In the words of Gun’s and Roses “Welcome to the Jungle, we’ve got fun and games.” Far Cry 3 arrived with little fanfare, at least compared to other big name titles such as Call of Duty, which is a shame as everyone deserves to know about this game.
Like previous entries into the series, Far Cry 3 is an open world FPS. Ubisoft Montreal have taken everything that worked from the last two games and thrown out ‘most’ things that didn’t. Not only that but it seems Ubisoft have done their research and borrowed a lot of elements from other successful games to make this one of the best titles they have ever produced.
You play as Jason Brody, a backpacker on a trip to Bangkok with his brothers and friends. Things go a bit pear-shaped when they accidentally skydive onto a mysterious island and get captured by pirates, lead by one serious nut job Vaas; played to perfection by Michael Mando.
Without wanting to spoil too much, what follows starts as a standard ‘hero must save his friends’ plot, but soon descends into Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness territory. There are plenty of pop culture references and if you think hard enough you’ll recognise that most of the characters are based on people you’ve seen in movies. Overall the story is compelling enough to make you want to finish the game and contains enough surprises to keep you guessing. Yet it fails to live up to the social commentating, psycho thriller that was initially promised.
This is where Far Cry really shines. Anyone who is a FPS veteran will be instantly at home. The button configuration makes sense and is customisable to those who prefer different layouts.
The characters movement is what makes this experience all the more visceral. Jason is swift and agile enough to traverse the varied terrain, but it’s the little touches to your characters animation that make you connect to the world. Climbing looks and feels real, occasionally if you miss time a grab you’ll hang on with one arm and heave yourself up by swinging a leg over the ledge. If falling from a height doesn’t kill you it will at least do some damage and cause you to fall flat on your face in a cloud of dust. Jason enters and exits vehicles as you would in real life, and when you crash he sprawls across the dash-board giving a sense of impact. Healing yourself in the game is just as painful, as Jason pull bullets out of his arm with a knife and wrap himself in bandages to name a few.
Combat is just as primal. Guns have real weight and effect, each handling different to the last. The bow is an excellent addition to your arsenal, allowing you to bring out your inner Rambo. Melee combat forces you to get up close and personal, and the first time you knife a guy in the back I defy you not to wince.
Far Cry 3 has a light yet rewarding role-playing element. A skill tree with the help of XP allows you unlock cool new skills making you a more efficient bad ass. Crafting also plays a big role. Collecting herbs lets you create syringes that boost certain attributes. Hunting animals serves more of a purpose than most games that include this mechanic, as it is vital to skin creatures great and small in order to obtain better equipment to improve your chances of survival.
The main missions are well thought out, adding a variety of elements to distinguish each from the last. One particular mission stands out; again I don’t want to spoil things, but just listen out for Damien Marley and you’ll know what I mean. Enemy AI is accomplished and provides enough of a challenge to make you think about how to go about picking them off. As the game progresses they do get harder, yet rarely did I feel I wanted to give up out of frustration.
Side quests are a large part of this game. The main objective outside of the story missions is to capture enemy outposts. Each one has different layout and enemy roster, forcing you to scout and plan ahead. One of the main criticisms of Far Cry 2 was that once you had captured a base the enemies would later re-spawn, not so here. Preferably I would have liked a nice balance, as once you have captured all the bases that’s it, no more bad guys. Ubisoft have just announced an update where you can reset the bases, but wouldn’t it be more fun if every now and then you were notified that a base you’d previously captured was under attack and you had to get back to defend it within a designated time? Anyway, besides the base capture there is plenty to do; assassination missions, hunting missions, races and NPC assigned tasks. Another crucial task is to un-jam radio towers ala Assassin’s Creed, and each tower provides a puzzle element as to how you reach the top.
Collectables in games are usually a laborious chore, but here I had no qualms about exploring ancient ruins or sunken ships to find items that when fully acquired, reward me with new weapons and gear. It’s not essential but if you see one on your map on your way somewhere else your initial thought is ‘why not?’ rather than ‘why bother?’. The map is huge yet dense. As you explore the island via land, sea or air you will constantly be surprised and by what you find.
Far Cry 3 is hugely enjoyable to play, even if you don’t normally enjoy FPS. It’s a true sandbox, full of so many things to do and see, you’ll be hard pressed to find a dull moment.
Far Cry 3 is an absolutely beautiful game, and you can tell Ubisoft have put every penny on-screen. Seriously, if it wasn’t for the pirates and man-eating wild life I would happily live there. There are the occasional glitches, but nothing game breaking. Everything looks as good close up as it does far away. The jungle is gorgeously rendered, the water looks inviting and some of the vistas make you want to check to see if you’re still in your house.
Character models are superb, especially the animals. The first time you get attacked by a tiger you will be split between wondering how they’ve made it look so good and if you’ve soiled your pants or not.
The island it’s self is a marvel. Nothing seems out of place and one of the biggest joy’s of the game is exploring its vast and varied landscape. It’s almost a shame fast travel was included; as if you use it you’d be missing out on what’s just around the next corner.
This is where Far Cry 3 falls short. After playing the main story you’ll find little to persuade you to choose Far Cry’s multiplayer over your Call of Duty’s or Battlefield’s. Standard online game modes such as team death match bring nothing new to the table, except a robust map editor, and levelling up just isn’t enough to keep you coming back.
Co-op is a little better. It has its own story which is kind of cool, and the missions are enough to warrant team work in order to progress, yet it still feels like an afterthought rather than an exciting addition to the package. An extension pack has just been released but I have yet had the chance to see if it improves what’s already there.
If you haven’t guessed already, I love Far Cry 3, despite the average multi player elements. You will be hard pushed to find a single player game that sucks you in and holds your attention for such a long time. Far Cry 3 is a serious contender for game of the year and it deserves to be played by as many people as possible.
Presentation: Menus are simple yet detailed. RPG elements are well-integrated and never tiresome. 8.0
Graphics: Amazing. Scenery, characters and wild life are all beautiful designed. Occasional glitches may occur but nothing that will dampen you experience. 9.0
Sound: Everything sounds as it should within the world, from rustling through bushes to the sound of animals chewing on your limbs. The soundtrack is great, kicking into gear for those high-octane moments and chilling you out for the down time. 9.0
Gameplay: Intuitive, satisfying and rewarding. 9.5
Lasting Appeal: 20 hours plus in the main story (if you don’t use fast travel.), and multi player should you feel the need. 7.5
Overall: 8.6/10 – Like taking a holiday with guns and pirates! Play this game now!
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Played Far Cry 3? Think I’m being too generous? Let us know in the comments.