Dishonored Designer Harvey Smith Agrees: Far Cry 2 Is Awesome

Dishonored Designer Harvey Smith Agrees: Far Cry 2 Is Awesome

He’s not just responsible for one of the coolest games of the year, Dishonored designer Harvey Smith is also a man with impeccable taste.

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]


  • I honestly didnt find Farcry 2 that special, but it did create a great pathway for Farcry 3 which i thought should be one of the best games of 2012

  • Despite its problems (and me losing 20 hours to corrupted data thanks to the in-game fire) I really liked it. Still great to look at even on 360 today, and has great atmosphere that makes me feel like I’m playing outside during summer.

  • I have completed Far Cry 2 twice before and my current save file is just starting the second map (until FC3 has now taken over my play time). Far Cry 2 still stands as one of my all time favourite games.

  • People… people liked Far Cry 2? Really??
    So boring, so dull, such badly designed stealth.
    The (admittedly fantastic) attempts at realisticness made the unrealistic parts (glowing chests, your dot on the map) stand out to a ridiculous degree.
    I tried so hard to like that game, I really did. It had some impressive things, but it also had way, way too many awful things that made the overall experience abysmal

  • I always thought Far Cry 2 was a good game with a lot of potential that was let down in a few ways. Namely: the respawning enemy checkpoints (nothing is worse than driving through trying to reach a destination and copping a rocket from a respawned checkpoint).

    The story line also had no real drive to it either – the two factions were functionally identical (which may have been the point) and the overarching mission of killing that guy (The Jackal?) became lost in the tedium of running around shooting folks for the two factions.

    That being said the actual combat I found to be a lot of fun, it had some good tactical choices to it.

  • I liked all the Far Cry games in different ways, but 2 was the only one that gave me severe motion sickness that stopped me from playing it.

  • Oh man. I didn’t think I could love Harvey Smith more than I already do. I THOUGHT WRONG.

    FC2 really was genius. I pity the fools who didn’t enjoy it the way I enjoyed it.

  • Absolutely loved FC2. I’ve beaten it over 20 times and still enjoy the dynamism of the gameplay. It’s given me so many crazy moments: cooly executed plans, spectacular failures and amazing fights for survival.

  • I loved it to bits… Then something better came along, though what it was I can’t recall. However, it did instil a general fear of Africa…

  • Far Cry 3 is a lot better than Far Cry 2, but what I find really odd that that while Far Cry 3 improves on all the pitfalls of Far Cry 2 some of the best things about Far Cry 2 weren’t carried over.

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