Sunday, 30 December 2012

Review: Far Cry 3 (PS3)

Far Cry 3 is a sequel in name only to the Far Cry 2. I was a huge fan of the first game in the series, but Far Cry 2 introduced too many changes for my liking. The whole malaria mechanic and running into enemies every five minutes while trekking across the African plains was one of my main criticisms of the game. Thankfully these problems are gone and Far Cry 3 is hands down one of the best action adventure titles I have played in a long time.

Far Cry 3 features both a deep campaign and multiplayer modes consisting of competitive and cooperative play. If Far Cry 3 consisted of solely the single player campaign it would still be a terrific game.

The story takes place on Rook island, a beautiful tropical getaway whose seedy underworld is full of pirates and thugs looking to make an easy dollar selling drugs and kidnapping tourists. You play the role of Jason Brody who is visiting the Island with a group of friends and family on vacation. You engage in the usual shenanigans of 20 somethings such as drinking, partying and, of course, sky diving. This leads to Jason  and some buds landing on a part of the island occupied by pirates who quickly take the partiers captive.

The game throws you into the thick of things pretty quickly. Shortly after being captured, Jason escapes and attempts to rescue each of his friends and his brother. Along that ride you're taken care of by a local tribe at war with the pirates.

You don't really learn a whole lot about yourself, your friends or the tribe at the beginning of the game. The character development occurs over the course of the game and it works extremely well. Jason goes from being a person whose never fired a weapon to a skilled hunter and marksman who learns new skills over the course of the game. All of this is incorporated beautifully in the game. As you progress through the game you earn skill points which let you unlock new enemy takedowns, shooting and survival skills.

Rook Island is massive in size and chock-full of activity. When you start the game, a majority of the island's map is locked and you unlock parts of the map by climbing up radio towers. Not only is the island occupied by pirates and indigenous people, it's also full of exotic and deadly wildlife and plant species. You'll frequently see tigers, boars, sharks, and bears running and swimming around the island interacting with one another, the Pirates or even yourself. Lots of pirate camps around the islands have deadly animals like bears or tigers in cages. One of the coolest things to do is shoot the cages open and let the wildlife attack enemies for you.

The presence of animals and plants also provide valuable resources to Jason, who is required to use the island resources to survive. You can collect different exotic plants on the island and craft syringes to heal Jason and improve his survival skills. You can also hunt the wildlife on the island and skin animals for their hides to make holsters and wallets to carry more weapons and money.

In addition to the story missions, there are plenty of side missions including ones where you hunt exotic animals, play poker and compete in time trial races. In some ways Far Cry 3 feels like the Grand Theft Auto of first person shooters.

A staple of the series has always been open ended gameplay. You can approach any objective seemingly any way you wish and there are plenty of travel options on the island available such as running, driving, swimming and hang gliding. The world is massive in size, but you can fast travel using safe houses.

Each time you liberate a pirate camp it becomes a safe house.The campaign lasts approximately 12-15 hours but there are so many things to do on the island once the story wraps and it's even worth going back and playing through the story a second time.

The game also features offline and online co-operative play for up to four players. The co-op is more linear than the campaign and is only fun if you are playing with three other players. Playing with only two or three players is extremely difficult as the co-op levels are long and the game throws tons of enemies at you, even if they aren't that intelligent. There seems to be a large drop in the enemies AI from the campaign to the co-op play. The games competitive play is what you've come to expect from first person shooters. There's a progression system full of unlocks and upgrades and the game features a pretty cool map editor that's fairly easy to use.

Far Cry 3 is a terrific and is one of the best games I've played in a long time. Far Cry 3's main draw is the deep and engaging campaign, but the multiplayer modes are also serviceable enough to keep you playing for a long time.

- Siddharth Masand

The Good:
- Terrific campaign
- Open ended world with lots to do and tons of activities
- The environments feel full of life
- Beautiful looking game

The Bad:
- Multiplayer modes are not as strong as the campaign

Score: 9.0 / 10