Moving back to a tropical setting similar to the original Far Cry is the first step in the right direction, once the reins are taken off and you are left to roam free you will discover a beautiful open world, rolling hills, mountains and beaches stretching as far as the eye and the impressive draw distance can see.
This environment is at the core of what makes this game so enjoyable, like a true open world the options available are numerous, including climbing radio towers and revealing new areas on the map offering nearby activities and points of interest, taking over the guard towers which secures parts of the island allowing you to spawn in a safe house and hunting the many species of the island not just for sport but to upgrade your character with extra weapons and ammo.
It might all sound very par for the course but the catalyst for the magic is when the different AI systems begin to interact and deliver some open world emergent gameplay moments. Taking over outposts for example can be tackled many ways, good old guns blazing will do the job if you have the skills and the hardware, stealth can be rewarding and taking over an outpost without being discovered or sounding any alarms grants extra bonuses, or perhaps while you sit in the bushes contemplating these options a tiger will wander into the camp mauling everyone inside and doing your job for you. More creative types might use other systems like fire which can spread trough the environment distracting and killing both enemies and animals, drilling head holes from afar with a silenced sniper rifle or strapping C4 to the front of your favourite vehicle and delivering the good news in person.
Once you have opened up the map and crafted more pouches than you can count there are still a ton of extra activities to keep you coming back, Path of the Hunter gives you specific animals to hunt with certain weapons, Trials of the Rakyat allows you to compete with friends in a variety of kill based challenges and Supply Drop asks you to race between checkpoints, several more distractions along with collectibles and simply exploring the island means there's a lot on offer.
All of these provide both cash and XP allowing you to upgrade both your armoury and Jason himself, by the end of his adventures you will have gained many extra abilities helping you deal with everything the island throws at you. Not that upgrading is the motivation for your antics, the beauty of the best open world games is getting lost in a world which feels complete and Ubisoft have done a brilliant job at achieving this. Heading towards a quest on the map and getting side tracked for hours exploring, hunting, hiding and playing mini games is simply a time sinking joy.
Which is just as well as it means there is no real rush to complete the story missions. Far Cry 3's story is at its best when the star of the cover art is centre stage; Vaas is your captor and a deranged psychopath who is incredibly well voice acted and performance captured. He is certainly the only personality in the game which has any significant impact and for reasons best left out of a review he is done a great disservice; and the game suffers greatly for it.
Beyond that the tale of carefree rich kids sold into slavery is just frustratingly paced, almost like Vaas himself the campaign flits from dull linear corridor shooting to frustrating stealth missions and is occasionally punctuated by fun but out of tone missions such as getting high in the marijuana fields as you burn them with a flame thrower whilst listening to Skrillex. A mystical tattoo endows Jason with ever increasing abilities for no other reason than it's a convenient device for a progression system. It plays into the shallow tribal motif whose mystical powers are never explained but are key components in a plot which ends with two of the worst endings they could possibly have devised.
It takes a while to finally come to its conclusion, but I can almost guarantee you will have spent many hours wandering the island before you feel the need to advance the main mission. The island remains open for business whichever ending you choose allowing you to continue free roaming. The campaign could conceivably be completed in 8-10 hours but that would only serve to boil down a fantastic opportunity to explore into a much more mundane affair. The open world is where the true game lies and it will consume as much of your time as you allow it.
The multiplayer components are equally diverse in quality, co-op allows you and three friends to take control of 4 new characters in a series of missions which ultimately serve as action packed playgrounds where you are given objectives and must work together finding items, defending positions and protecting each other. Whilst not a particularly special implementation of a coop mode the game's shooting mechanics remain solid and the missions serve as surprisingly fun mini campaigns whilst throwing in a competitive aspect now and again.
The same can't be said for multiplayer which leans on all the elements you might expect with regards to unlocks and levelling up and subscribes to the usual format of standard death match and domination modes that have become a staple of the genre. Not only is there nothing new to see here it simply can't stand up to the competition, the impressive graphics of singleplayer are taken down a notch and flaws in the shooting mechanics become glaring and occasionally frustrating when you are not just fighting against predictable AI. It is certainly functional but unless you find something particularly alluring about the change in scenery it remains an unnecessary bullet point on the box.
King of the jungle
- Beautiful Scenery
- Dynamic open world
- Emergent gameplay
- Worthwhile co-op
Bottom of the food chain
- Poor Story
- Generic Multiplayer
Far Cry 3 Xbox 360 Review
Far Cry 3 is a smart well calculated combination of the tumultuous series’ high points and carefully selected elements of other titles. The core stealth element of the original Far Cry remains to an extent, while the open world full of AI and interacting systems from Far Cry 2 has been tightened and refined, sprinkle in some RPG type character improvements, a beautiful landscape and more objectives than you will care to complete and the hours just fade away.
Dissecting the game into its core components is however a disservice to what makes this game so enjoyable. It’s the quintessential water cooler game that you discuss with your friends the next day which showcases its unpredictability. Animals, enemies and NPCs all interact in some very interesting ways.
The core of the single player is simply a joy to play, the best measure of an open world game is how often you don’t actually end up progressing the story, instead filling your boots with side quests and simply exploring. If the story hadn’t imploded halfway through and then done the gaming equivalent of dropping the mic mid sentence and walking off at the end it would have had few contenders. As it stands Far Cry 3 is a well crafted world which despite the many missteps of the flawed campaign and the mundane multiplayer will keep you coming back for more.
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