Things That Need To Stop, Right the Fuck Now!

In which we take a break from politics in order to just, you know, chill out and focus on things that really matter. Such as video game reviews and the pervasive hypersensitive bullshit that sometimes finds its way into them where it belongs just about as much as a metal guitar solo on a Justin(e) Bieber single.

No, you don’t have to read it, it’s beneath the fold. Game hating Luddites. There, we said it.

Before we say anything else about this particular example, we want to make clear that we’re just using it as an example. And also because we found it in a place where we’d normally not expect that sort of nonsense to appear, namely on the great game reviews site Rock, Paper, Shotgun, a site that we were introduced to by LC Boryon, and high praise indeed to him for that. It’s a bloody great site. Irreverent, funny, deadly honest and beholden to nobody.

And then occasionally one of their writers gets a bit naff. As is the case with one of their best reviewers (and in that bunch, that’s saying a lot), John Walker (which may or may not be his real name). Did we mention that we like him? Yes, we did. We still do, but we’re still scratching our heads trying to figure out what made him write the silly guff that we’re about to reference.

He’s writing about a new game, Far Cry 3™, which is a first person shooter with a difference. Open world, semi-sandbox, do whatever the fuck you want with a story to go along with it if or when you feel like it. That sort of thing. Some call it “Skyrim with guns”, and that’s not an entirely unfair description. Unless you’re expecting dragons that are not of the Komodo variety.

Brief synopsis is that a bunch of spoiled American kids are going skydiving/tropical adventure/let’s get shitfaced under the palm trees and end up on a Pacific island controlled by pirates, pirates brutally oppressing a bunch of natives and, of course, kidnapping rich white kids for ransom. Or killing and raping them to death for fun. We’re not quite clear on that. They be bad people, OK, bad people of the “let’s just kill ’em all and have a lot of fun doing so” variety.

John loves the game, and for good reasons, and he wrote a whole review stating as much. This is not the review we’re talking about. He then wrote a review pointing out the things that DO irritate him about it, not enough to make him not absolutely love the overall game, more like a “please get rid of this and why the fuck didn’t you fix that in the first place, considering the fantastic job you did on everything else?”

Most of which we utterly agree with. Except for one thing, and that’s what we’re going to wax poetic about here.

Yesterday I talked about the protagonist, and how while there were clearly problems, in the end I found myself liking this spoiled kid’s descent into cruel, terrified brutality. I also attempted to dismiss away the situation he was in. That’s not really fair. Because Far Cry 3, well, it’s a bit racist, isn’t it?

No! Don’t go there! You’ll be sorry that you did!

Oh bugger all, too late…

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.

At least you’re acknowledging that it’s hardly strange that the natives don’t look or sound like they were just transplanted from the tonier neighborhoods of Beverly Hills. Imagine their shock if they were to wake up suddenly on a tropical Pacific island without their maids, pool boys and telephone sanitizers. Now that would be a suspension of disbelief killer, right there.

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’.

It’s icky and somewhat racist that the natives are better than Whitey? OK, you lost us there. So they really ought to just be a bunch of simpleton buffoons? Or is the problem that Whitey somehow comes along to fix what they couldn’t fix themselves, i.e. the pirate oppression? Lost us there too. We mean, we could imagine an alternate version of the Rook Islands where the natives were perfectly capable of whipping the rapey pirates’ butts on their own, thank you very much, but that would make for a bit of a boring and rather short game, wouldn’t it?

“Oh, hey rich, spoiled white kids. We used to have a pirate infestation, but we all fixed that. Try the Mahi-Mahi while you’re visiting, please.”

The further you get, the more revered your character becomes. The antagonists call you Snow White, a derisory name but one that pretty much points out that you’re the pure white American man in this land of colourful folks.

Which, you know, you are. Oh, we get it! You’re pointing out the racism against whites in the game, aren’t you?

And the locals begin to hear word of not only your helpful ways (which would seem fair – you’re being very helpful) but also your abilities with their customs, your wielding of their powers. You are the outsider who has come in and outdone them, shown them the true majesty of their savage abilities. They can’t fight against the pirates for themselves, but you can save them.

Which, again, is sort of the point here, isn’t it? Without that, there would be no pirates left when you arrived and all you’d have to do for the fifteen minutes you spent with the game before uninstalling it out of sheer boredom would be surfing, gliding and swimming with dolphins.

Moreover, having played a bit of it ourself, we have a bit of a different tack on it. It’s not that they’re utterly helpless without you, it’s that you’re the only one there bug fuck crazy enough to undertake one suicidal mission after another against impossible odds. You’re stranded, you were captured and abused by the bastards and, without putting too much of a spoiler in here about the first 10 minutes of the game, have a very, very powerful motivation for going utterly, gloriously ape shit on the pirate scum.

Maybe the natives eventually would have gotten rid of the pirates, they certainly seem to have an infrastructure and an organization already set up when you arrive, but having a crazed, freaking berserker with not a care in the world and nothing to lose pop by never hurts when it comes to getting things rolling. All the natives need to do is to give you a few pointers, teach you how to behave in the jungle and you’re off to the races while they sit back and have a cool drink.

Who’s being played NOW?

So I’ve argued why I think the story of the spoilt rich white kids having their worlds fall apart is not a bad thing. But I do wonder what would have stopped the story being about a local of the island rising up against the pirate oppressors. And then at least the problematic mystical bullshit would have at least been a part of his or her culture, even if it would still have remained entirely unnecessary.

Agreed. Our protagonist could have been an islander native who, for some reason, spent most of his youth on the mainland and then came back to discover that his native lands had been taken over by vile, parasitical thieves and murderers. It would have been a great story. It’s also not the story that was picked. So is the game “racist” for not having picked your preferred story line?

Or maybe just have the island be inhabited by an indigenous race that isn’t generally pathetic.

And, again, in that case there would have been no conflict left for you to resolve when you arrived. Not to mention that they’re far from pathetic. If not for them, you’d be lost in the jungle, swallowed up whole inside one of the numerous wild beasts that infest the islands within a half and hour. Also, when they show up to provide support they prove themselves quite capable with automatic weapons and assorted other technological killing stuff. We had our butt saved at least once by them showing up in a timely fashion.

Main thing is, John, you’re over-thinking it, and it’s something that is showing up more and more and in much worse ways. Such as reviews of shooters taking place during Gulf War II where some hairshirts are proclaiming it “racist” that the enemy all seem to be Arabs and that they’re a bloody incompetent gaggle of maniacs to boot. That’s about as “racist” as the player exclusively shooting black people in “Rorke’s Drift.” Sure, the designers could have replaced all the Zulus with howling Vikings, but we much doubt that anybody would have taken the game seriously if they had. Besides, that was back in a much simpler age when people didn’t worry one single solitary shit about that sort of buggery.

And His Imperial Majesty still doesn’t. It’s a game, and we’ll be damned if we’ll ever play something that was designed with careful considerations of “diversity quotas” and “respect for the other” in mind.

Chill out and enjoy the game. We both agree it’s awesome.



  1. 1
    LC Light29ID growls and barks:

    I’m still trying to figure out if MoH: Warfighter is worth it or just say fuck it and get BlkOps II or be cheap and get BF3

  2. 2
    Emperor Misha I growls and barks:

    LC Light29ID says:

    I’m still trying to figure out if MoH: Warfighter is worth it or just say fuck it and get BlkOps II or be cheap and get BF3

    MoH: Warfighter or, from what the review sounds like, “Go here, go here NOW or you die, then shoot that enemy. No, not THAT enemy, the other one, or you die.” (And when I say “or you die”, I don’t mean “or the enemy will kill you”, I mean “or the game will kill you for not following the script to the letter.”)

    CODBLOPS2 which, although it seems quite heavily scripted too, sounds a lot better.

    Mind you, I’ve played neither, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Oh, and BF3, just to make it complete. That one you can probably find in a bargain bin by now, however, not to mention all of the expansions available for it.

  3. 3
    LC Gunsniper growls and barks:

    Marathon is a long staple of fun for the Mac crowd since 1995.

  4. 4
    LC&IB Vulcanrider, MSgt, USAF, Ret growls and barks:

    John, John…stick to reviewing, you’re really good at it. I usually even appreciate when a good reviewer also covers the game weakness, gives me time to think of a way around the “should have come out during beta” crap that always gets by. But, stop with the political statements!

    I don’t want politics in my FPS games, I just want to blow shit up and kill assholes….

  5. 5
    Emperor Misha I growls and barks:

    LC&IB Vulcanrider, MSgt, USAF, Ret says:

    John, John…stick to reviewing, you’re really good at it. I usually even appreciate when a good reviewer also covers the game weakness,

    Yes, he is, and that “covering the rough spots as well” is one of the reasons that I pay attention to his reviews. This one is a perfect example. A game that he obviously loves the fuck out of, just read the first part, yet he still devotes a lot of time to point out the shit that shouldn’t have made it past beta. The straight dope from one end to the other. We report, you decide.

    And that goes for all of their reviewers. They’re fair, funny and not wedded to one particular kind of “what makes a game good” philosophy like some “big names” out there that I could mention. Oh well, why don’t I just do so? GameSpot. They just stopped being of any use to me when they all went ga-ga over anything that looked pretty and had multiplayer. I don’t mind multiplayer at all, even though I don’t have the time to use it myself, I think it’s great when it can be included for those who DO have the time. But I don’t quite see how a friggin’ great game suddenly gets a 7 out of 10 because the twits at GameSpot can’t play it with a bunch of camping, lol-speaking 12-year-olds. Pet peeve. Just one example.

    The guys at RPS, on the other hand, are open to all things. Also, they don’t hand out numbered ratings. Read what they wrote. Ignore the stuff that doesn’t apply to you and make your own damn rating. I have yet to see a Wot I Think from them of a game I’ve played where I thought them unfair.

    But yes, leave the frackin’ politics out of it.

  6. 6
    Emperor Misha I growls and barks:

    LC&IB Vulcanrider, MSgt, USAF, Ret says:

    I don’t want politics in my FPS games, I just want to blow shit up and kill assholes….

    Heh. When it comes to blowing shit up and killing assholes, Far Cry 3 has a seemingly never-ending supply of both. And it looks so very pretty while you’re doing it too. Makes the old GPU sweat a bit, but it’s worth it. You know the dev team have put some thought into it when you take out somebody with a head shot and not only does the pink mist appear, as he slumps down in a messy heap, you notice that the splatter pattern on the wall behind him has been distributed in full accordance with the laws of physics.

    Yeah, I’m sick that way. :em05:

    Oh, or that one time when I was panicking and doing ye olde “spray and pray” at a pirate running for cover. I thought I’d failed to nail him because he just kept on going as I had to reload, then he started stumbling, went down on all four, uttered a few curses in my general direction and fell down in a heap of dead scumbag. I mention it because I can’t remember having ever seen a game that modeled somebody being hit fatally without dropping dead immediately, but instead kept on going until he bled out with no further action required from the player.

  7. 7
    The Irish Dragon growls and barks:

    RPS is good when it’s anything that doesn’t involve the US military. Then they reveal themselves to be a bunch of holier-than-thou leftist America-hating Brits who despise us and everything we have done for the last decade. Their review of MOH:Warfighter, which I have played, and found to be excellent, if only for the authenticity of the action and teamwork, was “Why did the bad guys have to be Arabs, it’s so racist and tiresome, Spec Ops The Line was soo much better because you committed horrible atrocities and were killing American soldiers, blah, blah, fucking blah.” It pisses me off to no end when some soft-headed fuck who’s never served a day or experienced any sort of real-world violence goes off on their high horse about how anything that shows the US military, and especially US SOF, in any sort of good light is nothing but propaganda, while a load of rehashed Heart of Darkness that has you doing crap that would likely have your teammates shoot you is somehow “more realistic” because it paints American soldiers as monsters. If you haven’t been there, you don’t know shit about the “horrors of war,” so don’t pretend like you can pontificate it, especially when you’re condemning the game written by guys who have BTDT, while praising the bullshit written by some fathead who faints when he holds a gun.

  8. 8
    LC Draco growls and barks:

    I thought you mentioned Rock, Paper, Scissors….LOL

    Alec Hardison: [just lost a bet to Eliot] How did you know?
    Eliot Spencer: You have a tell.
    Alec Hardison: I have a tell? In Rock-Paper-Scissors, I have a tell?

    All RPGs and Single Shooter have one goal…quest, reward, another quest, move on. Nothing wrong with that. It is a part of life. As an avowed, retired EQ player, I can say it is addictive.

  9. 9
    LC MuscleDaddy growls and barks:

    Simple facts are – there have to be Bad Guys and there have to be Victims, or else no-one would ever find out that he’s a Hero.

    That said – Bad Guys and Victims have certain common behavioral traits, or they wouldn’t be very good at either role.

    And any uprising against oppressors needs a spark – and that spark needs to be something well and recognizably outside the day-to-day or else, well…. no one would recognize it.

    Go with it – or go play Quake, where there really IS no particular reason to be shooting/’sploding folks.

    – MD

  10. 10
    Fa Cube Itches growls and barks:

    I just want a game where the player can – and maybe even is encouraged to – commit atrocities. I’m tired of always being the good guy and stopping them. Just create a shooter with Grand Theft Auto’s morality.

    True Crime LA was good for that – after a bad day at the office, it was fun to put on the game, drive to my office, and blast everyone roaming around the sidewalk outside the building. Oddly therapeutic.

  11. 11

    I’ve got an idea for a really realistic FPS game. Call it “Grunt Life”.

    You sit around for 11 hours filling sandbags, taking a shit, looking at pr0n, jacking off, policing up cigarette butts, cleaning the head, burning POL drums of shit, and cleaning your weapon.

    Then you get a FRAGO, put on your pack (at this point the game slices open your shoulders, hits you in the lower back with a sledgehammer, and drives over your feet with a 6by) and hump ten hours to set up an OP. While your humping empty 6 ton’s drive by you in the same direction with long haired pogues laughing at you as they kick up nice clouds of dust for you to breathe while you enjoy your little stroll.

    You get to spend four hours digging through rock and hacking through tree roots with a broken e-tool. You’re rewarded with a 6 inch deep slit trench which you get to hand over to some other asshole because you have to ruck up and move to contact.

    You then spend eight hours humping through shitty terrain while your Lieutenant tries to figure out which side of the map is north and what that funny thing with the spinning needle is for. The game will inject acid into your thighs and Novocaine into your fingers.

    Then you trip over a rock an break your ankle. The Doc gives you a Motrin and tells you to lace up your boot tight. Real tight. You get to hump another 4 hours.

    Then somebody you never see will shoot at you and someone else will shoot back at him. The entire firefight will last 5 seconds, but you get to spend the next 4 hours “consolidating you position”, which means sitting on your ass in the rain while someone else looks for the little bastard that just shot at you. You’ll find a blood trail but no body.

    Then you get to hump back for 12 hours uphill because the Lieutenant finally figured out the map and found a “short cut”.

    When you get back to your OP someone has taken a shit in your fighting position and it’s raining. A lot.

    The game ends with mail call and a “Dear John” letter from your wife informing you that she’s cleaned out your meager savings account so she can pay the rent for the Jodie motherfucker whose been fucking her for the past 6 months. He’s such a nice guy you know and will pay you back of course.

    Think anyone will wanna play?

  12. 12
    DARTH_NEOCON growls and barks:

    I will try out the game. Black Ops 2 was such a fail, I need something else to play.

  13. 13
    Emperor Misha I growls and barks:

    DARTH_NEOCON says:

    I will try out the game. Black Ops 2 was such a fail, I need something else to play.

    It’s a lot of fun!

    Yes, it does have its problems (if you read the article I linked to that started this whole post you’ll know them already), but they are, in my opinion as well as John’s, not nearly enough to ruin the fun.

    About that article, I’ve found that the save system, while certainly not ideal in my opinion, isn’t quite as bad as the article suggests (and I thought too, initially).

    True, you do get only one save slot and true, if you get killed you get taken back to the nearest “spawn point” instead of the actual location in which you saved, but there are a couple of caveats there that I found later, no thanks to UbiSoft.

    There IS a “quick save” button, it’s F9. That, however, like the F1-F5 keys that hotlink to your most frequently used menus, is utterly undocumented in the joke of a 1-page “manual” (as well as the in-game manual) and I would’ve never found it if it hadn’t been for my habit of hitting every key I can find just to see if it does something unusual.

    It’s NOT an additional save slot, however. It overwrites your one slot, the same you can access from the main menu. It also doesn’t take you back to the location you saved in. However, it DOES save whatever happens to be in your inventory when you hit it, so if you’ve been trekking for hours to locate that damn bear whose skin you need for your equipment and you hit F9 right after you skin it, getting killed by its angry mother won’t deprive you of the skin and force you to go trekking all over again.

    That’s rather important, if you ask me.

    Also, if you save from the main menu and then quit to desktop, the game WILL bring you back to the exact spot you were in when you did so the next time you start it and load your save slot, so it’s not like you’ll lose the last three hours of scoping out an enemy base, deciding on an approach and taking up position if the phone rings and you have to go pick up a couple of gallons of milk.

    Also rather important to me.

    As to all of the other times when getting killed gets me back to the spawn point, I’ve learned to like it a bit, actually. It makes those scouting and assault preps seem quite a bit more urgent when you know that you can’t just hit F9 every time you knock off an enemy with a bow so that, if you make a mistake later, you can always get right back to that point. Suddenly my digital “life” became a whole lot more precious to me.

    So yeah, it’s fun. A lot.

    Oh, and don’t be fooled by those over-sized, technicolor emus, the cassowaries. Those buggers are fucking FIERCE, and they always travel in packs. Piss a group of those giant turkeys off and your ass is grass if they manage to sneak up on you later. It sucks mightily to be about to land the death blow on an enemy leader with a head shot from way out, only to have your aim and life messed up by an enraged bird kick-boxing you into the afterlife from behind. :em05: