Far Cry 3
2012 has been an extremely competitive year for games. My GOTY has changed about five times, and we’re not even in December. If nothing else, that’s a testament to the quality of titles developers have been churning out from all spectrums, from the mobile sector through to the AAA leagues.
However, I’m confident that on December 31st, when all is said and done and the smoke is cleared, Far Cry 3 will be the game that stands tall above the rest.
Far Cry 3 is the best Far Cry game to date. It’s one of the best games Ubisoft have ever done and, as far as I can tell, it’s the finest example of gaming quality I’ve seen in 2012.
Tears on the rain
The Far Cry series has made a welcome return to the tropics. This time, we follow the adventures of Jason Brody and his group of friends who are enjoying a vacation. Jumping out of planes, toasting and drinking on the beach, going for a swim; life couldn’t be better.
Until they’re captured by anti-tourist, Vaas, that is. Vaas locks Jason up in a cage, setting up one of the most chilling, intense opening sequences I’ve seen for a long time. Vaas is the leader of a human trafficking tribe that run the island, and he sees quite a fine prize in the group.
Jason is a man with no skills, no prior training and no real idea of how to defend himself. However, as players start to make their escape from his camp, complete missions and move about the island, they gain experience and develop this mere holiday-maker into a one-man war machine.
Through all the beauty and elegance of Far Cry, there’s a dark, ugly and menacing world out there, and only a character with an iron-will and enlivened soul can survive it.
Sun, sea, sand, surf
Far Cry 3 is an open-world title that thrives on dynamic action as opposed to structured, paint-by-numbers sequences. There’s certainly a storyline to follow, but the player can just as easily make their own stories through paths of discovery, or even making their way between destinations.
Could be that a group of mercenaries have set up a roadblock obstructing your path, or a tiger has a particular taste for your flesh and throws you off-course. A vehicle might bolt towards you, but you manage to side-step in time and watch as it cartwheels down a cliff-face. You surface out of the water and suddenly see a shark fin coming towards you. The sea-fiend is about to rear its jaws, but somehow you evade and catch it with a right hook on its jaw.
That’s just a taster.
When you play Far Cry 3, you’ll experience the unlikely as much as the incredible, and it’ll probably be very different from your buddy’s adventure.
Far Cry 3 presents one of the largest, most exciting playgrounds we’ve had in an open world for sometime and lets us have total control of where we go and what we do.
Essentially, it’s the adored child of its predecessors; the beauty and design of the original and the adventure and discovery of the second. However, unlike Far Cry 2′s cluttered and confused gameplay, Far Cry 3 is a much more refined and understood title. You’ll want to partake in the well-spaced, varied side-missions, and never feel overwhelmed by them, unlike in Far Cry 2.
Jason earns experience through killing enemies and completing missions. Once he ‘gains a level’, Jason must choose certain permanent traits via one of three talent trees. Whichever he chooses is then represented on his arms via tattoos. A unique, customisable way to give your character identity through your actions and decisions.
As with Far Cry 2 before, players can claim outposts by defeating all guards in an area and then claiming the spot for themselves by pitching a flag. Once this has been done, a safehouse is created where players can purchase new ammunition, weapons and maps detailing the locations of hidden treasure.
Over time, events are added to the world as you size control of certain areas, such as boat racing, drop-off missions, sniping and knife-throwing. You can place wagers on each of these to earn more money. There will also be small battleground events which are timed and see you challenge anyone else on your friends list.
The weapons are a real mixed bunch. Should you so choose, you could earn enough to get a rocket launcher right from the beginning and go on a wild rampage. However, as you start out, only one weapon slot will be open to you. As you play, another three will open up, but that won’t be until you’ve delved deeper into the story missions.
Guns won’t jam any more, but ammo is pretty scarce. You’ll find yourself thrust into situations, having to defend yourself with your bare hands. What’s more, you won’t just be fighting pirates and cut-throats in Far Cry 3. The wild is a dangerous place for nature and you’ll find yourself up against bears, snakes, tigers and rabid dogs more often than not. As such, you are regularly forced to adapt combat strategies on the fly in order to survive. Merely run and gun, and you’re liable to be thwarted quick-sharp.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Far Cry without vehicle action. In addition to jeeps and run-down, old cars, you can now hitch a ride on a hang-glider or get some hang-time on a zip-line. The cars still handle a bit clumsily, and it’s far too easy to lose control, but for whipping around the island, there is rarely a better method.
Far Cry is so rich with details that I really am only scratching the surface. While perhaps not as enormous as Skyrim, this one will keep you glued to the screen for almost as long.
Heaven, Hell or something in-between?
Some of the panoramic views in Far Cry 3 are simply breathtaking. Looking out over the crystallised waters, looking at cliff faces, birds flying to and from their nests within them, looking through the tunnelled vision through the trees. Then there’s the changes in weather and the day/night cycle. The island is not just living and breathing with its inhabitants, but also through nature.
Some textures do seem to blur close-up and blind with strong contrast. Long range, the game seems to struggle with stretching its environments, yet its beauty will always win you back. Far Cry 3 is, by far, the best looking game this year, and will completely max out your system.
The variety of environments presents the wonder and weird of this island, something to rival even J.J. Abrams’ own imagination.
Whisper on the wind
When I say Far Cry 3 has some ‘shiver-to-the-spine’ voice work, I’m genuinely not kidding. As we’ve established, Vaas is a creepy motherfucker. He switches from clam and contented, to crazed and callous. Jason is also perfectly suited, as are the rest of the cast. Much of the intensity of the game’s story is driven along with its excellent roster.
From the sounds of animals and the growls of pirates, sound is as important to Far Cry as anything else and sets the ambiance perfectly.
We’re friends. We’re enemies…
Co-operative gameplay is a big feature online with Far Cry 3. In a separate campaign set six months before the single-player, up to four can come together to roam the island and discover its wealth. Though surprisingly, vehicles have been omitted altogether. The campaign offers a different story with a new set of characters. Each character has committed a sin in a previous life and they are on a quest for redemption having been ripped off by pirates.
It’s not all about working as a team, though. There are competitive elements in there as well, mini-games that prove who’s the alpha and who’s the omega. The co-op campaign is a fantastic piece of work.
A more typical multiplayer action can be had on top of the campaign, however.
Two modes worth mentioning are Firestorm and Transmission. Firestorm sees teams go against each other, with the objective being to set fire to the enemy team’s supply nodes at the same time. This is an exciting, thrill-seeking mode that will be instantly familiar to FPS fans, but with a nice enough twist to keep things feeling fresh.
Same with Transmission. This sees players run around the map in an effort to sabotage transmitters. With elements of Capture the flag and Domination wrapped into one, this will offer crazy, fast-paced action, but as always, with an emphasis on teamwork.
With Firestorm mode and Transmission mode, as well as the vast co-operative campaign, Far Cry has a detailed, and full multiplayer section to go along with its already enormous campaign.
In the jungle…
So, yes, Far Cry 3 is a triumph. It’s a marvel and masterclass in gaming. As we reach the twilight of this generation of consoles, you’d think the quality would start to wane and we’d be looking ahead to the next stage. With Far Cry 3, we’re seeing just how capable these incredible systems still are and what amazing things they can still produce.
Despite the quality of a Mass Effect 3, Darksiders 2, Borderlands 2, the Dishonoreds, XCOMs and Halos, Far Cry 3 has swooped in and got all of my attention.
Ubisoft may have ever-so-slightly missed the mark with Assassin’s Creed 3, but with Far Cry 3, they have left almost zero room for improvement. The open-world has never been so glorious.