Far Cry 3 is an open world FPS from Ubisoft that attempts to steer the Far Cry series back in the right direction after a somewhat disappointing second installment. I am happy to say it not only got in the right neighborhood, but busted down the door and sat down next to me demanding I play it with every ounce of free time I had. Within the first hour of the game I was happy to oblige and spend an inordinate amount of time with possibly the most worthy sequel in any series I’ve seen.
Let this recounting of a single set of events summarize how I feel about this game:
I was driving a jeep and saw some blue herbs in a river so I jumped out and dove in. I thought I saw an alligator, but as the bubbles settled I realized it was just a log… or not. All of a sudden I was struggling for my life mashing keys trying to get the thing off me. After finally subduing the gator I climbed out to the safety of my vehicle, only to find that some pirates had stopped to check out the empty vehicle on the side of the road and were getting ready to drive it away. I quickly dispatched them at close range with an AK 47. Just as I finally took a breath, goats came rushing out of the forest to my left being chased by rabid dogs that quickly set upon me. As I was fighting off three dogs trying to rip my face off, I hear gunfire and screaming coming from the forest to my right and out run four pirates being chased down by komodo dragons. One of the pirates takes a Molotov and burns down the entire section of brush killing himself, his friends, and the komodo dragons at the same time.
Let me stress none of this was scripted and it all happened within a minute or so. Needless to say, my mind was blown, and this was in my first hour of playing the game. I had no idea what else to expect from Far Cry 3, but I knew it was going to be good.
The graphics in Far Cry 3 aren’t quite the best I’ve seen in a game, but thanks to some great work on the background of the game, you never feel like you’re playing a console port. Even if the draw distance is a little low, you get a lower detail backdrop that still has plenty to catch the eye and as you stand atop a radio tower taking in the view, it’s easy to get lost in the scenery. There are some fairly significant issues with shadows looking odd, but with updated graphics drivers these mostly go away, and it has never been enough to detract from what I was doing at the time.
The sound design of Far Cry 3 is incredibly high quality and helps to really immerse you in the island whether it be creeping through the bushes hunting boar and suddenly hearing a tiger’s growl just off to the side making you jump, or probably the best use of a commercial artist’s music I’ve ever heard in a game. I won’t spoil anything, but Skrillex and a flame thrower go together surprisingly well. The guns pop with a very satisfying sound and you get a great feeling of the jungle from all the ambient noise that will keep you on edge at all times.
If there is a weak point of Far Cry 3, it is the story, but while the overall story is a little predictable and bland, the amazing character design, voice acting, and animation of the characters makes it feel like you’re a part of the story much more than many games with superior tales to tell. You will hate your character when you start, but by the time you run across your love interest in the story, you will feel like you have developed into someone worthy of the skin you’re in, and really feel like your friends and girlfriend are worth fighting for. The lines between an interactive game and a movie tend to blur when characters interact in cut scenes, and I found myself very invested in ensuring they made it out safe. I’ve never found myself liking a completely insane sociopath before either, but then again, I’ve never run into one as well rounded out as Vaas.
Hi, I’m Vaas. You’re gonna like me.
The open world gameplay centers quite a bit around controlling various objectives across the island such as outposts and radio towers, as well as completing side quests that usually involve killing a rebel leader with a knife or hunting a rare animal with a bow and arrow.
The gun play in Far Cry 3 is satisfying, but not very difficult to control. There is very little recoil or skill involved in using most weapons, but as a single player experience it isn’t nearly as important to have realistic recoil, and you’ll probably find yourself using a bow and arrow for quite a lot of the game just to get a proper Rambo feel for yourself. There are a lot of different types of weapons, and a fair amount of variety including rocket launchers and grenades, as well as c4, guns, and tons of attachments and paint jobs for each weapon in your arsenal.
There are multiple ways to approach most objectives, and there has only been one instance of a forced path to completing an objective that posed any sort of issue, which admittedly, when I did it correctly, worked out fine.
In most open world games, I find myself running or driving across massive blank areas of terrain looking for the next little area where something crazy might happen. In Far Cry 3 I have chosen to walk more places than drive or fast travel simply because I want to see what’s going to happen along the way. It’s not all that uncommon for me to set a waypoint to a mission, and spend thirty minutes traveling a few hundred yards running into random predators, pirates, or amazingly detailed areas that seem to be for nothing more than rewarding players for exploring. While normally games that have these sorts of exploration areas just give you an achievement as a reward, in Far Cry I get an actual sense of awe and wonder from the gorgeous waterfalls, perilous ruins, and random insane encounters with npcs and animals that happen in the areas.
The most important part of the open world experience for me is that nothing feels forced, and in Far Cry I’ve never run across an event that I thought “oh, that’s clearly triggered by me being here”. It feels like the island couldn’t care less whether you’re there or not and tigers are just really ferocious creatures that will kill people regardless of someone being there to watch it happen.
If a few months back you would’ve told me I would choose anything but Dishonored as my favorite FPS game of the year, I would’ve told you you’re nuts, but Far Cry 3 has succeeded in providing an experience not only on par with Dishonored gameplay wise, but one that surpasses it in almost every way. Running around in Far Cry 3 is a joy by itself regardless of there being a story or missions I’m supposed to be doing, and I often forget about whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing and end up halfway to the other side of the island before I remember I meant to travel 200 yards to an objective.