Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC
Modes: Singleplayer, 2-4 Co-op, 2-14 Multiplayer
Ubisoft’s Far Cry series has never found itself tied down, with each instalment telling a radically different story, just with the same ideology of an organic open-world setting. The first game gave players animalistic instincts and a sci-fi tinge, the second – malaria, and a bad case of Africa. With this, the latest instalment, players are taken back to a tropical island paradise and let loose. But where the last Far Cry games based themselves fairly heavily around a particular gameplay element, Far Cry 3’s selling point is its theme. Far Cry 3 is insane.
Players take the role of Jason Brody, a young average Joe American, on a vacation at a beautiful island paradise called Rook Island, with his brothers and closest friends. Things take a turn for the worse when their holiday results in having being captured by a band of ragtag slaving pirates, led by the utterly insane Vaas. Escaping death, Jason has to fight his way all over and around the island to save his friends, and liberate the peaceful locals who are oppressed by this pirate reign.
The story sees Jason turn from a sissy well-off American into someone who loves and thrives from the island and tribes people, in what could easily be compared the character development seen in the likes of Avatar or The Last Samurai. It’s a fairly unflattering and unoriginal tale, but I really liked the way Ubisoft played out its character study. As you progress through Jason’s journey, you will find yourself questioning what’s real or make believe, and even Jason’s own mind as his call his arms takes him to places he certainly isn’t prepared for. There could have been some deeper emotion given to the characters, but for what it is, Far Cry 3 has a terrific storyline that will interest and immerse you right to its conclusion.
Being the series’ staple, gameplay is delivered through a massive open world. You have a range of weaponry available to you, with a lot of it being customisable with silencers, extended mags, optical sights – the lot. Different guns have different levels of customisation, and the game doesn’t overdo it with silly amounts of personalisation (in the campaign, at least), instead having you able to just pick and choose the ones that complement the way you want to play. Bigger mag and a close-range sight for the close quarters action? Check! Silencer and long range optics for stealthy takedowns? As you please! You can use explosives to set ambushes, and truly devastate the enemy if you so wish, too.
You can explore the archipelago in a range of vehicles as well. Cars, boats, ATVs, Jet skis – you have access to all, and most are very common too, meaning you can always find a way to travel around the place with ease.
Far Cry 3 adds some light RPG elements to mix, too. With 3 different skill trees to progress through, and the ability to craft upgraded gear with animal skins (I’ll get to that part in a moment!), much like the weapon customisation, it doesn’t overdo or overwhelm you with choices, but rather use them to complement the open world feeling while keeping the pacing and the flow very much intact.
For an action-heavy game, Far Cry 3 executes the open world FPS gameplay perfectly. Offering a good amount of choices and possibilities for most situations, and providing very polished gameplay to make it all feel very natural.
The game’s environment has its own wildlife too, which I came into the game expecting to be a silly gimmick. But without putting too much pressure on it, we’re actually given a great feature with a range of animals you can hunt – or be hunted by. Predators like bears, tigers and packs of wild dogs stalk these islands and add a degree of originality to exploring. You can hunt, kill and subsequently skin animals as well, in order to make and upgrade your gear. Players can make bigger wallets, backpacks, grenade holsters, and more. Gather leaves from local plant life too, and you can make a range of syringes with various effects on gameplay. From simple health boosters to hunting enhancers that allow you to see and move among the animal inhabitants. Getting strange effects, from taking strange drugs that you make from strange plants isn’t entirely out of place in the game either, with ‘tripping’ and general careless substance abuse being a common theme in the story.
Along with the main singleplayer campaign – which I should add features a solid amount of activities, side missions, minigames and collectables, but these can quickly become very repetitive or just plain silly and boring – the game has another co-op campaign with its own storyline. Not as well developed as the main game, this is still a good story, and provides an excellent use of teamwork. The open world nature of the game makes the co-op an awesome experience, with up to 4 players able to work together to diffuse the battles as they see fit. Pitching someone up high with a sniper to provide covering fire of the ground team was a personal favourite tactic of mine. But there are a range of possibilities for players to tune their style around.
Co-op isn’t the only multiplayer mode though, with the obligatory competitive multiplayer portion. Honestly, this was entirely unnecessary. There are a few neat tricks up its sleeve, like Battle Cries (which power up your nearby teammates, inciting as much teamwork as possible) and the hilarious personalisation of the endgame screen (you can choose how your character treats the enemy when you achieve victory.) But at the end of the day this is just another mediocre shooting multiplayer experience with unbalanced customisable loadouts and stock game types and playlists. The map design is really well crafted though, and with the map editor allowing player made maps to find their way into online playlists I imagine will only get better as the community heats up. But even still, I can’t see this lasting for long among the competitors.
Rook Island is one of the most well designed open game worlds I’ve ever played, easily. The sheer effort that has been put into crafting this map is stunning, with every inch and area highly detailed and seamless. Ancient ruins, underwater caves, WWII bunkers and more all litter this island paradise and its sandy beaches, shanty towns, swamps and jungles. The attention to detail of the environment and textures is great, but the overused building models in the towns and villages quickly becomes evident. But those aside, the majority of the natural scenery is incredibly well designed and gorgeous. Even by the end of the game, I was still discovering new areas with a sense of astonishment.
Apart from the scenery and design, most of the visual portion of Far Cry 3 is definably average. Even more so than the buildings, character models are far too overused and repeated. I appreciate what Ubisoft has done with the games bigger range of NPCs over the last instalment, which was very shallow in this regard, but its tedious to see the same people over and over and over again, in each and every town and village. Keep to the wild if you want the real Far Cry experience.
One of the finer points of this game is the performances given by the voice actors. Going hand-in-hand with the quality writing of the campaign (secondary dialogue is simply appalling…), the actors standout work makes the story what it is. The antagonists’ characters are believably insane, and Jason’s growth and transformation doesn’t feel completely forced, which was a concern. We don’t get to see enough of a handful of important story characters, such as Jason’s friends, as more of them could have put a lot more emotion into the story and given weight to the characters choices, but what we do see is well acted.
The musical score balances between tight orchestral pieces, to more modern electronic-inspired beats. The orchestral music complements the drama, with upbeat battle music giving heart racing pieces that completely suit the gameplay. There are also some of the best uses of licenced tracks ive seen in an action game.
Far Cry 3 has a lot of different sound effects, and I was actually surprised by the consistent quality of them. The wildlife and animals sound really good, with the growls and roars of the more ferocious beasts actually giving me a fright when they came up unexpected. Explosions carry a nice heft to them, and the gun effects are adequate, if a bit lacking in notable variation.
- Stunning game world
- Good characters and storytelling
- Great open world gameplay
- Superior voice work and audio
- Commonly repeated models
- Repetitive and boring side missions and activities
- Uninspired multiplayer
Ubisoft have gone all out with this one, creating an entirely enthralling experience that features some incredibly well developed characteristics. With one of the best game worlds I’ve ever played, and some of the most well executed gameplay freedom, Far Cry 3 is certainly a memorable game with a lot to offer. A true testament to how the single most important factor of a game should be fun and enjoyment, and that you dont have to sacrifice maturity or a good story to deliver it.
Written by Lax