Please take a quick second to answer these polls. I don’t care about the actual results (so pick one even if you hate both options), just testing functionality for something I’m working on. Any problems, let me know in the comments. Thanks!
Please take a quick second to answer these polls. I don’t care about the actual results (so pick one even if you hate both options), just testing functionality for something I’m working on. Any problems, let me know in the comments. Thanks!
Quick roundup of some stuff I’ve watched recently on Netflix Instant.
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography: I expect everyone knows Tony Hawk these days, but if you rode a skateboard in the 1980s you also knew (and worshipped) Steve Caballero, Mike McGill, Tommy Guerrero, Lance Mountain, and Rodney Mullen, the core of the goofball skating collective known as The Bones Brigade. This documentary by Stacy Peralta, who founded the group, catches up with the team, many of whom are either still skating professionally or have their own skate companies. This is a decent documentary and a nice trip down memory lane for former skaters like myself. Plus, you can see who turned out the weirdest — and shockingly, it’s not Lance Mountain.
Bellflower: Low-budget award-winning indie darling about two chums who fantasize about ruling the post-apocalypse with their flame-throwing car. Problem is, the apocalypse hasn’t happened yet. Other problem is, this movie is a long, slow, sluggish turd so intensely boring and horribly acted that even its gratuitous violence fails to shock. It’s a lovely looking film directed by Evan Glodell, but the writing (by Evan Glodell) and especially the acting (by Evan Glodell and everyone else) is downright terrible. Also, pick an ending, dude. Bleah.
The Loneliest Planet: Two adorable young hippies, super-duper in love, go for a hike in the Georgian wilderness with a mumbling guide. For half the film, the couple hikes and make goo-goo eyes at each other, and nothing much happens. Then, something definitely happens. It’s an event that takes up maybe two or three seconds of screen time but completely upends their relationship. This is a long, leisurely movie where not much goes on except for hiking and a few words of conversation, but the moment, a real Oh Shit That Did Not Just Happen moment, is mostly worth the trip. Based on a short story by Tom Bissell.
All Good Things: Starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. I was keenly interested to see this because it’s based on the life story of Robert Durst, a wealthy real estate mogul whose family and acquaintances have a habit of disappearing, getting shot in the head, or getting cut up and put into trash bags. Despite a wealth of bizarre source material, this film makes Durst and his life seem utterly dull. A concise Wikipedia page should not be more interesting than a two-hour movie, but it is.
The Antics Roadshow: This documentary directed by Banksy features public pranks, activism, and general mischief. There’s very little examination of the reasons behind most of these stunts: a few are politically motivated, but most of the perpetrators just seem unhinged or maybe bored, like the guy who broke into Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom to have a chat, or the guy who dresses up in animal costumes and annoys policemen and golfers. It’s entertaining enough, and has lots of great footage of people doing bizarre things in public, but it’s not a terribly deep documentary (Banksy has said he thought of the title first and worked backwards).
Magicians: If you like Robert Webb and David Mitchell of Peep Show and That Mitchell & Webb Look, you’ll like this movie where they play stage magicians who were once partners but are now rivals. Mitchell is awkward and earnest, Webb is stupid and, well, stupid, and Jessica Hynes (who I know mainly from Spaced) is as lovable as always. This isn’t a fantastic movie by any means, but the boys are just as enjoyable as they always are in everything.
I’ve been terrible about posting on my site when I’ve got new columns up on PC Gamer, so let me remedy that right now. I’ve been writing weekly Sim-plicity columns (where I play non-heroic video games), and here are the links to all of them. (You can also just visit my article archive link.)
I’ll try to start keeping this page updated.
Something I’ve always been a bit dubious of in the movies is pickpocketing. We’ve all seen it: a scene where a guy bumps into someone and steals their wallet or keys while the person is distracted by being bumped. It’s just a little hard to accept that a simple jostle would be enough of a distraction to not notice someone reaching into your pocket and removing something.
After reading this fascinating profile of Apollo Robbins in the New Yorker, and watching videos of his work on YouTube, it’s a lot easier to accept. Granted, Robbins is a performer and magician, allowing him to engage in far more complicated distractions than simply bumping into someone on the street, but it’s still pretty jaw-dropping to see him work. Or to try to see him work. He removes people’s watches and puts them on his own wrist without them noticing. He lifts wallets and removes or adds things to them. In just a few seconds of work he can pilfer phones, keys, scarves, even, in one case, taking one woman’s eyeglasses off her face without her noticing.
Here’s some videos. It’s neat that even once he’s explained some of his tricks, and you can see them happening, it’s still extremely hard to see everything that’s happening.
On the Today Show, he gives items to Matt Lauer, Ryan Seacrest, and whoever the third guy is, then steals them back, while performing a magic trick with a $100 bill.
Starting about a minute in to this next video, Robbins performs some neat coin tricks while simultaneously stealing watches from a group of women.
Here he is demonstrating and explaining his talents on the author of the New Yorker piece.
And below is portion from a National Geographic show Test Your Brain (called Brain Games in the U.S.) where Robbins pilfers a number of items from one hapless participant, with some explanation on how and why your brain allows him to so mercilessly strip you of your belongings. Here’s the full episode of the U.S. version (includes a glimpse of him stealing glasses off a woman’s face.)
Knight Rider: Season 1, Episode 6: “Just My Bill”
The thing about the early 1980′s is that they were still, essentially, the late 1970′s. So, when Michael Knight shows up to perform bodyguard duty for a United States senator, it’s completely appropriate for his shirt to be unbuttoned almost down to his navel.
The senator in question is a friend of Devon’s, Maggie Flynn, who has been receiving death threats and has already had one attempt made on her life. Maggie is brash, opinionated, smart, capable, and friendly, but her most notable attribute, when you consider Knight Rider’s traditions, is that she’s friggin’ old. Her oldness is extremely confusing and upsetting to me, because this is Knight Rider and every episode must revolve in some way around a young, attractive woman for Michael to romance. I mean, what the hell? Is Michael going to travel back in time to hit on Maggie when she was young and sexy?
Wait! False alarm. Maggie has a young, attractive secretary named Jane.
After an assassin tries to run Maggie over with a car, Maggie decides to attend a conference out of town, and Michael, being an excellent bodyguard, decides not to accompany her, because it’s easier to guard someone if they’re in another part of the state. Plus, he now has plenty of time to spend with young Jane.
Some detective work reveals there’s a bill in the senate over the construction of a power plant, and predictably, all the old white men in the senate want it to pass because they have a financial stake in the plant’s construction. Having briefly tried to discourage Maggie from voting against it, they’ve moved to stage two of every plot on this show: straight-up murder.
The evil government goons reschedule the vote to take place while Maggie is out of town, and armed thugs surround the remote retreat where Maggie’s conference is taking place to prevent her from leaving. Michael races to the retreat to collect Maggie, turbo-boosting over the goons’ cars, and already we suspect that the show’s budget might be under strain because KITT’s front end flops around and almost falls off during the jump.
A helicopter is dispatched to destroy KITT with a grenade launcher, and after evading several blasts, Michael pops the sunroof and climbs onto the chopper. He pulls one goon out, and then punches and judo-chops the pilot in that part of the back where you can totally chop a guy to knock him out. You know the spot. Despite being unconscious from such powerful, expertly delivered blows, the pilot is nice enough to scoot over enough so Michel can “throw” him out of the chopper. I’ve uploaded this amazingly choreographed scene for you to be dazzled by:
Michael gets Maggie to the vote on time, and the evil power plant bill is defeated successfully, and the bad guys are all arrested, and everyone goes to dinner.
This is pretty dull episode, honestly, but it’s effective at highlighting what was so special about the 1980′s. It was a time when hairy chests could be exposed with pride, when halfhearted judo-chops were still an effective way to render someone unconscious, and when the senate actually functioned properly from time to time.
And, of course, it was a time when TV shows could end with everyone laughing at something, followed by a freeze-frame. Good times!
MICHAEL’S INCOMPETENCE: MEDIUM
Allows car-driving assassin to out-drive him, lets Maggie’s body leave town when he’s supposed to be guarding it.
MICHAEL’S ROMANCE: LOW
Michael has breakfast with Jane, but it’s just breakfast, not, you know… “breakfast.”
Surveillance mode to detect movement, onscreen display of people being pursued, which looks like this:
CASTING NOTES: Maggie is played by Carole Cook, who I remember from Sixteen Candles as the grandmother who felt up Molly Ringwald.
Just some quick reviews for stuff I’ve recently watched on Netflix Streaming.
Sleepwalk With Me: Autobiographical film written, directed, and starring Mike Birbiglia, based on his stand-up comedy career, personal life, and his REM sleep behavior disorder, a dangerous and terrifying condition which makes him act out the dreams he’s having. If you follow Birbiglia’s comedy and writing, none of this material is new to you (especially some of the same jokes he’s been telling for, like, eight years now) but it’s still an enjoyable, funny, sad, and interesting film. If you don’t know Mike Birbiglia, this is an excellent place to start.
The Queen of Versailles: An excellent documentary about the ultra-rich Siegel family, owner of Westgate Resorts and proud builders of the largest home in America, an unfinished 85,000 square-foot monstrosity which cost $100 million dollars. An interesting and personal examination of how the U.S. economy tanking hit the wealthiest of Americans, though it’s hard to feel completely sorry for someone complaining about financial troubles while they’re in the midst of building a home with 30 bathrooms.
Headhunters: Norwegian thriller. I was reading the description and accidentally hit the play button and was like, Eh, guess I’ll watch it, otherwise I’ll have to press another button. Anyway, it starts out as the promising tale of a clever art thief living above his means until he goes for that one big heist that winds up being a lot more trouble than it’s worth. I was into this for a bit, but about halfway through it just descends into absurdity. Stars one of those guys who I think is in Game of Thrones. Yeah, I’m a good film reviewer!
Fire With Fire: 2012 action film starring Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio, 50 Cent, Vinnie Jones, Josh Duhamel, and right about now you’re thinking “Why the hell did I not hear of this?” and the answer is because it went straight to DVD, because it’s a very, very bad film. Josh Duhamel is a firefighter who goes all vigilante on some gangsters after they try to kill him to prevent him from testifying against them. I’m pretty sure Bruce Willis was just doing someone a favor, and I’m pretty sure they only had him for one day because all of his scenes are of him talking while walking down the same hallway a bunch of times.
The Next Three Days: Russel Crowe’s wife goes to prison for a murder she may not have committed, and Russel Crowe comes up with a plan to spring her, and you will not be spared a single minute of his extensive, laborious, endless careful planning. This isn’t a terrible movie by any means, it’s just slow, and not particularly interesting. I don’t know. It was okay.
After Porn Ends: Former pornography performers are interviewed about how their careers began and how they adjusted to life after leaving the porn industry. An interesting subject, and as you might guess, fairly depressing in a number of instances, though at least a couple of the actors seem to have survived and remained well-adjusted. Mostly not, though. This will bum you out and make you not want to watch porn again for, like, almost a whole day.
Heckler: Jamie Kennedy’s documentary about people who heckle stand-up comedians starts well, probing the heckler’s motivations (sometimes– mindbogglingly– they actually think they are helping the comic). However, the film quickly turns into a counter-attack on what Kennedy seems to feel are the real hecklers: film critics. He has a fair point: critics and bloggers can be overly harsh and brutal in their reviews (I know I have been, probably on this page), but then again, he doesn’t seem to mind using positive blurbs from critics to cover the poster for Heckler. So, maybe you have take the bad with the good?
Justified returns tonight on FX to begin its fourth season, and to this I say: Hoo. Ray. TV critics can fight one another all year long to prove who loves Breaking Bad or Homeland more, but for me, Justified is the best-written and most enjoyable show on TV. There’s a number of reasons why Justified is so great: the casting is top notch, the performances are routinely excellent, both the season-long arcs and the case-of-the-week stories are interesting, fun, and surprising, but most of all, the writing is just thoroughly fantastic.
Here’s one example of a single scene that, to me, sums up what is so special about the way Justified is written.
In a Season Three episode, Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) had paid a visit to a recurring bad guy, Wynn Duffy (played by the enjoyable Jere Burns). They’d clashed before, and Raylan had run him out of town with a warning to never come back. At this latest meeting, Raylan knocked Duffy down, ejected a bullet from his gun, and dropped it on Duffy’s chest. As a threat, Raylan said: “The next one’s coming faster.”
Now, that’s a cool thing to do and say, but doing a cool thing and saying a cool thing is hardly groundbreaking for a hero cop on TV. The creators of Justified, however, don’t just leave it at that.
Several episodes later, Wynn Duffy and his boss, Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) try to frame Raylan by leaving the shell casing from Raylan’s bullet, with his fingerprints on it, at the scene of a murder. A homicide detective, an FBI agent, and Raylan’s boss, Art (Tom Searcy) question Raylan about this shell casing and how it wound up with his fingerprints on it. Let’s watch!
In case that video has been removed by FOX or Vimeo, here’s a transcript of the scene:
FBI Agent: “You’re in the motor coach, with Robert Quarles and Winn Duffy, there’s a bodyguard out front, but that still doesn’t explain to me how you got your fingerprints on a bullet casing.”
Raylan: “I threw a bullet at him.”
Homicide Detective: “You threw a bullet at him.”
FBI Agent: “Wait. You… threw a bullet at him?”
Raylan: “No-no, I, like… dropped it.”
FBI Agent: “On the floor?”
Raylan: “On Duffy.”
FBI Agent: “So, Duffy was on the floor.”
Homicide Detective: “You failed to mention that, Deputy.”
Raylan: “Well, I’m… mentioning it now.”
Homicide Detective: “How’d he get on the floor, I wonder?”
Raylan: “Look, you wanted to know how my prints got on the casing, now you know. Okay?”
FBI Agent: “Wait, why-why did you throw a bullet at him?”
Raylan: “I was trying to make a point.”
Homicide Detective: “Which was?”
Raylan: “Get the hell out of Kentucky, and don’t come back.”
FBI Agent: “How was throwing a bullet at him going to accomplish that?”
Raylan: “Told him the next one might be coming a little faster.”
FBI Agent: *Long pause* “Deputy. That might just be the coolest thing I’ve ever laid ears on.” *Laughs*
Art: “Did you come up with that all on your own?”
Raylan: “Heard it on the Johnny Carson show once. He was telling some old gangster story, I always thought it was kinda cool.”
FBI Agent: “Well, that just gets better and better, huh?”
Homicide Detective: “It’d be a lot better and a lot cooler if it had actually worked.”
FBI Agent: *Laughs* “But still!” *Pauses* “It’s a shame we have to lock you up.”
To me, that’s just brilliance. There’s no shortage of cop shows on TV, and no shortage of cops doing and saying cool things. But now we have a cop doing something cool and saying something cool, and then later having to explain it, step-by-step, almost deflating the coolness of the act for the audience, who witnessed it the first time. Then, another cop sits back and admits how cool he thinks it is. Which is rare: again, people are always saying and doing cool things on TV, but how often does anyone actually point out how cool the cool things are? And finally, Raylan somewhat sheepishly has to admit that he’s not cool enough to have thought up the cool thing by himself, but that he heard it on an old episode of Carson.
Coolness. Deconstruction of coolness. Acknowledgement of coolness. Admitting coolness isn’t quite as cool as it seemed. I love it. To me, that scene is the best bit of writing to come out of TV last year, and that kind of writing is what makes Justified the best show on TV.
All this week on PC Gamer, I’m imagining an alternate universe where graphics where never invented, but the games of 2012 were still published… as text adventures.
Monday: Dishonored: The Text Adventure!
Tuesday: Mass Effect 3: The Text Adventure!
Wednesday: Assassin’s Creed III: The Text Adventure!
Thursday: Far Cry 3: The Text Adventure!
Friday: Hotline Miami: The Text Adventure!
UPDATE! I was wrong about a few things here. This is because I am dumb. Corrections have been added.
Observation: If I play a game for a few hours, and then quit, there’s often a residual bit of the game knocking around in my brain for a while. It’s usually a bit of audio that gets repeated in the game a lot. For instance, if I’ve been playing Plants vs. Zombies, it’s the crunching noise the zombies make when they eat my plants. If it’s Bioshock, maybe it’s the pleasing sound that plays when you loot a container. It can be the sound of an oft-used gun reloading, some sort of common ambient noise, or music from the game’s soundtrack.
When I finish up a session of Far Cry 3, what sound is left rattling around in my brain for a couple hours? The music from the game’s menu screen. The sort of low-key five-tone ominous music sting that you hear when you hit the Escape key to open the menu any one of a hundred times in the space of a few hours. Doooooo-deee-DOOOOOOO-deeee-DOOOOO. That. That is what I’m left with.
I propose that if your massive open-world game filled with driving, running, shooting, looting, and swimming leaves me with the music from the MENU SCREEN echoing in my head, you’ve probably done something wrong.
The reasons I’m in the menu so much?
More on that in a sec, but since we’re talking about saving your game, there are also these:
Let’s go over all this.
It’s an open-world game in a simply massive game world that you are constantly doing unofficial (not main-quest related) things in: fighting, hunting, looting, crafting, running around doing dangerous shit all the time all over the place. And you can’t quicksave. That’s baffling. Does Ubisoft not know that PC games crash sometimes? Do they not know that some people (me) suck at games and die suddenly and unexpectedly for being sucky? Did they forget that they packed the world full of dangerous animals and things that explode and guys that kill you and cliffs you drive off and a bunch of other things that end your life before you’re ready? Do they know that might not be such a big problem if the player could tap a key every now again and save his or her progress? Nope. Instead of tapping a key, you have to go to the damn main menu, where that damn music is playing, and click save. And I do that a lot, for the reasons above: PC games crash, I suck, and it’s a dangerous world full of death. That’s why that damn music is stuck in my head after a few hours.
I was wrong. Sorry, Ubisoft, you were nice enough to provide a quicksave option, and I retract that portion of my whining. Though you might have pointed that out somewhere, like in your in-game instruction manual on how to save a game. (Click for larger image.)
AND, you have but a single slot to save your game, meaning you are constantly saving over your progress. So, say you finish the game, and want to go back to almost the beginning but not quite the beginning? No, you can’t. You can’t revisit any prior points of your game-life, because you’ve saved over all of them. Not to mention, when you save your game through the menu, you get a prompt: “There is a game saved in this slot. Are you sure you want to save over it?” every time. Uh? I don’t have a fucking choice, why are you even asking me?
PLUS, if you load a saved game (rather, the saved game, as you only have one), you don’t even start off where you saved it, you start off in a nearby safe location. So, if you’re out in the wild and you spot, say, a graveyard, but don’t have time to explore it, you might save your game there and expect to pick it up right there, later. But no, you get teleported to wherever and have to try to find that spot again later.
ANDPLUS, if you’re on a mission (as opposed to just exploring or goofing around) you can’t save manually at all, you have to use the checkpoint save system. And the checkpoint system, as all checkpoint systems are, is pretty iffy. There was an official mission early in the game that was essentially teaching you how to stealth-kill dudes, and you had to stealth-kill three dudes, one by one, to collect items on their bodies, and then go to another location with what you collected. I killed them, I took their stuff, and I reached the distant location. Then the game crashed. When I reloaded, it took me back to the start, before I’d stealthed the dudes to death. Why not checkpoint after the third dead guy? I’d learned stealth, obviously, there was no need for me to learn it again.
Anyway. That’s the save problem. The game does autosave nicely for you in certain situations. If you reach a radio tower (they take some effort to climb, and falling is a real possibility), they save when you reach the tower so you respawn right at the base. That’s nice. Also, if you’re approaching an enemy outpost, it saves for you and respawns you where you were approaching from. These are handy. The rest is just irritating.
Crafting is a pretty common activity: you can craft various syringes for giving you temporary abilities, and you have to craft a ton of pouches to carry your gear around in. Most often, you’ll be crafting your own health syringes, so you’d think maybe
there’d be a hotkey to enter the crafting menu, but no. Just go the the main menu (DOOOO DEE DOOOO etc) and click on Crafting. There is a hotkey! I am a dumb. It is F1, which I somehow never managed to press during the entire game. Even by accident. I didn’t see this anywhere in the documentation either, but I probably still should have tried it.
Here’s the crafting menu screen. You can click to enlarge.
Okay, there’s the word SYRINGES, which is helpful, and a little description of whatever you’re planning to make, also helpful, and the list of basic types of syringes that you can double-click to expand and see what they are and then make them, one by one. So, if you need some meds, and some hunting tonics, and maybe a couple other things, you have to do a bunch of clicking and double-clicking. Which is probably unnecessary because there are roughly forty-five acres of completely empty space they could have used to avoid a bunch of pointless sub-menus. Here, I boxed the useful info in red and pointed out the extra real estate:
Look, I know these giant empty useless menus are there for console gamers, because they’re sitting way back from their screens, and a ton of small text would be hard to read. And I’m not saying cram every single crafting option onto the same page, but at least use SOME of the pointlessly empty space to help us spend less time fucking around in Menuland (DOOOO DEEE). There’s no reason for the syringes to have submenus.
Also, again, hotkey the crafting menu. How hard would that be?
This is a really irritating issue early in the game, that sort of fizzles to a minor one later. When you start playing, you quickly acquire a lot of information. The people you meet, the weapons you unlock, new skills, new locations, new animals, new everything, and each and every time this happens, you’ll get a little box on your screen inviting to to learn more about them via (sigh) the menu (DEE DOOO DEEEEEE). And hey, great, I like learning about things, but some of these boxes won’t go away until you tap Escape and then tap it again, at which point another one will pop up. Obviously, the further you progress, the less of an issue it is, because you’re encountering fewer unfamiliar things, but the first couple hours of the game is a party and notifications were invited and they brought all of their goddamn relatives.
Even worse: your main objective? The one you’re planning to ignore for eighteen hours because you want to go fuck around in the jungle and hunt for relics or shoot at sharks or chase deer with a flamethrower or do some hang gliding or whatever else? About once a minute, your main objective will pop up on your screen. Then it’ll fade. Then it’ll pop up again. This never stops.
You know how Far Cry 2 showed your main objective? Red circle on your map. You know how it informed you what the objective was? It didn’t. If you wanted to know, you’d — GASP — hit escape and visit the menu! You know, the thing the menu is actually FOR.
Other notifications, helpful ones, still find ways to be annoying. There are times when you’re approaching a location, and for reasons I won’t say, you may be unsure whether or not you’ll be fired upon. A box pops up saying, “Hey, this is a restricted area, they will shoot you,” which is helpful. Only it keeps popping up, even if you’re having a giant gunfight with the people it’s trying to warn you about. I may not know if someone is planning to shoot me, but if they start shooting me, I can probably figure it out from there.
Apparently, a patch is due shortly for the notification problem — we’ll see what it addresses.
Oh, Uplay! You almost didn’t make this list! I was not thrilled to buy FC3 through Steam and then realize I had to sign up for Uplay as well, but I begrudgingly did. And for a while, Uplay seemed perfectly benign. It auto-logged me in, it didn’t really pester me with a bunch of crap, and while it took some extra time to connect and synchronize or whatever the hell it does, it didn’t really bother me the way Origin does (by being a garbage thing).
UNTIL, when I went to boot up the game today to take some screenshots of the menu for the bit above, and suddenly Uplay couldn’t connect, and couldn’t synchronize whatever, and it told me to contact tech support, and gave me some error messages, and told me my account had been accessed from another location, and took several minutes to even let me start the game, and when it finally did, I found that my saved game (my only saved game dooo dee doooo) was trapped in the “cloud” or whatever the fuck and I couldn’t access it because Uplay was farting up it’s own butt and couldn’t connect and apparently didn’t save my only saved game on my actual computer.
So, Uplay is a garbage thing. Super. Doo dee doo.
Apart from the animals, the enemy outposts are the best part of Far Cry 3. Handily, the animals sometimes play a part at the outposts as well.
Unlike the security checkpoints in Far Cry 2, the outposts in FC3 are generally big, well staffed, and once captured, don’t repopulate with jerks. (On the other hand, I just cleared the final outpost the other night, and I’m a little sad — I sorta wish there was an option to auto-repopulate them). FC3′s outposts are also way more fun to assault than FC2′s — there are a lot of options for causing havoc.
What follows is my bullet points list of what makes the outposts so much fun. I don’t think it contains spoilers, per se, but I did enjoy discovering the various aspects of the outposts myself as I played, so if you haven’t played FC3 yet, and want to go in completely cold, you might want to skip this.
They’re marked on the map with red flags, but you can also spot them from a great distance: just look for a telltale column of black smoke. The smoke is a pretty awesome touch: the map in FC3 is massive and cumbersome and can’t be used without pausing the game (unlike Far Cry 2′s fantastic in-game handheld map) so being able to spot an outpost from a mile away without having to consult the map every few seconds is a time-saver. Thanks, video game!
Looking at enemies through your camera tags them with an icon, depending on what kind of enemy they are (see the screenshot at the top of this post). General goons get a little skull and crossbones, snipers/rocketeers get crosshairs, dudes who will run right at you get a lightning bolt.
(I think it might be more fun if the game let you tag them yourself: “That guy is on a perch and he might he holding a rifle; I’ll tag him as a sniper.”)
Once an enemy is tagged, you can see their icon no matter where they are. Maybe this is a bit too easy, but I like it.
Sometimes the goons will have a captured animal inside a wooden cage, and you can shoot the cage open from cover. The escaping animal will cause a distraction, or maybe a death or two, if it’s a dog or a giant bird. If it’s something like a bear, your work is pretty much done: the bear will kill the shit out of everybody and capture the camp while you sit somewhere safe and watch. Thanks, bear! You’re the best. Also, I have to kill you now, because I want to loot the place.
Alarms look like a telephone pole with an electronic horn on top. They’re important: alarms will be used by goons to call in reinforcements unless you disable them, and the goons will try to sound the alarm the instant they know they’re under attack. Reinforcements aren’t a joke, either. It’s not like a couple guys show up in a jeep. There’s a big swarm of goons who show up: in vehicles, in boats, on foot. I’m not saying it’s not fun, but the fight can quickly get out of hand when multiple squads arrive.
Alarms have a control panel near the base of the pole, which can be disabled in a few ways. If you sneak into the outpost, you can disable them– all of them– just by manually turning off a single panel. If you’re not confident you can stealth in, it can get tricky: there’s usually more than one alarm pole, and there’s often not a clear shot on all of the panels from the same location, so circling around the camp for a bit is essential to find a good sniping spot where you can hit both panels. If there’s anyone standing nearby, though, they’ll notice the shot, even if you have a silenced rifle.
You can stealth-stab dudes pretty effectively, especially since you can throw rocks to distract them and get them to turn their backs. Working your way through an entire outpost, offing dudes quietly, isn’t without its charms. Thing is, I’m coming to FC3 straight off of Dishonored, and, I dunno, I kinda had my fill of lurking around stabbing dudes in the neck, I guess. I did one or two outposts by skulking around and stabbing, and it was satisfying, but with all the guns and toys in the game, I’d rather have some big loud messy fights.
If I do decide to sneak into camp to disable the alarm, rather than shoot the panels from a distance, I also make sure to drop a proximity mine next to the alarm panel. Even if the alarm is disabled, someone will probably try to ring it once your attack begins. Now they have a little present waiting for them. While you’re scurrying around during the firefight, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing the boom of someone stepping on the mine you planted, and knowing there’s one less guy to face.
If I can get away with it, I sometimes plant additional mines in likely spots for foot traffic. Next to a vehicle is a good spot: if you’re sniping from a distance (I often am), someone may decide to jump into a Jeep and come after you: the mine will blow when they get close to the vehicle. A gap in the fencing is also a good spot to lay a trap for anyone who decides to rush out after you.
The only problem is, sometimes no one steps on your mines. This isn’t a problem for you specifically: they won’t go off if you step on them. But once you’ve captured the outpost, your allies will immediately show up, often in a speeding vehicle, and start walking around talking to themselves. If you have a mine or two on the road, it will blow up their car. If you have some scattered around the camp, they might walk over them. If one of your allies gets blown up, any others will blame you, and you’ll have to retake the camp all over again, this time from your friends. Which, admittedly, can be kind of fun. Still, I generally try to avoid harming my comrades, so after I win the outpost I have to rush around collecting all my mines before they get stepped on by my homies.
Some outposts are essentially explosions waiting to happen, littered with gas canisters, propane tanks, or standard-issue exploding barrels. At the very least, they’re a great distraction, and will draw out enemies who are inside of buildings. At best, they’ll take some bad guys with them when they explode. It can also be fun to drop some C4 near them while you’re skulking around, and detonate them remotely from a safe distance.
There are these dudes who walk around with a bunch of Molotov cocktails strapped to their bodies. Shooting them will, as you might expect, cause them to burst into flame, which causes things around them to burst into flame, which can be quite useful. What you might not expect is that, while they are on fire, they are not quite done with you yet. They will run right at you, setting everything on fire in their path, which can be a rude awakening if you have a nice little sniping spot you’re fond of.
It’s completely satisfying when things go according to plan. I handle the alarms, my mines get stepped on, I drop the snipers before they spot me, an animal thins the enemy herd, a fire I’ve started forces goons out of cover, or I take down everyone silently. But it’s also fun everything goes wrong.
Once I was moving into position when a boar attacked me and I freaked out, firing a million noisy bullets that alerted the outpost to my presence. A few times, an enemy patrol drove up just when I was getting started, giving me extra enemies from I hadn’t prepared for on a flank I hadn’t mined. Once, I was driving toward an outpost and didn’t realize it was located at the bottom of a cliff: I couldn’t brake in time so I had to jump from my vehicle, which plunged down into the outpost, more or less announcing my arrival (killed a couple dudes, but they were replaced with reinforcements). And, once I was sneaking around planting C4, got spotted, and ran out, frantically detonating the C4 to cover my escape, only I’d laid the C4 along the route I was escaping with and blew up my own stupid self.
Not a standard feature during an outpost fight, but it happened.
Copyright © 2012 · Christopher Livingston