Warning: The following is a post I put up on the Steam and Far Cry boards. It is a repeated post, and I apologize first-off for the cut-n-paste. Why put it on 'Console Gold'? .....
Because, had 'Gone Gold', in all its glory, still been a live site, I would have posted once, and only once, and recieved the type of feedback from my posting that I would hope to garner. Unfortunately, Gone Gold is no more, and while some have migrated to this site, I still miss it.
I rarely posted on Gone Gold, but enjoyed the abundance of opinions and dialogue concerning my favorite hobby, with minimal idiocy that is found on most boards that have to do with video games. However, after playing both HL2 and Far Cry, I felt the need to voice my opinion, and try to get feedback on what other's thought of the games themselves.
If you've seen the following on other boards, disregard. If this is a brand new post to you, and you played/enjoyed either/or Far Cry and/or Half Life 2, please let me know which you preferred, and (most importantly) why your preference was formed...... Thanks
Mood of the topic. posted Mon December 13 2004 21:10
I have been thinking quite a bit on two games I've been playing recently, Half Life 2 and Far Cry, and I thought I'd jot some notes down concerning conclusions I've drawn from the games, both in comparison, and on their own merits. To be truthful, I had written what was turning out to be a 5000-word post, and trashed it after some re-reading/editing. It was too fawking long and boring. I'm not promising this post wont' be boring.....but it sure wont' be 5000 words long.
So this is another shot at a post whose audience should be either the person who played HL2 and had never given Far Cry a chance, those Far Cry vets who have yet to give HL2 a chance, and/or those folks who have played both and think I'm nuts. I'm hoping to both illicit comments from the community, and possibly move a game player who likes the same type of games as myself to give Far Cry a testdrive. I am posting this in both the Far Cry official forum, and the HL2/Steam forum, as this post touches upon both games. These are my opinions, based on my experiences with both games, so if you aren't interested, move along, citizen........
First off, been playing games since my dad brought home PONG when I was 5. Been wasting my time with them ever since. Out of all the genres of video games, however, none have I enjoyed more than first-person shooters.
Secondly, I should get the obligatory 'I loved both games'statement out of the way. I enjoyed them both; bought HL2 when it was made available by Steam in November, and finished the game this past weekend. Started up with Far Cry the minute I finished HL2, which in turn caused me to rethink what I like about these types of games. Here I had been enjoying HL2 very much, and along comes Far Cry, which I came to find was more 'my type of game'. More on that in a bit.
Lastly, the rig I'm playing both games on is a:
P4 3.4 GHz
1 GB RAM
ATI Radeon X800 *128 MB Vid Mem*
SoundBlaster Live! 24-bit 5.1 Surround Sound
Half Life 2 I found to be a very immersive FPS, setting the mood and story with crisp and spectacular graphics, and a story line that was so opaque it was intriguing. I got sucked into what I can only imagine was Valve's intention of getting the player hooked on the game's story: by not banging the player over the head with it. (My preferences for movies and books, so no surprise that I enjoyed that aspect). There's been plenty of complaints on different boards about the lack of story, but I disagree strongly on this aspect; the story is there, it is ongoing, and is engaging.
The enemies the HL2 player faces added to the immersion fact, but only so far. I found the Combine soldiers to be cool looking adversaries, but once I discovered that there were only 2 or 3 variations of the Combine soldier model, they became rather dull. Same with the 'monsters'; an example of this lack of variety can be seen with the zombies the player encounters throughout HL2; they *ALL* look the same. Same clothes, same moves, same headcrab. After about midway through the game, they became 'obligatory', and that equates to less-immersion, and less enjoyment, for me.
Not to say the Zombies didn't provide some scary moments; the 'Ravenholm' chapter I found to be one of the best FPS 'scary' moments that I had played, but I could definetly have standed for more variety in either the creatures, or, the creature's appearances.
I played HL2 on the hardest difficulty (HARD), and found the game to be challenging in places. However, I replayed a few level's on the lower difficulty, then back to 'HARD', and witnessed no changes in the AI's behavior. The enemies were harder to kill due to their ability to take more hits, and my inability to take as many, but the AI's tactics did not seem to change. The bad guys did the same thing after repeated tries.....take the same path, react to my actions the same way. I started to really notice how scripted the events in the game were, taking away from the tension and immersion, and leaving a 'Mario-Brother's' kind of play experience, where I was relying on predictability and learned bad-guy timing, to take 'em down. I may not be explaining this adequately enough; bottom line is that the AI just wasn't as clever as I had thought it would be.
Half Life 2 is definetly a game that is played on rails; I found it to be very narrow and linear. However, the scripted events Valve has peppered within the game make HL2 *the best* game of this type I've played. I've come to find, however, that I prefer a differen type of FPS game; I found myself looking for different ways to accomplish tasks, and found that my choices were extremely limited. I couldn't open all the doors I wanted to in buildings, I couldn't roam about and explore a rich graphical world, I just didn't have to think that hard in playing HL2. While I enjoyed the excellent physics (ability to play with the playground toys and stack boxes, gravity gun, etc.), I found that they weren't adding to the immersion, but were in fact taking away from it! I'd stack boxes to try and climb onto a roof-top for a different way to access a certain point in a level, with no success.
To be fair, I realize that a game that has scripted events requires percise pathfinding and linearity, so that the scripted events fire off. And, again, HL2 has in my opinion the best scripted events of a FPS to date. Until I got to Far Cry, being led around by my nose was fine with me; HL2 *is* a fun, somewhat immersive game.
As a side-note, I enjoyed the game so much, I bought it for my father's 60th birthday. I might as well have gotten him ebola. While I had downloaded the game from Steam, I had got him the CD. It took us collectively 2 days of dinking with it to get it to the point where he could start the game. I found tech-support to be non-existent, and shook my head at the hit Valve must have taken from having so many folks have issues with installing the game, much less playing it. My dad's system met the requirements of the game, yet the game crashed everytime it 'autosaved', stuttered at times, and was such a hassle to install, with little support from Valve at the time, that it left a bad taste in my mouth. My dad, on the other hand, liked what little he got to play so much that he is still going at it, playing a bit, crashing, reloading, rinse, repeat. Happy Birthday, Dad.
While I was playing HL2, I received an email from a company called 'Direct2Drive', and affiliate of GameSpy. I would never have been tempted to buy Far Cry, had it not been for this piece of spam. The ad was for downloading Far Cry for 29.95, direct to my HD. Remembering the bevy of positive posts about the game on the now-defunct 'GoneGold' website/forum, I gave it a shot.
Downloading the game on cable modem took about 2 1/2 hours, and the install took about 20 minutes, but once it was installed, I fired it up on the first try, set all the graphics setting to max, and jumped right in.
Graphics were better than I had expected; I had not realized how far the Crytek engine allowed the player to see! I had thought the water in HL2 could not be beat, but Far Cry's water, with moving fish, actual underwater terain, and reflections that didn't effect my frame-rate, were outstanding. Shadows, use of light (flashlight), and vegatation add a dynamic to FC that was missing in HL2; these graphical high-points are actually *very* useful in how the game is played, adding to the immersion factor quite a bit. Enemies were varied, and while the dialogue and voice-over's were a bit cheesy, the fact that there was a fair amount of variety in the bad-guys added to immersion, as well.
The second surprise was the freedom of movement. I had not been aware of how free and liberating Far Cry was, as a game. I had goals to accomplish, a story-line to follow, but the number of methods and paths I could take to accomplish these goals was a bit crazy. And exactly what the doctor ordered.
When I first started to interact with the AI, I could tell right away that Far Cry was a far cry from the AI in HL2. Reactions were more varied, different tactics could be witnessed on repeated attempts at missions, different ways they went about to find and kill ME! Having the ability to go stealth, as opposed to gun's blazing, ratcheted the game up another notch in my book, and added another dynamic to the replayability of the game. I found myself replaying certain missions I had already accomplished successfuly, trying out new tactics, and setting little goals for myself (using the machete only, getting to the chain gun and only using that, bypassing enemies altogether, etc.). I had only replayed a few HL2 lvl's, and once I found that the experience was identical to the last time I had tried it, I didn't go back.
I find the story behind Far Cry a bit weak, but the immersion factor in the different missions is off the charts with me. *This* is the FPS I've been waiting for, and all I could think about when I played it was 'why didn't you pick this game up sooner?'.
As someone who has played both; For immersion, replayability, AI challenge, I'd tell any FPS fiend to give Far Cry a shot. I'm sure glad I did.