Reviews Comments: Rambo: The Game

Rambo: The Game
If you're in a hurry, here's a couple of quick tips about Far Cry 3:

1) This game kicks ass.

2) Play it on the hardest difficulty.

3) Don't stay on the island.

Far Cry 3 is a remarkable game, seamlessly blending open world sandbox style gameplay with stealth, shooting, and survival (the Three S's). If you ever wanted to go exploding tip bow fishing for bull sharks, or flamethrower cassowary wrangling, then Far Cry 3 delivers. If the most dangerous game is more you're style, the game boasts a robust array of takedown techniques, that are not only useful, but entertaining as all hell.

Right, that's the good stuff out of the way, lets talk shittyness.

The one part were Far Cry 3 stumbles the hardest is in the story department. Things start out promising enough at the outset, but take a sharp turn toward Avatar street about a third into the game. The story could have been more interesting if the tribal aspects were implicit rather than explicit, i.e. the tatau you receive at the start was from an eccentric expat a bit too into his adopted culture, the Rakyat are just modern day people defending their homes, etc. The story uses too many Mighty Whitey cliches and treads too much familiar ground to be compelling, and DON'T EVEN get me started on the ending. The ending isn't nearly as bad as Mass Effect 3 's, but it's still god awful. The binary aspect just feels contrived, and is in desperate need of a third choice, preferably one that doesn't end with a knife to the chest, or an unstoppable killing machine trying to reintegrate into normal society. Because I'd give him about three days before he starts turning household appliances into IED's.


With the mightey whitey aspect, I've been asking myself why they couldn't have made the protagonist an ex-islander himself. It would have solved so many problems, completely side stepping the whole white man's burden deal and whilst making a lot more sense in general. I mean, why the hell are these locals so quick to permit some idiot American tourist to be their champion, when some blood relative should be able to do the same thing?
comment #17543 maninahat 4th Jan 13
Hell, if not the ex-islander angle, why not just have Jason be half-Rakyat and call it a day?
comment #17552 MachineMan1992 4th Jan 13
Because they wanted to have a protagonist who the "average gamer" can identify with, who Ubisoft apparently thinks is some white, upper middle-class douchebag.
comment #17563 McSomeguy 5th Jan 13
Well, Ubisoft IS french, so make of that what you will.
comment #17564 MachineMan1992 5th Jan 13
Well the reason they chose a white upper middle-class douchebag is because the writer wanted to smack white upper middle-class douchebags down for the way they use escapism. I'm not sure if it necessarily comes across though

And I don't think he's just covering himself, because people were writing things like this in some circles
comment #17569 TomWithNoNumbers 5th Jan 13
It he was trying to deconstruct the Mighty Whitey trope, then he failed. HARD. It doesn't possess the sophistication necessary to be deconstructive, nor does it go balls to the wall enough to be a parody.
comment #17571 MachineMan1992 5th Jan 13
I pretty much agree with that. Most people are going to leave the game with a mighty whitey impression which is slightly harmful to society, than are going to leave with a new perspective.

I think the escapism stuff is more up for debate. Quite a few reviews spotted it and a lot of people are aware that the protagonist wasn't necessarily a hero and was maybe suggested to be viewed pretty negatively. And it's less negative to have a douchebag protagonist, so if it fails in coveying that message to everyone, it's not quite so important
comment #17573 TomWithNoNumbers 5th Jan 13
I saw his interview with RPS. Whilst he comes across as making a genuine effort to satire the mightey whitey tropes, he failed to communicate the satire well enough to be picked up by the gamer. I knew of what he was attempting even before playing the game, and even then, I still couldn't see a wink or an ironic nod, even whilst looking for it.

Perhaps he could have done something with the dream sequence; a moment of clarity where he sees himself in a hospital, suffering from some fever dream, attended by a nurse who looks kinda like the "Rakyat priestess" - something like that would certainly hint that the whole thing was a lurid fantasy devised by an ignorant American. Then again (as seemed to be Rock Paper Shotgun's verdict), they could have not bothered with a clumsy satire of lazy adventures in the first place. In an adventure game, is like having your cake and eating it.
comment #17576 maninahat 5th Jan 13
I find the protagonist to be annoying as hell, not particularly heroic. Most of the game mechanics are pretty jarring when you compare them to this guy's dialogue. Roaming the wildlife, you've got an unstoppable juggernaut of destruction. As soon as you skin an animal or enter a cutscene, you've got a total pansy. For me, the pansy part is overriding. If the game mechanics reflected that, I doubt I would have any fun (probably wouldn't be able to shoot straight, run for long distances, climb radio towers, etc). It doesn't seem like the right type of game to make any big statements, but I do sort of see it there.
comment #17990 JobanGrayskull 4th Feb 13
Huh, so let me see if I've got this straight: According to the developers, who may or may not be trying to cover their asses after the fact, in order to deconstruct video game fantasies where an unpleasant Mighty Whitey saves brown people in a shallow adventure which trivializes the horrors of war, they created a game which has an obnoxious Caucasian protagonist become the liberating champion for some natives using a variety of extreme sports equipment? What games is Far Cry 3 even supposed to be satirizing / critiquing? Far Cry 1? At least Spec Ops The Line went after a verifiable genre. I'll admit, I've never actually played this game- although it looks fun, I have no interest in controlling a protagonist who is loathsome even to his own creators. The dev's decision to shoehorn in confusing social commentary to the game's apparent detriment completely baffles me.
comment #19058 Bobchillingworth 22nd Apr 13
Brody isn't as bad as you make him out to be. It's just that the developers have their heads lodged up their own asses trying to be oh so clever, now that being pretentious and obnoxious is more important than being good.
comment #19074 MachineMan1992 23rd Apr 13
@ Bobchillingworth

A lot of people have really enjoyed the social commentary and the way it connects up with the gameplay (but not the white person stuff, the part about escapist fantasises in all forms, not just videogames, including jetsetting holidays and a persons descent from douche to barbarian/psychopath as he lets himself indulge in every whim). Even Yahtzee mentioned it positively in a review (although I say 'even' but he's probably the subset of more critical game commentators who'd particularly enjoy this sort of angle)
comment #19079 TomWithNoNumbers 23rd Apr 13
I quite liked Brody, along with all the characters (racial issues aside). The main narrative of the game, the explicit one about how Brody was transforming from an ignorant tourist into a vengeful, crazy psychopath was communicated very well. Brody's growing aggression conveniently parallels the desires of the gamer, who just wants to kill stuff. That all makes for an interesting commentary on audience wish fulfilment. Despite bungling the whole racism angle, the writer should be commended for being able to convincingly write characters and a situation to that effect. I see it as the next iteration of game story telling, with writers now showing a greater awareness of the medium and the kind of role a player has within it. That has promise.
comment #19099 maninahat 23rd Apr 13
Thanks everyone for the clarifications. I must disagree with maninahat about the promise of games so meta-aware (or cynical) that they construct their narratives around a criticism of the player. I enjoy games that are content to call me out for making alarming decisions, provided that I have a choice. I don't think I could tolerate a game that force-fed me a certain narrative and game mechanics, and then harangued me for daring to enjoy them. I suppose that's the whole dilemma inherent in the You Bastard trope; the producers of a movie, game etc. are so often happy to criticize the audience for taking pleasure in a work, yet utterly lack a sense of self-awareness of their much greater culpability as the creator. I think I'll continue to avoid this game, and thereby prove I am above base gratification through fictional violence :)
comment #19102 Bobchillingworth 23rd Apr 13
What I think maninahat is getting at is Far Cry 3 takes into account both the player (who actually has a role in story ish) and what the player will be doing into the overall narrative, instead of sweeping all that under the carpet and pretending that it isn't happening for the sake of process.

It's definitely an intelligent way of writing game stories that actually uses all aspects of the videogame instead of one. The only problem is most players in most games are kinda dicks :P Might be a bit limiting
comment #19103 TomWithNoNumbers 23rd Apr 13
It's an issue that has a fancy name: ludo-narrative dissonance. It was a problem for me, all the way through GTA 4. In the cutscenes, the protagonist was this miserable guy, having serious conversations about the moral weight of killing a friend. In the game play, when I had control over him, I was happily killing hundreds of pedestrians. The issue was brought up again in the new Tomb Raider and Bioshock: Infinite, where the constant massacring of enemy mooks through the general game play is at odds with the more serious, restrained and mature story being told and the characterisations within them.

The main problem is that companies still see fit to segregate the story and the game mechanics - Bioshock had to be an FPS as well as a complex meta narrative about personal guilt and redemption. Tomb Raider had to be a cover based shooter as well as a tale of a woman's growth in the face of peril. Either devs should write their stories to reflect what the player will actually be doing most of the time in game, or design game play that doesn't provide opportunities to undermine the narrative. Far Cry 3 does the former, knowing that the player will play as a violent sociopath, given the chance. The Walking Dead chooses the latter, presenting players with an unfamiliar form of gameplay built around making dialogue choices.
comment #19105 maninahat 24th Apr 13
The real catch is that if they were trying to deconstruct the Mighty Whitey trope by showing Jason's absorption into the Rakyat warrior culture as an inherently bad thing, we've got a plot of innocent white idiot being corrupted by Evil Sexy Brown Lady and her jungle magics. Which... isn't a huge improvement, guys.
comment #19112 Iaculus 24th Apr 13
@ maninahat- While the concept of the narrative being crafted in anticipation of player actions sounds intriguing in theory, I wonder whether it is a typical example of the "chicken-or-the-egg" conundrum. While it is likely the case that most players will run around in Far Cry 3 enjoying destruction for its own sake (much of the gameplay video I've watched certainly seems to confirm this), cannot one argue that said violence is only practical (if not viable at all) because the game design encourages it in the first place? In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, while it is possible to slaughter your way through the first several areas, the game discourages such behavior through dramatically reducing experience gains from kills, making pitched gun battles extremely difficult and potentially alienating useful characters. Thus the player who revels in senseless violence must go out of their way to do so. By the time the player has upgraded their weapons and abilities enough to render combat an effective solution, the narrative neatly coincides to make the increased use of force morally justifiable. I find this approach much more palatable than handing the player a gun & saying "damn you!" for inevitably using it.
comment #19114 Bobchillingworth 24th Apr 13
That's all part of the same thing so, it's taking into account and shaping the players actions through play to synergise with story and it works for lots of playstyles.

One of the big things here is, you're not punished for playing how you want, you're encouraged for it and it's not an unpleasant experience to see the story unfold. And in fact Far Cry 3 has a distinct separation between Brody and the player (who is in the game but occupies a different role), so what happens to Brody isn't a condemnation of the player.

Far Cry 3 isn't saying you're bad for playing these games, it's criticising rich white douche self-indulgent culture
comment #19117 TomWithNoNumbers 24th Apr 13
@ Bobchillingworth: I agree that a more versatile game that responds to your play style is a good approach to the problem, but it is quite easy to screw that up too. [i]Dishonored[/i], for instance, tries to be versatile, but has two major flaws: some of the most interesting powers and weapons can only be used by violent players, and are essentially useless to a ghost or pacifist playthrough, so the first problem is that some players are tempted to go for a more varied, fun, violent path. The second problem is that the game bitches at you for going for a more varied, fun, violent path, punishing you with a bad ending and lots of finger wagging for enjoying the game. So whilst offering variety, the game still has its own "handing the player a gun & saying 'damn you'" issues too.

I think we might be derailing the thread...
comment #19134 maninahat 25th Apr 13
@maninahat That's the point of the powers in Dishonoured. The Outsider gives Corvo his powers to see what he does with them, he's given people powers before and they always use them for their own gain and end up crazy or broken. You're shown this and then given the same choice as Corvo, will I use these powers for personal satisfaction or not. And if you do then the game calls you out. It's more like the game gives you a swiss army knife and damns you if you choose to stab somone with it.
comment #19158 TheManaThief 27th Apr 13

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