Batman and The Far Cry From Brilliance?

This week I haff mostly been playing Far Cry 5 and Batman: Telltale Season 2’s final chapter ‘Same Stitch’. I haff also been getting ready for Ready Player One, which I shall be viewing later today.

First off let’s look at the concluding chapter of Telltale’s rather splendid Batman series.

Hands up those who have lost interest in Telltale’s rather lacklustre approach to ‘innovative design’. I see that is an awful lot of you. I am included in this group. So why am I so enthused about them working the Batman license for a long time to come? They really know how to put together a branching narrative that uses licenses with confidence – and perhaps a little side of solid brass bollocks when it comes to killing off characters. It helps that DC were so confident in Telltale (or just giving away free reign to everyone, which would certainly explain a lot of Justice League) as it has been built from the ground up as a completely unique and stand alone universe. Their version of Riddler was superb (essentially a world-weary Saw-like villain at this point) but their handling of ‘Joker’ has been a master stroke. Over the course of the two seasons ‘John Doe’ has been slowly pulled into focus until his yin to Batman’s yang becomes apparent. In *my* playthrough I ended up with Joker wanting to fight alongside my Batman as a vigilante. Obviously this couldn’t end well, but in not ending well it ended beautifully. Conversely my partner’s son played through and got the complete polar opposite and had a VERY different experience with Episode 5. Too many narrative games like this have minimal consequence in the end game, usually amounting to little more than a change of character in a final stand off in a single location, but with Batman: S2, this seems to have been thrown out of the window and the two final stand off locations are VERY different, but also ENTIRELY reflective of the world’s in which they occur. I can’t say much, but I can say that this was one of the most satisfying Telltale games since the first Walking Dead season released. Get on it as soon as possible.

Now.

I love Far Cry. Like PROPER love it like kids and grown ups love the happy world of Haribo (is it really that happy a world? Giant eggs, tiny bears, living in bags awaiting the day that they’ll be shovelled into this fat face?) but Far Cry 5 is really testing my patience. And it’s all my own fault.

Hope County is the absolute epitomy of a ‘hostile environment’ but my experiences playing games like Crackdown and Just Cause recently got me in the mindset that I would be near invincible. Not the case at all. Far Cry 5 is a tricky beast. Brilliant one moment and then soul-crushingly frustrating the next. Let’s look at a scenario that illustrates this perfectly:

The Widow Maker is a truck that has to be liberated in a side quest, which sees you raid a base and then smash through a series of barricades in a truck that is armed with machine guns. All to the strains of Barracuda, which is perhaps this year’s most surprising Shrek 3 reference. This is text book Far Cry but oh my word it has some issues.

  1. The guns on the truck are weirdly centred so you sort of have to veer all over the road to spray bullets at the target
  2. The truck is not as tough as it should be (I feel part due to the fact there is a perk that repairs vehicles while driving AND a vehicle repair tool perk) and has a habit of exploding if it takes too much damage or…
  3. …YOU can die from the exploding vehicles you HAVE to plough through, which then sends you back to a check point (only AFTER waiting for the bloody ‘load’ screen with the church and bliss flowers) only to die again and again through no real fault of your own
  4. Which in turn highlights the need for ‘luck’ in some missions

That being said, the satisfaction of completing the mission and unlocking the truck was great.

Some have written that the aerial dog fighting is awful, but after years training on European Air War (a genuinely brilliant PC air combat sim that I was oh-so addicted to in the early 2000’s) I knew to slow down and lead my shots. No issue at all with my dog-fighting which suggests it might just be down to the lack of a tutorial for some perhaps? Given that some characters won’t shut the fuck up while on a mission it wouldn’t have been too much trouble to have one say ‘Slow down, it makes you more manoeuvrable’ on the mission.

But yeah, the game is tough, early doors, getting more balanced as it goes on. It might be that I pushed into the game too quickly (I’ve completed the first area of the map in just under seven hours – and that’s still with a chunk of side quests and distractions*) but it didn’t make the early stages seem much fun, and compounded with an admittedly well detailed, but ultimately relatively boring location (oh a tree, oh a wooden fence, oh a cow) it does lack some of the spectacle of the earlier games. That’s not really a fair criticism as the setting is essential for the game, but what I wouldn’t give for a bit more variety. At the point I am at now I am enjoying it a lot more and can’t really pass judgement, but in those first couple of hours I went from EXCITEMENT LEVEL ALPHA to EXCITEMENT LEVEL BUS REPLACEMENT SERVICE. I’ll update next week, but I expect I’ll end up loving it in the end. I tend to be like that.

OH! And there was a mission that went almost FULL BIOSHOCK, set in a former nuclear bunker. Loved it, hope there’s a lot more like that later on.

OH OH! I managed to blow up a big vehicle (not wishing to spoil anything) from the air and the driver was thrown free of the blast, RIGHT INTO MY PLANE’S WINDSCREEN! I laughed for too long at it. I’ve saved the replay on the Xbox, will try and get it linked in soon.

So yeah, early days. In other news I have been reading with great interest the fallout from daring to portray ‘Militant Christianity’ in a game, mostly along the lines of ‘wouldn’t have dared do it about Muslims’, and I assure you, I have a raging piss-boiling article forming.

Also, funny to see Jim Sterling complaining about plagiarism. Ho Ho Ho!

*I chased a bear for about fifteen minutes.

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