Tag Archives: Ubisoft

Why A 15 Minute Story In Far Cry 4 Might Not Suck

Just before its release earlier this week, a rumor that Far Cry 4‘s main campaign could be completed in just 15 minutes generated a murmur of contempt from a small group of fans who were irked with the notion that Ubisoft might be short-changing their customers. Considering a typical game in this genre features on average a 10 hour story, surely this is hurting the game and it’s worse for the customer…Right? Well, maybe not.

A 15 minute story does not mean the game itself runs out of content in 15 minutes – the Far Cry games are open-world titles that not only allow players to explore the environment outside the mandatory story missions, they actually incentivize it. There are dozens of smaller missions, hunting expeditions and collectibles to find all over their maps, and quite frankly, they’re far more entertaining than the majority of their narratives. The idea that gamers would be up in arms over the length of the main story arc is interesting because, in my experience, the stories in these types of games often end up feeling like expositional set-dressing, or unavoidable obstacles that get in the way of my entertainment, and to be honest, a 15 minute story in a 20 hour game sounds like a fantastic idea to me. Games are interactive, after all, and few of them have manipulative physics and emergent gameplay moments that are as gratifying to experiment with as the Far Cry series.

Take Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, for example. The game’s story is bare and utterly conventional, but players create their own tiny stories by interacting with enemies using the game’s Nemesis system, which allows enemy orcs to remember past run-ins with the player. The effects can be startling. You can kill an enemy only to see him later, sporting a nasty scar or burn from your last encounter. If you’re lucky, he’ll be scared of you this time, and run the second he sees you coming. Or you can fail to kill a captain, and he’ll mock your corpse and earn a nifty promotion for putting you down. When you meet up later for a rematch he’ll remember that you’re supposed to be dead, and he might relish the opportunity to murder you again. Getting revenge on an Uruk that killed you days before is far more rewarding than actually avenging your family at the end of Mordor‘s story, and is actually relevant to your own experience, but the game’s dialogue and cinematics will constantly urge to you to remember how much more you should care about the wife and son that Sauron took from you, despite having only met and lost them in the span of seconds in the game’s opening scene. The emotional gap between what you experience and what the game tells you you’ve experienced is in major conflict, but worse, the game undermines the stories you do create by forcing their own into the forefront.

This is your wife in Shadow of Mordor, who you love very much despite not remembering her name.
This is my wife in Shadow of Mordor, who I’m told I love very much, despite not remembering her name.

The largest offender of this is Skyrim, a game that offers an obscene amount of freedom to the player with regard to the stories they craft for themselves, but never allows you to create your own identities with that freedom. Interspersed throughout the game’s staggeringly large map, you will find opportunities to join and rise the ranks of a number of guilds and factions that each feature their own storyline, culture and relevance to the larger world of Tamriel. You can lead an organization of werewolves, join a legendary band of assassins and run a prestigious college, to name just a few. The problem is that all of these stories are forced to play second fiddle to the game’s “main” story, which focuses on your player being the legendary savior of the province of Skyrim, and any one of them felt more rewarding to me than the campaign because I discovered those factions and chose to be a part of them. Being forced to play the role of the Dovahkiin was the developer constantly reminding me that all those interesting, discoverable moments I decided were important to my character were sideline distractions to the main event. It broke the illusion from both ends: Not only was I pulled away from building the story I wanted for the character I created, the final Skyrim ‘canon’ of my game featured a Viking hero of prophesy, who took up smithing for a week, and put saving the world on hold to see if he could own every style of clothing in the province, just for fun.

Other RPGs succeed where Skyrim fails. Fallout 3 allows you to almost completely forget why you’re out in the wasteland to begin with at times, and it’s more of an asset than a flaw. The premise of Fallout 3 is that you leave your home – a claustrophobic fallout shelter – to find your father, who suddenly disappears from the Vault one day. It’s a simple conceit that provides the player with a clearly defined ‘endgame’ goal. You can find out where your father has gone almost immediately, and the game will put a big fat map marker right on your Pip Boy for you too. The thing is that there’s a whole lot of unexplored Washington D.C. between you and that location, and you’ll spend most of your time just surviving and learning about the world before you can reach the next story thread. What happens is you quickly learn through trial and error that the best way to gain access to your father is by scavenging for supplies (and xp) to make you tough enough to travel all the way to his location. Survival begets narrative in Fallout, and while you’re looking for better weapons and armor to keep yourself alive, you’ll catch yourself interacting with the locals and investigating little mysteries at each point of interest, uncovering the new culture of the post-nuclear United States. It makes sense within the context of the game too, because your character has spent his entire life up until this point living within the oppressive, narrow walls of Vault 101; you and your avatar share the same sense of awe and curiosity about the world around you, but in addition to that, your father’s disappearance is entirely connected to the state of the world you find yourself in. All of your experiences in the wasteland up to that point feel complimentary to the arc of the guiding storyline, rather than interfering or opposing it. It adds context and depth to both the smaller events you uncover while roaming the open world and they in turn reinforce the importance of the main story’s consequences. The story beautifully lends itself to player exploration, and if you were to isolate the specific ‘main narrative’ missions you might be surprised at how short Fallout 3′s skeletal narrative actually is.

It also helps when your dad is Liam Neeson

The point is, a main quest is only as important as the world around it deems it has to be. In Far Cry 3, the predecessor to the game that spawned this whole article, there isn’t really any secondary story option that moves away from the central plot line, but there are dozens of hours of small diversions and emergent gameplay opportunities. Players can avoid the next narrative beat for days collecting hidden items and taking over outposts without undermining the integrity of the main plot, or straying from the game’s underlying theme: No matter how far you stray from the critical path, all your actions in Far Cry 3 will always fit the context of Jason Brody finding himself on foreign land, struggling with the conflict between his own bloodlust and the need to escape the Rook Islands. That is what makes the game such a unified experience, and it’s why it doesn’t face some of the same conflicts that arise when a game forces its story upon a player in an open world.

Considering one of the most common – and justified – critiques about Far Cry 4 is how similar it feels to Far Cry 3, even if the game’s campaign was able to be completed in fifteen minutes, here’s enough reason to hold back your internet rage. By the way, that fifteen minute-long campaign rumor is only half true, and unless you follow a particular method, you’ll have a more traditional RPG storyline at your disposal. It’s almost too bad though, because the 15 minute story is absolutely brilliant (beware, major spoilers).


Images: Ubisoft, Warner Bros., Bethesda

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Assassin’s Creed 4: Two Trailers and Gameplay Footage

I don’t know why I continue to play Assassin’s Creed games. I really don’t. They are basically the same game with just different people and settings each time and yet for some reason when a new one is announced I get all a’tingle with excitement. This newest incarnation, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, is no different. During their E3 press conference, Ubisoft gave us a good look at the new game, which has moved on to the islands.

There are few things I love more than tall ships and the open sea. Add in pirates and the trademark “prettiness” that makes a player want to go find all those viewpoints in game, there’s no doubt I won’t be heading to my local game retailer in October to pick this one up.

Also released was a “Horizon Trailer” and it does a whole lot more to show the pretty.

But what if the scenery and cinematics aren’t what drive you to buy a game? Well don’t fear, Ubisoft will happily convince you to impart with your money as well as they released a gameplay trailer at the same time.

Are you one of those people that just needs more, more, more? Then you’ve come to the right place because there is more and more when it comes to videos for this game.






I told you there was a lot. Frankly maybe we don’t need to buy the game anymore, just sit and watch all these trailers and such and pretend we are playing. Oh who am I kidding? That $60 is already burning a hole in my pocket. I would go out and preorder it right now if only I could find a place to preorder it from. Oh wait!

Assassin's Creed Black Flag

Unfortunately, right now the only thing that shows up when you click any of the retailers is Gamestop’s “Black Island Pack” which includes the Deadly Black Ship, legendary silver flintlock pistols used by Captain Morgan, and then Captain Morgan’s costume, picture, and title. As intriguing as that is, I’d like to see the other bonuses before I make a decision. I’m particularly interested in Target’s “Trove of Mystery Pack”. Hopefully Ubisoft will fix that glitch here soon because…

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag will be released on October 29th, 2013. Happy pillaging!

Tom Hardy to Play Sam Fisher in the Upcoming ‘Splinter Cell’ Movie

Tom Clancy games were some of the most popular shooters in the early days of this console generation, back before Call of Duty stormed in and beat everything else from the genre into non-existence. Among the Clancy-approved series were Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and, of course, Splinter Cell. As Sam Fisher, an elite agent of the fictional Third Echelon branch of the NSA, players infiltrated terrorist cells using only stealth tactics and a small kit of advanced gadgetry. In its heyday Splinter Cell was beloved and one of the best-selling franchises out there. The games are still around, but the popularity and quality of Sam Fisher’s more recent missions have waned considerably.

But hat’s not to say that interest has completely dropped off. There’s still enough gas in the tank that Ubisoft Studios is in the process of starting up a Splinter Cell movie, and according to Geek Exchange Ubi has now successfully wrangled The Dark Knight Rises co-star Tom Hardy to play the part of Agent Fisher. This is a huge get for Ubisoft, who also recently announced that Michael Fassbender will star in their Assassin’s Creed adaptation. With both films featuring high-caliber stars they’ll likely draw an audience, but hopefully the show of talent on camera is reflective of the talent behind it; despite the fact that studios have been converting video game properties to the silver screen for over thirty years, there has yet to be one worth watching. Ubisoft’s own Prince of Persia has arguably been the best of them so far, but it wasn’t exactly a critical success either.

Tom Hardy has been one of my favorite actors to watch since I stumbled upon Bronson a year or two ago. Following his somewhat minor role as Eames in Inception his career has taken off (Rubbing shoulders with Christopher Nolan should have that effect), and the English actor has found himself among Hollywood’s elite ever since. The guy just can’t act badly, and he rarely picks a wrong movie. He also grows a fantastic beard.

I wonder about his casting in this though. The last Splinter Cell game I played was 2005’s Chaos Theory, and at least to that point, Sam Fisher was not a particularly nuanced character. He’s a rough and tumble proficient killer which fits Tom Hardy’s repertoire for sure, but Fisher is a middle-aged man with greying hair and a two-years-past-retirement attitude. It will be interesting to see how much of that is retained in the movie, as well as the rest of the series canon. I always prefer a more distant approach – retain the characters and the setting but create a brand new plot. Video games are lacking in those as a rule, and the only thing less exciting than a fetch quest in a video game is a fetch quest on a movie screen. But this is all speculation. As production nears and more details come to light we’ll stay on top of it.

Need for Speed Movie Set For 2014

Video-game-to-movie adaptations started in the early 90’s, with Super Mario Bros. Until recently, those movies had an uncanny tendency to flop, hard. However, with Tomb Raider and Resident Evil movies garnering much success, film studios decided it’s a good idea to invest in adaptations again. Hell, Ubisoft set up an entire studio just to produce movies based on their own games.

And of course, they’re never popular with the critics, but as long as they make money, and are remotely entertaining, who really cares?

Unless they’re directed by this guy. I hope he isn’t up to anything lately. Wait, he is.

EA also thought this was a good idea, and decided to sell the movie rights to Need for Speed. DreamWorks execs, perhaps high on coke and feeling overconfident, bought the property. Now, they have announced a release date.

On February 7, 2014, we will get a chance to watch a movie about cars with zero storyline (which in itself is a major understatement). Trust me, I know my Need for Speed games. When you talk about NFS, you don’t talk about their storylines. There was no plot in the first place. If there was any, it mainly revolves around you being a racer, and your need to win money and earn recognition so you can race against an asshole (Underground, Underground 2, Most Wanted, Carbon, Pro Street), who probably screwed you over earlier in the game (Underground 2, Most Wanted, Carbon).  There are also hot female sidekicks solely for the sake of making teenage boys horny. It’s guilty pleasure when the horrible storyline is in a racing game, not so much when it’s in a movie.

In case you didn’t know how bad the acting and writing were.

There were a couple of times where EA decided to go with different plots. In Undercover, you play as an undercover officer who is trying to infiltrate a gang, or something. It doesn’t really matter. You race, and then your boss (played by Maggie Q) orders you to take some people out. After a while, you find out that your boss is actually a mole, and you take her down. Wow, that took stupidity to a whole different level.

I never quite understood EA’s logic. Why bother shooting live-action scenes when nobody really cares about the storyline? All that waste of money should have went to my bank account. You know, someone who actually needs the money.

And The Run. How can I possibly forget about this atrocity? This game actually has a negative value of plots. I didn’t know that was even possible until this game was released. Basically, you play this guy Jack, who is in a lot of debt. Jack’s ex-girlfriend (portrayed by Christina Hendricks) tells him that there’s this cross-country race which can net him a whole lot of money. Jack races to pay off debt. Jack pays off debt by winning the race. Seriously, that is it. It’s not a joke. How EA managed to get Christina freaking Hendricks involved is just mind-baffling. I swear to god someone must be holding her husband, or her dog, hostage. No amount of money can convince anyone to be involved in the project. It’s that bad. Don’t believe me? I dare you to watch an entire playthrough of the game and tell me that there is a plot.

Yes, this Christina Hendricks. THE Christina Hendricks who is on Mad Men.

We don’t need any more street racing movies. We have The Fast & The Furious for that purpose. Please for the love of god, don’t do this. Don’t make me suffer through an hour and half of torture.

*gun cocks*
Not Dr Kronner: Jason, you will watch the movie, and you will write a review for us.
Jason: How the hell did you even…
Not Dr Kronner: Shhhhhhhh. If you don’t follow my orders word for word, you will be swimming with the fishes.
Jason: You maybe able to kill this body of flesh, but you can never kill my soul.
Not Dr Kronner: …
Jason: Ha!!! Now you have no leverage over me!!!
Not Dr Kronner: I shall kill this kitty instead.


Jason: What? You don’t kill no kitties. YOU’RE A MONSTER!!!!
Not Dr Kronner: You’re gonna do it now?
Jason: *in tears* Do what?
Not Dr Kronner: Watch the movie and write a review for us.
Jason: Yes. *sniffs* Just don’t kill the kitty.

When the movie is released, you may return to Grizzly Bomb for a full-length review, even though I have no idea how to write a movie review. I’m not the one with the gun. Dr Kronner did not, in any way, force me to do this. I am doing it voluntarily, for you guys and gals, so you won’t have to suffer through the movie.

Sorry, I just had to.