Far Cry 3: New Year catchup review

This latest open world first person shooter in the Far Cry franchise is the most ambitious yet, with the Rook Islands offering a beautiful, but dangerous playground to explore. Far Cry 2 was a decent but flawed shooter, that didn’t quite reach greatness. The breaking guns, malaria symptoms, and respawning guard posts were particular gripes. So have Ubisoft learnt any lessons from the previous game, or is it once again a case of stunning game world, shame about the game?

The story starts off with the hero of the tale, Jason, who had been enjoying extreme sports on the Rook Islands in the Pacific, being held captive by the games villain Vaas. It becomes clear that Jason and his friends have been captured by pirates, who are looking to extort money from the youngsters’ parents, and sell them into slavery. Your mission is to rescue your friends one by one, while also liberating the Rook Islands from Vaas’s tyranny.

That’s not a knife, THIS is a knife!

The story of Far Cry 3 is engaging and intriguing, and you are compelled to keep playing to see what happens next. Jason is a likeable lead character, and Vaas is a fantastic antagonist, whose psychosis is well acted out. The main theme of the game is insanity, and Jason has a few freaky drug induced trips, where you start hallucinating and the world around you is turned on its head. Jason’s journey from extreme sports dude to psychotic warrior fits in well with the insanity theme of the game, and regular quotes from Alice in Wonderland during loading screens hammers home that message. Some of the bizarre missions see you hunting for mushrooms in an underwater cave, whilst under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. Another mission has you burning fields of marijuana with a flamethrower, and there are many more memorable excursions that aren’t just about clearing the surrounding area of bad guys. As you complete missions and tasks you are rewarded with Skill Points, which are used to buy special abilities like improved shooting accuracy, increased health or the ability to take down multiple enemies at once with flashy finishing moves. If you wish to take a break from the story, there are many side quests to keep you occupied. They range from hunting animals to clearing out enemy outposts, that are then used as fast travel points on the map. The game also uses a similar system to the Assassin’s Creed series, where areas of the map are uncovered when you climb radio towers to unscramble the signal. These are like a first person platformer puzzle, as you try to find the safe route to the top.

The game world is huge, and gorgeous to look at.

Far Cry 3 also takes inspiration from Red Dead Redemption, with its ecosystem of animals. Some are docile, while others will attack you, your enemies, or other animals on sight. This can work to your advantage or to your demise, depending on what the creature decides to do. It certainly adds a lot of unpredictability to encounters. One time we were sneaking up on two enemy soldiers, when all of a sudden a large bird rose out of the undergrowth and took out the enemy troops for us; while another incident saw us infiltrating an enemy camp, and while sneaking up on one unsuspecting enemy, he suddenly turned around and hit us, which made us fall in a river – unfortunately we didn’t realise there was a large crocodile in the water with us, which decided to have us for lunch, and a struggle took place. It’s these moments where the game truly shines, and these little moments are up there with the Battlefield series in terms of unscripted mayhem. The animals also serve a purpose in that their hides are used to craft bigger pouches to enable you to carry a larger selection of weapons, ammunition, syringes, and money, which makes hunting them a crucial part of the game. The enemy AI isn’t great, but at least enemies don’t instantly pinpoint your position (as was evident in the last game) and stealth is satisfying as a result. Graphics are fantastic, with some beautifully vibrant landscapes; although there were times when pop up was quite evident, especially when you take to the sky in the hang glider. 

You’re going to need a bigger boat!

The multiplayer modes in Far Cry 3 are the standard fare of the genre, with capturing flags, deathmatch etc all in place. There is also a co-op mode which lets you and three mates tackle a short campaign unconnected to the main game. This mode is a lot of fun, although communications were a bit ropey, and there isn’t the same freedom to the levels that are afforded in the main game, which was unfortunate. The characters come from different backgrounds and are pretty generic, although the foulmouthed banter of the Scotsman called Calum, had us in stitches with his Begbie (Trainspotting)-style outbursts. Far Cry 3 also features a map editor to enable players to create multiplayer maps to use in the game. This is quite extensive but easy to use, and we can imagine players with time on their hands recreating much loved Battlefield and COD maps, as well as original creations, which adds almost unlimited longevity.

Far Cry 3 is a stunning game that corrects everything that was wrong with its predecessor, and takes inspiration from many popular franchises in what is one of the most accomplished games of 2012. The gameplay is polished but fun, with a wide variety of missions, and side tasks, set in a world that is beautiful and packed full of secrets and wondrous unpredictability. Insanity is the main theme in the game, and we have to say you’d be insane not to visit the Rook Islands of Far Cry 3.

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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