Far Cry 3 - My Open World Hands-On
Far Cry 3 - My Open World Hands-On
I'm in a jeep, cruising through a jungle at top speed as the world flits by. The sun is out, the trees are green, the water is an idyllic blue and everything is going great. I tear around dirt roads with ease, only letting the back end kick out if I'm feeling flashy or I brake a little late. Every now and then I see a tapir or a deer - or maybe a wild dog - but they quickly disappear while I concentrate on the road.
The last thing you want to do when driving around a tropical island is have an accident, as Denis Nedry could attest. Luckily it's not raining and there are no dilophosaurus about, so I figure I'm okay as I hit a bump in the road and get some amazing air. As I'm coming down to land, there's a flash of grey, a huge thump and I come to a skidding stop.
I leap out to check what happened, run back a dozen or so metres and there, dead on the ground, is a god damn Condor. It flew too low and I cleaned it up on my way through. I look up and there are five or six of the giant birds flying around near us, sort of circling - but a little off to my North.
Then a tiger eats me.
I'm sure Ubisoft probably won't be fans of me boiling their game down to a single sentence this way, but Far Cry 3 is basically Skyrim on a tropical island. It's all emergent systemic dynamism, buzzwords all meaning the game is full of unscripted moments. Animals that react to each other and their environment without following a set path. Two factions who war with or without you. A world altered by your interaction with it in a meaningful way, but not really fussed about your existence. It's the sort of game where you could probably just 'watch' and still enjoy the experience.
It's all wrapped in a story reminiscent of about a dozen "Holiday-gone-wrong" movies - where regular people head to some idyllic location for the time of their life only to find themselves fighting for it instead. These movies tend to see the person running for most of the plot though - just trying to escape - until they're finally forced to do something drastic to live.
This doesn't seem to be the case in Far Cry 3, and while it's understandable why it's not like that - because unless you're playing Canabalt you don't want to be running somewhere the whole time - it was a little disconcerting to me how quickly Jason Brody slipped into the role of killer.
Still, Jason sees some pretty messed up stuff happen and it's very quickly reinforced to him that this is a do or die situation. And he's a doer.
Just because Jason is a 'shoot first ask questions later' sort of guy doesn't mean you should be though - living long and living well in Far Cry 3 will mean planning and execution - running in places guns blazing will just make things tough on you. One pirate stronghold I stumbled across had over a dozen guards in it - including a man perched at an alarm post.
My first sojourn into the stronghold turned bad very quickly for me. I saw the man at the alarm post, snuck up behind him and put a bullet in his brain while he stared out over the ocean. He probably never even knew what happened. Sadly, everyone else in the freaking camp did - and while I fought off the guards who swarmed on me one cheeky bugger hit the alarm, calling in four jeeps worth of back-up. I die horribly not long after - simply overwhelmed and outgunned.
I return to the stronghold, determined to get my revenge, but this time I'm doing things a little different. I spend every dollar I have on a silencer for my pistol and when I arrive at the camp the first thing I do is whip out Jason's oversized DSLR camera.
The camera allows him to 'tag' enemies from a distance. There doesn't seem to be any limit on the amount of enemies I can tag, so I tag them all. This time when the bullet fragments as it collides with the overlook guards skull, the only sound is the characteristic zip of a silenced handgun and the gentle thump as my victim falls to the ground.
With just a little effort I'm able to sneak through the guards, putting down the enemies with ease. Things get a little out of hand near the end - you're not able to hide bodies, so other guards came to check on their dead friends - but I manage to stop them from getting to the alarms and eventually the Rakyat flag is raised above the stronghold instead.
Far Cry 3 makes sense - and I think that's what gets my heart racing the most in it. Interestingly, it's not watching a tiger hunt Rakyat villagers, or creeping through a stronghold surrounded by heavily armed men, or gliding over the valleys of Far Cry 3's archipelago that gets my heart racing the most. It's the simple act of swimming from one island to the next.
Much like in real life, common sense tells me that a shark won't eat me just because I'm swimming in saltwater. But any time I can't see the bottom of a waterway I tend to figure there's gotta be a chance that a shark lurks beneath me. Out on the Great Barrier Reef just knowing there were reef sharks around turned the experience of scuba diving into a thrilling adventure. The same went for a straight up shark dive I did at the Sydney Aquarium.
To that end, just swimming the 30 m to another island was a thrilling adventure - which is an excellent way of summing up my time in Far Cry 3. Whether you are hitting condors in jeep, swimming across shark infested waters or watching wolves hunt pigs every moment is doused in tension as every situation has an unpredictability about it. You might have the controller, but you never quite seem to be in control.
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