Sometimes when you sit down for a game preview, you can learn a lot about the game itself not from the actual play time, but, rather, from how it’s set up for the preview. I recently got to sit down for a session of Far Cry 3 multiplayer action, and I have to say I’m pretty damn confused.
It’s hard times out there in gaming land. All you have to do is look at the trouble THQ is having, and the fact that the company is skipping any presence at major games shows in favour of skype interviews and pre-recorded demos. For Ubisoft and Far Cry 3, I was initially excited because, for once, the game preview was actually taking place on PC.
This is almost unheard of in the modern age. If a game’s cross-platform, then pretty much every time you get to play it before release is on console. Battlefield 3 is the exception here, but, being a DICE product, I think it rather proves the rule.
I’m not sure about overseas, but locally, Ubi tends towards smaller, more intimate hands-on events at its office. I think this was the first time I’ve seen a group at Ubi HQ, but, like I said - tough times all round. There were beers, nibbles, and a game to play - and on PC no less - so why worry.
Well, for one thing, each PC had Xbox controllers plugged in. I had thought this might be because PC gamers are a rare breed in the Australian gaming press, but the real reason, it appears, is that PC controls haven’t been optimised yet.
So, in other words, it’s being made for console, and PC comes last.
Honestly, though, that makes sense; I know which platform will sell more units. But it does make me wonder why it would be shown to a room full of largely console gamers on PC. But, I figured, at least the game will look good, right?
I think, for some reason, we were getting to play console code on PC. The only other thing I can think of is that it is going to look like that on PC, in which case, the game’s going to look like crap. Which it clearly doesn’t, because I can almost guarantee that all the in-game footage we’ve seen so far is from the beefier platform, and looks much better than what we got to play.
The third option I can think of, and this seems remote, is that Ubisoft’s taking the Medal of Honor approach, and delivering two game engines - one for single-player, and one, possibly less speccy, for multiplayer. But that didn’t work for EA much, and I can’t see anyone doing that again.
As to the game itself, we got one map and one mode, and while it was a bit short and repetitive, it’s looking competent so far. It borrows a lot from Call of Duty, even down to kill-streak rewards, and an array of customisable builds to take into the fight. Ballistics are much tighter though, and close range firefights are particularly brutal. There’s some interesting touches, too, like your aim getting spoiled when you start taking hits. The game mode we played was a simple domination map, and the selection of weaponry was pretty standard for Far Cry.
Oh, and at the end of each round, you got to see the three highest scoring winning players standing over the highest scoring losing player. The winner then gets to decide to let the poor sap go or to beat him to a pulp - bragging rights taken to the highest extreme.
It was all fun, but at the end of the event, even playing for an hour or so, I didn’t have the feeling that I’d played any Far Cry 3. For me, that franchise is less about multiplayer, and far more about the whole open world experience. And I’m still looking forward to that; I just hope this isn’t a bad sign for the game.