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Far Cry 3: you never forget your first love

Tuesday, 4th December 2012 08:29 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Shooters? You can keep ‘em, says sneering elitist slash uncoordinated mess Brenna Hillier – until she lost her heart to Far Cry 3.

I’m not saying I’m ready to leap into Call of Honor: Explosions, but this is the shooter that taught me to love shooters for the shooting, not just tolerate them for their stories or innovations.

Far Cry 3 releases in the US today, several days after its launch in other English-speaking territories. US friends have expressed their disgust with this unusual state of affairs (normally it’s us waiting while they enjoy an early release) because the hype for Ubisoft Montreal’s new shooter is through the roof.

Spend a few minutes on Twitter with gamers and media and you’d be forgiven for thinking Far Cry 3 was the only game released in November. Everyone’s raving about it – and with good reason. It’s good, friends. It’s real good. You’ve heard that before, I know, and you’ve even heard it here. But now this is me saying it, and I don’t play shooters.

Not playing shooters is kind of my thing. I’m a pretty decent gamer, but with a few exceptions I’m just terrible at first-person action, whether with control pad or mouse and keyboard. It’s heartbreaking, sometimes, to feel locked out of a genre which is so important to the entertainment medium I love so much. My usual approach has been to struggle through the first few levels, having absolutely no fun, in order to check out any interesting new features, and then read or watch a summary of the rest of the game.

Given my historical hostility to the genre, I don’t even know why I started playing Far Cry 3. I didn’t have an advance copy, but in defiance of several embargoes, I was left alone in the house of somebody who did. They left the game running, and I’m both nosy and untrustworthy. I sat myself down, and closed out of the menu to check out the graphics, which I’d heard tell were pretty special. An hour later I was caught red-handed enjoying myself with a first person shooter. My reputation is in tatters.

“You’re good at this,” my friend said, as I played a game of tiger-and-tapir with a group of pirates, swapping out an ultra-precise rifle for a shotgun as I slipped in and out of cover.

“You’re really good at this,” they added as I put an arrow into three enemies’ faces in rapid succession before they could react to my presence, leading another two to pursue me into a carefully placed landmine.

“That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in a video game,” was the crowning achievement of my repeated NDA-breaking play sessions as I mantled cover, launched myself from a ledge in a wingsuit, swapped in a shotgun to blast an enemy in the face, and dropped neatly onto his startled head to complete the kill with a knife takedown.

So many options. Now this is a sandbox.

In between all this sandboxy combat, which supports such a variety of approaches and encourages quick tactical changes, I roamed the islands of Far Cry 3 being eaten by tigers, crocodiles, sharks, wild dogs and the genuinely frightening komodo dragons. Using stealth to stalk a flighty deer or flailing in horror as some beasty hauled me around by the leg, I felt like the very landscape was both my friend and my enemy, offering equal measures of reward and hazard.

It’s out on the roads that adventures really start happening though. This is the point where the terms “systemic” and “emergent” usually crop up, but to throw them around is to miss the opportunity to use the phrase “wildly variable random cool shit”. It’s not unusual to step off the beaten path in response to shouts, shots and booms only to discover entirely new unscripted happenings. Factions meet and clash and are interrupted by wild animal attacks, fires and explosions, and it all goes on around you, all the time, as if you didn’t even matter – although once you enter the fray, you surely do.

To criticise, Far Cry 3′s tightly linear narrative features some superb examples of writing, voice acting and animation, but its quality is not consistent and Jason Brody is one of the least likely and likeable protagonists I’ve ever seen. The story missions are disappointingly over-structured and restricted and fail to live up to the potential of the core mechanics. But the good parts are so good that you’re going to forget about all that once you get out in the wilderness. I’m not saying I’m ready to leap into Call of Honor: Explosions, but this is the shooter that taught me to love shooters for the shooting, not just tolerate them for their stories or innovations. If nothing else, Ubisoft is to be congratulated for its evangelism.

Far Cry 3 is available now on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Ubisoft provided a promotional PC copy to the writer on request.

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9 Comments

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  1. Erthazus

    “quick tactical changes”

    not really.

    Today I had situation where Bear killed everything without me and I got a camp with 1500 experience for “stealth killing”.

    Sandbox in this game is pretty much broken.

    S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a great sandbox as an example or DayZ.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Takeshi

    @1: Playing at what difficulty? At best it manages to take down 2 enemies for me. I’m playing Normal.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Erthazus

    I’m playing on Normal too.

    Bear can easily take out all camp or tiger. Jaguar or dogs not really.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. absolutezero

    I want to lose myself into the World of Far Cry 3, it looks like a really fun and exciting place to be immersed in. Only for some reason I can see each and every bare-faced gameplay mechanic stiching it all togethor. Theres shit-loads of filler, constantly never ending screen pop ups when I just want the entire HUD to fade out.

    I used to love sneaking, and setting up ambushes and improving all over the place in Far Cry 2, now I just seem to run everywhere being constantly chased by three cassowaries and some idiot guards in a jeep.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Samoan Spider

    Hunting bow – check
    People to kill – check
    A large/varied game space – check
    Fun – check
    Well thats kinda all that matters to me so I for one am loving it. It appeals to me like Medal of Duty: Band of Warfighters 6 never could!

    #5 2 years ago
  6. GwynbleiddiuM

    The game has moments of brilliance, I really like it, but there are short comings all around which is quite disappointing. It could have been better, but it’s not, still enjoyable and fun. It kept me up all night hunting boars and killing sharks, but the story is a complete let down, characters are forgettable and shallow. Only Vaas is good. Gameplay is great, hunting is fun but doesn’t feel like a shooter. Although the number of enemies around the Island is depressingly low, once you get each area’s stronghold, all pirates vanish. Crafting is poor, you make some holsters and ammo punch, a bigger bag and you don’t wanna bother yourself with it afterwards. Challenges are fun and some cases real tough, I like that. Finding stuff is good, the Island itself is a thing of beauty. I wish it had more to offer. Oh boy I miss S.T.A.L.K.E.R :<…

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DSB

    Playing on normal is a waste of your time. I’m playing on the hardest difficulty, and it’s still not much of a challenge.

    The flavor text in the menu was grossly exaggerating.

    @4 I’m having that problem too. It’s a bit like an MMORPG.

    I had the exact same problem with Far Cry 2 though.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. YoungZer0

    I’m just gonna copy-pasta the comment i wrote in the Far Cry 3 thread:

    Honestly, I’m quite disappointed. Most of the character-scenes were already spoiled by the trailers, gameplay footage and making-of material. There’s literally only one scene with Vaas i have not seen. Everything else about the story is quite unimpressive. The writing is good, but there are only a few scenes (Again spoiled by the trailer and gameplay footage) that made me go “Well, this is kind of fucked-up”.

    It doesn’t sell ‘the horror’ as good as another game that came out this year that shall go unnamed.

    I was hoping for more conversations between Jason and the characters, i didn’t buy his character-development.

    I don’t understand why the boss fights end in drug-scenes even though Jason never took anything before those. It’s weird and out of place, mostly resulting in QTE moments.

    The islands itself are impressive. Not a fan of the setting per se, but Ubisoft makes the most of it. Love finding hidden treasures in the Chinese ruins. It’s not as cool as the setting from Far Cry 2, but it’s still nice.

    The music is mostly completely out of place and one of biggest complaints i have. Try sneaking to Dubstep in a jungle setting. It’s fucking stupid and really takes you out of the atmosphere. There is no way to mute it so that’s a huge downer. I was hoping for music layers, but there are none, no matter what you do, WUP WUP.

    The gameplay itself is good, but it does too little to differentiate itself from Far Cry 2. There is less driving and enemies take less bullets, but that’s about it.

    I’d say from a gameplay point of view it does everything better than Far Cry 2. Being realistic though, there was no reason why Ubisoft couldn’t have simply patched Far Cry 2 to appeal more to the playerbase. 3 patches and the enemies still sucked up a whole magazine. Guess they are simply no CDPR.

    Most of the things we see in this game should’ve been in Far Cry 2 to begin with.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. ps3fanboy

    “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in a video game”

    YES let see the coolest screen tearing and frame rate droppings on the console version (ps3/x360)..

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-far-cry-3-face-off

    the multiplayer part aint working, the creating and uploading your map aint working. they have also just announced the january 2013 as release of the dlc, the missing co-op levels with the ending.

    its the GAME OF THE YEAR GUYS!… this over hyped fiasco, is just that a fiasco. a unfinished day 1 patched game that still don’t work and it’s missing parts will be sold as dlc, because they couldn’t finish it.

    #9 2 years ago