Wednesday 12 December 2012

Far Cry 3 - Review

For a while Ubisoft threaten to have made a game that really pushes the boundaries with its story telling.  Sadly the last fifteen minutes, whichever of the two ending you opt for, fails to live up to the potential to really throw a curve ball at the genre.  It matters not.  As a sandbox game Far Cry 3 looks at the opposition, stares into its eyes and makes them cry sad salty tears of defeat.

You play this first person shooter as Jason Brody a spoilt rich kid frat boy holidaying with his brothers and a bunch of friends on a group of tropical islands in the Pacific.  Man do they pick the wrong island to sky dive onto.  The group end up kidnapped by a group of pirates.  BOOM.  Jason breaks out of his bamboo cage with his brother, only for his bros to catch a bullet to the neck.  YIKES.  Jason runs for it, manages to meekly (seriously) stab a pirate in the neck, before freaking out and being rescued by expat Dennis.  PHEW.  He's soon embroiled with a local tribe on the island called the Rakyat and on a mission to free his remaining brother, hot chicks and slightly odd mates.  YAY.

From that point the game opens up.  Big time.  The island is a vast jungle playground begging to be explored (or burnt to a crisp).  Everything that was great about Far Cry 2 is here.  Hand-gliders (which now have a point) crazy driving on dusty tracks, flame throwers and guns, lots of guns.  The pirates have control of the island (it turns out to be two islands) and there are over thirty of their outposts to take over.  Each one is different.  Each one is a challenge.  Each one is fucking ace.  Where Far Cry 2 failed with its incredibly annoying re-spawning enemies and the trekking about every where (sigh) the follow up has a great fast travel system and once you've taken an outpost for the Rakyat, it's yours.  Forever.

There's a slightly odd 'mysticism' slant to the main story that folds neatly into Jason's skill trees which in turn combine with a 'mystical' tattoo which grows bigger as you learn more skills.  It's kind of cool.  It's also a bit weird.  There's also some drug fuelled trippy segments that work really well.  I probably shouldn't tell you how brilliant the section is where you burn down fields of dope, with Jason getting high on the smoke and how he has to kill a hoard of pirates with slightly wonky vision.  But, it is really brilliant.

There's a couple of elements borrowed from Assassin's Creed.  You have to climb radio towers to unlock more of the map.  Unlike Assassin's Creed though the climbing is a genuine challenge and doing it in first person feels completely different.  The hunting mechanic, while not a engaging as AC3's, is very much integral to the story.  Jason want to carry more guns.  Jason must shoot a bear.  Jason wants a bigger wallet.  Jason must kill a shark.  It makes for a brilliant distraction to the main story but never feels like an unrewarding side quest.

Far Cry 3, under the surface, is a series of systems all working together perfectly.  By the end of my play through I had a bulging wallet and almost next to nothing to spend my money on but I was still having fun.  Lots of fun.  Sure, bits of the story are dark (really dark) but missions are suitably varied and the whole thing never lets up in terms of pace.

The two main villains are the best I've seen in a game.  Properly evil.  Properly deranged.  Excellent.

The best thing though is the island and its unpredictable wild life.  Ever had a tiger sneak up on you?  You will here.  Ever jumped into a river and been attacked by a crocodile?  You will here.  Ever taken over an enemy out post by shooting the bamboo cage containing a bear with your silenced sniper rifle from half a mile away?  And then watched the bear do all the dirty work for you?  You will here.

Far Cry 3 is so well built, so beautifully delivered, that it's peculiar ending(s) are utterly forgivable.  You turn Jason from a frightened young man, completely out of his depth, into a killing machine who's mission to rescue his friends quickly descends into something much darker.

Far Cry 3 has its flaws but it is my game of the year.


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