Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: First-person shooter, Action, Open-World
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, PC
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Review Notes: A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.
What’s your perfect dream vacation? Is it being sitting nestled in the warm sun with an island drink in your hand? Maybe just doing nothing for the entirety of a day?
For Jason Brody, his seemingly harmless vacation of skydiving and island exploration was just that, a dream. Soon, however, his world was turned on its head, leaving he and his friends to fend for their lives.
The Far Cry series has reached many levels of expansion, along with the technological advancements of the CryEngine over the years.
What was first an island tech demo featuring dinosaurs (listen closely for references in Far Cry 3) turned more, the game has since become widely known for its expansive landscapes and seamless blends of action and storytelling. The latest installment, Far Cry 3, sets out again to reach levels of graphic superiority with creative gameplay at its core.
There is no doubt that Far Cry 3 is the epitome of gaming advancement — and then some.
Graphically, even with the Xbox 360 showings its age, the game looks magnificent. Character models are smooth and textures are clean. It is a bad habit of mine to stare at the small things in game, such as eyeball glare/movement on characters and things like breakable bottles off in the background. To my surprise, even the little things such as these were taken into consideration. The models of certain characters, not mentioned for spoiler purposes, and others were done well and gave a certain aspect of humanism to their design.
Speaking in terms of the game’s location, the story is once again held on an island chain somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. This is an important part of the game not only for aesthetics, or the possibility of growing the scenery by diverting your attention with water, there is more to the equation.
The island in which Brody and his peers adventure to offers more than just a tropical view and extreme adventures. Rook Island mimics real life island chains located in the South Pacific. Playing the game will reveal fictional similarities between the island and those influential islands during World War II.
The scene is a crucial habitat for the island wildlife to thrive, whether it is animal or human. The islands location provides the perfect atmosphere for varied species of land animals, and the occasional shark.
If the pirates don’t kill you, the bears will. If the Asian Black Bears don’t claw you, the tigers will. If the tigers don’t get’cha, you could very well become your own demise in a rage of lunacy.
As mentioned before, the island landscape of Far Cry 3 is unique. I use that term loosely as there is so much to do on the chain of islands besides the main storyline. Exploring the island could have been a game in itself. Players will find that whether they hang glide, jet ski, swim or boat—the island is enormous. Even with its size, its seemingly overwhelming landscape doesn’t hinder the main objective that has been set forth by the crazy dude with a Mohawk.
Local mercenary and wild man, Vaas Montenegro, will stop at no lengths to have your head on a platter.
The game progresses around you saving your friends from the twisted mind of Vaas Montenegro, a local killer and all around bad guy. This enraged islander receives his orders from a man known simply as “Hoyt.” From here, players will assume the role of Brody. Through a chain of events that kick off the opening to the game, Jason becomes a thorn in Vaas’ side. Jason must now explore the island to gain the necessary means to save his friends.
During your travels, players will be introduced to a variety of characters, animals, and best of all—weaponry. Players will also learn that there is a war that has been bubbling with unrest between the Rakyat (Island inhabitants also known as the “Rebels”) and Vaas’ pirates. The Pirates control the island through violence, human slavery and drug running. All of which is connected through a few points of interest.
In order to shed light on the terrain, particularly the control from the pirates, players must venture out into the island and “liberate” camps and Radio Towers.
These towers play three roles: 1. They are of use to Vaas’ troops for communication on the island, 2. They physically open up a view of the map for that area returned to Rakyat control, and 3. They deliver new weaponry that is freely accessible in the local gun market.
These physical towers are traversed over the course of the game and open a view of the surrounding world more easily explored by having the map introduced in the menu. A similar comparison to these towers would be the use of the view points in the Assassin’s Creed series.
The story of the game might sound fitting for any action adventure title, but it is so much more than typical. By hitting the “Back” button players can view the map and newly unlocked areas. Pushing the ‘Start’ button opens up a more familiar scene of Skills, Crafting, Inventory (Loot Rucksack), Handbook, and general information about your responsibilities and information of the game.
This is one thing that I found most interesting about the gameplay of Far Cry 3. Much like its predecessors, the game offers an expansive journey into island wildlife and skills, easily logging hours upon hours of gameplay. It is easy to see that the focus of the game isn’t so much wasted on the amount of guns it boasts. Having survival and a deadly set of skills at its core changes the dynamic of the game from a first-person shooter, to a first-person experience.
Don’t get me wrong: the guns of the game run anywhere from conventional to a barrel of fun, but they are not pitted as the primary focus.
The skills learned within the game are somewhat traditional, allowing players to level up through the course of the game. Delivering enemy takedowns and precision headshots will deal differing amounts of XP points.
With each new skill introduced, Brody earns a new tattoo, which is a symbol of the Rakyat and his warrior-hood. New skills will start to fill his arm, much like that of the Rakyat natives. The Skill Tree focuses on survivalist methods such as: long range takedowns, healing and survival supplies.
Proving true to the games’ characteristics, the three areas which indicated the different types of moves are broken into animals. Those being the Heron, Shark and Spider. Each of the areas talked about above fall into their respective animal category. For example, the “Shark” is where all of your takedowns are learned.
Much like any other skill based game, growing each section will provide players with more elaborate moves. Takedowns can now become combo’d and allow for sneakier maneuvers. Climbing crates and structures opens up your tool chest of moves. For example, you can drive your knife into an enemy skull, sprint over to your next victim, slice through his neck bandanna then grab his holstered knife to halt another dead in his tracks. The landscape and system allows for player creativity to grow over the course of the game.
The game itself can be progressed through skill usage and minimal sidequesting, which I found to be a superb blend while progressing the game. I easily logged 19 hours of some exploration, liberation and Radio Towers to wrap up the game, admittingly dying a few times exploring sneaking vs. killing guns blazing missions.
There is a slew of missions outside the game’s regular storyline and other “mini-games” such as poker or supply delivery that can be fulfilled in your attempts to explore the entirety of the island. Other collectibles and discoveries can be made on top of these for the diehard meticulous collector.
The crafting of the game pits players at the core usages of survivalists. I chose to play the game without spending a single dime on ammo, but rather using only enemy ammo and crafting what I could from the land. Bear Grylls eat your heart out. Well, I don’t mean that literally, cause in dire survival situations, that sounds like something Bear might just do.
Various plants can be excavated from the depths of the ocean or simply hidden in plain view. Learning new skills over time will help earn more plants when harvesting them from the land. Using these plants comes into play with the creation of syringes.
Health as well as “instincts” can be formed and used for various reasons. Once crafted, the newly created chemical can be delivered with a syringe. The Health Syringe being most key replaces lost health bars when used. Over time learned skills allowing you to heal on your own without the use of Health syringes and wean you off a dependency of them. Healing on your own may take significantly more time it doesn’t leave you without options when your supplies run out.
Other syringes will aid in things like fighting and, more importantly, hunting. I guess you could say that in a way players might get “addicted” to these drugs and their use. Relying heavily on the drugs to improve your performance will leave you naked in the field if you shoot your wad of all supplies. Then, you are solely left on the skills Jason has learned, if any, to survive. While there are no physical characteristics that occur in-game there is definitely a psychological aspect to it.
What would an island survival situation be without hunting, right? As mentioned before, there is a slew of animals embedded in the jungle terrain. Slaying a pig or bear is both satisfying and useful. Even the flightless bird known as the Cassowary can be used for its leather, proving that what doesn’t go up, must get shot down.
Uses for other animal skins span everything from supplies to the amount of money you can carry. For example, tracking down a Boar Hide will award you with additional Ammo slings. If it’s more munitions (C-4, explosives) or weapons you are looking to carry, then gear up for some Goat. Larger items in your inventory may cost you more than a single pelt and even that of a larger animal.
For these things the true hunter within need appear. Taking down bigger-deadlier animals will see benefit through the use of the Hunter syringe. This modifies and develops over time, but the first initial use makes you undetectable by creatures allowing you to get up close and personal.
The skins of these animals are kept in your Loot Rucksack. This too can be expandable over the course of the game to hold more items. Looting bodies or bins places all items found into your Rucksack and money is sent to your wallet. Selling found loot will ensure a fatter wallet but one must choose what to carry if looting is the name of the game. Opening Radio Towers will also indicate various animal types throughout the island. Journey to these points, slay the animal, and you too can make a nice new wallet or sling to hold those new treasures.
Again, these experiences and journeys don’t necessarily need to be accomplished in order to progress the story of the game. You can either be minimally prepared or filled to the gills with ammunition. The aspect of linear gameplay has been thrown out the window leaving players to decide where and when the adventure starts or stops.
“Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!”—G.I. Joe
Learning about the island is half the battle. The Handbook delivers much needed information about the game in general. Things like characters, wildlife, skills, and whatever else you could want from guide to the wilderness can be found here. Information about Brody’s friends is revealed here. I found myself identifying with some similarities between my own group of friends and Jason’s crew.
What is interesting is that the guide was creatively and done with simplicity in mind. Much like my English teacher used to say, “The essay should be like a skirt. Long enough to cover the important things, but short enough to make it interesting.” This is exactly the case when it comes to the use of the handbook and other descriptors found here. It is enough information to get you by, but not so much that you don’t bother to even read its contents. Heck, if you don’t read it, you’ll miss out on messages like these:
Learning the inner workings of the island will also help in “how” you play the game. Mission success can come in many forms. The option to go guns-a-blazin’ might be your forte. This is usually my take on hectic situations where bullets are flying and old Jack Burton knows how to roll’em. In the case of Brody, I decided to change up my game a bit and attempt more stealthy actions.
The use of stealth in the game will provide you with satisfyingly silent kills. Certain portions of the game do call for a hailstorm of bullets, but most can be completed with minimal violence, if any. The detection indicator at the top of your screen increases as you are seen or heard throughout an area. The white bar grows or minimizes when your location is revealed. This is important due to the “alarms” in the game. If tripped they will signal for additional enemy reinforcements.
Taking out guards can be both stressful and fun. Leading a guard away by distraction is learned early on in the game. The D-Pad right button gets a mapped rock throw. Throwing rocks in corners or against metal planks will draw the attention of a guard, allowing Jason to crouch and slide past them. The use of the rock throw and crouch become essential tools for any master tactician inserting themselves in areas of many guards and not once being detected.
It is hard to find a “gripe” about the game. The only real complaint I have is with the music. I did enjoy the choices in soundtrack for certain parts of the game. They were fitting, and even made me laugh out loud with enjoyment. Other times they became a nuisance as I couldn’t tell whether or not an alarm had been triggered, or if it was something off in the distance heading my way. Explosions and other sounds were masked in the digital sounds of the music. Most of the time they were strategically fitting.
The game in general encompasses many themes. Anyone can see that “island fever” is a real thing. I felt this on my trip to the island of Kuai, one of the Hawaiian Islands. Driving the coast line around the island could be done in a day. Although it was plenty interesting as a vacation spot, having spent days on end within the confines of a secluded island would drive me mad.
It was interesting to note that much of the tunes and scenery was similar to that of Far Cry 3‘s island view. This also temps the mind to become entrapped in the games environment, thinking in island terms. Things like, “How am I going to survive? I must hunt. I must kill.” become more than just gameplay mechanics, but rather a choice Jason Brody made to survive.
In general, I also felt that fire was an overarching tool and symbol throughout the game. Whether it was weaved into the storyline, or in its destruction caused by enemy fire. Buildings and surroundings physically catch fire when the hit with a Molotov and other fire bearing weapons. The fire quickly spread and can easily engulf small huts and structures. Being on the other end of the torch may wield you the upper hand in many situations, not being careful with this power may possibly leave you burned.
Much like the plague of flames that can thoroughly destroy your surroundings, and possibly yourself, it did seem there was more to it. Maybe the symmetry of fire could be aligned with that of the “insanity” reflected upon throughout the game. Much like its threat of spread, both of which can become dangerous if not tamed or smothered by an outside force.
There is no doubt that Far Cry 3 is an experience that one must endure themselves to thoroughly enjoy. The game offers an expansive landscape that is nothing short of beautiful to look at.
There is so much to do and explore, it is a wonder all of the content fit on a single disc. There are elements of role playing games given the use of the skill tree and shameless looting, but first person shooter fans will enjoy each satisfying kill, whether it is animal or human.
The game opens up an experience that is much like the James Bond series. Often times like the story of 007, we are left wondering how the hell Bond is going to get out of this one. Each hairy situation in the game becomes a test of skills and wit, but also implores the use of your learned survivalist skill tree.
The game is deserving of all of its most recent accreditation’s. If you were to simply sum it up, the game is a mix of Uncharted, seasoned with a bit of Dead Island, and finally baked to a wholesome goodness of all things first person shooter. Go out and play this game.
+ Expansive environment
+ Fun Factor
– Hit or Miss Checkpoint Respawns
Note: Multiplayer review to follow