Preview: Far Cry 3
- — 17 October, 2012 22:00
|Name||Sandbox first-person shooter: Far Cry 3|
|Games Info:||Developer: Ubisoft Montreal; Publisher: Ubisoft|
|Platform:||PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
The Far Cry series has come a long way since the first game was released in 2004, but it's also come full circle. We may have a new protagonist in Far Cry 3, but we're back to a lush, tropical island that can be described as a sandbox in more than one sense.
The protagonist of Far Cry 3, Jason Brody, is a tourist who finds himself stuck on an island where a gang war has been going on for years. He wants to get off the island, but first he has to find his girlfriend (of course).
In my preview session of Far Cry 3, I was given no clear objective, just plopped into the middle of the sandbox and told to have at it. I didn't have story missions assigned, and there were none to find - just a couple of guns and a chunk of the island to explore. If you've ever played Just Cause 2, you'll know this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
In this open world, there were a couple of markers on the map. One was a picture of a radio tower, and one was a flag. I headed out of the town where I'd spawned and toward the radio tower first - I'd been told previously that I could pick up a side mission if I went there. I walked with my pistol out, taking in the beautiful environment.
It's clear that Ubisoft Montreal has put a huge amount of time and effort into the environments of its AAA games in the past few years, and Far Cry 3 shows off the fruits of the company's labour. The result is in stark contrast to that original 2004 game. The art style, the bright, colourful setting and the attention to detail are breathtaking. The bright colours and art also reinforce Far Cry's trademark surrealism - even before Jason starts taking hallucinogens.
When you stop to smell the roses, you might notice a bird flitting around, or a spider monkey scampering across my path. At one point I saw a group of wild dogs hunting a pig. The tropical jungle on this island is allive with wildlife. But it's not all cute animals being friendly - some of these animals will attack if you get too close. There are dogs, tigers and bears (oh my!), and you don't want to mess with them if you want to live. You don't even want them to spot you - they'll attack for no reason at all.
During the day, there's not much to be afraid of - I quickly discovered that I could easily dispatch large groups of bandits and their attack dogs. When night falls, however, things become a lot more difficult. It's no longer easy to aim and pick off bad guys - you can hardly see them hiding in the bushes.
Night also makes the game more tense, especially when you know there are animals around. I'm still reeling from wandering into a spooky, abandoned settlement, opening a door and immediately being mauled to death by... something. No idea what.
When I finally reached the radio tower, on foot, I had a few guys to fight, and then I made my way up to the top of the structure. There, I opened a box that could broadcast a signal, which in turn assigned me a sidequest. In this sidequest, I had to deliver a package by driving a dirt bike from waypoint to waypoint.
Driving in Far Cry 3 was, by far, the most frustrating part of the preview. Many first-person shooters switch into a third-person view when you drive, which makes it easier to see where you're going. In first-person view in Far Cry 3, there's no peripheral vision and you can't even see the whole windscreen - just the half that's on your side. I don't have a problem with that if it works well, but handling was also not great. The left stick, which controls the direction the vehicle goes in - I was playing on PC with an Xbox controller - is also hyper-sensitive, which meant a quick flick to the left would sometimes send my vehicle swerving 180 degrees and into a rock. Thank goodness real cars don't handle like that.
That said, the island is big, so having a poorly-controlled vehicle is better than having no vehicle at all. In the demo code, it was not possible to alter the sensitivity settings, which might have helped.
There are RPG elements to Far Cry 3, like a skill point system and an MMO-like crafting system, but unfortunately in the time I had I wasn't able to do anythng more than unlock an extra ability, which gave my gun increased accuracy.
At the end of my hour with the game, I wanted more. I wanted to explore the island, see more sights and hear more sounds. The game looks fantastic so far - as evidenced by the fact that I happily spent an hour wandering around achieving almost nothing. Gotta love that sweet, sweet freedom.