Review: Far Cry 3 - PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
So this is the final big release of the season – another big budget title from Ubisoft. Far Cry 3 is the third in a series of games that has spanned two generations of consoles and, while they are sequels, none of their stories are related at all – not even their locations. They are all just… similar.
They’re sort of open world / sandbox first-person shooters. All set in some form of unspoiled wilderness of a locale. This time, the game is set on a group of islands set around Rook Island – found at the intersection of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The story involves a group of young, American, well-to-do twenty-somethings on the holiday of a life time – living it up in the night clubs, beaches and extreme sports activities on the island.
Soon, things take a turn for the worse, the whole group of them are captured by a gang of slavers and imprisoned. A ruthless psychopath named Vaas leads this motley gang of thugs – he turns up again later. The game starts with the introduction to your character – another generic-named young male, Jason Brody, attempting to escape with his brother. In a nutshell, you make it, your brother dies.
So off you run, into the tropical paradise/hell that is Rook Island, to plot your revenge and rescue your friends. Soon you take a bad turn and are rescued by a friendly indigenous tribe, who help you learn how to become a reluctant warrior – this is the backbone of the whole story.
The tale is about a privileged youngster’s descent into killing, madness and loss of self-identity amidst this chaos. The more foes you kill, the more you are revered by the friendly tribe that saved you – eventually being adored by their female leader as the supposed reincarnation of their warrior-deity.
Anyway, the game is equally about exploration and combat. The island is as detailed and packed a sandbox as anything from the Fallout or Skyrim games, the weapons – although often decrepit and scarce – are satisfying to use, especially with a few upgrades. Outfitting a pistol with a silencer for vital stealth assassinations and an assault rifle with a red dot sight for actual accuracy when shooting out of a leafy hiding spot can make the difference between success and failure.
Not that your only foes are this criminal gang. There are also quite a few animals. Aside from an amazing selection of predators, ranging from wild dogs, through to beautiful, lethal tigers, the game really does encourage you to kill a lot of animals. The game is packed with side missions relating to this – as you go from town to town, the municipal notice boards will have hunting quests that are not possible to ignore if you’re a completionist. This can range from killing a few boar to show you are worthy and proficient in weapons, to gunning down a pack of rabid dogs.
Like all games that involve exploration, looting is vital here – but the game decides to hold you back in the beginning – only allowing you to stuff a certain amount of money in your wallet, or items in your backpack, or weapons in your holster. How to get around these limits? Kill and kill some more – hunt and kill goats, sheep, boars and craft items from their hides. That’s just great, not…
But the island looks vast and beautiful – the graphics are really quite impressive. There are enough quests for tens, if not over 100 hours of gameplay here – and they are all compelling.
There are plenty of vehicles to drive from point to point in, ranging from beaten up old jeeps to boats and jet skis – they all add a little fun and convenience to it all.
The healing mechanic is a little odd – no matter whether you have been shot, bitten by an animal (whether it has rabies or not) or have even caught fire, just press a button and you can recover health by wrapping some bandages around your arms. It makes you take time out of combat, which provides some strategic intrigue, but you can do it again and again – and the bandages disappear between healings… Oh well.
Also the multiplayer is almost an afterthought here – it’s nice to see it included, but not only does it require membership of Ubisoft’s U-Play service (free but annoying to sign up for – very annoying if you’ve lost your login details) but it is utterly overshadowed by the single-player campaign. Yes there are a few varied types of multiplayer game to play here, but that is so not what this game is about.
This is a genuinely great game though. Yes, I didn’t particularly enjoy the forced hunting/skinning of animals aspect of it, but I can’t deny that it is huge, beautiful, addictive and thrilling. This is my first experience with a game in the Far Cry series – I just never really regarded them as triple-A titles before. I think this game has caught most reviewers by surprise and really established this franchise as a significant one. If forthcoming combat RPGs such as the next Fallout game or the next Elder Scrolls can make combat and exploration in a sandbox this exciting – and pretty – then they will have done well. A surprise hit here, then – do pick it up.
Far Cry 3 is out now for PlayStation 3, Xbox360 and PC (Playstation 3 version tested)