REVIEW : FAR CRY 3
Fantastic, Detailed open world that begs exploration; Supremely satisfying gunplay; Best looking game on PC by a distance; Memorable characters; Side quests never get old.
Story isn't particularly strong; Voice acting for generic NPCs is woeful; Underwhelming multiplayer.
Far Cry 3
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: First-person shooter
Platforms: PC, PS3, X360
MRP: Rs 3000 (PS3 and X360); Rs 1000 (PC)
Street Price (As On 07-Jan-2013): Approx. Rs 2650 (PS3 and X360); Rs 850 (PC)
I must confess to being a Ubisoft Montreal fanboy, smacking my lips in anticipation of Far Cry 3's sandbox world for close to a year. I had similar feelings prior to the release of Far Cry 2, going fanboy-batshit over videos of dynamic fire, procedural sky and other words that translate to eye-candy. As impressive as Far Cry 2 was from a technical standpoint, Ubisoft Montreal took the immersion too far, leading to a game that intrinsically lacked soul. Every single character was instantly forgettable and the game spent far too much time making you drive from one point to the other. That, paired with the infuriating propensity of enemy hordes to respawn only minutes after being vanquished, forced me to abandon Far Cry 2. Some part of me dreaded that Far Cry 3 would trudge a similar path to disappointment, but 30 hours with the game have put those fears to rest. Far Cry 3 delivers what it promises and then some. Rook Island is the most alive, engrossing, and insane setting to ever be realized in a videogame.
Vacation Gone Wrong
After a largely disappointing tryst with the jungles of Africa in the previous iteration, Far Cry returns to its colourful tropical island roots. The game casts you as Jason Brody, whose extreme South-East-Asian holiday goes extremely awry when he skydives, along with his group of adolescent revelers, into Rook Island, a haven for drug-lords, slavers, and worse. Vaas, one of the most twisted and memorable videogame villains in recent history, is introduced almost instantly, as Jason finds himself in a cage with his brother, awaiting his death. After a maniacal first half-hour of adrenaline-filled escapes, the game lets you come to grips with your surroundings, which (provided you have the hardware to match) are an absolute visual treat.
In all the time I spent with the game, I didn't find a single jaggy or low resolution texture. There is a little bit of pop-in here and there, but this isn't noticeable for the most part. The game requires you to scale tall radio towers to reveal new areas of the map (much like Assassin's Creed), and the view from the top is breath-taking, every single time. The first time in particular, when the visual engine flexes its muscles to produce a jaw-dropping landscape, is unforgettable.
Far Cry 3 is about more than just a pretty island, of course. Jason's mission is to rescue his friends and get off the island, but of course, it's never that simple. Your journey begins by helping out a tribe called the Rakyat, and helping its members drive away Vaas and his pirates. There are tons of crazy characters you need to sate along the way to saving your friends, and implementing their madcap schemes is only too much fun. There's an interesting progression to Jason's character as well, as he evolves from scared prisoner to stone-cold killer. He struggles to come to terms with what he's become, and while this isn't as intense as, say, Spec Ops: The Line , it's an interesting sub-plot that adds soul to the story.
The voice acting is a large part of what makes the story work. It's fantastic, especially Vaas, whose insanity is captured to an almost frightening degree. Every single encounter with him is memorable, none more so than that scene from the E3 trailer. It's a pity they gave that entire scene away, because it is one of the best pieces of voice acting I've ever seen in a videogame. All the other major characters do a great job as well. However, the same can't be said for the generic natives and soldiers who have repetitive dialogues with a bizarre half-Chinese-half-Australian accent that almost feels like it's been borrowed from Just Cause 2.
The Island is Alive
While there is a story (which is reasonable, if not stellar), the real joy of Far Cry 3 is exploring the island. Even though Jason's friends are being held hostage, you can choose to conveniently forget about them and lose yourself in the tropical wasteland with tons of side quests and challenges. What sets Far Cry 3 apart from other sandbox shooters is that none of the side missions seem tacked on. Everything you do serves a purpose, and is almost necessary at some level. While the side-quests are limited to around five or six varieties, no two missions will ever feel the same. Some require you to stealthily assassinate pirate captains using only your knife; some need you to make emergency supply drops on a quad-bike; others hone your hunting skills and compel you to kill leopards, bears, sharks, or more devastating beasts.
Animals on Rook Island aren't simply props. It's a living, breathing world of untamed, merciless wildlife. Predators don't take kindly to visitors on their turf; and these rules apply not just to you, but to enemy mercenaries as well. I've lost count of the number of times I was camping amidst trees, sizing up an enemy base, only to hear a growl and suddenly have to fight off a white tiger. One time, in the midst of planning my assault on a base, my job was done for me when a bunch of dingos attacked the base and ripped out the throat of every last mercenary. The randomness and unpredictability adds a degree of excitement to everything you do. To makes things even more interesting, killing animals is absolutely necessary to progress in the game. Far Cry 3's inventory system dictates that ammo pouches, loot sacks, wallets and more are upgradable only by killing certain animals and using their hides to craft new equipment. It starts off easily enough, with hunting deer, but if you want to be able to carry more than 6 health syringes, you have no choice but to wrestle and kill sharks underwater. It's beautiful.
Flora is just as important as fauna. Harvesting plants with different coloured leaves (red, yellow, green, blue), allows you to craft syringes that are essential to survival. Green leaves, for instance, help craft health syringes and endorphin shots, while red leaves help concoct recipes that make you temporarily resistant to fire, particularly helpful when you're using a flamethrower and the wind decides to send a line of burning grass your way.
Mark and Destroy
Just like in previous Far Cry games, you're equipped with a set of binoculars (alright, a camera, if you want to be fussy about it), which allows you to scout enemies beforehand so you know what you're dealing with. Whether you're capturing an enemy base or doing a story mission, you'll invariably find yourself scrambling to a lofty vantage point to locate all your enemies and chart a route. How you dispatch these enemies is up to you. You could choose to be stealthy, distract unsuspecting guards with rocks, and stab them. Or you could camp and snipe with a silenced rifle. And of course, there's always the option (my personal favourite) of going in all guns blazing and wreaking havoc with machine guns, automatic rifles and RPGs.
Killing enemies, completing missions, and finding lost treasures (of which there are hundreds) earns you XP, which, in turn, gives you skill points that you can spend on developing a skill tree of abilities that suit your style. The melee takedown abilities are by far the most fun. They're similar, in some ways to Dishonored, in that you can instantly kill enemies by jumping down upon them or climbing up a ledge. My personal favourite was one that allowed me to stab a soldier in the back, unpin a grenade in his pocket, kick him forward into a bunch of enemies, and watch the confusion before they were all blown to hell. Good times, those.
Guns Kill People
There's no shortage of ways to dispatch of your foes in Far Cry 3. Not every set piece can be accomplished with stealth (why would you want to do that anyway?), and there's a satisfying arsenal of weapons to choose from. SMGs, LMGs, assault rifles, sniper rifles — they're all there. There are more unconventional weapons including a bow and flamethrower, which take a degree of expertise to handle, but can be extremely effective nonetheless. Initially, you can only carry one weapon, but killing animals and crafting new holsters allows you to carry upto four different weapons, in addition to grenades, Molotov cocktails, and C4. Weapons can be further modified and upgraded with extended magazines, scopes, and suppressors.
Every single gun in the game packs a fantastic punch, and sounds terrific. You really feel like you're using heavy artillery. Vehicles, buildings, and gas tanks explode with abandon, and look absolutely magnificent. Of course, there's only so much time you can spend admiring the fireworks before getting yourself killed. Far Cry 3 is a game that revolves around guns, and using them is immensely satisfying.
You can also choose to use your guns on multiplayer and co-operative settings, but these modes don't really offer anything that other games can't do better. You have a standard set of game modes, including deathmatches and territorial battles, but it feels a bit tacked on. Far Cry 3 is best enjoyed as a single-player experience.
Open World Done Right
Far Cry 3 is everything you could ever want from a sandbox shooter. The environments encompass a grand scale of jungles, beaches, waterfalls and coves that look absolutely spectacular, and are teeming with unpredictable wildlife and merciless enemies. The story does its job, telling the tale of Jason Brody and his companions through a mixture of missions, cinematics and in some cases, psychedelic hallucinations (shrooms, anyone?).
But despite there being a storyline, it's Rook Island's magnificence that will eventually win you over. You'll often find yourself lost, stranded in the middle of nowhere, chasing leopards and tigers, stumbling onto derelict ruins and treasures, and loving every minute of it. If you don't spend at least 25 hours along the way to completing Far Cry 3, you really aren't doing it right. This is an open world that doesn't just beg exploration, but rewards you for it, every step of the way.
Gameplay And Design: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Played On: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T, Asus GTX 670 DirectCU II 2GB , G-Skill Ripjaw Series 4 GB RAM, ASUS Xonar Essence STX sound card.
System Requirements: Intel Core2Duo E6700 \ AMD Athlon X2 6000+, 4 GB RAM, AMD HD2900 \ NVIDIA GeForce 8800, 12 GB HDD space, Dual-Layer compatible DVD-ROM drive, Windows Vista.
Recommended System: AMD Bulldozer \ Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM, AMD HD7970 \ NVIDIA GeForce GTX680, DirectX compatible sound card.