Dirty Cheater

Happy Weekend TAY!

I hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend and has lots of gaming planned. It was terribly hot around here last week and we had the air conditioning cranked. It looks like it will be more seasonable this coming week which will be some welcome relief...I hate the heat.

My son had standardized testing all week at school and, as a result, he didn’t have to study or do any homework. Other than some piano practice, he was free and clear. We put that extra free-time to good use by completing a hefty chunk of Sonic Adventure.

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We have now finished the stories for Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Big The Cat. It is still impressive how much content Sonic Adventure provides, though some of that content is questionable. Big The Cat’s fishing adventure is just awful. Not only is it one of the worst fishing interfaces around, but Big’s character model is so much larger than the rest of the cast that it further messes up the already unstable camera.

Even with Big’s problems, the overall experience has been a lot of fun. Sure, the game shows its age, but the production values are still quite remarkable. The soundtrack is far-and-away the best aspect of Sonic Adventure, but we are having a surprisingly stellar time with the gameplay of this twenty-year-old title.

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On the solo side of life, I finally finished off Far Cry...but I ended up cheating. I hate to cheat in games, but it was either that or give up completely.

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I was playing Far Cry on the “Realistic” difficulty setting which is the highest level. It was very hard going and a single misstep would often result in death. I enjoyed the challenge, it made me take advantage of all the tools in the game and provided a fair but gruelling adventure. Well...up until the jeep rail-shooter.

Four-fifths of Far Cry is a solo game. Just you against the world and it is your ability to choose between stealth and assault that makes the player’s experience a truly rewarding one. Then you get a partner.

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The addition of an AI companion is problematic at best in many games, but in Far Cry on the “Realistic” difficulty setting, it is downright frustrating. The AI doesn’t have the need to seek cover or to use stealth. She cannot be issued commands and follows you very closely. So, she dies A LOT and when she dies, you die. This is where the game starts to go downhill and once I arrived at this point in the game, the memories of bitterness towards Far Cry came flooding back to me. I had forgotten what it was that kept me from replaying the game long ago.

It is simply unfair. The player hones their skills through a trial by fire. You figure out what works and where you can exploit the enemy AI. Even with all that the player learns, you still often only make it through by the skin of your teeth.

Having this broken aspect added to your game sucks. But it gets worse.

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There comes a point where the AI companion drives a jeep while you man the mounted gun on the back. With no exaggeration, I died over 50 times here. I generally avoid using vehicles because of the lack of stealth and the rare time when I did use vehicles, I could bail out when the going got tough. Not so with the AI driving. You must stay in the vehicle and are limited to the ammo provided in the mounted weapon. The jeep ride is so bumpy that it is almost impossible to aim properly and each missed shot equals death.

So, I found the God Mode cheat and didn’t look back.

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You can dynamically turn on and off the God Mode, so I set up a rule of dying ten times before I used it, but the last fifth of Far Cry becomes a frustrating mess. The devs severely ramp up the difficulty of the enemies during the last act and much of it is still with your AI companion. When you finally lose the companion, the game becomes even more difficult and ends up denying you cover for many of the sections. Basically, it takes everything I liked about the game and threw it away. I ended up using the God Mode somewhat often, but I was so disappointed in having to enable it in the first place, that it really ruined the last few levels of the game for me.

I’d still recommend fans of the series to check out the first Far Cry. Just play it on an easier difficulty than I did (unless you really need to challenge your skills). It is a pity the game doesn’t offer the ability to change the difficulty level mid-game. The extreme difficulty through most of the game is very rewarding; it is a shame when higher difficulties aren’t balanced throughout.

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I was sick last week, so I’m hoping for a quiet weekend. My son and I will likely finish off Sonic Adventure and move on to Sonic Adventure 2. I’m also hoping my wife and I can find some time to get back to Until Dawn. I’ve got my owns sights set on For Honor, hopefully, that will pan out better for me than most online games.

So, what are you playing this weekend?

EDIT: Oh...if you made it this far, would someone be interested in covering for me for the weekend of June 16? It is my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary and I’ll be swamped with things. I’m sure it will count towards your Six-TAY days of writing. :)