That impeccable taste is on full display in this guest essay he wrote for Penny Arcade Report about why he thinks Far Cry 2 is brilliant.
Smith shares some smart musings on the nature of embedded (“We have written this story for you”) and emergent (“Woah, this story randomly happened to me!”) narrative in video games, and how Dishonored was his and his co-creative director Raphael Colantonio’s attempt at blending the two playstyles. (I’d say they did a pretty good job.)
Smith wraps it up thusly:
If games focused on embedded narrative are more polished, why do many of us prefer games that focus on the dynamics of emergent narrative? Is it some intuitive sense that ferrets out what is most meaningful in games? Is this a situation akin to independent film, where an audience steeped in the critical aspects of the medium wants a bare experience, uncluttered by bombast, filler or special effects, delivered in an understated or experimental way? On initial contact, Far Cry 2 was somewhat unwelcoming in that it did not invite players in; the subject matter was brutal and the game’s advancement curve and difficulty tuning required patience.
The reward for those who stayed with the game was potent. Some of the most interesting game design commentary of the year orbited the game, including the Permadeath experiments conducted by Ben Abraham and others, which I take as an indication of how thought-provoking and challenging (to video game conventions) Far Cry 2 was. The game stands as the shooter title that has given me the most compelling, player-driven moments to date.
See? It’s not just me and everyone else with good taste in video games who thinks Far Cry 2 is great. HARVEY SMITH AGREES, YOU GUYS. I think we can finally close the book on this once and for all.
In all seriousness, give the whole article a read, it’s good.
Dishonored’s Harvey Smith explains the genius of Far Cry 2 [Penny Arcade Report]