Far Cry 3
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PS3, PC
Release Date: November 29, 2012
Price: $59.99 (Available Here)
Far Cry 3 takes us back to the jungle setting, only this time it’s to Rook Islands where an insane pirate named Vaas rules. Far Cry 3 adds a co-op mode – which is new to the franchise – to an already huge single-player and multiplayer experience. Taking advantage of a 2 month delay, the team at Ubisoft Montreal worked hard to provide as polished a game as they could. But, has Far Cry 3 improved upon it’s predecessors and delivered on it’s promise, or is it a far cry from perfect? Read on to find out.
“In another moment, down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.” Some of you may recognise this quote from Alice in Wonderland. It’s this quote, the first of many from Alice that feature, that starts off the campaign. It’s quite apt and communicates exactly what Jason Brody goes through on Rook Islands. You play Brody, who, along with some best friends and his two brothers, takes a trip to what he perceived as a party destination. Oh, how wrong he was…
A montage of the group having a blast (not a deadly one…not yet) plays, and as soon as it ends we find Jason and his brother Grant tied up in a bamboo cage, being antagonised by the villainous psychopath, Vaas. Naturally, they mount an escape attempt headed by the more brave and courageous older brother Grant. However, he soon pays for it with a bullet to the neck. Jason however, is allowed 30 seconds to run…ah, the hubris of evildoers.
Jason survives, barely, thanks to his rescuer – Dennis Rogers. Dennis introduces Jason to the clan/tribe known as the Rakyats and provides him with the resources to survive the island, at least for a little while. Jason’s first priority is locating his friends, but we soon see that the island has other plans for “Snow White” as he is later called. Along the way, Jason runs into some colourful characters, which is putting it lightly to say the least. Take Buck Hughes for instance. He was kicked out of the Australian army for some uncouth behaviour. After all, “his name is Buck, and he likes to…”
Without spoiling it, it’s easy to deduce that Jason becomes more attuned to the nature of the adopting Rakyat, and meeting their leader, Vaas’ sister Citra, makes everything much more complicated. We experience the development of Jason from a spoilt pretty boy, to a warrior and at the end of the game there is a fork in the road that has a potentially deadly end. It’s a great adventure, although sometimes it feels a bit too unbelievable. Brody is almost invincible (you’ll see what I mean). Also, I wanted more scenes with Vaas and Buck. Vaas is the poster boy, but he’s not as present as you would expect.
Far Cry 3 is packed with content. The single-player game is extensive, with potentially 30 hours + of gameplay to be had. The main missions are action-packed whilst providing great stealth sequences to vary it up. There are many mechanics at play here, and thankfully you’ve got a Handbook in your pause menu that features tutorial text/videos for many of them. Let’s go through some of the newer aspects to the franchise. What’s really cool this go around is that the island feels alive, thanks to its warring inhabitants (they come across each other on patrol, they will fight!), active and aggressive wildlife and useful local flora.
There’s a reason to hunt and skin animals, and a reason to harvest certain plants. Animal hides can be used to craft upgraded loot rucksacks, wallets, fuel slings, ammo pouches and the like. Requirements can range from one common goat ‘s hide, to one of a rare breed of an animal, like the white belly tapir. One of the first things in terms of crafting was improve my weapon holsters to be able to carry up to four weapons at any one time. Speaking of weapon slots, I don’t know why special equipment such as flare guns or repair tools take up one slot. They should have their own specials slot. I want to carry my grenade launcher too damn it!
The plants are harvestable for the purpose of creating different syringes that may enhance your perceptions/abilities or heal your wounds. Although there may be many types of plants, the ingredients taken from them are broken up by colour. Yellow leaves are taken from yellow flower plants, and so on and so forth. Syringes have their own hotkey slot that is attributed to the left button on the d-pad. The up button brings up the camera, whilst the right button can be pressed to throw rocks, which Jason seems to have an endless supply of in his pockets.
Something else that’s new to the series are zip-lines and radio towers. Zip-lines seem to be the new trend in traversal for games as it has been featured in Rage, here and the soon-to-be released Tomb Raider reboot. The island is pretty large, so it helps to get across short distances quite quickly, but there’s also fast travel, hang-gliders and a myriad of sea and land vehicles at your disposal too. Zip-lines also allow you to detach and execute “death from above” on an enemy, as well as shoot single-handed weapons while riding it down.
Ubisoft took a note from their other hit series Assassin’s Creed in implementing the radio towers. They work pretty much exactly the same as viewpoints; once you climb them, you disable a scrambler and the surrounding area and its points of interest will be revealed to you on your map. These are especially helpful in learning the roads around outposts so that you don’t blindly drive into one unprepared. Clearing these outposts allows the Rakyat to secure it as a safe-house, which holds an automated gun store. You can also fast travel between them. This capture will also result in a larger Rakyat influence and presence in the immediate area.
There are many collectibles and secrets on the island, such as relics and lost letters – which unveil the Japanese WWII history of Rook Island. There are many mini-games and side missions to undertake. The side missions, which include man and animal hunts, unlock on a bulletin board as you clear outposts. Completion of these unlock new skills in the skill trees early (although they can also be unlocked just by doing main missions).
The mini-games range from races, to knife-throwing, poker games and sharp-shooting, although they are superfluous and just in the game to allow a quick way to make money, which isn’t even necessary if you loot your enemies’ carcasses enough. The skill trees I briefly mentioned are broken up into three categories: The Heron – long range takedowns and mobility, The Shark – assault takedowns and healing and The Spider – stealth takedowns and survival. Every skill unlocked is represented through further ink work on your tatau – a tribal tattoo associated with the Rakyat people.
The co-op and multiplayer modes are a nice addition to the package, although I honestly did not spend too much time with either. The single-player story is where it’s at for me, however the co-op is intriguing because it’s local split-screen enabled (thank God!) and follows it’s own storyline and a new set of characters. Their names are Callum “the Scottish Thug”, Leonard “the Crooked Cop”, Mikhail “the Russian Hitman”, and Tisha “the Ex Soldier”. It is a 6-7 hour campaign on its own that focuses on the four “sinners” all venturing to redeem themselves after being cheated out of all their money by pirates, who leads them to Rook Islands, of course.
The multiplayer consists of 4 match types: Domination, Team Deathmatch, Firestorm and Transmission. The first two , as well as Transmission, are well-established shooter modes. Firestorm, however, is fresher as it has you set fire to two of your opponents nodes. Once accomplished, you must attempt to make it to a radar dish whilst fighting off the opposing team, but also the building flames if you take too long. Nothing special to be found here as it’s just an added bonus for me, and probably will be to you too. Not to say that it’s not well-executed enough…it’s just not the selling point of the franchise and this iteration. Although there is an included map editor which lets you create your own unique maps for multiplayer games, which may entice many to explore the mode after all.
In terms of negatives, something that became quite an annoyance was the fact that the hunting side-missions provide a required weapon as part of the contract, so you need to swap one of your current weapons to hold it. Then when it has been completed, if you come back to the point where you made the swap, your old (and probably more desirable weapon) will have disappeared. I want my magnum back! Also, successful radio tower climbs results in guns becoming free. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t just unlock new ones instead…what’s the point in acquiring money in the first place then? Other than maps, that’s pretty much all you have to spend money on!
Far Cry 3 is stunning, plain and simple. Playing it on the Xbox 360, I was pleased to discover that there is little difference between it and the PC version, outside of lighting enhancements. Granted, lighting adds a huge deal to the overall visual quality, and depth of field effects may also not be as far reaching as on PCs. But in terms of textures, colour and general graphics display, the Xbox 360 version stands up in almost every way. The island is richly painted, with the sparkling blue waters of the ocean surrounds, and the lush greenery of the jungles within. Thanks to better graphics capabilities, looking back at Far Cry and now at Far Cry 3, I appreciate the more fully realized island setting this go around.
Fire propagation was one of the most impressive visual features introduced in Far Cry 2 and it returns here, looking just as good. Player guidance is represented in vertical traversal with the use of vines/ropes on ledges, indicating which ones you can climb. Grass sways in the wind and plant leaves move with contact. The mood/atmosphere changes greatly and effectively in different weather conditions/time of day. Now, there are a few visual glitches that occur. The most common is the flickering of character models and objects, which can be a little immersion breaking when it happens. Jason’s hands also grab onto thin air when climbing and in some places foliage magically floats in mid air. But with a game that looks this good, I can let these tiny criticisms slide.
The music/score behind Far Cry 3 is kind of confusing. There are moments of exploration where this upbeat, tension-filled track plays. It makes you feel like an enemy is about to pop up, but when you’re in the middle of this deserted cave looking for a certain plant, it just doesn’t fit. Far Cry 3 is guilty of doing this quite a bit. Thematically, the score works some of the time, but in others it just feels out of place.
There was a mission, however, called “Kick The Hornet’s Nest” that involved burning marijuana plants, during which Skrillex & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley – Make It Bun Dem plays, which was a hilarious moment. The sound effects are solid throughout, aiding in making each gun feel weighty and impactful (I know I talk about this in all shooter reviews, but it’s important to me!). The voice acting is a mixed bag, with the standout easily being Michael Mando’s work as Vaas Montenegro. But we all assumed that would be he case after all the promotional material.
There were a couple issues for me, one being the fact that there is very little in the way of audio settings. There’s a master volume slider, but no separate slider for dialogue which is a big no-no for me in the sound department. I found that sometimes when the music picks up, the dialogue can take a back seat and becomes hard to hear. Of course the music can be turned off all together…they left that switch in! Also, main mission debriefs (that involve phone calls) replay after most deaths, re-spawns or returns from side mission.
Far Cry 3 does many things better than Far Cry 2, and it’s obvious that the dedicated team at Ubisoft Montreal, along with all the other Ubi studios that contributed, really took the fans’ feedback to heart when developing Far Cry 3. It’s not perfect, but it didn’t cause me to rage-quit after being stopped at every bridge/main road by re-spawning guard posts. The gameplay in general has been refined, the game looks amazing on the Xbox 360 (really no difference between it and PC other than the lighting) and the story actually holds your attention with great, crazy and/or sadistic characters such as Buck, Dr. Earnhardt and Vaas Montenegro…although I wanted to see more of them.
Its flaws are mostly negligible and have very little impact on the gameplay experience. With multiplayer and co-op included, regardless of what it may lack, and considering most would pay their hard-earned cash just for the long single-player adventure, Far Cry 3 is definitely one of the better all-around packages of the year and is a great FPS. If you don’t buy the game, Vaas might have to tell you the definition of insanity…