“On an island in the sun, we’ll be playing and having fun, and it makes me feel so fine, I can’t control my brain…”
From publishing powerhouse Ubisoft, comes the open-world adventure title, Far Cry 3. Primarily a first-person shooter, the game also features role-play elements such as experience points, skill trees and a crafting system. Although Far Cry 3 is the third title in the franchise, it tells its own self-contained story and had no ties to previous instalments in the series.
The game tells the tale of protagonist, Jason Brody, a tourist visiting the tropical Asian-Pacific archipelago, the Rook Islands. The morning after his arrival he awakens to discover that his friends have been kidnapped, his brother Doug has been murdered, and the Islands are populated with psychotic maniacs. In the wake of this horrifying realisation, Jason is forced to deal with a wide array of unstable characters in order to find and rescue his companions and make his escape. Beginning his journey as an everyman, out of his element, over time the islands have a profound effect on him, bringing out a side he never knew existed, turning him into a hardened killer.
Part of the fun of Far Cry 3 is exploring the vast untamed island chain. When not on foot a myriad of vehicles can be operated, such as nippy quad bikes, off-road jeeps and armoured dune buggies. As well as swimming in the sea players can drive jet skis, inflatable speed boats and machine gun mounted patrol vessels. And as if that wasn’t enough hand gliders can be found on top of cliffs, ziplines can be used to zoom from perch to perch and a wingsuit can be attained, allowing its wearer to glide through the air like a giant flying squirrel.
Various villages and settlements can be discovered around the region, many of them with their own trading posts. From here players can purchase guns, ammo and medicine, as well as customise their weapons. Radio towers can be captured, revealing new areas of the map and hostile outposts can be liberated, unlocking new activities and side-quests in the area. Players can track down wanted men for bounty money, undertake hunting missions to eliminate dangerous wildlife, and deliver important supplies to the island’s inhabitants. Sharpshooter challenges, island races, knife throwing games and poker tournaments can also be engaged in to pass the time and make some cash.
By gaining XP from completing missions, killing enemies and undertaking side quests, Jason can learn new abilities utilising three separate skill trees, each named after different animals. The Heron deals with movement; how fast you can react, quicker reloading and improved accuracy. The Shark concerns combat and advanced healing techniques, allowing you to chain together takedowns and use medicine more effectively. And the Spider is all about stealth and survival skills, allowing players to drag & hide bodies and harvest more resources from animals and plants.
A huge arsenal of weapons are available for use throughout the game, including handguns, machetes, machine guns, sniper rifles, explosives and hunting bows – which you can use on two main groups of enemies; psychotic bloodthirsty pirates and professional heavily-armoured mercenaries. Within each of these categories there are several different classes, ranging from standard soldiers carrying AKs and shotguns, to snipers, using long range rifles and RPGs. Chargers sprint up in a kamikaze frenzy with melee weapons, whilst heavy gunners, covered in body armour wield hulking machine guns. Lastly vicious attack dogs are kept by some foes that can sniff out trespassers and rip them limb from limb, given the chance.
As well as domesticated pets the Rook Islands are home to a diverse range of wildlife, including various birds of paradise, shoals of tropical fish and graceful giant sea turtles. But while many of these animals are beautiful, others are decidedly deadly. In the waters surrounding the islands lurk territorial manta rays, poisonous jelly fish and an abundance of aggressive sharks. Further up river crocodiles lay in wait, ready to ambush unsuspecting passers by and virulent komodo dragons can be seen stalking their prey across the landscape. Tigers and Leopards prowl the jungles, whilst monstrous bears can be found in and around caves. Venomous snakes are commonplace and flightless cassowaries can eviscerate their prey in seconds.
All of these creatures can be hunted, and their resources combined with various island fauna and other ingredients to create items using the game’s crafting system – ranging from weapon holsters and rucksacks to herbal remedies and tonics that can be administered via medical syringes.
Far Cry 3 features a co-operative campaign, allowing two people to play split-screen and up to four to play online. The four controllable characters consist of Leonard, a crooked ex-cop, Mikhail, a Russian hitman, Tisha, an ex-soldier and Callum, a Scottish thug – all of whom have led sinful, selfish lives. The plot is set six months before that of the single player and centres around the four protagonists being scammed out of their hard-earned money by pirates while working on a cruise ship, trying to redeem themselves. Unable to accept this they give chase, pursuing the pirates to the Rook Islands. The co-op campaign features six seperate chapters each lasting approximately an hour in length.
Competitive multiplayer is also included in Far Cry 3, containing a robust progression system with a heavy emphasis on teamwork. As well as the traditional team deathmatch and domination modes, two exciting new game-types have been added. Firestorm mode tasks players with simultaneously setting fire to the opposing team’s two nodes. Once achieved they have to combat the other team, as well as the spreading flames in order to make it to the radar dish to secure their victory. Transmission consists of players holding control points that periodically shift around the map, similar to Black Ops II’s Hardpoint mode.
Team Supports are FC3′s version of Kill Streaks and range from simple ones such as revealing enemy positions via a helicopter to dropping hallucinogenic gas and even makeshift bombs on the opposing force. As well as the ten maps included, the game features an exhaustive map editor, allowing players to create and distribute their own levels online.
Despite never playing any Far Cry titles before, I am really looking forward to this game. I’ve heard a lot of interesting things about FC2, which make me really keen to give this sequel a whirl.
For a start it looks beautiful, plus its narrative is independent from other games in the series, so experiencing its predecessors isn’t mandatory. The Islands, complete with vehicles and wildlife are going to be amazing to explore, and with the plethora of side-quests and activities in addition to the main story, there is a lot of content here. And that’s without even factoring in the multiplayer modes. This game is going to be insane!
Far Cry 3 washes up in stores on 30th November for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Rob Gisbey is a games journalist and music production graduate from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. To listen to his acoustic demo, read his articles and listen to the VxM Videogames Podcast head to his blog.