Ubisoft are really getting good at this. They just delivered Assassins Creed 3, which is a brilliant, open world game with an enormous story and oodles of side quests. Far Cry 3 is definitely from this same design template.
Here is a quick run down for Far Cry 3 - set on a series of tropical islands (we like that), the story is strong and the characters have depth (we like that also). The game world is massive and there are lots of side quests that you will decide to do, which in turn keeps you busy and exploring. The graphics are passable but this is largely because we are experiencing this on console. We will be doing a performance review on the PC Far Cry 3 version later in the week.
The story puts you, your two brothers and your girlfriends on a holiday island. You guys are all adrenaline junkies, drinking and skydiving and having a lot of fun. Then the nightmare begins and you meet the deeply disturbing Vaas, a coked up nut job who wants ransom money for you and your western buddies. He is likely to kill you either way. I am not going into the story here as I don’t want to offer any accidental spoilers.
Far Cry 3 menu will not make you cry
Unlike AC3 the Far Cry 3 menu system is simple and easy to navigate. Helpful tips are delivered on loading screens in a handful of words. You can quickly look up characters or places or equipment. Easily save the game or open the map and set way points. This should all go without saying but having experienced AC3 menu system I really think it shows that they can do it when they want to and this needed mentioning.
Far Cry 3 loading, please wait for 30 seconds each time
The load times are long and arduous but they do not happen so often that you pull your hair out. Ironically, if you “fast travel” then you have to wait at the load screen for 20-30 seconds. Much more fun to try and get to the location by your own means, especially in the early stages of the game. Later in the game though, the map gets so big you will be thankful for the fast travel, even with the 20-30 second load time.
Crafty Far Cry 3
Due to a clever integration of a crafting system, you will find yourself actively trying to hunt particular wild animal to enhance your inventory. The crafting system is welcomingly simple. Shoot a tapir, click x to skin it. Wherever you are you can visit your crafting menu and convert it into some ass-less chaps or whatever it will let you make. Ok that last bit about the chaps is a lie, but I didn't want to give any spoilers. The equipment you can make will let you carry more items and because of this you will find yourself swerving off road to run a pig down if you need it’s skin.
Far Cry 3 Crocodile Dundee
Looting bodies and skinning animals is pretty straight forward. Look at the body and hold x. But the body detection can leave you wandering around a body a few times, basically looking at the floor until you get the “press x to loot body” prompt. This leaves you vulnerable and starts a cycle of events. Kill bad guys, spend too long trying to loot their bodies, get attacked by wildlife, kill wildlife, spend too long skinning animals, get attacked by bad guys and so on. Before too long you are waist deep in your own bloody safari park and will likely decide to skip out of the area to do something else. Let me also clarify, its still fun though, all that killing.
Speaking of wildlife there are lots of different animals and they have their own roaming areas that are marked on your map, to help you find your way to their skin. You often hear the animal before you see it and will lose your life to them countless times. Despite what that may sound like this actually adds variety to the game and makes it even more enjoyable.
Far Cry 3 leaping and diving
Let me share a little experience with you. I discovered that if you run and press jump you will vault over things. No surprise there. But if you run and jump and your landing location will be water, then the game detects this and turns your jump into a dive. Its cool. I immediately looked around for the highest, closest point to test this. There was a beached ship in one of the earlier missions, whose back end was still in the sea. Perfect for leaping off. I climbed up to the deck and ran towards the water, leaping off the lip towards the sea. Oh and there were loads of angry, bemused guards chasing me. Sure enough my guy switched into a dive as I neared the water. A smile spread across my face, but only for a split second. My heart leapt into my mouth as I entered the sea, and I clocked movement out of the corner of my eye. My sub conscious had already told me that there was probably only one thing that would likely be here in the sea with me. When I got control of my guy again I was spinning this way and that and then I saw it swimming right for me, rows of teeth bared SHARK!
Far Cry 3 Snap Happy Bad Guys
If you shoot a bad guy then their buddies will often rush to cover and cautiously head to the place where they heard you shoot from.
To help track the enemy (including animals) you can tag them. To do this you need to get within range of your current selected weapon and hover your cross-hairs over your quarry for a couple of seconds. However, you also have your camera with you, which has a great zoom function and broad lens. Use this device to tag enemy quickly and easily from cover before launching your attack. Once an enemy is tagged you can see them as a silhouette even if they go behind cover of their own. With this extra visual cue working to your advantage you can often shoot and move to flank many enemy, one after another.
Far Cry 3 weapon upgrade
Far Cry 3 offers a suitable selection of weapons to unlock and you can get them straight away, providing you have the money, kill someone with the weapon or they are provided for free back at your weapon vending machine when a com tower is taken over. A lot of the weapons can be upgraded with attachments like a red dot to your bow, which may increase range or accuracy. This helps drive the character on to loot all the dead or explore the many crates and lock boxes lying around the jungle.
Far Cry 3 player upgrade
Complete missions, stealth kills or progress the story and you gain experience, which turn into skill points. You can allocate your skill points to unlock tattoos, which represent new character abilities, like swimming faster or being able to take down multiple enemies at once with your stealthy knife attack. There is a nice selection of skills and they unlock steadily, based on how many of the missions you you have completed. The drive to unlock these gives the player a gentle push in moving the story forward.
Far Cry 3 Blurry Undergrowth
With such massive draw distances how does the aging console deal with this? Well there are certainly a lot of tricks being used and being used well. Each region of the map can be uncovered by climbing up a very high communication pylon. Each region has one. This approach is a lot like Assassins Creed’s lookout points. Once you turn the communication tower on your map is updated with info and a camera zooms around a few points of interest in the region. Its during this zoomy moment that you can really see how sluggish the console is nowadays. What is meant to be a visual “Wow!” moment is actually a bit more “meh”. Its not really bad, just tired and blurry to save on hardware resource. Its the sort of thing that will be a treat on PC, if it is optimised well. We will let you know once we put Far Cry 3 on PC through its paces this weekend.
Far Cry 3 Quick Time Events
When other publishers like EA and Capcom are adding Quick Time Events their implementation often grinds the story to a halt if the player fails the combo press. Ubisoft, on the other hand, use them in their correct context, to enhance the gameplay. QTE are a gameplay mechanic that work if used in the correct manner and Far Cry 3 manages to achieve this by keeping it simple.
Here you go, an animal attacks you, pulls you to the floor. Press the same button a few times to try and push it off. Simple, its part of the game. Admittedly the animal normally then eats you once you get back to your feet but thats usually because by this point you are firing wildly into the sky. Ahem, thats just me isn’t it?
Far Cry 3 is designed for gamers
The use of QTE in Far Cry 3 is representative of how Ubi are listening to fans and thinking about how to make the game flow forward at a pace set by the player, without forcing a grind or interfering with the gamers fun. Similarly the use of crafting encourages exploration, but doesn’t make you pointlessly travel to a crafting place once you have the animal skin you needed. Weapon vending machines are located conveniently, so are fast-travel markers. Another point of note that fits into this approach is where and when you can save your game. Hitman Absolution was released last week and where traditionally Hitman is all about moving forward and saving often, when you have perfected your approach, this new game has for some reason switched to randomly placed checkpoint saves. This turned the game into a shoot fest every time you made a mistake, which could frustratingly be after 10 minutes of careful planning and stealthing. Far Cry 3 and Ubisoft know this and display as much in their care for their gamers which means we can save anywhere, anytime. Ubisoft should not be winning points over their competition in this day and age, by adding a save feature to their game. Its obvious! But, Ubisoft 1 - Square Enix 0.
Far Cry 3 conclusion
A simple rule - This year, if it has Ubisoft’s name on it, you are going to get a great gaming experience for your money.
The Far Cry 3 world is alive with enemy and animals, missions and side quests, a strong story and characters and I can assure you, many hours will be lost as you decide to venture off the beaten track. At its core Far Cry 3 has been designed with the gamer in mind and as such it is easy to recommend. I have been saying this a lot lately, but with mouse and keyboard plus the sheer graphical brilliance that a PC can offer, this will likely be an immersive treat on PC. But to know that for sure check out the comprehensive Far Cry 3 PC graphical analysis.