EDR & The Games We Liked Last Decade Part V

Oh my sainted heavens, it’s cold. Cold and full of snow. I’ve never seen so much of the stuff. It’s all over the place. You should have seen my snowman, EDRites. It is a magnificent creation, towering over the children of the village. I am truly a man without peer.

Anyway, back on topic, eh? We’ve been discussing the GAMES OF THE DECADE. Here’s a quick countdown, for you lazy slackers at the back who haven’t been paying attention. So far, we have – Mario Galaxy, The Sims, Half Life 2 and GTA: San Andreas. An eclectic list, I think you’ll agree. Whatever could be next?

It couldn’t be? Could it? It is? It is! Well, this is unprecedented! It’s….

It never snows in tropical paradise.

FAR CRY!

Yes, Far Cry. No, don’t worry, not the second one, but the infinitely superior original. Far Cry.

I imagine a sizeable chunk of my faceless readers are pulling up short here. Far Cry? Really? That game with the lizard monkey dinosaurs and the crappy end levels? Their questions are entirely justified. Far Cry is a game with problems – pacing problems, difficulty spikes, agonisingly bad voice acting and bullet resistant super mercenaries to name but a few – and it’s reputation has suffered terribly in the years since it first appeared.

But cast your minds back, O faithful reader, to a time before cynicism and monkey-dinosaurs. Remember the first six or seven levels. Remember the massive oil tanker split in half. Remember the car chases. The huge open sprawl of the levels. The Jurassic Park level with the walkways. The night time level. Most of all, remember bursting out of the cave with an army of mercenary commandos in hot pursuit and being confronted by a huge waterfall, blazing sunlight, and a hang glider. If I am honest (and I always, always am), Far Cry could probably qualify for a place in this list for that one glorious moment alone. I played and re-played the waterfall plunge over and over again, soaring from the cliff top in a spray of water and machinegun fire and a haze of ecstasy at the simple wonder of what games could be.

The possibilities of gaming. That’s another reason for Far Cry’s place on this list. At a time when games were repeatedly embarrassing themselves with their attempts to be movies, Far Cry did it differently, while simultaneously making the player feel much more like Bruce Willis (or more accurately, Dolph Lundgren). While Half Life and its brood, for all their strengths, turned the player into a glorified observer Far Cry made the player the prime agent in the world of the game. In Half Life (or to an even greater extent, its stunted bastard offspring, CODMODWAR2), the cool things happened to the player, or around the player, and very rarely called for the player to be involved in any way other than as an observer.* In Far Cry, the player made everything happen. Crytek gave you a huge tropical playground of a level, filled it with stuff, and then left your violent, explosive progress through it entirely in your hands.

Sure, the huge dramatic moments in HL2 and the like were generally huger and dramatic-er, but as far as I’m concerned, that really isn’t the point. I don’t play shooters to see the wonderful drama cooked up by the devs.** I play to be the B-movie superman spitting death and cheesy one liners. I want to be the badass to end all badasses. I want to rain down violence and extravagant explodery, and sometimes I want to do it while wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt. Because I’m just that mean.

Far too few games get this. Mass Effect gets this, in a different way (but will it make the list? WHO KNOWS?***). Max Payne gets this. Crysis gets this hard. But Far Cry gets it best. Far Cry is a shooter unlike any other (except, of course, Crysis). It makes me the action hero I deserve to be, and it lets me create beautiful varied superviolent chaos on a tropical paradise. It’s magnificent, in so many ways. Then super-monkey-dinosaur-men with rocket launchers show up, and it all goes a bit wrong, but still.

Far Cry is a game of rare beauty. Welcome to the Games of the Decade.

_______________________________________________________________

*I realise this particular horse is not only dead, but rotten to the point of being skeletal. I’ll leave it alone really soon, I absolutely promise.

**Actually, sometimes I do. But usually, I don’t at all.

***Me and Gilbo know, natch.

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