So here’s the deal. I loved Far Cry on the PC, not so much on the Xbox, didn’t really get into Far Cry 2, and 3 wasn’t even on my radar – so much in fact that I thought the dude on the cover was who you played. Well I soon learned he’s actually a very bad man called Vaas and he’s part of one of the best intros to a game ever.
You see, you and your chums have gone travelling and have decided to go skydiving. The good news is it’s not the fall that kills you, the bad news is you land on a place called Rook Island overrun by pirates.
You can tell straight away that although the game has a lot of FPS and game mechanics you’re familiar with; it’s the voice acting and characterisation that really transcends this game into something definitely worth your time. Because you genuinely care about the characters on your side and really can’t stand some of the less savoury folks on the island the game’s so much more enjoyable for it.
So what will you be doing on the island? Well, if you’ve played Assassin’s Creed or Red Dead Redemption before you’ll be in familiar territory here. There are the main requests that involve a mixture of sneaking and gung-ho gunplay and then all the side quests and camps to liberate. These involve hunting animals and using their skins to make better equipment so you can carry more items and ammo, climbing to the top of towers so you can unlock more of the map around you and generally exploring the lush surroundings that at times make you wish you were actually there if it wasn’t for all the people trying to kill you.
There’s also an RPG element as you level up and apply skills to your repertoire that vary from being able to leap from above and kill two people at once to be able to breathe longer underwater when hunting for sharks. You can then see your progress on a lovely tattoo sleeve on your arm! You can also upgrade your weapons to suit your play style by fitting silencers, extended ammo clips and red dot sights onto them.
Graphically it’s a mixed bag. The vistas are beautiful and characters are convincing when you’re in one of the pseudo-cutscenes on offer but there is a trade-off with a fair amount of tearing on the Xbox 360 version along with pop-up and textures visibly loading. There’s also a fair amount of bugs such as floating objects and this pirate that just wouldn’t die after I roasted him with a Molotov. Speaking of which, fire effects are awesome, especially when you get to play with the flame thrower and there’s the feeling you’re not just a floating camera when climbing about or falling from heights as you see and legs flail about.
Combat is also slick. Enemy AI seems to do a good job of flanking you and finding cover but I wish their overheard conversations when sneaking about would amount to more than the STD that seems to be going round the island!
Also thrown into the mix is a multiplayer mode that no-one seems to be playing and a co-op mode that tells an entirely different story of four stranded individuals who are done over by a greedy captain. It’s a fun affair with co-op and competitive tasks built around each of the missions with plenty of skills and items to unlock as you earn even more XP.
Far Cry 3 is one of the most engrossing games I’ve played all year. I couldn’t put it down thanks to the mix of action, stealth and fantastic characterisation. It’s definitely in my top 5 this year and it can’t get less than 9 out of 10.