We all cry for…*sigh* a spectacular addition to the Far Cry series. And I can say with confidence that Ubisoft has taken some valuable lessons from the previous installment’s game-breaking and infuriating aspects – and delivered a solid and game changing experience this time around. Far Cry 3 does not come without it’s head scratching moments, and numerous “why can’t I” scenarios however. But more on that later.
Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane. Far Cry hit shelves way back in ’04 courtesy of a little studio named Crytek, now the devs behind Crysis. Far Cry, offered a sweet harmony of stealth and over-the-top action sequences all deliciously mixed with a heaping portion of Island of Dr. Moreau styled sci-fi storytelling.
Far Cry 2 shipped in ’08 and was developed instead by Ubisoft Montreal (made most famous by the Assassins Creed series). This title dropped the beast-powered slaughterfest and instead, tempted the player with vast open ended gameplay set in the African Savannah & Jungle(s). There was wildlife (sort-of) and two extremely annoying game breaking boo-boos.
The malaria component was trippy at first but it later just became redundant and took away from the overall experience, while the complete lack of safe territories created a toxic play environment. NPC’s would shoot at you regardless of whether or not you just completed a series of missions FOR their faction. Needless to say Far Cry 2 did not live up to the hype. It’s main saving graces were a robust map-editor (the likes of which were only on PC games) available on console versions, and the coolest fire-physics I had ever seen in a game. (OK…Alone In The Dark’s fire dynamic deserves a mention here.)
So, here we are with Ubi Montreal’s latest addition to the series. Far Cry 3 is set in a Pacific Island chain called the Rook Islands. To keep myself from rambling into eternity, I’ll break it down into sections.
The single player is where Far Cry 3 truly shines. The Island(s) are huge open, and lush playgrounds with plenty to offer the player in ways of side quests, hunting areas, scouring the jungles for collectible items, or just free roaming. They definitely took some notes from their work in Assassins Creed when they brought in the use of radio-towers which pretty much serve the same purpose as the Eagle Towers. Climbing each tower allows you to disable a signal jammer which reveals more of the map, and also unlocks weapons in the various stores and safehouses scattered throughout the islands.
As far as the story goes, you play the role of Jason Brody: Yuppie Extraordinaire. While vacationing with your two brothers and some friends (clearly in a part of the world where you should not go) you are kidnapped by human trafficker/drug cartel/pirate…guys. After what is likely the most intense opening sequence to a game I’ve played, you gradually learn to be a badass and own plenty of pirates in the process of trying to simultaneously rescue your friends and brothers, and cripple an international slave & drug operation.
The story reminds me of movies like Touristas, and Apocalypse Now (complete with easter-eggs) with notes of The Beach, and just about every action flick I saw in the 80’s – 90’s. It works, and has some genuinely powerful sequences that strike an emotional chord. As the story draws into the final two chapters it really builds up momentum, and intrigue…and ends on a bizarre note. It’s also noteworthy that there are two endings… However you had better want to play through the entire story twice, because the lack of a “replay mission” feature is a major letdown.
One major “WTF” moment for me during the campaign pertains to the acquisition of safehouses, and your allied Rakyat Warriors. These intimidating looking, and heavily armed tribal mercenaries have got to be the most useless and wasted NPC’s I have seen in a game. When they aren’t begging for help next to a broken down Jeep, they’re coming to your aid when, and ONLY when the final enemy has fallen.
Seriously, whenever you clear an enemy fortification and unlock a safehouse, an entire batallion of these hardened warriors magically shows up and has the audacity to gloat, saying things like: “I’m the man!” A better idea would have been to give the player the ability to request reinforcements when attacking an enemy stronghold rather than watch them roll up and whore the credit for each and every victory.
I played the games cooperative campaign in a fast past-paced high-octane bromance with none other than my PGCR cohort Big Heeb, which made for some interesting moments, and shenanigans.
I should warn you that the co-op mode is worlds apart from the singleplayer, with entirely different characters and an independent plot. The free-roaming aspect of singleplayer is tossed out the window and replaced with a play structure almost exactly like Left 4 Dead 2, except the zombies have automatic weapons, flame-throwers, and spam you with grenades. Oh, and they’re bigtime shotgun whores too.
Even the main objectives seemed to be on lease from Valve, such as “Power up this engine while every enemy and it’s grandma attacks you” moments, or “Hold your ground while..vice versa.
Almost every (scripted) encounter and checkpoint is merely a mindless run and gun sequence of clearing spawn-closet, after spawn-closet, as the game literally spews enemies at your ill-fated team. It wasn’t long before I was craving the single player, rather than the linear, and clunky co-op.
To be honest, I have not given the multiplayer the time it deserves, but in passing I found it rather “run of the mill” and generic when weighed against adversaries like Battlefield, Call of Duty, and other fast-paced shooters. Not an overall bad experience…but after a decent enough taste I didn’t feel compelled to really get into Far Cry 3’s multiplayer, with so many other titles in my lineup.
The map editor is rich, and filled with goodies. The only problem that may befall this installments map editing is the sheer lack of players in the online landscape – but only time will tell.
Overall, Far Cry 3 is likely the best in the series, with plenty to offer any fan of free-roaming shooters. Solid storytelling, and a rich and incredibly fun environment to roam around in, and blow shit up. However the lack of a strong online component makes Far Cry 3’s likelihood of ending up on my trade-in list higher than most. In hindsight I would have been better off renting this badboy than considering it a permanent resident on my games rack. But to each their own, this is merely my opinion. Nothing to…Cry about.