something that has been forgotten in the case of Mass Effect.

  7. Jenks says:

    “2012 has been a magnificent year”
    If you thought a Crytek game was the best it had to offer, you couldn’t have thought it was that magnificent.

    I also don’t know what to make of the fact that more people will agree with Spike VGA’s GOTY than rockpapershotgun’s. I will have to meditate on it later.

    • Unaco says:

      “If you thought a Crytek game was the best it had to offer, you couldn’t have thought it was that magnificent.”

      Good thing FarCry3 wasn’t made by CryTek then, ne?

      • Jenks says:

        Oh neat, Crytek passed Far Cry off to Ubisoft Montreal. Massive upgrade, thanks for the correction. I’m rushing out to buy it for all my friends.

  8. The Enchanting Wizard Of Rhythm says:

    I have to agree with Alec. The problematic story and ‘mystic bullshit’ was honestly the least of its problems; it left me feeling completely hollow and unsatisfied, as though I hadn’t actually experienced anything beyond the first few hours, and had no real stories to tell. More of a fugue state than a great game really. It started off promising but never developed into something spectacular, just rehashing the same side-gubbins in one of the most one-note, monotonous open-worlds I’ve ever seen. Enjoyable but no way near game of the year material for me.

  9. Brainkite says:

    I find it difficult to be satisfied by Far Cry 3 after living FPS open world experiences like STALKER, DayZ or even Red Dead Redemption.

    Ubisoft managed to create a “living” open world with rules so trict that it becomes completely predictable and unable tu surprise you at all. Because Ubi decided to create an hyperactive virtual life where every thing hapens immediately just in front of the player. As soon as you will make the first step out of an outpost you will find 4 buffalos beeing attacked by a tiger on the road. When you’re in ennemy territory , ennemy jeeps runs on the roads like if it was rush hour and as soon as you captured the outpost the zone becomes completely dead, the pirates don’t even try to get the zone back. Everything is made to get action directly by your side but as soon as you raise the look to the horizon, the isle is completely dead, you sometimes have a jeep rolling on a road but not more.
    A lot of stuff are there to make a living open world but nothing is really set so that it feels credible. Annimals are dumb and predictible while being completely overpopulated.

    Beside this the hunting and tatoo/skills thing doesn’t really manage to create a real evolution of the character’s gameplay. You relativelly gets the weapon you desire and play with it untill the end.
    Ennemies are completelly dumb and blind (when you’re crouches) even with the hardest difficulty.

    The game really needs alot more qualibration and the island to bee stretches so that places are more than 30 seconds travel from each other. And to create a real feeling of lonelyness and survival.

    Definitely not my game of the year, just a fun game to play, yet more intresting than a “call of”.

  10. Radiant says:

    An interesting game.
    I really liked some of the characters.
    Vaas in particular was a brilliant nutcase.

    It improved on nearly everything from Far Cry 2 like any good sequel should do.

    Although the one BIG feature it didn’t improve was the driving.
    Which was shit.

    Far Cry 2 had fantastic open range driving areas. Long enough where you’d drive alongside a running herd of animals.

    In Far Cry 3 you’d drive off road for 3 seconds hit a bush, turn over the car climb and get attacked by a herd of animal.

    Open world games should have a great driving experience.

    • Radiant says:

      Open world games should be all about: Terrain, Plains and Automobiles.

    • Radiant says:

      Also needed some push back.
      I would love it if pirates tried to take back outposts and that outpost management was a kind of mini game system [like GTA san andreas].

    • Radiant says:

      And what happened to the wonderful Far Cry 2 buddy system?

      I would have loved to have sacrificed the shitty story line so that I could go to war on some merc pirate assholes with my friends, family and Dennis.

      That would have been a great bit of emotional manipulation if because of my direct actions my brother died.
      Not from a contrived forced TORTURE HIM scripted scenario but that through my own actions I got him murdered.

      Or even gone to war with my deranged fuck buddy Citra. [but reallly when are fuck buddies not derranged?]

      A far cry 2 style buddy system would have elevated this game not to mention allowed you to jettison the writer in favor of an open premise.

  11. Synesthesia says:

    hm, not in the same boat as you guys. I’m with you, alec. Too much box ticking, horrible, horrible, floaty gunplay. It bored me in three hours, and i really tried to love it. There have been, far, far better things this years, or at least, some with no blatant racism.

    In any case, merry christmas! Let’s get drunk and forget this heresy.

  12. Solidstate89 says:

    That bear looks absolutely appalled by your actions. How dare you blow that [whatever] up!

  13. Totally heterosexual says:

    Personal GOTY was XCOM or La-mulana remake.

    Unless La-mulana was last year…

    Hyvää joulua RPS!

  14. IRiver says:

    And my game of the year is….. Dishonored, Walking Dead and Far Cry 3. I couldn’t choose, I loved all three for different reasons. So that’s it. And who said there can be only one GOTY? :)

    I Wish You, Dear RPS staff and readers, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! :)

  15. Vinraith says:

    I think I’ll wait for the “newness” to wear off on this one, then see what the consensus is. It’ll be cheaper by then too, which doesn’t hurt.

  16. darkath says:

    CK2 was GOTY, period. My 200h+ steam counter says so.

  17. Fiatil says:

    Damnit, and here I was holding out hope that the one true GOTY Botanicula would win the day.

  18. Shooop says:

    A few months later everyone will probably realize Alec is the only one who got it right.

    Yahtzee suffered the same thing most of the RPS writers did – he was so unimpressed with the corridor shooters of this year he thought FC3 was better than it really was. He realized it later though.

    • Unaco says:

      There’s a right or wrong answer to this whole thing?

      • Shooop says:

        When it comes to something as exceedingly average-at-best as this game, there most certainly is. The right answer is, “Not this game.”

        • Unaco says:

          Hivemind! Do you hear that? You were wrong (apart from Alec)… you didn’t really have fun playing this game. Shoop knows your opinions and emotions better than you (I suspect he watches you all shower as well). Please, amend the article, and choose a different game, any game, so long as it’s not this one or one that Shoop would disagree with. Thank you.

          • Nogo says:

            Shoop considers stealthing outposts too difficult because of alarms. I’d consider this game average if I never figured out how to use anything but the sniper rifle too.

          • Moraven says:

            Diablo 3 is GOTY for some people. FC3 is for RPS. As much as a disagreement hurts no reason to hate.

  19. Scumbag says:


  20. khomotso says:

    To end my commenting on a more constructive note, I’d value a year-ending piece that reviewed all the striking things that shifted the games industry this year, which are not well-summarized by everyone’s favorite play experiences. To wit, a few speculative blurbs:

    – How indie games have reached new levels, and what this may portend. Along with this, how many of the best games of the year were neither sequels nor clear adherents to a particular genre.

    – The Kickstarter phenomenon, and evolving relationships between publishers, developers, and fans.

    – DayZ’s embrace of unpopular game features leading to great popular success, and how this model of development shakes up online gaming assumptions.

    – A resurgence for the PC platform, as consoles continue to show their age and are on a very slow refresh cycle.

    I think it was a great year for gaming, but a lot of that had to do with shifting ground and creating new interesting opportunities, not because it contained great games. I’d value some end-of-year reflections on this topic.

  21. Papageno says:

    Wait, this ecosystem supports tigers AND bears? Lions too, I bet, just like the one in the Wizard of Oz. ;-)

  22. Monkeh says:

    Did not see this one coming, though I do agree FC3 is one of the best games of the year.

  23. Ryan Huggins says:

    All I know is that I love sharks. Therefore, I love this article.

  24. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I have one final word on the awards:

    Regardless of whether we each agree or disagree on the final choice, I personally find it pleasing that RPS have basically said “This is simply the most fun we’ve had with a game in 2012” (or to that effect, barring Alec).

    It shows a lack of pretension. It’s a down-to-earth decision, with seemingly no pointless over-analysis of what constitutes “worthiness” in a game.

    I like that.

  25. Network Crayon says:

    Far Cry 3 might be my game of the year for two reasons.

    The diving animation: pointless but perfect.

    The Editor: The best, easist to use game editor around, no you cant alter half the things you might be able to in unrealED or it’s eqivalent but its just so damn easy.

  26. jythanatos says:

    I really liked the story. I think is was made to make you feel uncomfortable. In the story parts I felt uncomfortable and kinda scared of what would happen next. I didn’t trust any of the characters, and felt manipulated and forced to continue. It actually reminded me of how I felt a few times in bad situations. Situations I have had when I have come across some bad scary people, and had to manage the situation to get out in one piece. The intense nature of the characters reminded me of those situations.
    In effect it reminded me of real life. Not the average day to day, wake up go to work, go to the bar, go home and sleep. But real bad situations. Where you are put in the same room with someone that is fulled with a crazy hate or purpose, that you realize do not see you as human, but as something either in their way and a threat or not. We like to pretend these people and situations do not exist, but just look at the news and the world. I always thought that Citra was playing me for a fool, until I chose to leave the island. Even though I thought that, the island had an allure. The ability to let ones base instinct to kill and fuck rule over you. In the end I chose the safety and routine of civilization. People talk about the Race implications and the rape undertones, it all plays a part to make you feel off kilter, uncomfortable, and I think it did a great job of that.

  27. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    A merry christmas to all!

  28. guygodbois00 says:

    Always suspected this Alec chap had integrity and backbone. Couldn’t agree more with him. You, Mr. Meer will always be read, at leas by me. Merry Christmas, everybody.

  29. Shezo says:

    This game could be so much more in the sense of story and insanity.
    Imagine something like Fallout new vegas’s perk — wild wasteland, but more violent, fleshed out and integrated in the game’s world and narrative.
    Dead bodies, taunting you, as you look through their pockets, strange voices and hallucinations, shadowy figures in the dark forest, that always somewhere around you, but always out of reach. etc
    So much missed opportunity to make you feel complete bonkers.
    And the story about becoming the warrior could be implemented through the heavy use of drugs and whatnot, making you more ruthless, violent and insane, but more capable as a fighter at the same time.

  30. theleif says:

    I miss a couple of games on the list, and I’ve only played about half of the ones on it.
    That means this year has been a great year for computer games!

    Merry Happy everyone!

    Oh, steam has a flash sale on Spec Ops: The Line. Highly recommended by The Leif.

  31. Xzi says:

    I’m with Alec on this one. I am disappoint in RPS. At the end of the day, no matter what else Far Cry 3 is, it’s still just a sandbox shooter. And that is not the best of PC gaming. Heck, one could argue that it’s not even the best of console gaming. Shoot at all this shit, or don’t, and then shoot at all this shit to finish the crappy story about some rich, pampered kid suddenly turned badass. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo.

    Personally, I’d rather go back and play Just Cause 2 some more. And even then, I wouldn’t call it GOTY. It just provides some mindless fun that appeals to our most primitive selves. Same thing with Far Cry 3. And while I’d agree that such an escape is nice every once in a while, it does nothing to innovate or push gaming as a medium forward.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Just Cause 2 at least had some straight-up honesty in how shallow it was, like a dumb ’80s/’90s action flick (a genre from which it gleefully lifted about half its side missions, while grinning from ear to ear and blurting “oh boy you’re going to love this bit here take the controls HAVE FUN”).

      There was no pretense about telling any particular message (or fallout from doing this really badly) and what plot it had didn’t get in the way because it just wasn’t important. You action hero, there bad guys, go make explosions.

    • captain nemo says:

      Yeah, I’m with Alec too on this one. Nevertheless, Merry Christmas one and all. Hope 2013 is another quality games year

  32. jalf says:

    My Christmas gifts were the incensed outcries of elitists this No.1 offended

    That’s pretty sad. I hope you get some better gifts next year.

    And… maybe enough of a life to enjoy something other than the unhappiness of others.

    That wish is my Christmas gift to you. No need to thank me. :)

  33. Misha says:

    Ah, the outrage, the outrage!

    Of course, that would have been the case no matter which game had been chosen.

    I love FC3 because it’s fun. A lotta fun. A whole lotta fun. And the soundtrack on “that mission” (hint: flamethrower) is just perfect! I’d wish there had been more of that.

    But I do agree with most of the points that have been made about where it could have or even should have been a whole lot more. The save system is annoying, if not quite “game-breaking” (I do like the fact that I feel a lot more invested when going in to take an outpost, knowing that there’s a lot of trekking and starting over if I take too many chances and die), the missions are a bit repetitive, particularly the radio tower climbing bit, it is sad that both islands are utterly peaceful once you’ve taken over the outposts (although the opposite, as in FC2, where everybody was shooting at you like crazy everywhere all the time, is too much. There has to be a middle way) and please, for the love of Bob, enough with the escort missions already! That last one is a gripe I have for all games. Having to restart a hundred times because the pillock you’re “escorting” insists on standing out in the open under withering MG fire gets old really, really fast.

    I do not, however, get my butt chafed by the imaginary “racism” and “not being sensitive enough to rape” malarkey.

    I, like many others, felt that I was being manipulated like the spoiled brat I was all the way through, being used as the dumb, privileged dork that my character was for the islanders own needs. If anything, they were the smart ones. They had me liberate their entire island paradise and wipe out all of their enemies while all they had to do was to sit back and dangle the carrot of my friends’ rescue in front of my gullible nose. I never got the impression that they couldn’t have done the job themselves, they just didn’t need to with Jason Brody, Useful Idiot, landing in their laps. Excellent!

    Oh, and let’s be fair here, it’s really hard to not notice that the developers were having a whale of a time prodding our sensitivities regarding this, that and the other sacred taboo of society. Everything in the game is over the top, and that’s what makes it so much damn fun. What do you mean I have to skin those rare endangered tigers to get a better ammo pouch? They’re precious, wonderful, rare gems of Mother Gaia! I must protest and immediately donate a sizable amount to the WWF or I shall surely burn in hipster hell! Bugger all, let’s go skin the oversized kitty! Daddy has an AK-47 in dire need of more ammo! And then you get your butt kicked to death in the middle of a mission by an oversized mutant turkey/emu crossbreed. If that’s not making fun of our pretentious, holier-than-thou selves, then I don’t know what is.

    Was it the best game of 2012? I can’t honestly say that it was, even though I loved every second of it. It’s certainly not deep, and there is a lot of potential that wasn’t even touched upon. XCOM on the other hand. But here’s the deal: I still haven’t finished XCOM even though I love it and it’s deep with strategy and whatnot, not to mention that it’s a very good reboot of one of my favorite games of all times. FC3, on the other hand? Once I started it, I couldn’t stop because I had too much damn fun doing silly stuff while, at the same time, not caring one whit that it was about as deep as a dinner plate.

    Because I had fun. I’ll go back to XCOM because it’s awesome, just to name one of the games I have not yet played through that I love, but those games require commitment. FC3 does not. It’s just a fantastic roller coaster ride of outrageous mayhem in gorgeous color and graphics that makes me laugh.

    But best game of the year? Depends on what you’re looking for. I’m far from sure that it is, but I enjoyed every second of it. It had to be one title out of the 24, no?

    Personally, on a scratch my head note, I never figured out why Hotline Miami made it to the list at all, for instance. I mean, that is a game that is so soul-crushingly ugly that it would have been barely acceptable for a Spectrum48 and an embarrassment on anything from a C64 and upwards. I’m not an eye-candy person, as a matter of fact I find it endlessly annoying that pretty much all of the industry insist that graphics are 99% of a game and the hell with gameplay, but to make something so deliberately ugly that it makes you wonder why they didn’t just design it for the TRS80 to begin with and insist that you buy one to run it I just don’t get. Oh yes, I do. It’s “different’, it’s “protesting the capitalist GPU arms race oppressing the consumer masses”, it’s “hip”, so therefore it’s awesome.

    It’s also uglier than a leprous aardvark.

    Anyway, that’s wot I think.

  34. Misha says:

    On a much shorter note: About the RPS “hive mind”: As a gamer, I love this site. The crew here are devoted to actually reviewing what they review as opposed to just raving over what they like and slamming what they don’t.

    No better example than John’s review of FC3, a game that he openly admits to loving the crap out of, yet he dedicated an entire Wot I Think to pointing out the things he didn’t like.

    I don’t always agree with the overall judgment of the RPS hive mind, but I do know that when I’m done reading their reviews, I know what I’m in for if I pick up the title, warts and all.

    Good job, guys! We need more review sites like yours.

  35. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Really disappointed in RPS for this one.

  36. UncleLou says:

    That’s some pretty pretentious and elitist second-guessing of other people’s opinions. A bit obnoxious, too.

    • wu wei says:

      I love when follow up comments help me realise that no, I’m really not missing anything by having the original poster blocked :)

  37. Armante says:

    Just want to say thanks, as always, to the team at RockPaperShotgun. The one and only website I will check every day of the year. I spend more time reading here, than I do playing games.

    Thanks guys – you’re awesome.

    To Jim, Alec, John, Adam and Nathan – Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year, and may 2013 be a fantastic year for you all.

  38. Edgewise says:

    Not a mention of Vaas? I hope we can all agree that Michael Mando’s performance was one of the few highpoints of the cutscenes. In fact, after seeing the “bad” ending, his nastiness becomes a bit more understandable.

  39. Danda says:

    OF COURSE Far Cry 3 is the true Game of the Year. I don’t get all the hate here. Suddenly it looks like everybody loved the flawed Far Cry 2. “Yes, that one WAS good! Far Cry 3 is too enjoyable, and that’s wrong!”. I just don’t get it.

    I don’t believe most naysayers here have played it. I did. Fifty solid hours of fun. And I haven’t touched the online part yet! Yes, after 40 hours you start thinking “maybe this is getting a bit repetitive”. But I got the same feeling after 10 hours of Sleeping Dogs, which felt really empty. Other games don’t ever give you 4 good hours.

    RPS hasn’t “sold out” here. Too bad they didn’t seem to play Max Payne 3, which for me is the 2nd best game this year.

    And the other games from the RPS list? I already played some of them, they are great, but you could also look for bad parts if you wanted to:

    -Borderlands 2: OK, but it’s just Borderlands 1 “Plus”. After playing FC3, I have to admit I couldn’t go back to BD2, I just couldn’t. Let’s admit it, the world is empty and dead, and gameplay is just a constant grind. At least it has some kind of story now.

    -Stacking: Quirky and funny, but repetitive. Thank god it’s short.

    -Thirty Flights of Loving: This is just a ripoff. RPS was clearly insane with this one. A five-minute gimmick.

    -Dear Esther: An amazing experience. Not really a game, but it was very beautiful.

    -Mass Effect 3: Pop and shoot. Rinse and repeat. And then you find out that your decisions didn’t really matter :-(

    -Dishonored: I stopped playing after 30 minutes. Yes, I know it’s a great game and I’ll go back to it, but it didn’t grabbed me. It’s ugly.

    -Hotline Miami: Hypnotic. Amazing. But a one-trick pony. And I’m not sure that the story makes any sense at all (it’s all smoke and mirrors, I’m sure).

    -XCOM: EU: A very good game, but there’s so much to dislike if you want to. The way you “trigger” alien groups. Oversimplification. Narrow maps. Trickery. If you want to hate it, you could find reasons to say it’s terrible, and you’d be right! But it grabbed me for 20 hours, before I stopped because the game didn’t want to give me enough money to keep playing. I hate that.

    Just play all of them and enjoy them (they’ll be cheap soon), but for me it’s clear: Far Cry 3 and Max Payne 3 are real winners. Like what happened to me with Alpha Protocol, I knew after my first 15 hours with them that I didn’t need anyone else’s opinion to be convinced.

    Bonus: Disappointment of the year: Assassin’s Creed 3. Bloated, unfinished, with all those moronic restrictions telling you that you are playing the game “wrong”. I miss the freedom from previous games. Damn.

  40. Butcher Pete says:

    Far Cry 3 is GOTY because it represents how mediocre and forgettable games this year have been.

  41. fish99 says:

    I played the first 90 minutes of FC3 last night and I suspect it’ll be the same story as with FC2, a game I played for 90 minutes, thought was OK but nothing special and never went back to. Doesn’t help that the save system is so random, sometimes it takes you back to a checkpoint, sometimes it revives you at a safehouse, sometimes you lose your weapons, sometimes you don’t, and it randomly forgets which boring trivia you’ve read. Plus the game seem to be about hunting animals now (and if that’s what your game is about Hunter does it so much better).

    IMO Crytek do this sort of thing a lot better. My brain felt way more engaged in the tactics of combat in FC1 and Crysis (let’s forget Crysis 2 happened), even though they weren’t true sandboxes.

    Maybe I’ll go back, and maybe find it’s amazing, but they didn’t do a good job of making me want to in the first 90 minutes.

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