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Posts Tagged ‘Far Cry 2’

Your Virtual Physical Self

Posted by Nick Dinicola on August 7, 2009

“Physicality” has become a buzzword in the gaming industry, used as a shorthand expression for anything that gives the player a sense of their avatar’s physical self. The intro to Call of Duty 4 is a good example: The character is shoved into a car, driven around, then dragged to a stage and executed. As he’s thrown around, the camera is also thrown around, so not only do we see what the character sees but we experience the same distortion he does. But watching this intro now, one gets a vague sense that something is missing: Limb movement, but specifically arm movement. Other games have embraced this new approach, putting an emphasis on the character’s limbs. While the idea of seeing our legs in a first-person shooter isn’t new, the way some games let us interact with our environment through our arms is new.

Far Cry 2 - Dislocated Finger

Far Cry 2 has an interesting approach because of what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t show your character’s legs. Despite this omission, the game is praised for its immersiveness and how well it portrays a sense of physical self. This praise is entirely due to the game’s unique healing animations. Our character will stab himself in the arm with a syrette, snap a dislocated finger back into place, burn a wound shut with a flare, and the list goes on. The important takeaway here is that we heal ourselves by interacting with our body, and most of those interactions focus on our arms. Because of the unique and memorable nature of these animations, we think of them when we think of the game, not the lack of the character’s legs. Most players probably won’t even realize they don’t have legs over the course of the game because there are few reasons for us to look down. When we do have to look down to pick up an object, the character’s hand reaches out and grabs that object instead of magically picking it up by walking over it. Our body, our arm, interacts with the environment, attracting our attention away from the fact that even though we’re staring straight down we don’t see any legs.

Read the rest at PopMatters.

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Permanent Death in Far Cry 2

Posted by Nick Dinicola on July 24, 2009

“…meaning does not come from playing a game… it comes from playing WITH a game. It is the manipulation not only of the actors in the game that is meaningful, but the manipulation of the game itself.”
-Clint Hocking

Ben Abraham over at SLRC started an experiment with Far Cry 2 that has since been picked up and repeated by other bloggers.

The experiment:

Play Far Cry 2 on normal difficulty and stop when you die. You only have one life. Death is permanent.

Ben’s posts, and those by others who have taken up the experiment, read like a normal game of Far Cry 2. The introduction and the tutorial always play out the same, and while everyone’s first mission is different, what happens to them isn’t all that different than what happened to me when I played the game: They get in a shootout and kill a lot of people. That’s essentially every mission in Far Cry 2. So what makes this experiment so interesting? Why am I compelled to read each post, and why are others compelled to take up the challenge of Permanent Death?

Clint Hocking, in his post about the experiment, suggests that people don’t actually care about the individual narratives being related to them, they don’t really care what happens to Ben Abraham or his avatar, they care about what can happen. “The reason I think people are paying attention is because Ben is playing with the game. He is manipulating the game itself…It is not the combination of Far Cry 2 + authored narrative irreversibility that is making the permadeath experiment meaningful to Ben and to others, it is the fact that he is able to manipulate the game to create this experiment that is bringing meaning.”

The result of the experiment is a new experience, one similar to what it would be otherwise, but given a deeper meaning due to the player’s own conscious manipulation of the game. By adding his own rules to the game, Ben ceases to be just a player. He’s now a director of his experience in addition to being an actor in it, and yet he’s still subservient to the whims of the emergent gameplay. His role as player is changed, but he’s still very much a player. He is, as Clint Hocking said, not just playing the game but playing with the game.

Read the rest at PopMatters.

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A Case for Regenerating Health

Posted by Nick Dinicola on May 16, 2009

I understand why gamers are upset over regenerating health in Six Days in Fallujah, but I think the controversy over the health system is unwarranted. Regenerating health will actually add to the experience. I make a case for it over on PopMatters.

I’ve had to start a new game of Far Cry 2 since my old saves were corrupted, but I’ve been surprised at how little I mind. The world of Far Cry 2 is so engaging, so compelling, that all the old missions seem new again. The biggest change from my first game is the new buddies I’ve got with me. Quarbani Singh was my best buddy for a long while, but I never liked him as much as Paul Ferenc. Those first impressions the first time through are the most powerful. The first time a buddy dies in your arms is a moment to remember, and Far Cry 2 purposely builds up to that moment. Your buddy is pretty easy to save the first few times he or she is hurt, but the more your relationship increases, the higher the chance they wont survive. It’s a clever mechanic, and it worked on me because when I accidenlty ran down Quarbani thinking he was a enemey soldier and then blew up three cars next to him, I felt bad but not bad enough to reload a save. Paul Ferenc is still my number 1.

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Survivalism in Hardcore Games

Posted by Nick Dinicola on February 20, 2009

I just started playing Fallout 3. I put it off for so long so I could finish Far Cry 2, and now that I’ve started it I’m surprised how similar these games feel. Both games seem to revel in beating down the player, in making us feel weak and inadequate in the face of danger. In Fallout 3 I’ve found multiple guns but little ammo, so every missed shot becomes a terrible loss, and I have to make sure I’m always carrying a melee weapon for a worst-case scenario. In Far Cry 2 ammo and syrettes may be plentiful, but with every person in the country out for my blood, just traveling across the map becomes a constant fight to stay alive. These are hard, but that difficulty isn’t just there to appeal to a certain demographic, the heavy focus on survival is important to the story and theme of each game. Read the rest of this entry »

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