Far Cry 3 – Review
It has been a good ten or so years since I’ve been a proper PC gamer and I’ve been enjoying consoles ever since, so for me the last great game that I remember from those days was the original Far Cry. Since then, Crytek (no longer involved in the series) have made a name for themselves, so you know that their titles are going to look great before you even fire them up, but when Far Cry was released the combination of lush landscapes and incredible water effects was quite something. The game was no slouch either, offering a focused but flexible gameplay experience that saw you taking out your objectives with a degree of freedom, without resorting to the full sandbox-sprawling tedium that we now associate with open-world titles.
The first true sequel (there were a couple of console releases based on the original), however, got pretty much everything wrong; the gameplay was messy, unfocused and throughly tiresome. The world – endless miles of literally fuck all – was a chore to be in, and the badly-judged need to make everything realistic often took precendence over, y’know, making the game fun. From jamming guns, having to take out and read your map in realtime and the fact that you had fucking malaria and needed medication at regular intervals, that title made it pretty clear that your enjoyment of it wasn’t really a priority.
As such, I fucking hated it; I rank Far Cry 2 as one of the great disappointments of this generation, but it did garner some respectable review scores (fix! Payola!!!), so when Far Cry 3 dropped, accompanied by all manner of accolades (including a ten out of ten from Eurogamer), I wasn’t sold at all. But full retail releases are thin on the ground right now and people really were quite insistent that Far Cry 3 was good, so I went for it.
As per the usual Far Cry formula, Far Cry 3 is set on a sizeable island in the Pacific that appears idyllic at first, but has something of a dark side. You play as Jason Brody, one of those young, partying types that likes to go traveling and who wears hats – yes, one of those pricks. Anyway, Brody and his prick mates (a bunch of young adult spring-breakers) are seen having a great time at the start, whooping and hollering while drinking shots and the like. They cap it all off with a fun little skydive and that’s where it gets interesting.
They land on Rook Island. A former island paradise now under the control of Vaas and his crew of pirates. These aren’t your comedic Johnny Depp sort either, these are the type that’ll beat you until you’re dead and if you don’t die they’ll sell you into slavery. Indeed, Vaas (the ‘have I ever told you the definition of insanity’ chap from all the previews) is, despite the comedic wackiness you may have seen, one of the most sadistic bastards you’ve ever encountered in a game. So when you awake caged up with your brother Grant on his island, you know the fun is over and it’s ‘probably-about-to-get-bummed’ time. Luckily Grant is ex-military and helps you break out, and then it’s up to you to rescue all your friends while doing your best to help Rook Island with its nasty pirate problem. At this point the game falls into the usual pattern: a mix of story missions, side missions, races, hunting assignments and standalone battles. So far, so predictable.
As you progress you gain experience which allows you to earn new skills, and with your handy ability to craft new equipment out of dead animals, you’ll soon be a walking armoury, which is when this title begins to shine. Every encounter with bastard pirates can be handled in whatever way you want. Now, personally, I like to sit back and snipe motherfuckers from a distance, but you can go in with assault rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers and even flamethrowers if you so wish. You can stealth these slavetrading cocks to death with your machete if you want or plonk a nice bit of C4 near them and detonate from a distance. Yep, if Far Cry 3 gets anything right, it’s the combat, which is as dynamic and satisfying as anything since the original GRAW games.
The island is peppered with pirate outposts that serve as quick-travel points when liberated and taking them out really is the best part of the game. The story missions are more of a mixed bag with some decent sections and battles, but nothing with any real wow factor to it. Compared to something like The Saboteur, which had great story missions, Far Cry 3 feels more than a little ordinary, and when it starts to get a bit mystical thanks to your encounters with the Rakyat – the indigenous people of Rook Island – this instalment feels like it’s trying a little too hard to be interesting.
That said, I enjoyed the entirety of the campaign (including all the achievement mopping up at the end) and with online co-op and a fully-featured multiplayer mode – complete with all sorts of decent customisation options, including a full map editor – there’s plenty on offer here and, thankfully, it never overstays its welcome, unlike its predecessor. As with Far Cry 2, the world is mostly made up of rusty, dilapidated structures that don’t really do anything. It’s not quite Fallout 3 levels of trampiness but it’s certainly nowhere you’d want to live. Ubisoft Montreal have done their best to live up to the Far Cry name and so the game looks lovely. As Dead Island proved, blue sky gaming is always best and the world feels nicely alive thanks to wildlife that inhabits it. I can’t tell you what graphical trickery is going on, but you are definitely immersed for the whole time you are playing.
So, as a Far Cry fan, I’m pretty happy with this new installment. It tells a decent story that seems to genuinely change the character you are playing, and the combat feels great, which is all you can ask from a shooter. It is, however, a little too ‘safe’ both gameplay-wise and technically. A few more vehicle types (especially some flying ones) and a more interactive game world will be on my wishlist for Far Cry 4, but overall I enjoyed being Mr Jason Brody for a week or so.Pros
- Excellent gunplay. Especially the sniping. I'm Wesley Snipes, motherfucker
- A nice mix of all-out action and effective stealth
- Hunting is a nice diversion
- Decent graphics
- Interesting story
- Doesn't feel as aimless and sprawling as Far Cry 2
- Well-judged achievements
- Die Antwoord on the soundtrack. ZEF-style!
- Actual story missions are a little underwhelming
- Game world is still too empty for my liking
- Everyone in the game is a prick. Apart from the German guy
- Quite repetitive
The story is engaging and the presentation is great, with some deliciously detailed graphics and with a more focused world to play in - it's huge but getting around never seems to be that much of a chore. Far Cry 3 certainly redeems the series in my eyes. Sure, it is lacking when it comes to real standout moments and it is a little repetitive, but it is a very solid effort. Just don't expect the seemingly-perfect gaming experience that the review scores out there are suggesting.
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