Welcome to the jungle
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 21:01
I’ve always been wary of the entries in the “Far Cry” series. It’s not like they’re bad games–in fact they’re all pretty decent; some are even really enjoyable. The problem is that the development teams and writing staff decided to change the style of each Far Cry release. The result is that each entry is drastically different from the next. The only thing that they all have in common is that they’re first-person shooters.
The earliest entry was almost like open-world adventures, allowing the player to utilize several different ways to accomplish an objective or take down a target within the mission area. The game even incorporated some science fiction and survival horror elements later on in its story. Add this to the (at the time) beautiful-looking tropical environments for its 2004 release, and you had a ground-breaking game of sorts.
There were a few other releases, expansions and console re-releases between sequels. “Far Cry 2” saw the development staff create a completely different game from the first. Rather than playing as ex-U.S. Special Forces soldier Jack Carver, players took on the role of an international mercenary of their choice for the second game. The locale was changed to a nameless African country during a period of Civil War, and the game was now a completely open-world experience. While the combat was much improved, the story received a serious downgrade and character development was nonexistent. And despite being set in an area filled with people and exotic wildlife, the game world didn’t feel nearly as vibrant and alive as it should.
I’ve brought up and described the previous games in the series for a reason. When I heard that “Far Cry 3” was being released, I prepared myself for yet another ineffective reinvention of the series. While “Far Cry 3” is much different from the previous entries, it feels like a combination of all the best elements in all of those games. The end result is the best game in the series to date.
The campaign follows Jason Brody, an American college student on vacation with his friends and family. Brody and company are soon kidnapped by antagonist Vaas Montenegro and his psychotic band of modern-day pirates. Out of options, Jason escapes and unites with the island’s natives, who are attempting to fight back against Vaas and his boss, Hoyt Volker. The game’s story is well-written, and its characters feel human and personable, which is a stark contrast to the lackluster story and characters from “Far Cry 2.”
Most of the missions involve rescuing Jason’s friends or helping the natives fight back, and are a ton of fun to play. The controls feel very “Call of Duty”-esque: very sharp and responsive. In a fast-paced game like
Far Cry 3, having comfortable, responsive controls can mean the difference between an enjoyable experience and absolute frustration for players. I’m happy to see that the developers did a great job here; the other entries in the series were far from clunky, but Far Cry 3 is still a huge improvement over them controls-wise.
The island itself is completely open-world and looks absolutely stunning. The island is much larger than previous settings, but truly feels alive. While wild animals were present in Far Cry 2, they weren’t utilized often or effectively. On this island, however, all kinds of creatures abound. Imagine this scenario, for instance: you’re pinned down by an enemy heavy gunner during a firefight, but just as all hope seems lost, you and the rest of the pirates are attacked by a group of angry Komodo Dragons, who enter the fray. The pirates freak out and start lobbing Molotov Cocktails, setting the entire forest ablaze. You manage to get away and head to high ground to snipe the heavy gunner, but as you’re looking down your sights at him, he gets mauled from behind by a Bengal Tiger. Situations like these occur frequently in Far Cry 3, and help keep the gameplay interesting and unique.
Far Cry 3 effectively incorporates the beautiful environments and solid writing of the Jack Carver entries, as well as the full weapons customization and open-world aspects of Far Cry 2. Yet, rather than playing out as a “greatest hits” compilation or some kind of mash-up, Far Cry 3 feels unique rather than just a copy of one of the other games.
While you’ll probably spend most of your time playing the lengthy single-player campaign, this game offers both multiplayer and co-op modes as well. Rather than just rehashing the single player experience, co-op has its own storyline and feels vaguely similar to the Left 4 Dead franchise in terms of gameplay. Multiplayer has standard game modes, progression and customization, but sets itself apart from other titles with its map-maker and Firestorm Mode. Firestorm is an interesting take on Capture the Flag, where a wildfire sets random areas of the map ablaze. Far Cry 3’s in-depth map-maker will have creative players coming back for more.
Between its single player, multiplayer and cooperative modes, Far Cry 3 offers countless hours of gameplay. Whether or not you’re already a fan of the series, this entry has something for everyone, and offers enough autonomy for players to enjoy it all. Without question, Far Cry 3 is one of the best games of 2012. Anyone who is even remotely interested in this game should check it out.