Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Far Cry 3 is an unbridled and unhinged FPS from the Ubisoft camp. The game weaves insanity into what has always been a series about long vantage points and shoot-first exploration.
Today’s review has quite a pedigree to live up to. Its namesake has always been equated with games that allowed open world adventure on a large scale. Then there’s its cousin series, Crysis, which has been the go-to benchmark for consumer-grade visual fidelity this decade.
Regardless of the games that stand behind Far Cry 3, the game is ultimately a product with its own personality.
Far Cry 3′s story begins in a deceptive way, the first sequence you experience begins with a false sense of freedom and ends in a visceral wave. You’re taught to care for some characters from the get-go, but this proves futile because you’ve only just begun the game. In a few minutes from the starting line, you are tasked with saving people who are basically strangers. This confusion makes it hard to relate to the main quest in a personal way. This becomes apparent once you save your first few ‘friends’.
As time goes on, it becomes apparent that the protagonist has quite a knack for this whole killing and revenge business, instantly picking up each new skill that comes along. This goes a long way in cementing a relationship with the friendly natives who inhabit the island.
Far Cry 3 is a graphical delight, a veritable showcase of many ranging colors. It’s nothing but awesome seeing the sun’s effect through the foliage and reflecting off of the many aquatic features in the game. Even the shadowy areas have some depth to them. The game’s weather effects and day/night cycle add a lot of personality to the game’s environment, ensuring that the many areas of the game aren’t just static locations. All of the graphics are spot on except, I guess, for the flashfires that occur when a molotov bursts upon a building or grassy area. That isn’t an altogether fair assessment though, since no game ever gets it right. PC gamers will appreciate how Far Cry 3 has quickly become a modern benchmark for testing gaming PCs.
The game’s audio doesn’t flounder either. Simple audio cues from the island alert the player to important information like AI awareness, sneaking predators, and nearby enemy vehicles. Because of Far Cry 3′s vertical topography, I spent a fair amount of time listening for enemies before I ever saw them. And there’s nothing quite as frightening as sneaking upon an enemy camp only to find that a tiger was sneaking up to flank you while you did so.
The absolute worst part of the presentation was the smatterings of NPC chatter overheard from the friendly villagers. Everyone in the game is voiced as you would expect except for the humdrum villagers that you are supposed to be sympathetic to. Being NPCs, they already have no personality but the recording quality of their voices is many steps below what you’d come to expect from a modern game, and a blockbuster one at that. It may be a little point to some but it ruined the immersion for me whenever I happened upon them on the road.
Honestly though, if you are in it for the graphics (especially on the PC), Far Cry 3 does a great job of staging the experience. Simply put, the game looks great, one of the best looking games of the modern era. I know many people will or have gotten the game for that reason alone.
Concerning Far Cry 3′s gameplay, I am both satisfied and slightly disappointed by the experience. While Far Cry 3 is beautiful to behold, its denizens just aren’t that smart. Exploring the jungles and diving between islands is fun. The game is a playground and not much more. Enemies are strewn about, wearing harshly identifying red rags or rugged PMC armor. Except for the heavily armed enemies, all of the bad guys you eliminate are mere playthings at the mercy of your knife and sniper rifle.
Indeed, once you begin the game, it even feels as if the story is only present to let you loose upon the environment. Kill who you please in the general red areas and you’ll slowly win back territories for the good guys (the ones in blue, of course).
Gunplay is gratifying. As you’d expect, shotguns are fun to use, rifles are boring but reliable, and bows are always awesome. Sniper rifles are basically the equivalent of cheating when faced with enemies as dense as these. Melee knife takedowns are cool at first but get monotonous until you unlock the ability to do fancy knife throw takedowns or double takedowns.
Hunting and crafting are fun and necessary diversions. You’ll need to do them if you want to carry around a decent amount of ammo or health. They also give you a reason to mind the tigers, bears and komodo dragons that you’ll encounter throughout the story. Speaking of which, the animals in Far Cry 3 add a great amount of fun to the assaults on enemy bases. Let loose a tiger and watch him decimate the place before you even have to fire a bullet. Follow up by burning the whole encampment and you’ve got yourself a great afternoon. Toasty.
The Assassin’s Creed-esque radio tower sequences are necessary to uncover the map but they aren’t a chore. Though they are simple platforming affairs, they do give your trigger finger a break and allow for some great screenshot-worthy views.
Far Cry 3 is a delight to experience. But it’s definitely not a thinking man’s game.
Everything is mostly cut and dry. The only thing that isn’t is the sideways story that serves as a great deterrent for uncharted vacations. While it is something to be experienced, it does feel lacking in gameplay depth. Sure you can do all these great things but everything is done at whim, with no need to pay attention to theme or efficacy. It’s a madhouse of a game, fun to behold and to walk through. Just don’t expect to be really enthralled unless all you’re looking for is a distraction anyway.