Far Cry 3 Review
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Nov 30, 2012 14:37
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Written by: Ian
A Crying shame?
Far Cry 2 was an ambitious title that never really managed to capture all of the brilliance of the first game. Can Ubisoft ever bring back the brilliance of the first game without Crytek? This third game, "Far Cry 3" unrelated to either previous game, now has us back in a tropical ‘paradise’, but is the game just trying to give the player a cheap nostalgia hit?
Certainly, judging by the story, Ubisoft aren’t afraid of pulling punches or steering away from doing anything new, controversial, or emotionally intense. The first five minutes of the game, even though it’s highly scripted, is some of the most intense and best-acted gameplay I’ve ever seen as you are captured and tortured by your insane nemesis, Vaas, and then escape from his clutches. Anyway, I won’t spoil the game, but as the missions unfold you go under a huge personal transformation.
In the beginning, you rely on your big brother- a strong Army guy, but soon you’re forced to become a killer in order to rescue your friends, and it’s really interesting to see how this changes you over the course of the generous campaign.
Far Cry 2 tried its best to try and introduce us to the idea of an FPS RPG that wasn’t as unwieldy as say Fallout 3. However, with mediocre gunplay, and elements seemingly designed to annoy the hell out of the player, such as hyper-aggressive AI and respawning checkpoints, coupled with a harsh saving system led to a game that was polarising to the extreme. Thankfully, Ubisoft have resolved all of these problems for Far Cry 3, and then thrown in additional mechanics borrowed from Assassin’s Creed, and then plonked in some meaty (and excellent) stealth mechanics as well on top of it all.
Far Cry 3 screenshot #1
The most important new addition is the radio towers, of which there are 18 to climb up, each of which are different, a la the towers in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Getting to the top will reveal more of your map, which brings up new missions and waypoints. The same goes for taking over one of the many strongholds. These allow you to take on a number of side-quests such as murdering local warlords, indulging in a little photography, or going on some unique hunts. And talking of hunting, the jungle isn’t always a friendly place, and it really feels alive thanks to the animal AI. You can go out hunting, and this is essential to your success, as it will allow you to carry more guns and ammo, and more loot to sell, which means better weapon upgrades. You can even try to use them in combat, often with hilarious (and fatal) consequences.
At the start of the game, you feel very disempowered, both from a story and gameplay perspective. However, skin a few animals, and suddenly you’re toting 4 weapons and a metric tonne of grenades, and the odds are more stacked in your favour.
And you need them to be. The gunplay is far, far better than previous games, but you’re a lone gunman against many, and so you need your skills about you. Thankfully the stealth mechanic normally seems fair, and you’ll earn XP for completing missions and for kills, which allows you to focus your skills down one of three paths. These roughly equate to survival skills, stealth, and guns, but all have very useful trees which are worth investing in. Exploring the world is more fun than it
Far Cry 3 screenshot #2
There’s realism here aplenty, but never at the expense of making the game fun, unlike in Far Cry 2. And despite the game’s excellent story, I was drawn to the exploration- I wanted the upgrades, there was a tantalising mission unveiled right by a new radio tower, or some smoke rising in the distance. Far Cry makes exploration fun but giving you these hints, and it makes the exploration fun and easy by getting the driving handling just right. Some of the missions with big weapons and big vehicles, often with some great music playing over them, are real highlights of this entire generation. But even bombing about on a quad-bike is just great fun, and well worth your while, because you’ll no doubt stumble across a temple, a new outpost to be liberated, or some long-lost treasure. Or maybe just be eaten by a bear or tiger. Or a boar. That was pretty embarrassing when that happened early on. Thankfully the game is decently generous with checkpoints, even if the load times can be pretty horrendous when you do die.
There’s just a huge amount to do, notwithstanding the story missions. Exploring Rook Island to a decent degree will take you over 20 hours as a bare minimum, and when you consider there is co-op, multiplayer and a level editor on top of this, Ubisoft seem to be bordering on the obscenely generous given the paucity of most shooters today.
Given the size and scope of the game, it’s perhaps unsurprising that I encountered a few graphical glitches in the world (some dodgy shadows, and some NPCs hilariously clipping in and out of buildings), but those aside, Far Cry is the best looking open world game ever, and one of the best looking games in any genre full stop.
The lush jungle, dark temples and clear seas just look stunning, and wherever you are, whether it be creeping stealthily through the undergrowth, driving at pace on the dirt roads, or soaring in the skies on a hand glider, this game always puts something out there to surprise and delight the player at every corner. Perhaps my one complaint is that whilst animation and design on the main cast is brilliant, the pirates and Rakyat tribe do all look pretty similar. Still, given just how good the performances of the main cast are, that’s OK, because the standard of their animation and speech is so good that it really improves the storyline.
Far Cry 3 screenshot #3
And it’s also the voice performances that really add depth to the characters as well. You can really see Jason being an archetypal Californian stoner knob, being spoilt and arrogant. But then he changes as the game goes on- you can see it, his friends can see it, and Vaas can see it too. Vaas is easily the best new character in a game this year. He’s evil, clearly insane, and at the same time, almost likeable as a villain.
The cast of characters is certainly very much larger than life, so don’t expect hyper-realism, but they’re no more outrageous than say some of the Call of Duty stereotypes, so you’re hardly seeing a load of hammed-up pastiches for performances either.
Far Cry 3 screenshot #4
Far Cry 3 includes both competitive versus multiplayer, and a number of 4-player co-op maps that take place in a campaign set six months before the main single player. We were only provided one copy of the game before release, so were unable to test any of these. I’m planning on updating the review once the game has been released to tell you more about these modes.
As a single-player game, "Far Cry 3" is almost revelatory. The first 30 minutes or so are just amazing, and whilst you do transform into more of a stereotypical videogame killer, the emotional level of the plot, and quality of the action continued to thrill all throughout the lengthy campaign. Coupled with the holy trinity of an open-world game- driving, gunplay and exploration all being brilliantly executed, and you end up with a fantastic game to finish the year with. This one’s going to rank high on my GOTY list for sure, and that’s great, because with first Halo, and now Far Cry, 2012 has proved there is more than Call of Duty in the world of shooters, and it’s this level of innovation that gives me great hope that the genre can continue to evolve and move onto bigger and better things.
+ Character development
+ Hunting
+ Gunplay
- Can be daunting
- Some graphical glitches
- Inconsistent difficulty