I’m a big fan of Far Cry. My reasons aren’t to do with the gameplay or the storyline. I just really love pretty tropical islands. The other thing I really love is exploring and Far Cry 3, being an open world game were the island is huge and filled with secrets and interesting collectables, allows for a great deal of exploration. There are clear influences here from Just Cause, Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham City and even Skyrim.
The freedom to run off and make your own fun grips you pretty soon after your hapless protagonist, a rich boy in the wrong place at the wrong time, escapes from pirates. Not the cool type of pirates with peg legs and parrots, the drug trafficking, kidnapping and torturing kind. You’ll quickly be introduced to the radio towers, which dot the map. Claim these and you increase your influence over the territory, very much like the towers in Assassin’s Creed 2. The island is teeming with life of both plant and animal kind. Collecting and hunting these will give you the resources to build your arsenal of weaponry and items but don’t expect the wildlife to go willingly just to end up as one of your gun holsters. It’s not just the larger toothy mammals that will try to rip your face off, even a Cassowary (big ostrich-type bird) will make good headway pecking you to death.
The combat isn’t what I was expecting. I always think of Far Cry as a game about shooting people but Far Cry 3 seems to be very specifically about not shooting people. Early missions really push you to use stealth and you’ll find your machete is your most useful weapon. Like a Splinter Cell game you’ll look on areas as a puzzle to be solved – how best to take out guards without being detected? Don’t worry, though, there’s a bunch of rather more explosive weapons to use as things progress.
The characters, story and acting are the best we’ve seen in this series without ever getting in the way of the action. The story is easy to follow and doesn’t suck up too much time but offers a genuinely compelling framework for why you’re doing what you’re doing.
The quality of Far Cry 3 has come somewhat out of left field for many gamers and possibly even Ubisoft. It had seemed like a series on the decline that was starting to feel less relevant to gamers and somewhat superfluous in the FPS market. This itineration reverses that completely and brings some of the most up to date gameplay mechanisms to the genre in such a comprehensive and confident way that you can’t help but be a bit shocked by it. It’s hard to believe Ubisoft were expecting the reaction the game has got from the lack of hoopla surrounding the release. I suspect much of their attention was focussed on the inferior Assassin’s Creed, while FPS fans were distracted by pedestrian Halo and COD updates. Far Cry 3 is a step forward for the whole genre and should be applauded for restoring the series’ good name. In fact scratch that. Don’t put your hands together, instead put them in your pocket and buy this game.