By Robert Workman, GamerHub.TV (MCT)
As much as I liked the idea of “Far Cry 2” and its open world exploration, something always felt off to me with that game. I’m not sure if it was the African setting (compared with the tropical island of the first) or the general nature of the missions, but it wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. It was still fun, though, and upon hearing about “Far Cry 3” (which was announced last year at Ubisoft’s E3 press event), I couldn’t help but wonder … would this be the one that gets the thrill of the hunt right? And it truly is.
Though there are some nagging issues when it comes to difficulty and the general nature of your protagonist — who is pretty much a tourist who becomes an overnight badass — the game manages to excite anyway, not only because you have free reign over miles of terrain to cover, but because of the chaos you can truly create, whether it’s launching an RPG at a truck full of pirates or hunting a tiger that, by the same token, wants to have you for lunch. There’s no shortage of greatness in this game, and it’s insane.
You and your buddies are minding your own business vacationing on a tropical island when you run into Vaas, a vicious pirate who has some devastating plans for you, either planning to sell you off or use you for his own vile needs. You manage to escape, but not before one of your own is murdered by him. Teaming with a local group of villagers who intend to fight him, you slowly turn from innocent civilian to an all-out mercenary, packing an assortment of weapons and learning new skills, such as pouncing on someone with a brutal kill, learning to mix toxins that could come in handy later in the game, and developing hunting skills and picking up some animal skins — and flowers, awwww — as a result.
Like “Far Cry 2,” you don’t have to do everything on foot. You can use Fast Travel to get around, and unlock new locations by activating radio towers that are scattered all over the island. You can also hop into a number of vehicles to get around, including trucks, jet skis, and a cool hang glider, which lets you swoop over enemies from above, surveying the land before you run back in and shoot everyone. Ubisoft has improved its open world engine in so many ways, though there are still some areas that require you to walk around a steep hill, instead of giving you the option to climb. (You can work your way up vines, at least.)
The combat in “Far Cry 3” is superb. The guns haven’t really felt better in the series than they do here, and your other capabilities, namely using a knife for a vicious stabbing attack, are also useful. You can also use throwing knives and other weapons over the course of your journey, though there are times you’ll also need to use stealth to your advantage, such as early on in the game when you’ll sneak onto a boat without getting detected. (Relax, it’s actually more enjoyable here than you might think, thanks to the ability to throw rocks and take out someone from behind. Guards are idiots.) Unlocking new abilities will help keep you going, and plenty of side missions pop up over the course of the game, including ones where you hunt exotic prey.
This is also the best-looking “Far Cry” game in the series to date. While there are mild problems with textures here and there, it really is a fantastic take on a fantasy island (that isn’t so fantasy-based), whether you’re running around through underwater caves and going for a swim, or letting loose on the beach and spilling fresh blood. The animations rock, too, especially when you get really close to someone and slump them to the ground. And, might I say, Vaas is definitely an intimidating character, and you just can’t help but work toward that moment when you put him in his place. If you live that long.
Along with a wide-open single-player campaign, “Far Cry 3” also features a cool co-op campaign in which you hunt down an equally dangerous captain with the help of some friends. Though not as good as, say, “Spartan Ops,” co-op has its moments here. There’s also a competitive multiplayer here, and it’s rather short and sweet with only so many maps to choose from, but it too is worth trying out. The “kill cam” effect is outstanding, and really gives you an idea of who to chase after next once you respawn. REVENGE!
After “Far Cry 2” dragged a little bit for me, I can’t help but think that “Far Cry 3” feels like the comeback machine for Ubisoft. Everything that was introduced in the previous game has returned, along with better mechanics, a wide assortment of missions and a superb presentation. The single-player campaign will keep you busy for what seems like ages, and the co-op/multiplayer modes are decent distractions as well. This is one island getaway you won’t want to miss.
FAR CRY 3
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: First-person shooter, action-adventure
ESRB Rating: M for Mature