Before I get into anything, I'd like to point out that this is my first review for GD, so if it really ends up sucking I blame it entirely on that. With that in mind, I'm going to do my very best to provide a nice clean review to Ubisofts latest and, in my opinion, greatest game in the Far Cry series. Let's begin...
The opening sequence of a game is extremely important, it either draws you in and makes you stick around, or it fails miserably and the rest of the game suffers for it. Far Cry 3 does a fantastic job if bringing you into the story. You take the role of Jason Brody, a 25 year old thrill seeker out on vacation with his 2 brothers and a few of their friends. The party quickly takes a turn for the worse, however, as you soon find yourself on a tropical island in the care of modern day pirates. Things go from bad to worse, but after a nerve racking run through the jungle you manage to escape. When next you awake, you've been rescued by the locals who call themselves the Rakyat. The long and short is, in order to rescue your friends you're going to need to become a tattooed tribal warrior and fight for what you want. I think most people will empathize with Jason, as the game does a great job of setting up the scenario and drawing you in.
Control & Gameplay:
For fans of the Far Cry series, this game is going to feel both very familliar, and refreshingly different. The overall control and "feel" while playing is very similar to Far Cry 2, but even newcommers will likely feel at ease when it comes to surviving the dangers of Rook Island. The list of weapons is not terribly huge, but almost everything we do get can be customized and will find a use one way or another. From handguns, to sniper rifles, and a recurve bow that features regular arrows as well as the flaming and explosive varieties, if you can't find a weapon you like then chances are you're just too picky. You can play rambo style, guns blazing, but Far Cry 3 finally offers us a great stealth experience as well.
Another new feature that will greatly affect your game is a leveling system that features 3 distinct skill categories, each represented by an animal. The Heron represents mobilty and speed, the Shark represents combat and damage, and the Spider represents stealth and survival. Each new skill will also have a phsyical representation on your body, via a tribal tattoo (or tatau as it is called by the natives). The further you progress, the more tatau you will acquire, and the native Rakyat will soon come to respect your abilities and count you as one of them. Experience is earned in the normal variety of ways, killing enemies, capturing outposts, compelting quests, etc.. There are skills for every playstyle, and it's a simple thing to make the character you really want to have.
Finally, one of the other big changes this time around is the addition of not only animals, but a hunting and crafting system. In order to craft the various weapon and loot packs that you'll need to increase your capacities, you're going to need to hunt down some local wildlife. Everything from goats and dogs, to sharks and tigers. The addition of these animals also adds a new danger. One moment you can be sneaking around the outskirts of an enemy camp, trying to find the best route of attack, when suddenly you hear a low grumble from behind you. Too late you realize you're in tiger territory, and suddenly you're ambushed by 600 pounds of claws and teeth. Apart from hunting, you can also harvest a small variety of local herbs and plants, in order to craft useful potions and serums. These can have effects ranging from healing to amplification of abilities, and will be quite useful as you progress. The crafting system is very simple, and very effective. It's one of the most well executed crafting systems I've seen in a game.
My rig is a tad on the weak side for this game, but regardless it looks absolutely beautiful. It can be played in either DirectX 9 or 11, which means almost anybody should be able to run it with a sufficiently powerful GPU. At 1280x1024 with a blending of medium and low settings, I get a stable 30ish FPS, and have never noticed any significant lag (even when half the jungle is burning around me and I'm being shot at by 2 dozen guards). The environments are very well designed, and you never really feel like there's nothing to look at.
I had initially lamented the games clunky save system, although I am now forced to retract any such issue. While perusing the controls in the customization menu, there is no mention of any kind in regards to quick save and load keys. At first I thought this was because there WAS no quick save and load. I later stumbled upon the F9 key, and it functions as the quicksave. I had then just assumed there was no quickload but this was my mistake. In truth, there is a key for both. Press the F9 key for quick save, and the F12 key for quick load.These options are the default keys and as yet there seems to be no way to change them. I blame myself for not finding them both sooner, and Ubisoft for not being normal and using the normal F5 and F9 setup.
The other issue is not one that I personally have, but have noticed a few people mention in comments on reviews for the game on YouTube. The hunting system. It serves a function, and isn't just useless cruelty to animals, but at the same time the game does more or less require you to go out and shoot down otherwise innocent creatures. If you don't wish to do so it's not absolutely necessary, but if you don't hunt and skin animals you'll never increase your carrying capacities for weapons, ammo, loot, or cash. Frankly I don't see this as a problem, but some people do seem to think that killing these virtual animals is wrong. But you know, by all means continue the wanton slaughter and wide variety of gruesome murders of other humans in the game..that's no problem...
Far Cry 3 improves on almost every single aspect of Far Cry 2, and fans of the series should absolutely love the latest installment. With the addition of the skill system, weapon customization, and crafting, Ubisoft has stepped up their game and brought out something that is a load of fun to play. It's not just another cookie-cutter First Person Shooter.