Review: Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3

Platforms: Playstation 3, XBOX 360, PC
Release Date: 29/11/2012
Genre(s): First-person shooter, action-adventure, open world
Publisher(s): Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Rating: PEGI 18+

Hearts of Dorkness

Your first hour and your last hour, (as well as everything in between) in Far Cry 3 has you doing the same thing. Rather the same set of things. You’ll be skulking around enemy camps, stabbing and gunning down pirates, and contributing to the rapid extinction of the flora and fauna that inhabit Rook Island. The reason for doing so? Well, a bunch of no gooders thought it was a good idea to capture your friends while all of you were on holiday. The game puts you in the role of Jason Brody who bears no relation to the other two protagonists we’ve seen in the series thus far, i.e. Jack Carver from Far Cry and your mercenary of choice in Far Cry 2.

Speaking of Far Cry 2, forget everything you ever knew about that game. Gone are the clunky, real to life game mechanics and glitches. In their place is a very slick, tight game that seems to have been made as the polar opposite of it’s prequel. The result is a heavily polished shooter brimming with open world possibilities. No longer do guns jam after a firing a few shots, stealth actually works and enemy respawns are a thing of the past. In fact the combat ties in quite well with the game’s level system. Stealthy take downs and headshots net you more XP allowing you access to better skills such as allowing you to light up your opponent’s own grenades and taking down heavily armoured brutes with the click of a stick (or button if you’e on PC).

Dark and twisted characters run the Pacific pirate infested island. Can you hold up against them?

Dark and twisted characters run the Pacific pirate infested island. Can you hold up against them?

Both gunplay and melee combat are smoothly implemented without any sense of clunkiness to take away from the fun. The first thing that strikes you about Far Cry 3 is how good it looks. From the stunning water effects to the swaying grass, the Dunia engine does a fantastic job of bringing Ubisoft Montreal’s tropical not so paradise to life. Regardless of your choice of format, you’re treated to a visual spectacle. As has been the trend of late, the console versions fall a little behind what with tearing and pop-in issues. But it’s nothing that makes it unplayable. Even in the busiest of firefights the framerate barely misses a beat. Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll get the best out of it with a competent PC.

Eye candy aside there’s a  scale that few games this year have had the audacity to match. While it doesn’t come quite close to the size and ambition of Skyrim, it manages to hold its own with a veritable slew of outposts to liberate, radio towers to uncover (similar to claiming watch towers in Assassin’s Creed) and general tomfoolery to indulge in, most of which can’t be reproduced resulting in a different chain of events to each mission. You can find yourself in the middle of a heated firefight, taking the final enemy soldier down with a bullet to spare only to be mauled by a tiger while fending off a komodo dragon.

On reloading a save file it could be a straightforward affair or even more bizarre what with an abundance of local wildlife ranging from goats to alligators.  There’s a sense of randomness to the proceedings that makes it an  unpredictable joy to play. That is until you realise that you can’t deviate from the game’s strange fascination with claustrophobia despite being touted as an open world game. While other games make do with invisible walls to let us know we’re straying too far from an objective, Far Cry 3 boxes you into a mission by blaring warning text across the screen threatening to abort your session if you continue straying from the close confines of the stipulated area. It’s obtrusive and unnecessary.  Further more, you’ll find a healthy number of escort and timed events that take away from the visceral thrill of wreaking havoc across the land.

Open-world sandbox Far Cry 3, one could argue that this might be a Skyrim with guns. But its not.

Open-world sandbox Far Cry 3, one could argue that this might be a Skyrim with guns. But its not.

Now despite these issues, some might still wonder if this truly is an FPS equivalent to Skyrim. The short answer is no. To elucidate: it has substantially fewer quests, characters that aren’t as charming and a watered down leveling up system. Most importantly, the world of Bethesda’s latest soul sucker has a personality and grandeur that make it’s other faults tolerable namely a weak quest structure, so-so narrative and a ton of bugs. While my playthrough of Far Cry 3 was surprisingly bug-free it did leave me feeling that there could have been a bit more to it all.  For a game that advocates choice in terms of gameplay, it’s hilarious that you only have a solitary choice in terms of narrative outcome and it’s right towards the conclusion. Further more, it’s binary. Without spoiling much it leaves you with a rather bitter taste.

And while it is understandable that the fine folk at Ubisoft wanted to portray a coming of age tale combined with a steady decline into insanity, it just falls apart with one hallucination too many and an equal number of drug tropes. Parts of the game resemble an acid trip gone wrong which is fine if it didn’t appear to be so central to the plot as it really is. Couple this with heavy handed tribal mumbo jumbo that makes your character out to be some island Neo and pretentious quotes from Alice in Wonderland that punctuate various points of the game and you’re left with the feeling that Far Cry 3 comes across as trying too hard, tacking on something completely unneeded to a game that’s it’s best when you’re hunting for wild boar at the dead of night only to stumble upon a bunch of drunken, trigger happy pirates.

Your real life lacking any wildlife action? Worry not, Far Cry 3 will offer you plenty opportunities to skin your favourite anilmals.

Your real life lacking any wildlife action? Worry not, Far Cry 3 will offer you plenty opportunities to skin your favourite anilmals.

All in all, Far Cry 3 is an enjoyable romp through the jungle island badlands. A tropical western if there ever was one. Sure the story falls short and certain design choices are questionable, they do little to mar what is by and large an intriguing, well paced escapade. So yes, you’ll be spending your first and last hour doing the same things but it’s the absolutely last reason not to play it.

WHATS ILL

  • Great shooting
  • Brutal takedowns
  • Insane graphics

WHATS NOT

  • Broken story
  • Timed missions
  • “Stop telling me you’ll abort the mission if I stray 1 cm away dammit!”

RATING

  • Gameplay Progression: 5/10
  • Graphics: 8/10
  • Sound: 7/10
  • Unique Selling Proposition: 8/10
  • illFactor: 6/10

Final Score: 7.4/10 – STRICTLY AVERAGE

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