GAME NAME: Farcry 3
GENRE(S): Open world FPS
RELEASE DATE(S): November 30, 2012
Let me start by saying that Farcry 3 will almost definitely be my game of the year, for several reasons, unless something ridiculous happens in the last month of the year, which I doubt. This is over several stellar titles such as Halo 4, Borderlands 2, Assassin’s Creed 3 and many more.
Ever since Farcry 3 was first announced, I’ve been watching every trailer with rapt attention. When I heard it was delayed for an extra year, I was both pleased and upset. Pleased because I knew that they were definitely taking their time with it, and weren’t going to rush it out of the door to meet an arbitrary date. Upset because, well…I wanted to play it! I waited the year for the game to release, with all the new trailers teasing me all year long, and it was definitely worth it. I played the PC version and I’m pleased to report that the port is exceptional, with an FOV slider, full options menu, great optimisation and very few bugs. The one bug I will touch on is nothing to do with the game itself, and that will be touched on later on in the review. Onto the game!
Farcry 3 is set on a fictional archipelago called Rook Island, a tropical location set somewhere in the junction of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A return to the original jungle setting of the original Farcry is a welcome return after the African Savannah setting explored in Farcry 2. You are Jason Brody, a recently graduated college student who hasn’t really found his place in life yet, and has spent his time drifting around the globe with his friends and girlfriend skydiving, snowboarding and generally insane daredevil activities. He and his friends came to Rook Island to continue this trend, but they hit a snag. A rather large one, called Vaas Montenegro. Jason and his friends are captured and imprisoned on the island as part of the slave trading regime run by Hoyt Volker and his lieutenant, Vaas.
Jason escapes and sets about freeing his imprisoned friends from the insane Vaas, easily the most memorable character I’ve seen in a long while. Jason is given the “Tatau” (A tattoo on Jason’s left arm that grows as you progress your skills.) by a group calling themselves “The Rakyat” who claim to be the warrior descendants meant to rule the island. The Tatau is used as the skill progression of the game, with traditional XP rewards given for killing enemies, completing missions and killing enemies in a certain way. XP contributes to your level, and when you level up you receive a skill point that you can put into one of three skill trees. The skill trees are: “The Heron” which is focused on long range combat and mobility, “The Shark” which relies on brute strength and toughness and “The Spider” which focuses on stealth abilities and close quarter combat. Although it may seem at the start that you should focus on one skill tree from the very start, this is not the case, which I feel is in the game’s favour. If you complete side activities and missions, you will undoubtedly have enough experience to obtain all of the skills in all trees.
It is this fact that showcases what I feel is the greatest strength in Farcry 3. The freedom to do anything you want, engage enemies how you want, explore how you want and progress how you feel is correct. Too many AAA games lately are railroad experiences, with the game leading you through various scripted events that you must perform to how the game tells you to, or you fail. There are scripted moments in Farcry 3 that will happen, but they are all along the main story path. You can use whatever weapon you wish in whatever way you deem fit. Are you the type of person that takes a flamethrower and charges down the front door of a pirate camp, burning everything before you to cinders? Or do you prefer the sneaky approach, eliminating the patrolling guards surrounding the camp, sneaking in and disabling the alarms and finishing them off before they ever knew you were there? I could not possibly detail all of the ways you can engage your enemy and explore, but there are a vast amount of them. The Island is huge, with a full day and night cycle and activities littered everywhere. There are Radio towers which you can go and fix, updating your map and getting free weapons from gun shops (Almost identical to viewpoints in Assassin’s Creed.), Pirate camps to eliminate and take for your own, races, assassinations, supply drops, animal hunting missions, you name it, Farcry 3 probably has it.
With the size of the Island (I should probably add at this point that there are two, you start on the northern-most island, and eventually progress to the southern.) you have to have a fun and easy way to get around it. Farcry 3 has this in spades. Buggies, jeeps, hatchbacks, ATVs, jet-skis, hang-gliders, boats and even a bloody wing-suit! Yes, you can fly in Farcry 3. Unfortunately there were no actual aircraft to fly, no helicopters or planes folks, I’m sorry. Though they do appear in the game, none of them are drivable by Jason. The environments are lush, varied and interesting, ranging from giant mountain ranges to dense jungle, large rivers and waterfalls to town areas and dusty roads. The graphics in Farcry 3 are amazing, pulling the player headfirst into the world and shaking them half to death. A completely refreshing change to the swarm of grey and brown modern military shooters we’ve been drenched with lately. If you want to experience the best graphics, however, you must have a good PC, and get the PC version. Crack it up to the max with all the Direct X 11 effects you can get.
I spent the first three or four hours of my time with Farcry 3 fixing every Radio tower and eliminating every pirate camp. Not for achievements, but for the experience. It feels rewarding to do, and never a bore, because you can switch up your style of play at any time. Just been stealthily taking out bases? Why not pick up an LMG and a flamethrower, kick the door in and lay waste to your enemies. Or take a break from slaying pirates and delve into the jungle, hunting dangerous animals such as tigers, bears and leopards? This brings me nicely to my next stop on the list of praise this game is receiving; crafting.
At the start of the game, you are taught how to craft basic medicine and a bag to carry your loot in. After this point, the crafting menu grows exponentially, allowing you to craft bigger holsters to hold up to four weapons at once, (Flamethrower, RPG and LMG, anyone?) bigger wallets to hold the money you collect, better quivers to carry more arrows and special arrows, fuel tank holders, rocket pods, you name it. These items are all created via animal skins, which you must obtain by hunting the animal required and skinning it. The animals are varied and interesting, and their intelligence makes them just as difficult to fight as pirates. Obviously, not all animals are vicious hunters, but the ones that are…tigers, leopards, bears, sharks, are a big threat to you. On top of this there is the syringe system, which allows you to create medicine and ability enhancing drugs that will better you as you fight your enemy. You collect various coloured herbs and mix them together to create the syringe you choose. There are a lot of possibilities: Health regeneration, longer breath underwater, fire resistance, enhanced eyesight, animal repellents, drugs that hide your scent from animals for easier hunting and lots more. You can use these if you wish, but they are by no means required at all. Again, freedom is Farcry 3’s greatest asset, and it knows it.
You take all of this equipment and go take on the main story, and it is a good one, folks. The characters are all well rounded and interesting, although some more than others. Vaas is a brilliant example. In the very first encounter with him, right at the start of the game, he is shown as quite literally insane. But you know it’s a restrained insanity, breaking through every now and again, and it is intimidating as hell. The main quest-line takes you around each island, with the first half entirely based on the first island, and the second half on the second island. The thing I am most grateful for in this story is that it never got stale, monotonous or boring. The missions are changed often enough so it doesn’t fall into the same trap Assassin’s Creed does and become an endless slog of repeated missions. With the varied locales to fight in, the freedom to choose how you fight and brilliant characters to bring the story to you in an engaging and deep manner, what more could you want? Even after you have finished the main story, the game allows you to return there, out of any form of story restraint and explore. You can complete any side-quests you missed, or just enjoy the land.
This is all just the single-player, folks. Easily, including all side-quests, activities and missions, about 30 hours long, depending of course on how good a gamer you are. I haven’t yet mentioned the amazing map editor, or the multiplayer modes. The map editor in Farcry 2 was one of the game’s major selling points, with players allowed to manipulate the entire terrain, creating mountains, bases, replicas from other games or movies, race courses, you name it. This makes a welcome return in Farcry 3, with all the features you would expect. Add to this a co-op mode that is six hours long in of itself, with a story-driven plot for up to four players, and a multiplayer versus mode? You’ve got yourself a hell of a value package here.
The co-op mode has you take control of one of four characters: Callum “The Scottish Thug”, Leonard “The Crooked Cop”, Mikhail “The Russian Hitman” and Tisha “The Ex-Solider”. In a story set some six months before the events of the single player campaign. The character’s story is set around them being scammed out of money by the games pirates, whilst they worked on a cruise ship, trying to redeem themselves from the sinful lives they’ve led. They chase the pirates to Rook Island to get their own back.
There is also a competitive multiplayer mode with all the standard game-modes you would expect in a multiplayer shooter. It does very little to distinguish itself from other multiplayer shooters such as Call of Duty, however. With the XP based progression system to unlock new guns and abilities and kill-streaks. This is probably the weakest part of the game, for me. Some cute multiplayer modes make the cut, such as Firestorm, a mode where you have to set fire to your enemies’ supply lines at the same time, and eventually the fire will spread across the map, becoming another obstacle to overcome as your team rushes to capture the opposing team’s satellite dish. A standout feature in the multiplayer mode is shown at the end, where the top players on the winning team get to punish the best player on the losing team. They can choose to be merciful and do nothing, or get brutal and punish them in a variety of ways. The players are either Vaas’ Pirates, or The Rakyat tribe, both from the single player.
I’m going to touch on the very few bad points I have for this game. The first is not a problem for console gamers, but it certainly is for PC gamers. Ubisoft’s “DRM”, digital distribution system, whatever you want to call it. Uplay is a pain in the ass, and I wish it wasn’t there. Uplay opens up whenever you try to launch the game from a shortcut, making you click through various menus before you can launch the game. Ubisoft’s servers have been up and down on launch day and beyond, with players not being able to use the online services of Farcry 3 for very long, if at all. The offline mode has many bugs that do not appear whilst playing connected to Uplay, for some reason. But this is no fault of the game; it is Ubisoft’s error for creating such a useless and pointless system to put between us and the game. It shall not affect the overall score of the game. I felt it needed to be mentioned, however, as a warning to potential buyers.
There are a few missions which I found particularly frustrating, and they were always “Do not be detected before completing X” I hate these kind of fail state missions, and I feel that they shouldn’t be in such an open game. But regardless, they are there, and are goddamn annoying.
Farcry 3’s ending had me a little baffled and the second of the two endings just made me laugh at its stupidity. I won’t detail the endings, but I will say that it’s a matter of “CHOOSE YOUR SIDE, BRO” – The player chooses one side or the other and one side’s ending is so unsatisfying, stupid and contrived that it would be better if it just wasn’t there. This affects the score a little for me, as I hate games that have these kids of endings.
In conclusion, Farcry 3 is everything I wanted and more, a truly polished, shining example to the open world game genre. Everything from the graphics down to the characters is utterly sublime and unforgettable. A must buy recommendation from me, but heed the warning about Uplay, PC players.