Platform : Reviewed On PC (available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360)
Release Date : Nov 2012
Price : £19.99 (Steam)
The third main instalment in Ubisoft’s Far Cry series takes the series back in the general direction of the first game, swapping the murky jungles of the second game for a bright and vibrant island. Gone however is trained soldier Jack Carver, and you now play slacker Jason Brody. On holiday with his friends, Jason lands on the island after going skydiving and is captured by pirate Vaas Montenegro who plans to sell the group into slavery.
Obviously Jason escapes (as it would be a very short game otherwise) and begins a one man war against the pirates to rescue
his friends and escape the island. He soon meets members of the island’s local tribe, the Rakyat, who teach him their ways and train him to be their leader in the fight against the invading pirates to reclaim their land.
The story unfolds through main story missions which take you through the areas of the game, with each place having side missions such as hunting quests that allow you to craft better equipment and assassination missions against pirate targets.
As you progress through liberating parts of the island from the pirates you will level up and gain new skills, and this visually develops as an intricate arm tattoo for Jason. These skills don’t seem completely in line with the difficulty curve of the game however, so by the time you finish Jason feels a bit like an overpowered superman compared to how weak he is at the beginning of the game.
The game is split into two islands, with the south island initially inaccessible until you are sent there during the story. Each island is vast, and even if you collect all the collectables (of which there are absolutely loads) there will still be plenty of places that you’ll likely never come across. You can, and I did, literally spend hours just wandering across the island finding things.
In each area of the island you go to there are radio towers which you need to scale to activate, which unlocks that area on your map as well as gives you some free weapons in your inventory. The towers are almost like a platforming puzzle, with each one being different and having some increasingly tricky jumps as you go on to scale. Activating all the towers for a region allows you to purchase the collectable map for the area, showing you where all the hidden items that you hadn’t yet found are, inevitably leading you on another roam around picking things up.
As well as the pirates, there are lots of wild animals on the island that you’ll come across on your travels. There are completely harmless animals that will either ignore you or run away, and there are also predators. The first time you find a tiger suddenly in the jungle is quite a tense one, as they pack quite a punch and can kill you quite easily. These can be to your benefit as well, as they also attack the pirates. So you could be attacking a pirate outpost and they can get distracted having to fight off a tiger or bear which will assist you in taking them down..as long as it doesn’t get you as well.
The cast of the game are mostly forgettable, even Jason to be honest, with lead antagonist Vaas being by far the most memorable character in the game, with an amazing performance by actor Michael Mando (who also played the character in the live action web series that was made to promote the game) absolutely stealing the show. I could quite happily have played the game with Vaas in every single scene. How about a Vaas-starring spinoff game, Ubisoft?. The only other great character is a German former soldier called Sam who you meet much later in the game, though due to how late he appears he doesn’t get quite as much development unfortunately.
Visually, the game is very impressive. The first time I was wading across a wide river at sunset the lighting effects surprised me at just how good it looked. All the foliage of the islands sway in the wind and the draw distance from the top of mountains is impressive. The landscape is crisp and bright, with a wide range of different modelled greenery, so thankfully you aren’t seeing the same half a dozen distinctive trees a million times. I did notice however a kind of fuzzy draw in effect when scenery was going from being distant to close, as it redraws with a more detailed model. I don’t know if this was down to the settings I was running the game at (medium/high) or if this is something that the game does regardless but it was a little off putting whenever I saw it.
Control wise the game is also good, with Jason able to sprint, jump, climb and slide through environments. Shooting controls are spot on, though aiming with the bow and arrow takes a little practice as it relies on the range markings on the bow itself to calculate distance, so simply shooting at something in the middle of the screen isn’t going to work.
Far Cry 3 also features a 4 player cooperative mode. This is completely separate from the main story, apparently taking place 6 months before Jason and his friends land on the island though really this part doesn’t matter as far as I could tell it has no links at all to the story aside from the fact that looks much like the locations from the main game. I played through co-op in two player so didn’t get to really experience all the characters. I ended up with Callum the foul mouthed Scottish football fan who was very amusing. The co-op game is split into six (now eight with the free High Tides DLC) maps which are much more objective based than the main game, having the players planting bombs, defending objectives etc. There are also competitive mini games that occur at a couple of points in the game, which pit the players against each other to score the most points. This was terrific fun, and a great bonus to the game.
The final component to the game is the competitive multiplayer. This has your standard array of team deathmatch and objective based modes, and pits teams of players against each other. I didn’t spend too long in this mode as it didn’t really seem to offer very much that would make it really stand out compared to most other shooter multiplayer modes aside from being much more colourful. It played perfectly fine, but just didn’t stack up against the single player and co-op modes. Both multiplayer modes also share XP progression that gives you the usual Call of Duty style levelling up system with weapon upgrades and perks and so on. Completing matches gives you XP as well as CDs and USB sticks to decode over time which grant you items or bonus XP. You can decode these quicker by using an app available for phones that will give you a second simultaneous decode.
Personally I felt the game stumbled a bit in the second half and thought that the story could have been a bit tighter, but the good certainly outweighs the bad. Overall a terrifically fun game that isn’t without its flaws, but these are comparatively minor against how great the rest of the game is.
Far Cry 3 is available now for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and if you’re in the market for a cracking budget graphics card can be got for free with Radeon 7770 graphics cards (at the time of this review).