Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed Review

Developer: Acquire
Distributor: NIS
Platform: PS3, PS Vista
Release Date (Australia): 16th October, 2014

Pros:
-Lovable characters
-Witty, humorous dialogue
-Outstanding soundtrack
-Gorgeous cinematics
-Uniquely fun and original

Cons:
-Awkward camera movements
-Outdated in-game graphics
-Frequent loading screens
-Unfair combat scenarios
-Difficult fight mechanics

Verdict: 9.5 (out of 10)

For over ten years, I have been a fan of Anime films and television programs, but until now I have not attempted to become involved in an anime video game. Perhaps some may question why my first foray into anime gaming would be Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed, however, the originality of the product, not to mention its attractive atmosphere, gorgeous female warriors and hilariously witty and intelligent dialogue, is sure to captivate a vast quantity of people. Right from the opening, the game feels a lot like an Anime television series, with a beautiful introductory movie clip introducing each of the major characters, while an entertaining musical score and impressive vocal talent delightfully peaks your interest at what awaits you on your journey.

The graphics of the cinematics however do not last. Although cinematics play a large role in the game, which is an incredibly loquacious piece of fiction, they are an alternate variety than what you may have come to expect from other titles. The game itself fades out into the background as the characters are displayed in front of you. Only their eyes and mouth move, and their faces employ a wide array of emotion, conveying embarrassment, happiness, grief or anger, with their dialogue textually appearing beneath them. After these occurrences, the game returns to normal, the graphics experienced during the exploration and fight scenes being rather dull in contrast with games today, the eyes of the characters especially, when visible, appearing rather alien and lifeless. Despite the graininess of the image, it does retain a great depth of brightness and vibrant beauty, although the fact the game was originally released in Japan a year ago clearly illustrates that by today’s standards, it is unable to compete with the flare that games are displaying now on the new consoles.

When walking down the street, despite the comic style setting, you cannot deny the feeling of reality which coats the world around you as you explore and take in the sights. This however comes with its own limitation. Unlike in FarCry 2 and 3, where the entire world was explorable, and very rarely did you even see a loading screen, in Akiba’s Trip, you frequently bump into areas which require loading (you also bump into a lot of people too, but that’s a different story). The city is separated into districts, and each one requires a short period to load before you can gain access. This can be somewhat avoided with the use of fast travel, however, as with many titles, these areas need to be initially unlocked.

Set in the technologically profound, and entertainingly captivating location of Akihabara, Akiba’s Trip is one of those titles that falls into the love or hate category. It also requires the gamer not to ask many questions, for even suspending your disbelief over the course of the game will potentially leave you with a variety of queries. Providing a unique take on the vampire genre, Akiba’s Trip, rather than conceiving the normally unsettling atmosphere one might assume for a game in this genre, throws you into a world which is always bright and sunny.Referred to as ‘synthisters’, the man made vampires you encounter, rather than consuming blood, devour energy, and how they were made, and for what reason, alongside how they can be possibly stopped, are three of the major plot points which push the game forward. Moreover, rather than the stereotypical stakes and garlic one might expect to find attached to our company of ‘freedom fighters’, sunlight is the primary weapon of choice, and apparently, the best way to stop a vampire’s rampage, is to strip them down to either their panties, or their tighty whitey’s, and watch the exposure to the sun obliterate them.

When battling agaisnt an enemy, often they come equipped with head gear, a top, and bottoms, each piece of their attire having to take substantial damage, before it is capable of being ripped clean off. If several enemies have weakened attires, the player is able to chain strip, meaning, by following the key prompts, the character can automatically strip several pieces of clothing one after another, rendering the enemy less problematic. The way in which clothing is entertainingly removed can be altered by applying different combat skills to your person, which can be obtained from reading material. The best possible comparison I can think of is The Matrix, where knowledge on fighting is uploaded to the character’s minds. Additionally, you are, later in the campaign, able to activate special combat styles after attaining enough juice from battle, which deals extreme damage to enemies, and often reverberates onto others in the immediate vicinity. How a vampire can run around without a top and suffer no excruciating pain from the sunlight is beyond me though. How the bodies of the attackers are not damaged by the excessive blows they take, or how exactly the clothes can be removed in the fashion that they are, all very interesting questions that come equipped with no answers. Like I said; this is a game that you are meant to enjoy, rather than consistently analyze.

Fighting during the game is very basic, with each attack connected to a single key on your controller. To attack head gear, press the triangle; for the torso, use the circle, and for anything beneath the belt, use the ‘x’. However, what makes combat an unnecessary challenge, are the camera angels. Although you can personally pivot the camera anywhere you want, during combat this becomes a nuisance, when your primary focus is the deterioration of your enemy’s attire. On more than one occasion, the enemy fell out of the frame, and I was unable to see how much damage, if any, I was inflicting. On top of this, if you happen to begin moving out of a general area, say, into a side street, off the beaten track, the position of the camera will become similar to a bird’s eye view, something which cannot be manually altered unless you move out of the immediate area. Additionally, battle mechanics in general can appear rather difficult, and although the controls are easy to master, employing them appropriately is a different struggle altogether. On countless occasions, when attempting to confront one particular enemy, the character instead attacked another. It would have been an idea to have a way to aim your attacks at a specific target. Instead, over the course of the game, you inevitably, inadvertently, attack, on occasion, complete strangers. This happened a number of times to me whilst patrolling the streets, in which I accidentally happened to find himself in a fist fight with an officer of the law, rather than an enemy synthister, an act which subsequently led to my arrest.

Combat in general is already made quite challenging by the fact that rarely is there only one opponent you face down, with often, anywhere between four and eight plus assailants getting in your way. Although you usually enter a fight with an NPC (non-playable character (for the uninitiated)) beside you, even the assistance they provide is unable to quell the steady advance of the opposition, who appear to, on many an occasion, be equipped with better equipment than you. Moreover, during combat, you are unable to alter what weapons or clothes you happen to have on your person, but you are able to repair your attire at the press of a button to replenish all that was lost to damage. However, this slow process always leaves you vulnerable. Although some could argue this is equal to a healthy challenge, there is a point when a challenging scenario becomes intolerably unfair, and appears to be a developer’s way of making a game last for a greater period of longevity than it would without the frequently overbearing battles.

Attempting to thwart the threat of the synthisters however occasionally seems to be not as pertinent as building relationships. During the game, you portray Nanashi, and rather than being the quintessential hero one may expect, he is rather, a geek, unfortunate enough to be transformed into a synthister. He, along with his friends, who form the Akiba Freedom Fighters, their base of operations held at the gaming venue MOGRA, take it upon themselves to try and save the city. Although the player’s name can be altered, and during conversation, when subtitles appear, the other characters refer to you as the name you provide yourself, the physicality, and features of Nanashi cannot be changed, which I found a little restrictive. If it is any conciliation however, your character is able to frequently alter their chosen attire.

Over the course of the game, there are a number of (gorgeous) female characters, including the mysterious Shizuku, the multi-talented Rin, the athletic Tohko, the well presented Shion, and the foreign Kati, either of whom your character is able to form a romantic attachment with, as long as you don’t stuff up. In Mass Effect, it was mandatory to have conversations with people you wished to romance, and a similar, albeit, more difficult concept is applied here. Rather than alerting you with what is possibly the best response when prompted to say one of three possible sentences, the game challenges you to realize which statement or answer would best attract the woman you are attempting to woo.

The dialogue options the game provides to you are not necessarily separated into good or bad, but often have varying degrees of sarcasm or sexual innuendo attached, and it is up to you to decide how you want to be viewed. In Mass Effect, the most positive comment was always located at the top, while the most bad ass were at the bottom. Such a technique is not applied here, with options always been randomized in their location. Occasionally you can appear humble, violent, or even laid back, but again, many a response comes equipped with its own pros and cons. Luckily, the game does assist you in tallying how well your rapport is with each available woman. By communicating with Yuto, a young man who considers himself an expert on the female psyche, he notifies you where each woman stands, and appears only too happy to admit when they feel nothing at all – sick bastard!

At times I felt constrained by the often lacking opportunity to speak, and I occasionally wished to be granted the option of retaliating agaisnt attacks directed towards my character. This was especially true with regards to the character Kaito, who not only had sarcastic quips to make about my efforts, but was trying to move in on my territory and steal my Shizuku! That dirty mongrel! I hiss inappropriately in his direction!

On the other hand, there was something undeniably poetic about much of the dialogue, for not only Nanashi and the other freedom fighters, but for the enemy as well, with a beauty that swept you up in the motivations and passions of the characters. At times, even the player could not help but relate, and understand the reasoning behind antagonist’s decisions, which not only made them enjoyable as bad guys, but an interesting contrast to the heroes.

One of the best characters however had to be Nana, Nanashi’s ‘adorable little sister’ as she called herself, who, apart from having some of the best witty punch lines and responses, was also capable of advantageously crafting new material. Been able to splice together several garments to create a more durable outfit, or even merge a number of ‘weapons’ to make them more efficient in combat. The fact there was no limit to how many items could be merged into one, ensured these upgrades could immeasurably assist in making your character’s offensive abilities more powerful, and their resilience to attacks exceptionally impressive. On a side note, notice the quotations around weapons? Well, the equipment you offensively use to smite your enemies in Akiba’s Trip are not the stereotypical variety one may be used to seeing. Although there is a collection of boxing gloves, balls, bats, swords, sticks and umbrellas to choose from, there are also brooms, guitars, posters, monitors and laptops, with basic home made appliances and everyday utensils been customized for combat. Depending on the size and shape of the weaponry will also weigh heavily on how your maneuverability is affected in combat.

Unlike in other games, upon finding a new dress or weapon, you can instantly fix it to your person without having to worry about the level you are on. Taking part in the main quest is only able to progress you so far, and it is during the side quests and the battle arena, that the player is able to acquire better equipment. Side jobs, including hunting down synthisters, communing with everyday citizens, and helping people with basic dilemmas, not only provides you with money, and a degree of popularity amongst the locals, but almost always results in some kind of fight that allows you an opportunity to find equipment. The same goes for the battle arena, and as you progress forward, you are able to fight stronger opposition. If finding items becomes a little strenuous, you can simply buy something from one of the many stores, however the prices do seem a little exorbitant, although as I live in a country where we use ‘dollars’, I’m unsure how much the ‘yen’ is actually worth in contrast.

Annoyingly enough though, side quests come equipped with a time limit, and you are only made aware of this by checking on social media. During game, you are provided with an e-mail account, which people use to contact you, and a Pitter profile, that allows you to keep up to date with public opinion. The level of detail which has been applied to the social media spectrum of the game is amazing, with there been a huge abundance of Plips, each one feeling as though it could have easily been written by a real world individual. On top of this, Akiba’s Trip makes use of apps, with one such nifty gadget you are provided having the capacity to tell who is a synthister. By taking a picture with your camera, you are able to tell the fake people from the real, and attack the enemy on site, wherever they may hide.

Moving on, the game’s ending happens to arrive very fast, so much so, it is almost unexpected. One second you are attempting to decipher how you might thwart the enemy, and the next, you are in the midst of the final boss encounter, striving to secure a resolution. In a game running for ten plus hours, the conclusion seems to settle out of nowhere after experiencing a storyline which seemed to indicate it would build to something considerably longer. This however is not a criticism, the ending maintaining the same consistent feel as the rest of the product, and unlike many American games, does not leave you up in the air, but ends conclusively, although I might recommend you invest in a box of tissues. Once the game has been finished, a wealth of benefits are unlocked, which resolve a number of the quandaries that some gamers (myself included) may have had with the original play through. If anything though, it is sad to say goodbye to the characters, who were excellently and wholeheartedly conceived. But like any good friend, the characters never truly leave, and at the insert of a disc, they will gratefully return.

Akiba’s Trip is a uniquely fun experience, and although some could refer to it as a perverted storyline, the unyielding humor consistently reminds you not to take yourself too seriously when embarking on this adventure. Moreover, despite been occasionally predictable, and although revisiting the same locations, and fighting in similar areas can become repetitive, the wealth of options at your disposal regarding what weapon you could use makes almost every encounter different. Additionally, the option of choosing which NPC to accompany you (something which is occasionally provided) allows you to not only experiment with who is the most physically adept team member, but grants you the opportunity to potentially get even closer to the Goddess you are trying to ensnare. If you are looking for a fun, comedic adventure, with little emphasis on explanation and contemporary issues, and a strong emphasis on romance and butt kicking, look no further than Akiba’s Trip, which is sure to quench your appetite for all things crazy and unreal.

Advertisements

Insanity is catching in FarCry 3

FarCry returns on an island paradise corrupted by Hellish warlords and the scum of the Earth

FarCry should most definitely be a common gaming title on the ears and lips of players who are eagerly enthused with First Person Shooters.

The original game in the franchise (released in 2004 on PC, with the HD reboot unveiled in 2010) offered the player a new experience in the First Person video game genre, with gorgeous visuals and an island paradise setting that was ruled over by merciless mercenaries and shrouded in a horrific conspiracy that could forever change the world. Going up against tyrants, soldiers of fortune and monsters that were known only as ‘Tridents’, the player travelled through twenty levels of strategic combat scenarios, covertly annihilating enemies and encampments, whilst neutralising and demolishing enemy structures and key support services.

If there was one thing that FarCry did thoroughly well, it was to convince gamers that a tropical paradise was not all it was cracked up to be, and the next time I found myself in Bali, I looked around the tropical paradise, expecting mutants to jump out at me from one corner, and mercenaries from the other.

The sequel (released in 2009 on all consoles) went in a completely different direction. With Crytech, the original designers of the game shifting their gaze to focus on the promulgation of the ‘Crysis’ franchise, Ubisoft, the game’s producers, kept the rights to the game’s name and began to develop the sequel.

Set in Africa, the player was immersed in an action role playing game experience, where their actions would inevitably result in what conclusions came to fruition. A great number of changes went into the development process of the second installment in the FarCry franchise which inevitably separated it greatly from the original, with the action oriented RPG becoming best known as the game that S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl attempted to be.

FarCry 2 was met with both skepticism and appreciation. Some enjoyed the new scenarios, the unbelievably gorgeous visuals of the savannah and the overall evolution that the game had gone through. Others however preferred the original, and were somewhat irritable that the game had changed so drastically.

On that note, FarCry 3 offers the players the ability to once more return to an island paradise. Instead of providing a synopsis of the story, allow me to quickly begin the analytical process of dissecting the game’s qualities.

Before I do that though, here is one of the more recent videos for the game which outlines the overall storyline the gamer will be involved in experiencing. For those who are unfamiliar with the overall storyline, I urge you to watch this trailer. It only goes for approximately two minutes and thirty seconds and will efficaciously fill in the blanks. I would like to note that I am not the original author of the work at the following site.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJpBeBllyxA&feature=fvst

The first major change to the gaming franchise is the character. Not the name or anything, but the heroic traits that he possesses. Upon the instigation of the game, the character that you portray has absolutely no survival skills; he is a virgin in regards to violence and murder; and is a novice in any and all strategic militarian battlefield supremacy techniques.

This is a significantly different scenario than what was produced in previous titles in the franchise, with the lead characters being polar opposites to the new hero. This adjunctively helps the player become further immersed in the world for they will instantly feel very comfortable, or uncomfortable as the case may be in the shoes of the game’s protagonist.

Our hero in FarCry 3, Jason Brody, is literally a tourist. Luckily however, he learns extremely fast, and so does not remain prey for very long. To upgrade your character to a suitable standing upon the island, you need to spend experience points in one of the three key areas; the Heron, which presides over abilities consistent with long range weaponry, aiming and the accuracy of any and all firearms; the Shark, which is fitting as an image of destruction for it presides over one’s ability to survive, giving rise to greater health bonuses, healing properties, potential damage immunities and brute strength, allowing you to become fit for a full combat experience. Lastly, there is the Spider, which presides over one’s stealthy capabilities, allowing you to move faster, go undetected, and covertly evade and neutralise threatening forces.

The point system does not however work the way it does in games the Likes of Mass Effect and Dead Space, where you must level one section of your character’s particular skills as to level up the next. In FarCry 3, much of the player’s skills are unlocked by completing missions and other quests, or by achieving certain tasks; for instance, one skill asked that five enemies be killed by grenades; another asked for ten opponents to be killed by machine gun emplacements; and another asked for a Bull Shark to be neutralised. On that note, the way to acquire higher levels is to play the game, rather than gain points from achieving certain goals.

However, acquiring points is not exactly easy, as the player only gains one every one thousand skill points, which are attributed to the player from kills (special kills such as head shots and covert strikes having greater rewards), the successful completion of missions (you can acquire more by not being detected, having no friendly casualties during the operation, etc) and by acquiring many of the secret artifacts located randomly about the island.

Finding said artifacts proves to be a valuable, rewarding and fun experience, providing to you free reign to do whatever you please and explore the wide open terrain. Other games the likes of FarCry 3 might have loading sequences as the game renders new areas and prepares for new segments, but this is not the case, the continuous freedom playing an incredible part in the player’s general ability to do whatever it is that he or she may choose.

Additionally, some items, the likes of plants, or more accurately, the leave of plants, prove to be some of the most efficacious and necessary parts of the game. All leaves can be mixed together to create powerful potions, the likes of health vials, the ability to absorb more punishment from certain attacks, the ability to domesticate certain animals for a certain time period, et al.

On the subject of health, your health bars will naturally regenerate – unless you have being poisoned or crippled by some other means. In that case, health packs and other like items are necessary to ensure one’s survival.

Moreover, the controls in FarCry 3 are different again than from previous installments in the franchise. Learning these controls will alone take a couple of hours to successfully master, and even then you are likely to every so often make a costly mistake. Not long into my play through, I accidentally clicked the grenade button whilst looking for the switch weapons reticule, and thus alerted every enemy in the base I was assaulting to my presence. Switching weapons is also a bit of a hindrance, for many games that include a weapon wheel will often pause the game whilst you select the next weapon – not FarCry 3. Whilst switching weapons the world around you will continue to move, and if you are under attack , the enemy will proceed in their attempts to eliminate you.

This leads to the next aspect of the game – the difficulty. The game in general is not terribly challenging per se, but the health of your player is incredibly weak and is depleted at an alarmingly rapid rate. Jason is not up for much punishment, and even after you upgrade your health and overall strength, a good couple rounds from any weapon will remove a cube of health, and when you are being shot at by an assault rifle, you can easily imagine how quickly your life line can be reduced from maximum capacity to absolutely none. A single swipe or bite from a predator will often remove a single cube, and when under attacks from herds of animals, or a larger beast the likes of a tiger, the chance of survival is limited exponentially.

As mentioned previously, you can easily restore your health with kits which you develop on your own or find scattered across the island, however, these will prove useless whilst engaged in a firefight. You cannot actively heal whilst you are running for your life, and when you pause to heal you allow your enemy not only the opportunity to reach your position, but allow them to take pot shots at the bulls eye you inadvertently place upon your back. On top of this, if you continually receive punishment from your opponents whilst you are healing, the hit points you lose will be immediately taken away, so by the time you have healed, you may only gain a fraction of what you were supposed to receive.

However, moving back to assigning points and the overall strength of the protagonist, not everything is quite as enjoyable. At its heart, the game is more of an RPG experience than that of the second game. What that means, is that you will be continuously picking up random pieces of grot, looting the bodies of your enemies and their places of residence and completing random missions for the occupants of the island. This would not be such an intolerable hindrance at times if not for its annoyingly realistic scenarios.

The loot sack your character has at all times needs to be expanded over time else you will continuously be alerted that you have officially run out of room for the forty seventh time in the past half an hour. This can be done by skinning animals that you find across the island – you read that right. As mentioned in the last paragraph, the game is incredibly realistic when in contrast with its predecessors, but one may have to wonder if it has gone too far. True, the realism in games is often what the general public wants, but suspension of disbelief plays a powerful role in fictional pieces of media and players are well accustomed to occurrences transpiring which would be unbelievably impossible in reality – take the ability to carry objects. In games the likes of Gothic, the player is capable of carrying as much as they choose without becoming over encumbered. Basically, the billions of items the player carries weighs nothing more than a feather upon their shoulders, when in reality it would consist of a nice 3,999,999,999,999 kilograms.

Adjunctively, the character’s wallet is in need of expansion if you wish to carry more money, and your ability to carry arms is also in need of an upgrade, with the character initially only being capable of carrying one weapon, which can thus be boosted to accommodate an additional two upon the body of the protagonist.

So, with that in mind, the player will constantly be seeking out wild animals to assist in their ability to carry that which they require to successfully survive the island, which inevitably results in quite a bit of bloodshed and a fair bit of repetition. Safe to say that animal activists will not be impressed with what Ubisoft have done here.

True, it is not every day you can fight a Komodo Dragon or go head to head with a Bull Shark, but if you skin one animal you have basically skinned them all. Of course, any and all skins are applied to your inventory, so that which you require to build your inventory is also one of the major factors which reduces its size – ironic. It is natural to assume that an animal skin could take up one block in one’s inventory, but the idea that a leaf could do so is simply absurd. That’s right – one leaf shrinks your inventory by one, and since you will no doubt be cutting down a lot of them, expect half your inventory to almost always be filled with random leaves.

In regards to the island moreover, the environment is incredibly detailed, and to say that the graphics are gorgeous would be one of the greatest understatements ever conceived. The faces of characters are brilliantly exposed with a detail that will leave you mesmerised as your converse and dispatch your opponents, and the island in general is graphically flawless, the vibrant colour of the scenery and atmosphere drawing you in with beautiful, unflinching effects.

Errr, do you wish to go out for coffee later?

Like with the last game, the island will move from morning, noon and into the night, none of which lasts a particularly long period of time, but will ultimately affect your experience all the same as battling at night time is very different than what it is during the day.

Of course, just a note – do not be shocked by the sheer size of the island. The map you are provided generally makes the number of islands that the player is stranded upon appear to dwarf even the United States, which might suggest the longevity of time you will be stranded there. The main mission is made up of enough jobs that will probably keep you playing for around 10 – 12 hours, but the additional side quests and the continuous freedom will keep you engaged for quite a bit longer, the general length of the game being determined by the general style of game play the player chooses to exhibit.

The environment has being upgraded from previous experiences furthermore and can benefit you at times rather than prohibiting you from successfully navigating an area. When falling down a cliff, your character will immediacy begin to slide, which reduces the damage you sustain from the fall. The game will adjunctively tell you when to interact with the environment, which can include leaping up to higher ledges, and the use of vines (which players might remember from FarCry Instincts) adds an environmentally interesting approach to clambering up mountains and other such areas.

Missions in FarCry 3 are more constrained than what they were in previous games. In both of the predecessors in the franchise thus far, the player had free reign to approach mission objectives any which way they wanted, and although FarCry 3 is more free and open than any of the games before it, this specific aspect of the game has not being carried over. When playing through missions, players are forced to go about them the way the game wants. There is always one direction; one method; and sometimes even one type of weapon that must be used to ensure successful completion of the operation, else you will automatically fail.

Upon failure of an operation, the game automatically reboots the player at the last checkpoint. If that is not annoying enough though, any vehicle you had with you at the moment your last checkpoint was activated will have subsequently vanished without a trace and you will have to pursue any and all objectives on foot, which is, as one can easily imagine, often a slow and grueling process.

Furthermore, unlike in FarCry where the player was forced to discover checkpoints in order to safely secure their progress thus far, or in the sequel where the player could only ever save the game by making their way to specified save stations, in FarCry 3 the save system has changed again.

When happily navigating the islands, the player can save the game whenever they wish. This is disabled during missions, and it is then that the player is forced to rely upon checkpoints.

However, there is only one save slot, and every time the player chooses to save their progress they are subsequently overwriting their last save, so often you need to be vigilant and careful when it comes to saving your campaign else you might find yourself in a problem that you cannot escape from.

Returning to the concept of missions, in general they range from a wide assortment of duties, some of which will require significant travel arrangements to be made. Vehicles again make a helpful asset throughout the campaign, a long list of jeeps, regular old fashioned cars and sea worthy vessels being at your disposal. The new ability to fast travel to locations which you have previously conquered adds an additional helpful application to the game and allows you to go back to a store (or a locker, as both serve the same purpose) to sell and buy products before travelling back to where you were beforehand.

As a side note, just like in FarCry 2, enemy vehicles patrol the roads, and will attack you if they spot you.

On the mention of ‘conquering’ areas, this is a new part of the game. The map itself is bare at first, although certain points of key interest are displayed, everything else from routes, to the locations of certain animals and places of interest are not available. The locations of radio towers are however, each of which have being supplied with an inhibiter which prevents them from sending a signal to your map which will display everything that an adventurer will need to survive. Taking out the jamming transmissions upon these towers is a necessity in that sense to progress through the campaign.

Towers are not all that requires conquering though. There are two ‘teams’ upon the island who are fighting for its dominance and control. There is the Rakyat, the people who your character sides with at the beginning of the game, who have the banner of a blue flag presiding over their territories to symbolise their control over the area; and then there are Vaas’s Pirates, the enemy, who run beneath a red banner. Segments of the map outlined in a red colour reveal areas occupied by the enemy, and parts of the map clear of any red show where the Rakyat have dominance.

Like in a tournament, one of the game’s goals is to seize control of the enemy controlled sectors by invading them, killing the enemy occupants and in doing so, seizing control and having the Rakyat officially move in. Once an area has being cleared of hostiles, the enemy do not secure dominance in that sector again.

Die you rotten bastards!!

The enemy in general is rather intelligent moreover, but the AI can be easily beaten if you covertly evade their actions. Enemies patrol encampments and other such areas, but do not bother to turn around if you silently creep up behind them, allowing you to progress through entire areas without even using a bullet.

However, the sheer volume of certain groups can sometimes make this almost impossible and additional strategies need to be implemented. On occasion enemies will even call in reinforcements, which you certainly do not want occurring.

When in open combat the enemy will take cover, throw grenades to draw you from the cover you have taken, and flank your location, Your compass however, which shows the locations of pissed off bad guys is so good at doing its job, that you can always clearly tell where the enemy are flanking you from, which makes them so much easier to dispatch.

Depending on the weapons that you have unlocked (or are at present using), these will primarily be the arms that the enemy take up, which, much like in the second game is FarCry’s way of giving back to you what you use to dismiss the enemy. The magazines your opponent’s drop though are not worthy of mentioning, for a couple of rounds is not nearly enough to sustain you through a war, and replenishing your ammo at stores and lockers is often a frequent quest.

In regards to the weaponry, there is a wide assortment of pistols, SMG’s, assault and sniper based rifles and other equipment which can be used at your leisure. Although slots need to be developed to accommodate for more equipment, the player will often feel most at home with that which they no doubt initially equip upon their character. Some items can additionally be upgraded with equipment the likes of scopes, silences and additional attachments to enhance the general accuracy of the weaponry at hand to make your character more dangerous in battle.

Moving onto the driving force of the game, the major goal is to secure the release of your friends from the island. Although Jason and his friends believed the islands to be a beautiful paradise, the sudden realistaion that it certainly fails to live up to their original expectations is present by the fact that they have each being captured and are subsequently scattered about the island and are in dire need of rescue. This in turn is the primary mission for the player, but like with all games, the general notion of ‘I’ll help you if you help me’ plays a significant role whilst interacting with the inhabitants of the islands.

What I will say about the storyline is that it can at times be more emotionally in-depth than the previous experiences in the franchise, and over the course of the game you learn about the lives of each character and how they each came to be in the situation they are in now. The story is driven by themes of friendship, family and love, which influences Jason in attempting to save his friends, even at the cost of his own life.

The fabulous orchestral musical score which on occasion rumbles through the game enhances this experience and empowers these emotional moments and themes with an incredible sense of urgency.

In conclusion, FarCry 3 appears to combine aspects of FarCry 2, Red Faction 3 and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic to create an experience which is better than James Cameron’s Avatar (the videogame) but perhaps not quite as enjoyable as FarCry 2.

Image References (Harvard style)

-Andog Hype 2012, Far Cry 3 unveils two new characters: Dennis and Citra, viewed 21st November 2012
<http://www.analoghype.com/video-games/playstation-3-news/far-cry-3-unveils-two-new-characters-dennis-and-citra/>

-Cheat Code Central 2012, Far Cry 3 Preview, viewed 21st November 2012
<http://www.cheatcc.com/ps3/rev/farcry3preview.html#.UKvuqYaDfIU>

-Wikipedia 2012, Far Cry 3, viewed 21st November 2012
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_Cry_3>

In the world of video games, the end doesn’t always justify the means

 

Although some may refuse to believe this statement to be true, games have indeed matured since the days of their orchestration. Initially beginning as nothing more than experiences which required the gamer to run and gun their way from the start of a level to its conclusion, additional storylines, character development and in-depth background of locations, scenarios and occurrences have modified gaming into an experience which can easily rival the enjoyment ascertained from reading and watching films.

As the title of this piece suggests, my belief, and a factor of gaming that I especially enjoy, is as follows; although a game may more often than not require a gamer to potentially blast their way from one side of the game to the next, the ending does not necessarily have to end with such violence; nor does the game as a whole.

Nowadays, a majority of games have cinematics and other such occurrences which separate one action sequence from the next which adds depth to the fictitious piece as a whole. In an RPG, this happens more often than not when in comparison with a shooter, a great comparative example being that of the Halo franchise and the Mass Effect series; both are entrenched with an amazing character driven narrative which immerses the player in futuristic alien environments against vile, antagonistic opponents who seek the destruction of humanity. Shrouded with other themes, the likes of friendship, family, love, betrayal, redemption and revenge, these games offer the player a gratifying experience that is worth experiencing again and again.

On that note, if a game has being leading the player through a substantially powerful storyline amidst the many action sequences, the conclusion could no doubt carry the same weight. The days when an ending to a game was simply a mix of explosions, mixed with the demise of the end boss is indeed still apparent, but more is conveyed during the moments that follow on from this particular occurrence, and it is that which I am aiming to discuss.

When I am playing a game and find myself at its conclusion, more often than not I would like to experience an ending which is incredibly emotional; a simpler way would be to say a real tear jerker.

The first time I finished a game which ended in much the same way I have described above the year was 2003, and the title of the game was Unreal II The Awakening. Since that time, it has again happened in regards to titles the likes of Bioshock and its sequel Bioshock 2, Halo Reach, Halo 4 and Mass Effect 3 (especially when played with the Extended Cut DLC).

Adjunctively Gears of War 2 and 3 moved me emotionally, but these moments occurred during the games rather than at their conclusions.

If a game has already proved itself capable of delivering unto the player an experience that is consistent with the kind of powerful storyline you would expect from a genuine blockbuster at the cinema, then an emotionally charged ending is no doubt an inevitability by the game’s end.

Of course, the stereotypical feature only runs for a period no less than two hours, where as the shortest stereotypical game one is likely to experience today will go for approximately three times that amount. So, if I am going to immerse myself into a fictitious world for that amount of time, then I would very much like for the ending to be as passionately powerful as the overall experience from start to finish was for me.

I can only speak for myself, but I very much enjoy being fully immersed into the world of a video game to such an extent that I will genuinely feel something; I will become sad if a protagonist who I had befriended and fought beside dies; I will smile if the vile antagonist who caused such pain and suffering is defeated by game’s end; I will feel contempt at the evocative nature of any relationship that I manage to instigate between my character and a possible paramour.

With that said, certain readers may find it interesting that I would rather be brought to tears by the ending of a specific title, rather than find an epic amount of explosions dazzling across the screen before the credits gradually start rolling. True, I don’t believe that people in general enjoy crying, but that rule does not apply in my opinion when you are viewing fictitious content. To be moved in any which way; to tears; to fits of hysterical laughter; to glances of awe, is not always possible with every title, no matter the content, and to become emotionally distraught by a tragic ending is not something to be horrified at, but something to be ecstatic with.

If a feature has moved the viewer in the way that the writers, director and developers originally intended, then they have successfully achieved that which they had set out to do. If I had not being moved to tears by the game’s ending then that would have being an issue for I would not be acquiring the experience that I had paid for. Game’s in general often cost three times the amount of a film, and to be moved by the conclusion is well worth the one hundred odd dollars that the campaign was valued at.

In conclusion, I would very much like for more game’s to have an emotionally charged ending after playing through the campaign, or, like the Mass Effect series, build up on that possible ending through a franchise. After all, if I am going to be fully immersed into the world of a video game, I would genuinely appreciate the ability to be moved by an ending that has being developed by people as passionate for the game as I am, rather than end on the stereotypical explosive scenario that many game’s to this day conclude upon.

To be moved to tears by a game’s ending is not something that people should look down upon; it simply means that the player is human. As a species, humans are more often than not affected emotionally when something tragic happens. All I ask is that this in-depth feeling of humanity is written into the game’s that I play.

Thank you for reading.

If you have any comments on what I have written, or opinions of your own in regards to the subject matter, please, feel free to discuss them in the comments section below.

You know you have been playing video games too long when…

 

-you think by walking over things you will automatically pick them up.

-the last time you had a girlfriend, Cleopatra was Queen of Egypt.

-during a fight, you frantically look for the ‘b’ button as to perform a successful melee attack.

-you duck and roll into office cubicles rather than walk into them.

-at work, when a person throws a file at you, you quickly toss it right back from fear it might explode.

-you think your LAN connection is faulty when things go wrong in life.

-you would rather toss a hand gun than use it, preferring a minigun because if you want to kill something, the last thing you wanna do is miss.

-you think ‘Facebook’ is a Reaper indoctrination device.

-you and your friends walk around, bumping into any and all areas of the environment like a bunch of brainless bots.

-your fingers are permanently fixed into a claw from continued use of console triggers.

-you become annoyed when weapons do not load quite as easily in reality as they would in a video game.

-‘Tali, do you want to go out for dinner tonight?’ you ask your girlfriend who is in fact named Rachel, Stephanie or True.

-your boss fires you for failing to come to work for the past two weeks, and the last thing you ever say to the man is ‘but boss, the Krogan need me!’

-you feel more at home in sewers and ventilation shafts than in your own bedroom.

-you’ve sat on your ass, played video games and eaten food so often that the last time you saw the numbers 1,096 was on the bathroom scales.

-when purchasing clothing, you check the label to see how much damage resilience it will offer you.

-you are unable to perform a jump because your body is not equipped with a space bar.

-you remove all the doors in your house from their hinges and have everyone you love wear bells attached to their necks for their protection, along with your own, to ensure you know where everyone you care about is at any given time in your house as to not have them sneak up on you and force you to inevitably slay them.

-you look for the little blue ‘x’ button when entering and exiting vehicles.

-you can’t find your flashlight, so use a flame thrower or chain gun to light your way instead.

-when your wife throws items at your head even she is amazed when you duck and roll with record reaction time from the amount of practice you have received from battling killer mutants from outer space.

-at funerals, you wonder why the dead bodies do not fade away, and question the priests about whether there is a fault with their software when this fails to happen.

-you attempt to install cheat codes into your body as to allow yourself to walk through walls and have infinite ammo.

-you look for an invulnerability sphere at your local pharmacist.

-the sun hurts your eyes after you emerge from what feels like an eternity of gaming, whilst your beard seems a few meters longer than what it was when you began.

-to begin a conversation with a person, you wait until they are highlighted, or look over their bodies in the hopes of discovering a ‘use’ key.

-the growl of the dog and the meow of the cat cause you to leap over the couch for a better vantage point whilst reaching for your semi-automatic.

-you take a vowel of celibacy as to lose your virginity to an Assari Huntress.

-you take an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher, not Role Playing Game!) to your high school reunion cuz you know when the shit hits the fan an area effect weapon is better than a pistol.

-during game play, when an enemy attacks your character, you slide off your chair as to tactically avoid them.

-your television and monitor are riddled with bullet holes.

-your XBOX 360, PS3, keyboard and mouse require cleaning every couple days rather than every couple months.

-after playing a video game you need a long hot shower as to wipe away all the excess blood from your face, whilst your friends wonder why you are covered in so many scars and bruises.

-your girlfriend’s snoring reminds you of the Hell Knight from Doom…and makes you consider leaving the chainsaw beneath your bed from fear she might actually be the Hell Knight from Doom.

-you dress up as your favorite video game character for conventions, Halloween and all manner of other occasions, but your friends always recognise you.

-you move all of your first aid kits closer towards your game console.

-you mistake your wife’s best friend’s boob job for a couple rocket launchers.

-you randomly speak your mind, knowing if you do something wrong, you can always load from the last check point.

-your trigger finger twitches whenever someone enters the room.

-you ask for the Quad Damage weapon multiplier at the local gun store.

-all of your consoles automatically boot directly into your favorite games unless you press a specific key.

-you find yourself looking for Kevlar and anti-radiation suits at your local K-Mart.

-when buying a helmet, you ask the shop keeper for the one with the A.I port at the rear.

-you don’t bother turning on the lights because you know your eyes come with a night sensitivity mode.

-when a man insults you, instead of saying ‘I challenge you to a duel’ you say ‘I challenge you to a deathmatch!’

-you don’t worship God – no, you worship the Covenant forerunners.

-you walk up and down the super market complex looking for ‘Citadel Souvenirs.’

-when sick, you ask the doctor for a stim-pack.

-you look for sniper towers in toilet cubicles and elevators.

-you‘re annoyed when your parents buy you the new car they have been promising you – only to find it was not a Warthog.

-you find it odd when your environment does not stall or become pixilated.

-during physical altercations you ask your opponents to pause so you might heal.

-you think the mole on your left wrist is in fact the Omni-tool activation switch.

-you quickly run in and out of rooms, watching your back to see what creature follows you out.

-you choose to play a video game rather than spend the night with a woman. Funny fact; in 2009, a survey in Australia looked at male gamers – the question? Would you rather spend the night playing a video game, or spend the night with a woman. 78% of those surveyed – said they would rather spend the night playing a video game.

-your girlfriend leaves you, slamming the front door as it comes back to knock her in the ass. She cries at the top of her lungs ‘you love your friggin’ game box more than you love me you selfish bastard!’ You don’t twitch nor flinch as you persist in trying to eliminate the final boss at the end of the game. Besides, saving the universe from total destruction is more important than she was, right?

-during conversations, you pause as to allow time for the next conversation option to appear before your eyes.

-you believe certain mushrooms will bestow onto you a temporary boost of magika.

-you walk into Best and Less and ask where they keep their Spartan Armor.

-you barter for random goods and services, and try to sell goods you don’t need back to perspective shop keepers.

-you squint your eyes, rub at them and close them completely, wondering why it is that the crosshairs are not appearing.

-you volunteer to carry your all of your friend’s goods, along with your own, from the belief that you can carry several hundred kilograms worth of equipment before becoming over encumbered.

-you think it’s odd that the bodies of all the women you know look different rather than similar and that their breasts are not huge and cumbersome.

-you think during the two minutes it takes you to walk from one side of the house to the next you can experience morning, noon and night.

-your friends are worried that you are not getting enough sun, explaining to you this is the first time you have been out of the house in the past six months.

-you go pressing up against walls in the hopes that one might open to reveal a secret area.

-you randomly look around your environment, hoping to find spare ammo clips.

-you search your girlfriend’s body for the following pieces of equipment; power cables, the ‘on’ switch, volume control and the mute button.

-you are so used to been called ‘marine’, ‘Shepherd’ or ‘Master Chief’ that when someone actually says your name you simply ignore them.

-when at the local car dealership you notice the vehicle you are after is not present and so ask if they have run out of Ghosts’.

-at the local shooting range, you ask the clerk behind the desk for the BFG.

-when you look at your reflection in the mirror you expect to find the ‘change appearance’ button.

-you pick fights with people, knowing that if you lose you can always respawn at full strength.

-when you enter a friend’s house you always look for where their flag is located so you might steal it and take it back home with you when they’re not looking as to score yourself a point.

-you believe every locked door can be opened with a red, blue or gold keycard.

-you are constantly being arrested for the minigun emplacement attached to the rear of your vehicle.

-you frequently wonder why you feel pain when injured.

-your best and most truest friend is a five inch tall, seven year old woman named ‘Cortana’.

-during family altercations, you reach for your assault rifle, believing a team deathmatch is on the verge of beginning.

-you side step down hallways as to avoid your work colleagues from fear they might assault you.

-you haven’t been able to open your fridge in the past two weeks because you are having difficulty locating the ‘use’ key.

-when your girlfriend blows you a kiss, you leap out of the way to avoid it whilst reaching for your shotgun.

-you don’t care so much when you are gravely ill or dying because you’ll probably be able to find one of those mega-health’s lying around.

-your favorite Backstreet Boys, Lady Ga Ga and Daughtry albums are left in the corner of your bedroom gathering dust, whilst the illegally downloaded music files from Halo, Doom and Mass Effect reach the rank of ‘most played’ in Windows Media Player.

-you expect to receive ‘paragon’ every time you say something nice.

-you wonder why you have five fingers on your hand rather than three.

-you constantly find yourself wondering why everything is not in third person mode.

-you think you are ill when your HUD does not appear before your eyes.

-‘I’ll be there in a minute honey, just let me finish this level’ is your most frequently used expression.

-when you open a door, instead of turning on the lights, you toss a grenade into the room.

-where everyone else puts on trunks or a bikini (if you swing that way), you equip anti-radiation suits before entering swimming pools.