Review: Far Cry 3
Anyone following along with the articles recently on the website (and I dearly hope someone is following along, somewhere) might have notice that I tipped Far Cry 3 as my Game of the Year for last year. Someone, even less likely, might even have cared exactly what impressed me so much.
Well, that guy, this one’s for you.
Far Cry 3 was refreshing experience almost from the get go. It’s the kind of game where just setting off into the woods can create an organic story which often humbles the original narrative of the game, a title where you can spend hours before trying why exactly you were parasailing off a mountain in the first place.
I could explain about the storyline - how Adam Brody and his friends parachute onto the “abandoned island” for kicks, are captured by pirates (don’t think Captain Hook, think Somalia) and separated, how Adam meets a man from the local tribal village and eventually becomes embroiled in a struggle between the natives and the pirates in order to save his friend – but I honestly think this is game which isn’t sold so much on the story. This is a game built on unique experiences, so far better you hear some anecdotal evidence instead of something you could learn on the back of the cover.
I was driving through the woods in a buggy I’d commandeered from the side of the road. Swerving around trees, a little Hawaiian bobble head girl swayed in reaction to my movements, even as the radio bumbled out a reggae song I half recognized – my attention was fully on the road. Keeping one eye on my minimap, I still managed to miss the signs that the bush I was pounding through pared back from the rise of a hill ahead of me – seconds later I was tumbling off a cliff.
I fell about 30 feet, noticing the beautiful waterfall I had just hurdled as I crashed down. My car flipped.
As I got out my first thoughts were “oh fuck, I’m on fire”. Mashing X repeatedly by the side of the pool created by the waterfall, I put out the flames on my arm with my hands – surviving the fall with half a bar of health left (I had 4 bars total). My vehicle was wrecked, I was walking out of here. I bandaged up my arm and turned to leave ---
And suddenly I was underwater, wrestling with an alligator which has captured me off the bank. We spun as it dragged me down. I frantically followed the prompts on screen, pulling out a knife and repeatedly stabbing it. It released me and I swum back to the surface of the water, climbing out and admiring the upside down corpse floating in the shallow pool.
I was deciding whether or not to skin it when I saw the pirates.
I could go on for hours. From gunfights by broken ships to hunting a golden tiger through the woods. From flying from one island to another using a flight suit to killing a man at 70 feet with an explosive bow. From releasing a komodo dragon from a cage to pillage a pirate outpost to burning marijuana fields with a flamethrower.
Far Cry 3 somehow strikes a balance between Red Dead Redemption and Tomb Raider, your adventures on the beautifully created (and locationally ambiguous) island marked by tribal rituals, animal hunts and territorial turf wars with pirates.
The graphics are delightful (yes, delightful) even on consoles which are starting to show their date (see: anything but pc), but the solid skill system and diversity of quests on offer are what really steals the show. You actively want to be distracted in this game, whether it’s a hunting quest, an assassination, helping a native or just a pick up game of poker.
That’s not to say it’s all good news. The storyline of the game can be a little thin in parts, and the antagonist spends a surprisingly little amount of time on screen (I mean, hes on the cover) – not to mention the general dudebro-ness of the protagonist can get a little weary.
But none of this ruins a spectacular game, which tries for and achieves more than virtually any sequel I can remember.
If you haven’t yet, don’t kid yourself. This may have been a late runner in the race for GOTY 2012 – but as you can see, for at least one reviewer it was miles ahead.