It’s Debate Day here on Trope and Dagger! This week we’re picking sides on the Best Fire Level in all of video games! To read up on Andy’s incomprehensibly dumb pick, you can go right here: The Best Video Game Fire Stage: Lethal Lava Land. Now, let me school you on the greatest fire level in all of gaming!
No lie, this one was hard to pick. There have been many great fire levels in video gaming. From Sonic and Knuckles’ Lava Reef Zone to Ocarina of Time’s Dodongo’s Cavern to Uncharted 3’s Stay in the Light, there are a multitude of thrilling levels from all sorts of different games that are fire-themed, one way or another, making it very hard to narrow it down to just one. But when I think of fire in a video game, there really is one level that kept jumping to the forefront of my cranial-flesh: Far Cry 3’s Kick the Hornet’s Nest.
Now, this isn’t a traditional fire-themed level as one would normally think. You’re not running around inside a volcano, nor has the villain created a bunch of lava pits which you could fall into, neither have they created a bunch of fire-spewing robots named “Terror Torches” or something equally silly. No, all the fire in this level is produced by the player, and oh boy is there fire. Soooooo much fire.
For those who have not had the immense pleasure of playing this game, it is a massive open world first person shooter. You play a young man named Jason Brody who is stuck on an island after he and his friends were attacked by a psychotic slave trader named Vaas (who is an incredible villain, by the way, one of the greats). Vaas killed Jason’s brother but Jason isn’t strong enough to defeat Vaas and his boss Hoyt, at least not yet. He is recruited by some locals to help in their conflicts against Hoyt, and throughout the game they strike against Hoyt’s forces in different ways. One of the ways they do so is in the level “Kick the Hornet’s Nest,” where they decide to take out Hoyt’s drug fields. And this is where the game became one of my favorites.
The basic premise of the level is simple enough. You’re given a flamethrower and simple orders: take it to Hoyt’s drug fields and turn them to ash, and keep a boat from escaping. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? When you take on this mission, you kind of just assume that this will be a straightforward affair. Torch the plants, shoot some guys, move on with the story. And it’s true, that is the crux of the mission.
Of course you get to the plantation and start setting things aflame, enemies are there and start shooting you. Yawn. Not the first time in a game jerks have shot me while shit burns.
So why is this level my favorite fire level? Well, first off it actually is really well designed. Far Cry 3 is an open-world game, so you can tackle this level in any way that you see fit. You can take on the fields from the direction you came head on, or you can sneak around, blow up the boat, then proceed to torch the hell out of the crops. It’s your call, and either way is really fun. If you start with the boat, you’re using a good deal of stealth before announcing yourself to the enemies with a huge explosion! (EXPLOSIONS?!) Alternatively, you can show up and just start lighting fires from the get-go! Which is much less sneaky but also a ton of fun.
But beyond just how you choose to start the fun, the game makes a style choice here that is different than much of the rest of the game, which elevates it to new heights. That choice is that the soundtrack takes a remarkable turn here. Most of the game, the soundtrack will be instrumental, often tribal-sounding, music. However, here, they switch things up when the fun begins by instead playing this:
am not the biggest fan of hate dubsteb, but here it is a ton of fun. You start burning crops and people and explosive barrels, and having this pounding in your ears while your character is having the time of his life makes it hard to do anything but grin like an asshole. I’m serious, I would never imagine having this song on my iPod in a million years, but after playing through this level, the memories it would bring of crimson fields would make me happy to have it. Damien Marley is pretty cool, dubstep is…absolute shit, but this song and the blending of the two in this level is perfection.
Also, a nice touch is that your character gets high as hell while he burns these fields, which makes aiming progressively harder throughout the mission. Granted, mostly you’re just setting guys on fire (if you’re playing it right), but it still kicks the difficultly up a notch, for sure. Especially if you wait til the end of the mission to blow up the boat with an RPG. That can get tricky when the screen won’t stop swaying.
In the end, the reason that this mission is my selection is the pure mayhem of it. You show up and might as well be wearing a purple suit and be menacing Gotham, you wreak so much chaos. You burn and you burn and you burn some more, and it is pure joy. It makes you understand pyromaniacs. If you can play this mission without having a blast, I suggest some sort of psychiatric evaluation. This level is incredibly, stupidly fun. And really, what more do you need?
I strongly urge anyone who hasn’t played this game to go play it. If you’re not a fan of the game when you start, you will be after this level. If there’s one fire-themed level out there that will stick in your memory, it’s Kick the Hornet’s Nest from Far Cry 3.
So what do you think? Was I more on the money, or was Andy? Or are we both completely nuts? Sound off in our poll below!