Monthly Archives: May 2018

As Your Fantasy Town Mayor

To all of my fellow citizens of the town of Dadoria,

We live in a time of peace.  Of prosperity.  Whatever troubles may plague the world, we live in a video game fantasy town where birds chirp, kids play, and everyone knows each other.  Which, because we live in a video game fantasy town, means we’re all in grave danger.  As you all know, peace is exactly the moment when disaster strikes.  Whether it’s some dark god, evil empire, or previously defeated species out for revenge, something is coming for us.  As mayoral candidate for Dadoria, I want you to know that I can help.  We CAN defeat the inevitable, unspecified darkness!….with my six point plan.

1 – Fund research into town history

In addition to promoting civic pride, researching town history will give us a much better understanding of the various ancient traps laid for us by our predecessors.  While it may be tempting to live in ignorant bliss of the doom hidden within a nearby ancient temple, smart planning and responsible leadership will ensure that we can live with peace of mind despite the dangers.  Every 4,000 year old ritual sealing away the forces of darkness, every lost sword that holds the ultimate power, and every gateway to an evil dimension will be studied, catalogued, and placed on a publically available town website to ensure we’re making progress towards ridding our homes of these dangers.

2 – Establish a rigorous immigration protocol

Outsiders often bring unwanted attention to our otherwise peace burg.  Many a fantasy town has been undone by a clever old wise man who turned out to be a general in an imperial army or a lovely young lady who is actually part of a long lost magical race.  ALL prospective immigrants to Dadoria will go through a thorough review to ensure they have a history free of interesting lives linking them to dangerous adventures.

3 – Improve educational standards

Heroes.  They’re the worst.  If there’s one thing to guarantee the doom of our village, it’s a plucky band of youngsters living an idyllic life just begging for a town-wide massacre to start them on a noble quest to save the world.  As mayor, I would take great exception to the idea that we need to be the ones to die.  All kids between the ages of 13 and 18 will be sent to a quality boarding school where any that show a plucky, can do attitude will be banned from returning.

4 – Increase economic investment

To further discourage the development of homegrown adventurers, I shall direct the investment of town tax monies towards the increase in quality and rarity of our goods.  Any prospective heroes would need to start off buying high level gear and fighting brutal monsters.  Good luck with that guys.  As an added bonus, we’ll be at the top of the economic food chain when adventurers come knocking for powerful weapons and armor.  There’s no loss here.

5 – Energy diversity

While we all honor and appreciate the wonderful quality of life that the CRYSTAL OF FIRE provides, it’s time we looked to more traditional sources of energy.  I share your concerns about the pollution resulting from alternative sources, but it pales in comparison to the destruction wrought by an evil emperor who destroys our humble town to complete his collection.  Instead, I propose selling the CRYSTAL OF FIRE and using coal as a bridging source until we can transition to solar or steam power.

6 – Invest in our armed forces

At the end of the day, nothing stops nefarious actors like well-armed troops with a diverse array of weapons.  Ottis is a wonderful young man whose bumbling charm feels right at home in Dadoria, but he can’t stop the ravenous hordes of a demon army bent on global domination.  We need trained soldiers with guns, magic, and magical guns.  They’ll cut their teeth on the seemingly endless monsters in the area and make sure that any would-be conqueror gets a face full of bullets for even looking in our direction.

So, fellow citizens of Dadoria.  Vote me, vote for the future, and vote for not dying.

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Opinion – Far Cry 5’s Ending

Spoilers:  I’ll be talking about the ending for Far Cry 5 so, unsurprisingly, there will be spoilers for Far Cry 5.

 

Let’s get the verdict out of the way: the ending for Far Cry 5 isn’t very good, but it is representative of the failings that plague the game’s story.  Whether or not you saw The Collapse coming, it was possible to predict how the story would falter.

For those who haven’t beaten the game, here’s a quick summary.  The player is fighting against The Father, a religious figure who built a militant movement around an amorphous, apocalyptic scenario known as “The Collapse”.  When the player confronts and defeats The Father, nuclear bombs go off suggesting that he was right all along and lending credence to the prophetic powers he claimed to have.

Much of the criticism of the ending is lobbied against its unpredictability.  While there’s plenty of discussion about the end of the world, Far Cry 5 doesn’t provide sufficient clues to forecast the apocalypse.  I can’t agree.  The mechanics of the apocalypse are left unexplored, but its arrival is given increasing evidence when looked through the perspective of The Father’s prophesy.  I agree that we don’t see much about encroaching war (though apparently some of the radio broadcasts talk about North Korea), but we do see quite a bit to suggest that The Father may be right.  The three heralds (think cult vice presidents) all highlight how the player’s actions were foretold by The Father with Jacob Seed even highlighting how he doubted The Father’s religious connections, but believed in his prophesy.  Furthermore, the beginning even has the cultists waiting for the arrival of the supposedly unexpected police officers.  Far Cry 5 may not set up a nuclear exchange, but it does support the idea that the apocalyptic prediction could be right.

My problem with the ending is a continuation of my problem with the broader storyline.  The story often tries to shock and awe the audience with plot twists, but rarely spends the time it needs to earn the pay off.  The concept of The Bliss is the perfect example.  Rather than spend a little time developing the concept of The Bliss, it is instead an obvious dues ex machina that does whatever the plot needs at the time.  It’s supposed to create an otherworldly atmosphere, but instead feels empty and unsupported.  Another related example is the final fight where the player must defeat their allies who have all been exposed to The Bliss despite there being no sign of that exposure happening.  Instead, the fight feels like just another convenient setup.  Far Cry 5 wants these powerful and impactful moments, but doesn’t spend the time to support them.

The apocalyptic ending falls into the same pattern.  Yes, the story lends some support to the ending happening, but it never grapples with what that actually means.  A prophet who predicts the end of the world and even knows how it will happen sets up a millenarian cult movement that he knows will fail.  He knowingly creates the scenario that will bring about the end that he’s trying to stave off.  How does any of this make sense?  The ending is yet another jump where Ubisoft wants to get to the good part of the story without thinking through the path to get there, and that’s the real problem.  The game does let you know what’s coming, it just doesn’t want to figure out how to make it work.

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Review – Far Cry 5 – PC

Short version:  Far Cry 5 is a good game.  It won’t change your life…or even your view on Far Cry games, but it’s polished, fun, and generally does what it set out to do.  Got it?  Good.  Let’s start reviewing this thing.

The game begins with the player running from the Eden’s Gate cult in Montana after failing to capture its leader, The Father.  The player joins up with up three sets of resistance groups trying to overthrow the three “heralds” of The Father, collectively known as the Seed family.  This is a solid enough set up for the game, but really relies on the personalities of the Seed family to carry the story beyond a basic “kill these dudes” premise.  Fortunately, the Seeds are a well-acted bunch of zealots who both convey the necessary charisma to sell their role as cult leaders and the arrogance to incentivize their downfall.  The desire to take down the cult and their leaders is enough to carry the player through the game, but the rest of the story can’t quite keep up.

For all the quality of the cast, the basic plotline is all over the map.  Developer Ubisoft clearly had larger ambitions for Far Cry 5’s story that it couldn’t quite reach.  The story has major plot elements that are haphazardly introduced and unexplained even as they take on an increasingly large role.  This all culminates in an ending that doesn’t have the support its needs resulting in it landing flat (I’ll cover this, spoilers and all, a little later).  The saving grace of it all is that the game rarely dwells on the story.  Far Cry 5 benefits from not looking or thinking too hard about it.

The gameplay is a more polished version of the standard Ubisoft fare.  All the usual staples are here including an open world map, taking over forts, doing side quests for locals, and hunting down collectibles.  Where the game shines is how it parcels these all out in interesting chunks the mean that no element ever feels overwhelming.  Even at the start, the map feels full, not cluttered.  Furthermore, the high ratio of character driven quest to mindless side mission means that I never felt obligated to do boring tasks.  I always felt I could engage with the game on the level I felt interested in at the time.

Another strong element of the gameplay was how it feeds into the look and feel of the world.  Success in missions translates to success for the resistance movements in the countryside.  Sectors that start off as overrun with cultists as civilians flee for their lives transform into battlefields and finally transition into resistance controlled space.  It’s a nice touch that makes each mission feel like a battle in a broader war and lends impact to the player’s actions.  I wish more games did this.

Even without the dynamic change in the environment, Far Cry 5 impresses with its high mountains, gentle farmlands, and lived-in buildings.  Perhaps it’s my familiarity with the setting, but I found this iteration of the series to have the most compelling, realistic world.  Seeing a place that I knew could be real and that was so well drawn pulled me in to the struggle of its residents.  This felt like a living world and an accurate reflection of the setting it wanted to portray.

In the end, Far Cry 5 isn’t a revolutionary game.  If you didn’t like its predecessors, this one won’t change your mind.  On the other hand, if you like this type of game, or were on the fence about the genre, give Far Cry 5 a shot.  It’s a polished example of the form and worth the $60.

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