Review: Far Cry 3
Ubisoft Montreal are back with their forth Far Cry release over the years, their last being Far Cry 2. The series keeps it’s open world roots only with a change of location, characters and a few tweaks to make one of the finest Far Cry titles to date as well as a late contender for game of the year.
You play as Jason Brody, an American College student who has gone on a bit of an adventure holiday with some friends and family. They decide to do a skydive when all of a sudden it all goes a bit pear-shaped – the next thing they know Jason and his brother Grant are locked in a cage being tormented by the insane pirate leader Vaas. After a few events which I won’t go into detail here, you end up on your own in the middle of Rook Island, left to fend for yourself and on a mission to find and rescue your buddies.
The story is a pretty basic affair but through the help of some fantastic voice acting and motion capture, it’ll keep you captivated all the way. The performance by Vaas in particular is a highlight, his nature of insanity makes him a perfect villain, as well as his Bond-villain style nature of elaborate killings, rather than just pulling a trigger.
The missions themselves vary from the odd to the heart-racing. One moment you’ll be doped up on mushrooms trying to trek through a cave, the next you’ll be firing grenades at chasing cars. The story as a whole is a thrill ride from one moment to the next but even I found myself getting distracted by the wonders of Rook Island.
In fact, for the first 10 hours or so, I’d only done a handful of missions, I’d spent most of that time exploring the wonders of the island as well as practising some professional grade bow skills, my weapon of choice for most of the island exploring. As you can probably imagine there’s plenty to do on the island, capture radio towers, take on enemy outposts, stab a tiger and much, much more.
All over the map there’s radio towers, these need to be captured in order to reveal more of the game’s gigantic map. The towers themselves are a mini-jumping puzzle as you have to work out which route to take to get to the junction box at the top. These aren’t too tricky for the most part, they mainly involve going up ladders and finding the correct point to climb up.
Once you have the tower, you can then see where the rest of the distractions lay within that area. As the majority of the island is controlled by pirates you’ll have to takeover their outposts to take that area of the island back. Unlike Far Cry 2, these outposts don’t respawn so once you capture it, it’s yours forever. They are also used as fast travel points to make moving around the island that little bit easier, you can also buy/sell weapons, save and pick up extra missions off the notice board.
These missions come in a few varieties, the main being Hunter missions and Assassination missions. Hunter missions ask you to take out a specific animal with a specific weapon within a certain area. Assassination missions require you to kill a certain enemy with a certain weapon. These will reward you with XP, money and in the case of a few of the Hunter missions, rare animal skins.
In order to upgrade your equipment you’ll need to grab some animal skins. Need a bigger wallet to carry more money? Go skin a pig. Want to hold more arrows? You’ll need to find a goat. Each piece of equipment has a few levels which you can upgrade, requiring a different animal skin each time. The final one usually requires a rare animal skin, which you’ll gain from the Hunter missions. The crafting is fairly straight forward, once you have the skins you need you just have to open up your menu, select the upgrade you want and click OK – there’s no need to go to a crafting bench and no mini-game, you can do it any time, any where.
Bags and wallets aren’t the only thing you can craft, you can also grab some flowers and create syringes that’ll aid you on your quests. Green plants can create health syringes, yellow flowers will create hunting syringes – these can attract animals or repel them – and so on.
Of course, a Far Cry game wouldn’t be a Far Cry game without a few weapons. There’s everything you’d expect here, from pistols to RPGs – as well as the infamous bow. Weapons can be bought from the relevant areas on the island, you can also buy upgrades such as new sights and silencers as well as new paint jobs, should you so wish. As you capture radio towers you’ll be given weapons to use for free, you just have to go and equip them at a shop.
You’ll feel most at home in Far Cry when you’re face down in the dirt, scouting an area, patiently waiting for the perfect moment to strike on an enemy. Jason comes equipped with a camera which can be used to scout an area, doing this marks out the enemies and animals which means you can track their movements. Stealth is key and you’ll be rewarded with more XP should you capture outposts without being seen or take out an enemy silently. The bow is one of the better weapons to do this with, it’ll take a bit of getting used to but eventually you’ll be taking out foes from over 100m by judging the arrow drop correctly – there are few things more satisfying than a correctly judged arrow kill.
There’s three main factions in the game, near the start of the game you’ll be taken in by a group called, the Rakyat. Of course, there’s the evil pirates but on top of this there’s the animals, they just don’t know they’re in a faction. Animals are literally everywhere, most are friendly and will run away when you get too close, others are not so friendly. One moment you’ll be hiding in a bush, waiting for an enemy patrol to pass by, the next there will be a tiger 10ft to your left and you don’t want to fight a tiger if you can avoid it, they’re pretty tough.
Of course, this can work in your favour. If you see a patch of enemies or even an outpost, you can try to lure foes towards the carnivore’s location in a hope that they’ll do the dirty work for you. Some outposts even have caged animals in the middle of them, shoot the cage and you’ll free the beast, then you can just sit back and watch the carnage unfold.
Speaking of the Rakyat, when you join them they’ll give you a tattoo to welcome you into their clan. This tattoo represents the current skills Jason has unlocked – as you complete missions and level up, you’ll be able to buy new skills which will add a new tattoo to your arm. These skills include things like, new takedown moves, more health, faster swimming speed and so on.
Outside of the single player you have co-op and online multiplayer. The co-op can be played online or locally and consists of four characters playing out missions, similar to those in the story mode. The online multiplayer is what you’d expect, it has loadouts, kill streaks etc. As well as the standard set of modes, with a few varieties. The map maker also makes a comeback, allowing you to share your creations with friends and so forth. Unfortunately at the time of writing I was unable to try the co-op or online multiplayer as there was no one playing it as it’s before release.
It’s not without it’s downsides though, on consoles the frame-rate isn’t the greatest at times and there is the occasional pop-in/out of trees and bushes. Also there’s a lot of button prompts for skinning animals, clibming ledges and so on. These can be a bit hit and miss at times and can require some precise movement for the prompt to come up – no good if you’re underwater trying to skin a shark. However, these things are likely to ruin your enjoyment of the game. Also, the outposts can become a bit of a drag after a while as they’re all much the same, it’d be nice if there was a bit more variety when it comes to these. Of course, if you get bored there’s also a few mini-games to mess around in, these come in the form of Poker and knife throwing contests etc. There’s also racing trials, supply drops – where you have to reach the goal within a specific time – and leaderboard challenges. These are basically small trials where you have to kill as many enemies with certain weapons and so on – they offer a nice variety for a couple of minutes.
Far Cry 3 is an incredible title, from the story to the sheer amount of things you can do on the island, it’ll keep you entertained for hours upon hours. The variety in missions is fantastic and you could try the same thing 10 times and you’d probably get a different result each time, from planting an arrow in a guys face from 100m to having to outrun a pack of leopards who you unfortunately bump in to. It’s a very late addition to the game of the year short-list but it’s well worth its inclusion.