“Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is? Insanity is doing the exact… same fucking thing… over and over again expecting… shit to change… That. Is. Crazy”
Those are the words of Vaas, the main villain in Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3. I’m sure he’s talking about some other batshit crazy thing but I’m sure he could also be talking about open world sandbox games. Generally repetitive in nature and about as immersive as a brick. But not Far Cry 3 the most adventurous, immersive and down right greatest example of an open world game I’ve had the pleasure to play.
Take a utopian holiday on the tropical Rook Island, which goes horribly wrong leaving vacationing protagonist Jason Brody and his friends at the mercy of Vaas, a Mohican-sporting sociopath whose favourite pastime is human trafficking. Needless to say, you’re first task is to escape the clutches of this madman and get off Rook island. Not so easy as your friends are missing and your brother is dead. leaving you, Brody a whimpering wimp to save the day.
Thank God he is a wimp too, at least to start with. No butch marines here, making him a character most people would relate too. As he learns his way around the island he of course toughens up. Rook island is full of characters you love, or love to hate Vaas as evil as he is, is brilliantly played and you do end up liking him. Then there is your only friend and helper Dennis who looks strange with his big old fat rimmed glasses and then there is the slightly mad from all the drugs Dr. Earnhardt who is of the persuasion, if one drug doesn’t work, then take three of four more.
The developers have done a great job of realising these characters with great voice work and animation. But the biggest star of the game had to be Rook Island itself, a living breathing ecosystem that’s teeming with life and full of unscripted moments that beat those from Red Dead Redemption. The island also looks staggering even on the aging Xbox. A beautifully realised tropical island ripe for exploring with one of the many vehicular options. And you will be exploring the islands lots. You can’t just go from mission to mission. Well, you can if you only want to do it with one gun (not advised). You see, the animals on the island are not just there for decoration, they are integral to the progression of the game. You need to hunt them to craft backpacks, wallets, ammo pouches, all of which are needed if you ever hope to carry more guns, money or items. It’s a genius idea that makes these side quests have purpose, rather than just using them to get money or points.
Don’t worry though, although there is lots of crafting to be done, it’s all streamlined to a point where everything is just a button press away, the game even tells you what can be made with the items you have so you’re not bogged down with tedious menu mashing.
Gameplay is also top notch. Shooting feels solid and responsive with little if no issues. There is a vast array of weapons at your disposal from handguns to flamethrowers. Yes the flame mechanics from Far Cry 2 are back for some tactical flaming, and much better too. Best flame physics ever? you betcha!. Also gone are the hideous respawning checkpoints from the second game, leaving the game flowing nicely as it should. Sure they have been replaced with Vass’s patrols, but the way they are done you don’t really think about them in the same context.
It’s not all shooting mind. there is a lot of stealth to be had in this game with a really simple yet very effective stealth system. Simply find a vantage point overlooking the camp you are about to liberate, get your camera out and zoom in, any enemies that walk in you line of site are highlighted and stay highlighted so you can always see where they are. Then it’s up to you to plan your stealthy attack. It’s not that straightforward either, there are many ways you can liberate an enemy encampment, and nothing quite as satisfying as you’re about to launch an attack on a base only to see the enemies slaughtered by a passing tiger or bear. You could, if you’re brave enough, run in there with a raging bear chasing you and watch as the enemies focus their attention on the bear, leaving you to pick them off one by one. The choice really is yours.
And thats not all. What game wouldn’t be complete without some multiplayer shenanigans? Far Cry 3 has these options in abundance. First up is the four player Co op, this is a brand new adventure with new characters for those that like to be more social when shooting. Mission goals, XP hoarding, competitions and all the other options you’ve come to expect from a multi player shooter. And it plays great thanks to the ever solid shooting mechanics.
We also have the typical multi player options, nothing groundbreaking here, but plenty of modes to choose from including your typical Team Death Match, Domination, Transmission and the most excellent Firestorm where you have to set fire to certain hot spots in a camp and defend the equivalent hotspots in your camp. It’s brilliant as the fire spreads it changes the shape of the map, making some places impassable. The levels are small(ish) and therefore more intense with plenty of hiding spots for those evil campers. A nice touch to the multiplayer is finding decoders, which when decoded unlock all kinds of weapon mods. It’s quite the complete package offering something for everyone.
The best bit of all however is the fully fledged, easy to use, awesomely powerful level editor. You can design your ultimate multiplayer level from scratch! Choosing anything and everything down to the smallest detail, It’s vast for sure, but if you have ever played Modnation Racers, then you’ll kind of get to grips with it in no time. It was a surprise addition to the game as I had heard nothing about it in the build up press. Just another element to add to the awesome Far Cry 3 experience. It’s not going to set the world on fire or compete with the big boys. If you’re looking for a Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare substitute, You might want to look elsewhere, but if you do, you’ll be missing out on one of the best solo campaigns ever to grace a console.
It’s hard to think there would be a place for ANOTHER first person shooter, the genre seems to be all tied up with the likes of Modern Warfare, Battlefield and Black Ops. But thank god there is room, Far Cry 3 has trekked through gorgeous jungles, swam sky blue seas and zipped lined into the scene and, yes the game may have had less expectations than others but is a far better game for it. Ubisoft have crafted a game with so much scope, engaging characters, an open world that surpasses any before and eliminated all the annoying bits that stopped Far Cry 2 being one of the greats. It’s hard to put into words just how you feel when you play this game. You don’t feel like you’re playing a game, you feel like you are taking part in a real adventure, as stupid as it sounds, it’s true, and there has been no other game that has given me that feeling.
If I was to be picky and I mean really picky, the enemies are still bullet sponges, some of the animals attack you at the most inopportune moments. but like I said I’m being really picky. Far Cry 3 in my humble opinion one of the best FPS i’ve played, easily one of the best games of this year if not this generation. Game of the Year written all over it, if I had it my way.