I’m going to make a lot of enemies in the intro to this review but here goes. I didn’t really like Far Cry 2. It looked good and there were some great ideas but I just got bored. I thought the constantly repeated fetch-quests, boring driving mechanics, constant fighting with random goons and total lack of narrative structure got really dull. The reason I mention this at the risk of pitchfork and torch wielding mobs coming after me is because I want you to understand how skeptical I was of Far Cry 3. With that sorted lets boot up the PS3 and begin.
After a cut-scene introducing the main characters and the overall aim of the game we get to the tutorial. Instantly the horrors of the situation your protagonist finds himself in are obvious and the atmosphere even here in the tutorial is fantastic and enveloping. It shows you most of the mechanics you will need to get started on Rook Island and at the same time continues the story. It’s brief and informative, as a good tutorial should be.
As you continue your journey you will see some truly horrifying events unfold on Rook Island and the character development is absolutely superb. Accompanied by some top-notch voice acting and at times scarily accurate facial expressions you feel completely involved with all the characters in Far Cry 3. The story missions are all varied and you never feel like you are repeating a task over and over. It all comes together to create a well structured and driven story.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
When you check the map for some other activities you are presented with many, many options and a map worthy of Just Cause 2. Uncovering the map is done by finding radio masts, climbing to the top of them and flipping a switch. Not only will this unlock an area of the map it will make new guns available for free at shops. Once this is done you can see the side missions and various other tasks available in that region.
Far Cry 3 offers an abundance of varied and interesting tasks for you to complete. At first the map will have a lot of large red areas indicated a high enemy presence but taking over strongholds will unlock fast travel points and allow safe travel in a region. It will also unlock side missions like killing a certain enemy with a knife or take-down, hunting certain animals or performing special warrior trials.
The fast travel now works like most games where you just press “X” on the map icon, rather than having to manually travel to the bus stop first. The irony in this is that the vehicle handling is absolutely brilliant now and I try to find any excuse to not use the fast travel points. Coupled with the fact you can all but put a stop to the random encounters when you take over strongholds, traveling is not an issue.
To upgrade your holsters, ammo pouch capacity or even your wallet to hold more cash you will need to find, kill and skin the appropriate animals. To make health syringes or special syringes that offer temporary bonuses ranging from off the hip accuracy to invincibility you will need to pick certain amounts of different coloured plants. Once you have acquired the things you need you can go to the crafting menu in the pause menu and just press “X” to create it. I really appreciated not having to pointlessly go to a “crafting bench” or whatever and it helped keep the pace of the game up.
WEAPONS & SKILLS
The weapons are all great fun to use and I found myself using weapons I didn’t really need to use just to try them all out. Once you have the upgraded weapon holsters you can any four weapons you want on top of Molotovs, Frags, Mines and C4. And I mean all of those. Rather than the system in Far Cry 2 which didn’t really allow for any choice at all now I can have a Bow, a silenced sniper, an LMG and an RPG. Any four you want.
On top of that Each weapon can be customized with the usual weapon peripherals like scopes, extended mags, silencers and camos. As long as you have the cash they’re yours as soon as you want them. There are also signature weapons you can buy when you complete a certain amount of side missions or collectibles. They all come with extra attachments, more attachments or unique attachments and a special camo. For instance one of the assault rifles unlocked later on in the game comes with a silencer, which you can’t buy.
If all that wasn’t enough you get a very competent list of skills you can learn as you level up via acquiring XP from killing enemies and completing objectives. More health, faster movement, indefinite sprint, better health packs and faster reloads are just a few skills present. Although the most fun to be had here, and arguably on the entire game, are the take-downs. You start off with a simple take-down where you stab an enemy silently if he isn’t aware of you and move on to more advanced techniques like double take-downs or the ability to throw a knife and take-down another enemy silently at range.
Well Far Cry 3 looks good. It just looks so good, all the time. The lighting effects are stunning. Reflections, subtle glints and lens flares are created by a sun rise. It looks nearly as good as when you enter a cave and you flick your torch on. Or drive a boat and the water spray hits your face. Or the thick jungle with greenery galore. There really isn’t a bad texture to be found, the graphics truly are a joy to behold. Ubisoft show us the PS3 still has some fight left in it.
The music makes a really great backing to the visuals. It isn’t intrusive but it does add to the absolutely insane villains and truly tear-jerking character interaction. The dynamic score picks up when it’s needed and backs off when it isn’t. Weapon sounds are accurate and enjoyable and the thunder even has a delay after lightning. The only slight annoyance is the amount of base on the menu and map music, but it’s a niggle.
MULTI-PLAYER & Co-Op
This section pains me. So far you’ll probably notice I haven’t had a single problem with Far Cry 3 and that perfectly reflects my experience. Until I went on-line. I’m a huge fan of Co-Op and although I didn’t expect too much at first my perfect single player experience had raised my hopes. I was playing in the same room as my Co-Op partner so LAN was an obvious choice, except Far Cry 3 doesn’t support LAN. Never mind we’ll just do it on-line. After a quick load out customization we set off.
The generic mission of kill “THIS” set of enemies followed by repair the “INSERT VEHICLE TYPE HERE” then protect it, then kill “THIS” set of enemies seemed a little weak. But I enjoy Co-Op for the fun not the plot. However my partners mission objective wouldn’t move past one we’d already completed and we had to restart the level. Right from the start. And then it crashed. It’s linear and buggy and just doesn’t feel like Ubisoft have put any effort in whatsoever.
Moving to the multi-player I was happy to see that the levels and customizations I had earned from Co-Op had carried over. The kill-cam is really cool, it looks great and blends smoothly with the in game action. A genuinely unique feature is when a game ends the highest scoring player on the winning team gets to chose weather to punish the top scoring player of the opposing team or let him go. It’s nice to see something genuinely new in a game although I wonder if anyone will actually show respect to a worthy opponent. In one game their best player got approximately 2500 points and I got 5500 (I don’t know how our team lost!) but I wasn’t shown respect. Hopefully this doesn’t become the norm because it’s a great idea that’s well implemented.
Match-making was absolutely terrible and the party system doesn’t just add the party to a game like CoD does but instead sends a second invite that only works 50% of the time at best. I spent literally 15 minutes in one lobby and still didn’t get into a game. There were only about 700 people on at the time so hopefully that was the problem.
Once I got into a game the action was pretty fun but there were some horrible glitches and/or lag issues. The maps are quite well designed and the action is well paced when there is a full lobby but if you get into a game without a full lobby the maps are way too big.
There really needs to be two separate reviews for Far Cry 3. One for the single player and one for the multi-player. The multi-player isn’t what you expect to be the best part of a game like Far Cry but it was just so slow, buggy and badly designed that it really can’t go unanswered for. I would rather it hadn’t been on the game at all as it wouldn’t have tainted my experience.
On the other hand the single player of Far Cry 3 takes the facial animation and voice acting of LA:Noire, the free-roam of GTA, an upgrade system and narrative structure that wouldn’t be out of place in Mass Effect with the stealth of Hitman and set-pieces of CoD and shoves it into a beautiful tropical island with a bow and a machete. It is the best game I have ever been on tragically let down by sloppy multi-player and it is out of respect for the single player experience that it gets the final score it gets.
Far Cry 3 is available now on PS3, XBOX 360 and PC.