Far Cry 3 is the latest release to this highly successful franchise from Ubisoft. Set on a group of tropical islands somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, Far Cry 3 throws players into a ruthless open world environment with danger around every corner. From cut-throat pirates to dangerous wildlife, players will have their survival skills tested through a plethora of challenges and missions.
Players take on the role of Jason Brody and begin Far Cry 3 imprisoned in a small wooden cage with his brother. Jason and his friends have been taken prisoner by a pirate lord named Vaas and are being ransomed for money. Luckily your brother has military training and you quickly escape the cage and try to make your way out of the pirate camp. Players will learn valuable skills during this time like stealth movements and distracting enemies by throwing rocks. Most “tutorial” sections of games are uneventful and a little boring but not so in Far Cry 3. You get immediately thrown into this very scary and heavy situation which sets the tone for the entire game.
After Jason’s escape, the player will awaken in the Rakyat village. The Rakyat are the indigenous people of the islands and will play a major role in Far Cry 3. The leader of the Rakyat, Dennis Rogers, will initiate you into the tribe and teach you how to survive in the jungle. The player will learn how to hunt and skin animals to craft support items. Dennis will also show you what plants can be harvested and combined to create medicinals to help heal you and heighten your senses. The skills tree is introduced which allows you to learn new abilities as you level up.
Far Cry 3 utilizes a pretty standard first-person shooter control system with some buttons used to perform multiple actions. The Y button on the Xbox controller is an example of buttons with multiple actions. Pressing Y changes weapons while holding Y will cause Jason to heal himself. Opting for a pretty standard control system makes it very easy for someone to dive right in. Button prompts allows the player to interact with objects in the real world. A body can searched for items while boxes can be looted. The control system is very intuitive for such a complex game. I did find that searching bodies can be buggy though. If a weapon is near or the body is on uneven ground, it can take a while to get the “search body” prompt to show.
The main focus of Far Cry 3 is to rescue of your friends. Jason must under take a series of difficult missions which span the entire island chain. You will find yourself infiltrating a pirate fortress or stealing intel from some stronghold. You will usually get a tip from Dennis which will open up a mission for you to play through. Each main mission does not need to be undertaken right away and players are free to roam the island completing side missions and timed challenges.
Besides some really challenging main missions, Far Cry 3 offers a ton of side missions and challenges to complete. Pirate strongholds litter the islands allowing them to flex their will on the inhabitants. Players can take out these encampments making an area safe to travel in. Side missions are also unlocked allowing Jason to take out specific enemy targets or hunt animals in the jungle. Some of these missions will also supply a weapon for you to use or other constraints which gives you a better challenge. Trials of the Rakyat are also found at large colored rocks in the jungle. These are timed trials which can be played over and over. They consist of killing a set number of enemies with a supplied weapon under time constraints. I found these trials to be really fun and you can compete against your friends to see who can get the most kills.
Another optional mission type is the option to liberate radio towers. Freeing a radio tower reveals a section of the jungle on your map along with locations of idols and loot. This is a must for your success in Far Cry 3. Free towers also allows the Rakyat to radio for better supplies that will be available to purchase and some items will become free. If you want better weapons, than you want to free as many towers as you can.
A beautiful open world to explore
One of the best features of Far Cry 3 is the open-world environment. There are jungles, islands, caves and the ocean to explore with so many hidden treasures to be found. This fosters a “play-your-way” style of gameplay which I love. The player can choose what side missions to do, if they want to find hidden treasure or hunt big game to improve their gear. Many open-world games fall short because it is very limited on what the player can actually do. Far Cry 3 does it right. There are hours of additional missions and actions for the player to take. And you are not limited by the terrain. Caves can be explored, jungles scoured, and the depths of the seas inspected. I have spent more time exploring and hunting than doing actual missions. It’s just amazing that there is so much stuff to do.
Far Cry 3’s open world is also beautifully designed. The graphics in this game are just amazing. You have high-quality models perfectly textured with jungle sets teeming with life. Cutscenes smoothly transition to gameplay without the lose of graphics. And sound is key to this land. All the sounds of the jungle make this feel like a living environment and not some sterile CGI world. Sound also plays a major role in how you play. Stones can be thrown to distract an enemy while weapons fire and movement through vegetation can draw their attention. Far Cry 3’s environment is one of the best I’ve seen yet.
One issue with such a lush environment, it can be hard to see enemies and wild game. Where is that jaguar? I can hear it but can’t see it. Who is shooting at me? It bothered me at first but soon came to realize that this is how it would be in real life. In the real world, and enemy won’t have a life meter above his head or stick out like a sore thumb. This is how a game should portray enemies in an environment. It’s such an amazing feature.
Real world guns with a real world feel
Far Cry 3 offers the player a wide range of real world weapons to wield. From handguns and shot guns to sniper riffles and flames throwers, there is a weapon for every gamer. I found myself using a shotgun for my main weapon with a sniper riffle for stealth kills and a hunter’s bow for hunting. They all have a real weight to them and just feel right. We have all played a game were a shotgun did no damage or a handgun that was more powerful than a nuke. Weapons in Far Cry 3 are perfectly craft to reflect their real world counterparts and powered correctly.
Weapons can also be modified to fit your play style. You can purchase purchase attachments to improve your weapon. A silencer and scope mod will improve your stealth kills with a sniper riffle. You can also purchase new paint schemes for each weapon allowing you to personalize your gear.
Items are also properly represented. You can only carry so many and they don’t last forever. Repellents and enhancers only last a limited time and medicines can only heal so much. It just another way that Far Cry 3 gives the player that real world feel. Another feature that must be noted is that you can heal yourself even if you don’t have medicine. You can set dislocated bones or bandage cuts. It’s a really nice feature.
The enemy and animal AIs in Far Cry 3 have a lot more life in them than most games today. Both enemies and animals can detect you by sight and sound and will search for you if you can manage to hide. I also really like how their movement patterns are not as obvious as most games. Their patterns are influenced on their location. If they have run to another location looking for you and have stopped, they pattern of their idle movements changes. I also like that they actually look around their environment and can spot you as well as other AIs in their visual scope. I’ve always hated shooters where the enemy will just sit by a corner and not do anything until you smack them across the head. Or they have this simple, predictable pattern which makes it so easy to kill or avoid them.
Each animal type also has its own unique behaviors. Small, non-dangerous animals tend to stick more to cover or groups while the predators will hunt you and other animal AIs. You have to lookout for enemies as well as predators while roaming the jungle which just adds more variety to the game. I also really liked how the deer were programmed. If you have ever hunted a deer or spent time in the forest, you will know how skittish deer are and will spook at the slightest noise. The deer in Far Cry 3 act the same way and make hunting them feel like the real things.
Wait, there’s more
Far Cry 3 also offers a robust multiplayer and co-op experience. The Co-op campaign takes place six months before the main game and is set on a different island which follows a small ragtag group. Many of the battles in co-op are wave-based ones were you must battle hordes of enemies which is fun. It also fosters the use of medicinals like booster shots to give you an edge during battle. While co-op is fun with its own unique storyline, it does feel flat and underwhelming compared to the main campaign mode. Co-op is set on a linear, contained sets and not the amazing free-roam ones from the main campaign. You definitely lose that freedom and excitement.
There is also a multiplayer feature offering four different modes – Team Deathmatch, Domination, Transmission & Firestorm. Team Deathmatch and Domination modes are very similar to other games on the market and are pretty straight forward and, in my opinion, boring. Transmission and Firestorm modes are more interesting and offer a better challenge. Transmission is similar to Domination but control points will sometimes change locations. Firestorm is a very unique mode were both teams must defend their fuel dump while igniting the other team’s. Once ignition happens, most of the map is set ablaze forcing both teams to battle over a control point. The fire changes the map and viable routes that can be taken completely changing the game. Probably the coolest co-op mode of any game to date.
Far Cry 3 also includes a robust level editor allowing you to create your own maps and to share them. Easy-to-use tools allows the player to create so very amazing custom maps with their own scenarios. Players will find that nearly everything they need is easily accessible. I really like how you can share your maps with the community. The only real issue with the level editor is that you cannot place AIs into a map except for testing. Not a huge issue. I’ve never been a huge fan of level editors but this one is pretty fun. The ease of use is a huge factor in its success.
Far Cry 3 is just an amazing shooter. The open-world environment is the best there is, expertly craft with a focus on the real world. Enemy AIs, friendlies and animals all sport a very sophisticated intelligence system which will challenge and amuse the player. Far Cry 3 offers an tremendous about of missions for you to play. Main missions are challenging but fun will side missions and challenges will entertain players for hours. You get this amazing game with tons of content and then find a multiplayer and co-op system as good as most games on the market today. The biggest flaw in Far Cry 3 though, is its co-op and multiplayer modes. The successful open-world has been replaced with a very structured and linear one which is a stark contrast to the story mode. While the multiplayer modes are good, only Firestorm stands out as a fun and unique mode. Multiplayer just feels like all the other mediocre ones out there and the storyline for co-op is flat.
Again, Far Cry 3 is a huge success. Its one of the best first-person shooters ever and has become one of my favorite games. Story mode is a flawless piece of art masterfully crafted by some amazing designers. I can’t stress enough on how perfect this game is. Yes, the multiplayer and co-op modes were not as successful as the story mode. On its own, its a really good experience.
This really is the best game of 2012.
Far Cry 3
Score: 9.8 out of 10
Metacritic.com: 90 out of 100
Our Take: You get a ton of game for the money. Far Cry 3 is the most perfect open-world first-person shooter ever. Amazing graphics, great gameplay, and gritty storyline all make this a must have game.
Available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Rated: M for Mature