*Pretty much spoiler free, but trigger warning for racism and rape*
In a blatant disregard for my backlog of unfinished and untouched games, I bought Far Cry 3 this week. I don’t even know why — I am not a big FPS fan, I’m quite poorly skilled with a gun in my hands, and I haven’t played any of the other games in the series. Something about it just lured me in. I’d say it was the animals, but that would make me a sick individual considering how many of them I have skinned for precious crafting materials.
I’m a few hours in, maybe 4-5 hours if I’m lucky. I picked the easy difficulty level, knowing my complete inability to line up crosshairs on a target and manage to click my mouse button at the right time. The intro scene is a bit intense, with some harsh language and some brutal moments that made me a little bit uncomfortable. After that, my character Jason (who was supposedly vacationing on this island with his friends before being kidnapped and suddenly gaining superior manslaughter and hunting skills) is thrown out into this world in which he must save all of the native people with his “white man know-how” and manage to survive. So far, this has meant doing challenges to convince the native ‘savages’ that I’m somehow magical and superior to everyone else and therefore the savior they’ve been waiting for. There have been several writeups out there already about the problematic racism in Far Cry 3, such as this one on Rock Paper Shotgun.
I said, rather flippantly, that the people of this island are the race they are, because it’s the island they’re native to. It is what it is, essentially. And that’s the case – that’s really not the issue here. It had to be set somewhere. The issue is the horribly worn tropes it so lazily kicks around when it gets there. As it is, you have the simple-folk-natives, and the immigrant white men with their mixture of South African and Australian accents. And one black guy. White people ask you to get involved in enormously elaborate machinations, ancient mysteries, and local politics. Locals ask you to help them kill endangered species, find their missing daughters, and point out when their husbands are gay. Essentially, the locals behave as if they’re helpless without you, but when you wield their tattoo-based magical powers then true greatness appears. And it’s here that the problems really kick in.
There’s a term for it. It’s “Noble Savage“. And it also falls under the remit of the “Magical Negro“. The trope is that the non-white character possesses mystical insight, magical abilities, or simply a wisdom derived from such a ‘simple life’, that can enlighten the white man. And it’s pretty icky. The premise relies on the belief that the individual’s race is in some way debilitating, something their noble/mystical abilities are able to ‘overcome’.
There’s also mention of some implied rape, which I haven’t gotten to in the game yet but I believe is the rape of a man by another man. I’m really not far enough into the game to give this a ton of critical thought, but this game screams out red flags to me.
Gameplay wise, is it fun? I think there are hints of a really enjoyable experience in there. It’s surprisingly fun to track down the different animals, though pretty disgusting and graphic when you skin them. I enjoy sneaking up on the tapirs and the pigs and just watching them enjoy their time in their natural element. There are some other moments that made me yell out with triumph, such as some interesting ‘challenges’ and missions and sliding down a zipline while shooting a gun at everything below. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy speeding around in Jeeps and other vehicles, slamming into and running over just about everything in sight. I know they used “Skyrim in the jungle” as a marketing ploy, but it doesn’t feel that far off. There are some serious hints of that open world exploration that are very reminiscent of my Christmas 2011 in which leaving the house for food required too much time away from Skyrim. Generally speaking, any game that lets me mindlessly run around the world, uncovering the fog-of-war on the map while looting ALL THE THINGS is going to be elicit some positive feelings. The game is also quite pretty on my PC, so I can’t fault it there.
But there are some serious annoyances with the game, mostly surrounding the save system and its innate ability to make me die and lose all my progress. I don’t know about you, but when a game rolls back to 20 minutes prior and makes me redo everything I just did, I get mad and close out the game. That’s happened to me 4 times now and each time I’ve sworn off the game entirely. Granted, I do die more than the average player. I have an uncanny knack for running away from a bad guy, into a tiger, then into an alligator, then into a komodo dragon, then into a dog that eats my arm off. I’m just not sure the game is worth that frustration when I’m already pretty pissed off at the racist narrative and have some rape content awaiting me if I play much further. Considering a Skyrim DLC just came out — if I want to play an open-worldy game I think I’d rather it be in an Elder Scrolls world with my bow & arrow than rumbling in the jungle as a white savior in Far Cry 3.
Is anyone else playing this game? If so, what are your thoughts?