I seem to have struck a nerve on my debut What Culture article, as I explained that the reason most people continue to buy Call Of Duty titles aren't because of quality but because of it simply being a household name. I can't help that mediocrity sells in an ADHD generation, I only look on in disappointment as games with genuine quality get passed up for the same old same old. If gamers are insisting on arguing that sales numbers alone determine quality in the modern era then Justin Bieber and Britney Spears must be the verifiable modern day Mozart and Beethoven.
While it infuriates me that Activision is merely slapping their customers in the face every year with little to no updates to their franchise, and these consumers are happily taking it with a smile, don't think I'm a complete negative Nancy. I enjoy FPS games as much as the next guy, I just happen to be picky about which titles I purchase for full price when most shooters offer nothing new to the table. I can't argue that Black Ops II and Halo 4 will be the ones rivaling each other in the blockbuster sales department, but if you look to the horizon a quality title that outshines the rest will be dropping after the dust has settled. Those of you who are on the fence about buying another yearly rendition of generic shooter A or generic shooter B, well first, congratulations for getting your taste back and second, continue on as I describe what looks to be the best first person shooter to hit shelves in 2012. A game that I've been following since I first became aware of it at E3 2011 and one that could very well be my personal game of the year. That's right folks, I'm talking about Far Cry 3.Before I go on, let me say that I've actually heard people say that Call Of Duty and Halo give consumers the most bang for their buck. While that may be true to some people, those of us who have followed Far Cry 3 know that it promotes more content than the other blockbuster shooters releasing this fall. In years past, the Call Of Duty, Battlefield or Halo titles may have been the go to games for anyone who considers themselves a connoisseur of first person shooter gaming. However, Far Cry 3 looks to create an entirely new benchmark for shooters. An open world single player campaign with lush, beautiful environments that rewards the players exploration and has freedom of choice? I'm already sold....but wait, there's more? A separate 4 player co-operative campaign focused on applying teamwork to complete the missions? I already said I'm buying the game...oh there's even more? A separate multiplayer with a fully functional map editor so that you don't have to spend money on ridiculously overpriced map packs to keep your online gaming fresh and exciting? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! Yes, Call Of Duty has 3 separate game modes. A single player campaign, a co-operative zombie mode, and a PvP multiplayer mode. However, Far Cry 3 has 3 likewise game play modes and from what I can see, they all look to contain more content. Just some food for thought. Ubisoft has really gone above and beyond with their development of Far Cry 3. While a majority of first person shooters have you running down pathways restricting gamers to experience the game how the developers want them to experience their game, Far Cry 3 looks to take the handcuffs off and let you loose on a tropical island. Wait a minute, an FPS that lets the player explore and play at their own pace? You don't see that everyday. This game isn't looking to confine you to one linear corridor after another. It's not taking away control to throw non-interactive set pieces at the screen. It's a game that let's you actually play the game. It's no coincidence that Far Cry 3 looks to contain features from games like Skyrim and Red Dead Redemption. Influencing their own product from two of the best games in this console generation, Far Cry 3 has beautiful game presentation and gives you a plethora of things to do on it's giant island. Don't feel like taking on the story? No problem, go hunt down some animals and use their skin to craft new pouches to hold more ammo or money. Come across ancient ruins and search for treasures. Go on specific assassination missions to gain extra cash. Practice your driving with races around the island. Scout a bandit outpost and take it over how YOU choose to. Whether that be sneaking in and stealth killing everyone, running in guns blazing with no stealth whatsoever, or using the advanced fire propagation to ambush and then flank the enemies. This game looks like it was made to reward player choice, something that too few games allow. If you are a fan of the Elder Scrolls or Fallout series, this game should be right up your alley.
Not only does this game have a huge island to explore, but a unique story compared to the military drones shoveled out every year. You're not some generic military soldier fighting faceless terrorists or Russians. You're not a space marine, taking on wave after wave of alien enemies. You play an average Joe, or in this case an average Jason. A guy who came to this island on vacation and is subsequently captured by the local pirates. You're not here to fight a war on terror or a war on extra terrestrials, your goal is to survive...after getting plenty of revenge of course. The unique cast of characters will make that a challenge however, you're on an island where there is no law, there is no government and no one around you seems to be of right mind. Vaas, was the first character gamers were introduced to at E3 2011, and one of the main reasons why I've been a drooling imbecile over this game ever since. A sociopath and possibly schizophrenic nut job with absolutely no empathy for anyone else on the island, Vaas seems to be your main target in the cat and mouse chase for revenge. Besides him is Dr. Earnhardt, a seemingly passive character who is doped up on his own homemade hallucinogens, Buck, a savage who lives by the rules of the jungle, and Citra, the leader of the local tribe. Rarely does a game have so many unique personalities crammed into one game, but this game brings them all to life with stunning detail in their facial design and animation."But what else sets this apart in the shooter genre?" you might ask. Just look at some screenshots, or some video. This game looks beautiful. The graphics and details of the island stand out head and shoulders above all the shooters who parade you through the browns and grays of their linear maps. The island in Far Cry 3 feels vibrant. The water sparkles beautifully in the midday sun, the grass is bright and lively, this game actually has color. This game looks like it has a little something called immersion. The world opens up to the character Jason, as it opens up to you. When you find different crafting properties of plants, Jason learns them as well. As you learn the various locations of the island, Jason learns them as well. The game unfolds the same to you as it does your character so there's more of a connection as you progress through the game. There's tons of animals to hunt. Tigers, komodo dragons, bears, wild dogs, buffalo, even sharks. Yes, that's right, you can go shark hunting. How many other games can say that they include shark hunting? And that's just the single player campaign. There's a separate 4 player co-op campaign where you and 3 of your buddies can play online and split screen. This is about more structure based missions where teamwork is key to succeeding and completing the objectives. Each player can choose load outs of their favorite gear, much like the traditional multiplayer mode, and that's just the cherry on top. The real meat of this game besides the main story, is the online multiplayer, not for the reasons you would expect however. Sure it features your traditional multiplayer modes, but the real kicker is the in depth map editor. If you're like me and easily get bored of playing the same maps over and over, you can hop into the editor and craft your own map from scratch for you and your friends to play on. It's shocking that they even include it in a modern world where map packs sell like hot cakes, but it only makes the game that much sweeter. With a full arsenal of tools at your disposal you can have a game that continues to feel fresh and exciting as long as new maps are being made by the community. If that isn't a seller by itself for those online death match enthusiasts, then blasphemy I say, the game just isn't mediocre enough.
To be fair however, Ive done my research on the new Call Of Duty and Treyarch is adding in some new features to Black Ops II that seemingly come out of left field. While I cant help but predict that the multiplayer features will have very little changes if any, the inclusion of David S. Goyer as writer to the story is an interesting one. His writing could easily elevate this games campaign over the rest of the competition out there if done correctly. While we're talking about new features, this will be the first time a Call Of Duty game features branching storylines and sandbox-esque missions. To which I say, congratulations Call Of Duty, way to enter the modern gaming world at the end of this console generation. If a game doesnt include a sprawling open world environment to explore, or a story with branching arcs and multiple endings then I have to question why the developers think their title is worth the same price as other games that do offer these features. Its 2012 people, I know I cant be the only one tired of linearity in video games. If I want to watch a movie, Ill watch a movie. If I want to play a video game, I want to experience an interactive environment with plenty of control over the narrative depending on my play style. The fact that its taken this long for a Call Of Duty game to insert a branching story and multiple endings should be more insulting to the fans of the franchise then it is to me. These guys make more money than any other game company, you should be expecting more quality from them instead of settling for what you get year in, year out.To those who already have their Black Ops II pre orders paid in full, this article won't be persuading them otherwise. On the other hand, to those who are on the fence about picking up the next installment of Call Of Duty, I implore you to pick up Far Cry 3 instead. While it's hard to not be tempted into peer pressure when all you hear about is the COD franchise, you can take your money and try out a new refreshing experience in the genre. Really, what do you have to lose? If you dont care for the game you can easily trade it in and pick up Black Ops II instead, we know the community wont be going anywhere. This year, instead of systematically picking up the next Call Of Duty, take a gamble and pick up Far Cry 3 instead. Go to you tube and watch the trailers, do some research on the game. Afterwards, if you're still on the fence between buying Black Ops II or buying Far Cry 3 just ponder this question: "Can you hunt sharks in Black Ops II?" What do you think? Will Far Cry 3 be better than Black Ops II? share your thoughts below...