When Wes first asked if there were any games that I had in mind to review, I immediately thought about Far Cry 3. It’s a game that looks like a blast, but not one that I would be likely to purchase. This is due to problems I had with the second Far Cry, which were mostly PC related issues. However it is with an open mind and heart that I take a look at Far Cry 3, but with shooters being a dime a dozen, and open world games starting to run their course, let us hope that Far Cry 3 has that something special, that little extra “uhmph” to make it something that I will enjoy reviewing rather than regret.
Game:Far Cry 3
Review Sample By: Ubisoft
Developed By:Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC (Review Sample)
Genre: First Person Shooter, Open World, Adventure
Release Date: December 4th, 2012
Written By: Brennon
Screenshots By: Brennon
Far Cry 3 takes place on a tropical island; it follows Jason Brody and his group of friends as they celebrate one of them acquiring a pilot’s license. The group of friends enjoys the sights and activities that the island has to offer, from jetsking across the vast ocean to partying it up with the locals at a club. Eventually the group decides to take a trip skydiving, probably at the suggestion of Jason, the daredevil of the group. During their skydiving trip everything goes as expected, except the group gets scattered across the island and eventually picked up by the pirate named Vaas. Vaas wants to ransom the group to their parents, not to return then, but instead to sell them into slavery.
After being captured Jason and his older brother Grant attempt to escape the pirate encampment. Once out of the clutches of Vaas and the pirates Jason is saved by a man named Dennis from a group of islanders known as the Rakyat. The Rakyat have suffered from oppression at the hands of Vaas and his pirates. They give Jason a tattoo and lead him along a path to becoming a fierce warrior. The Rakyat help Jason search for his remaining friends and family by giving him intelligence and information about the island and his tattoos, in return Jason helps the Rakyat by taking back outposts, turning on communication towers and completing other small side missions for them.
Far Cry 3 is not like other shooters, well not most shooters anyway. In terms of similarity I would group it closest with the Fallout series. This particular installation of the Far Cry series is an open world quest game much like Fallout or Skyrim, but it focuses more heavily on combat than either of those games.
At the start of the game your character is equipped with a pistol and sent on a mission to fix one of the local communication towers. Once the tower is repaired you are rewarded with a small chunk of cash and free weapons at all of the shops around the island. This is one of the many side missions throughout the game, every time you activate another tower, more of the map is revealed and you are awarded with another free weapon at the shops. The more towers you unlock the better the weapons you will receive free of charge.
One thing I really like about the game so far is that there is an explanation for everything and more often times than not, it is funny. From cars, to wildlife and weapons, there is a little blurb about any and everything you come across on the island. I found a plant that described how the younger natives used the flower to keep their youth and beauty, but the older natives managed to do that with the dead dreams of their husbands. It’s the little things that make you chuckle and make a sometimes mundane activity seem entertaining.
There are two other things scattered about the island: memory cards and relics. The memory cards all contain some secret or another of the drug lords, and the relics all contain a little note about what they are and what they represent. As far as I can tell these two items are just there to collect to give players something else to do as they wander the island. There may be achievements associated with collecting a certain number of each of them, but it doesn’t seem to do anything for you while you are playing besides awarding a small amount of experience.
Another common theme is the outposts scattered throughout the island. These outposts are typically manned by about 5-7 pirates with all sorts of different outfits. Some may have snipers or shotguns, some may be manning a turret, or there may even be dogs patrolling. The goal is to eliminate all of the guards in the outpost and allow the Rakyat to take it back under control. You get bonus experience if you manage to take the outpost without the alarm being raised, which if rose will summon more pirates to defend the outpost until you destroy the alarm box. Once the guards are eliminated you are awarded with a chunk of experience and cash as well as a new fast travel location on your map. The outposts then turn into fast travel locations serve as sort of a teleport around the map to save you travel time and give you a place to stop and sell any unneeded merchandise you may have.
There are other side quests scattered throughout that range from medical supply delivery missions all the way to running personal errands for the people of the island. My personal favorite is the mission where a mother asks you to prevent her daughter’s husband from digging up her grave to take his wedding ring back. In order to stop him you must shoot your gun at him, but not hit him in order to frighten him so much that he decides it is a bad idea. The humorous part of this whole ordeal is that while he is preparing to dig up the grave he is doing so with two armed guards near him. Apparently these guards are just in it for a paycheck, Terry Crews isn’t the only one refusing to take a bullet for $1700 a week. All of these side quests award experience and money, and the occasional special item for use in crafting.
Another integral part of the game is the crafting system. It is probably the simplest crafting system in any game that I have played, but it still gives you something to do constantly. It is simple in the sense that you don’t need any sort of crafting table or special items to be able to craft. You just go to your global inventory and make whatever it is you want. There are two basic things to craft, the first is syringes. You can pick different leaves and plants around the island that are used in different recipes. The basic concept is that green plants make healing syringes, yellow plants make hunting syringes, and red plants make defensive syringes. In order to learn new recipes that do different things you must progress in the story and complete side missions to learn them, at which point you can create as many as your syringe pack will carry.
The other crafting type is inventory crafting. Using different animal hides you can craft things like bigger wallets so that you can hold more money, bigger backs so that you can hold more items in your inventory, and bigger weapon holsters and ammo pouches so that you can carry more guns and ammunition (MERICA!). For each level of upgrade you will need a different type of hide, and the hide isn’t really “leveled” per se. For instance, boar hide may be needed to make the very first level of wallet, and the very first level of grenade pouch, but then it may be needed to make the third level of your quiver. Each of your inventory items can be upgraded to a certain point without much work, but there is a point where you must find a special type of hide for each individual item. These hides are found by finding and completing special hunting story quests, and you can only get one of each of these special types of hides, but don’t worry, the game will not allow you to sell or destroy them.
As I stated, in order to craft you need to get animal hides. How do you get these infamous hides you might wonder? Well you have to hunt for them. Most of the animals are relatively harmless and will flee from you when you get near. For this type of animal there is a syringe that will allow you to get much closer than normal without them fleeing the scene. The next type of animal is one that is mostly passive, and won’t attack you, but if they hear you fire your weapon they will come after you. One example of this is the Komodo Dragon. These types of animals are particularly annoying because they could be near you and you not know it, then when you open fire on a group of pirates they will start attacking you. The last group is the predators that will stalk and kill you, the primary one being the tiger. You can be minding your own business picking flowers and then BAM! You are on your back with a tiger trying to gnaw at your throat. This can work for your benefit though because island wildlife will go after the pirates as well. This is particularly fun when you come across an outpost with a tiger in a cage. You just shoot the lock from a distance, watch the tiger kill everything, walk into the outpost to claim your alarm free experience for clearing it out, and then dispatch of the tiger and relieve him of his hide.
The last, but possibly most important aspect of the gameplay is the skill tree. There are three particular branches of the skill tree, the heron, the shark, and the spider. The heron is all about long range takedowns and mobility. Offering abilities like increased hip fire accuracy and the ability to cook grenades, the tree is all about keeping your feet moving. The shark is the assault takedown and healing tree. It is all about running straight at your enemy by offering more health points, negating damage, and giving health regeneration. The spider is the stealth takedown and survival tree. It gives the ability to slide when sprinting, swim faster in water, reload while running, and reloading faster. All of these abilities are meant to help you flee the enemy to stay alive. Certain abilities in each tree require conditions in order to unlock them. Most of the conditions are to just complete a certain number of missions, but there are also tree specific conditions. For instance, in the health tree, you must complete three medical supply run side missions in order to unlock one of the abilities, and in the stealth tree you must liberate two or three outposts without raising an alarm. This is Ubisoft’s way of making sure that someone who is just storming the castle every time isn’t able to get some of the best stealth abilities. If you want to be good at everything, you will have to practice being good at everything.
The game does offer multiplayer, but I do not want to spend too much time on it because frankly it isn’t very good and feels forced. It today’s age it is almost a requirement that your game have multiplayer for some odd reason. Maybe it is that we live in a technologically advanced society and people want to have a reason to use their 100/10 connection, but I feel a game that is good that has only multiplayer, or a game that is good that has only single player is no less of a game than others. In fact, I would prefer a solid experience in one department rather than a mediocre experience in both.
There is a generic set of versus modes which is the part of the multiplayer that fails in my opinion. It tries to be Call of Duty, but it simply isn’t, and its apparently from the moment you start playing, the engine just isn’t optimized for versus multiplayer. There are a few game types, like deathmatch, team deathmatch, and a capture the flag like game, everything that you would expect from a multiplayer shooter.
The co-op multiplayer on the other hand is actually quite fun. It allows for you and up to three friends or strangers to team up and fight through a series of missions. The missions in co-op are completely unrelated to the story as are the charcters, in fact the only similarities are the fact that the enemy is Vaas and his crew, and that it takes place on the same island. Most of the levels are the standard run and gun, kill all the enemies to progress the level. There is an occasional defend the x for y minutes, but nothing too fancy. There was one interesting part of co-op though. Every third or fourth level was a competition, in which you were still trying to complete an objective as a team, but at the same competing against your friends for bragging rights and a little bit extra experience. Thats another thing, the experience earned in co-op mode, and all online modes go towards the same pool, so if you play enough co-op with friends, you can unlock all the same weapons as the folks fighting against each other. All in all, I think multiplayer was a failure, but Ubisoft did some things with co-op that I would like to see carry over to other games.
For the most Far Cry 3 handles like any other first person shooter. W, A, S and D control your character and allow you to move around the map. The mouse is used to look around and aim your weapon. It is also used to fire your weapons, look down the sights, and throw and cycle through grenades. Q is used to quick heal using a syringe or skill purchased abilities, X is used to quick switch to the previous weapon, and Z is used to pull up your camera which serves as a range finder and enemy identifier. There are specific buttons for melee, crouching, and interacting with things in your environment. The number keys each represent a slot on your weapon or syringe pouch and the shift key allows you to sprint. There are times when the number of keys starts to get confusing, and I hit Z trying to go prone and end up pulling up my camera, but there is a tutorial for everything. You aren’t just tossed into a game without any information or help.
As it was expected the controls are fully customizable and you may set it to whatever comforts you best. The game also supports gamepads, but will not let you change your mode of control on the fly, you must first go to the options and switch back to mouse and keyboard if you want to use them. Also, unlike the mouse and keyboard, you may only choose from a limited number of button layouts to play with. I have no doubt that this is because of the countless number of menus and actions that can be accessed and performed in the game. It’s probably better to have someone who knows more about mapping buttons take care of it than trying to remap them yourself and accidentally a button.
As far as how the game handles, I would say it feels like an arcade style shooter. This is what I really love about Far Cry 3 versus the second. I felt like Far Cry 2 felt like it was trying to be a bit more realistic to me, and I didn’t think it worked that well. In Far Cry 3 there are jokes everywhere and everything is fast and loose, the game is fun, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is the main reason while I prefer this game over Skyrim. Most of the missions are fairly simple and the worlds are open in both games, but Far Cry 3 keeps me laughing and feeling like a badass with every explosion, headshot and boar attack.
Graphics and Audio
On the highest settings, the game looks gorgeous. The foliage is wonderful and all of the animal and enemy skins are pretty realistic looking. Sadly my computer was not able to handle the game at highest setting during the firefights, so I played the game on medium to low settings most of the time. But do not fret, even on the lowest possible settings the game still looks good, in fact they compensate for how good it looks by lowering the draw distance significantly, which can be annoying, but it is an acceptable trade for being able to still play a game that looks pretty on a pc that isn’t that great. One thing that I do think could use some improvement is the graphics for the water; it seems really flat and just not very exciting to look at. Seeing as how you are on an island, surrounded by….yep water, it would be nice if the dominating terrain of the game was pleasing to the eye.
The Audio for Far Cry 3 is extraordinary. The background noise is honestly what is most impressive about the sounds in the game. I never find myself getting tired or annoyed of the sound when just walking around the island. From the sounds of birds and other wildlife going about their day to the sound of pirates gunning down other tourists throughout the island, there is always something different to hear. Half the time you will find yourself exploring and hearing gunfire. You quickly duck for cover, thinking a pirate has spotted you, only to hear the roar of a tiger initiating their counter attack. The music is also well done throughout, from the opening sequence Ubisoft sets the bar for what to expect from the game. Throughout the music is well paired with the actions and emotions taking place, and simply put, Far Cry 3 is a work of art from start to finish. My least favorite part of the audio is probably the voice acting. To say it is my least favorite isn’t really fair, because it’s just not as good as the music or ambient noise. The voice actors all do their job, but don’t really go above and beyond in my eyes. I don’t find myself loving or hating the performance, and it gets overshadowed by everything else.
Overall and Final Verdict
Far Cry 3 is a great game, and I don’t often find myself saying that. Lots of games are good in my eyes, but very few make me want to come back for more and more. The game is an endless adventure, there is always something to do and nothing really feels too repetitive. The story is simple yet enthralling and the characters are unique and fun, especially Vaas. The constant grind to unlock the next communications tower, liberate the next outpost, or find that last animal hide to upgrade your wallet always gives you something to do without becoming stale. There is a lot to remember with the controls, but overall they are simple enough that it doesn’t become frustrating, and the gamepad support is always a plus in my eyes. The graphics range from stunning to adequate and the environment is fun to explore. The audio turns the rest of the game into a piece of artwork for the ages, and even the voice acting, which wasn’t as good as the music and white noise, was still good enough to feel real.
Normally I am not an advocate for running out and buying a brand new game. I always wait until the game hits the right price on steam or some other store before I pick it up, but this is one of those rare cases where the right price is whatever it is listed at right now. Please do yourself the pleasure and snag a copy of Far Cry 3, you won’t regret it.