Preview: Far Cry 3

With Far Cry 3, Ubisoft has ditched the African setting, packed its beach umbrellas and gone back to the tropics. You are Jason Brody, an American tourist stranded on an idyllic yet hostile island in search for your girlfriend, who’s presumably kidnapped by the local psycho. Your friend has also been murdered by said psycho, so it’s obviously a very personal vendetta for you. Worst vacation ever? We’d completely agree.

At the recent Ubiday Pune event, I spent some time with this open-world shooter and while I couldn’t experience Jason’s plight through story-based missions, I could mess around with some of the side quests. The first thing that hit me as soon as I saw Far Cry 3 in action was how beautiful it all looked. The code we played was running on an Xbox 360 and even though it would probably look a lot better on a powerful PC, it still was a sight for sore eyes, the vivid colours and draw distance being particularly impressive. However, I wasn’t too happy with the controls, which felt rather floaty. Things became a lot worse once you gained control of one of the game’s many vehicles. For me, it was the quad bike, which for no apparent reason, kept spiraling out of control. In the end, I had to ditch it and trek all over the island.

In hindsight, I’m kind of glad I did because this way, I could experience the game’s open world nature. There’s a lot to be done in this game and I got a taste a things to come as I stumbled upon a hostile outpost. Unlike the monotony that was Far Cry 2, outposts in Far Cry 3 once overtaken will not spawn with bad guys after a few hours. In fact, it will soon get populated with the local friendly tribe that decides to help Jason out on his quest. This allows Jason to purchase ammunition and upgrades at a once hostile outpost, providing ample motivation to explore the lush island. At these outposts, you’ll also be able to undertake side quests that are quite rewarding in their own way, such as hunting down both humans and animals.

Hunting animals, something that was rather superficial in Red Dead Redemption, has been given ample thought in Far Cry 3. Instead of merely killing an animal to skin it and sell its pelt for a paltry sum, Jason can use it to craft usable items. Upon killing a bear, I could use its pelt to craft a large bow quiver, thus allowing Jason to carry even more bows. Hunting animals isn’t a walk in the park, especially when it comes to the bigger critters. Bears in particular are quite challenging and I had to unload nearly three clips of my AK47 to take one of these bad boys out. The Ubisoft employee standing beside me during my playthrough said he killed a bear using just the machete, but he had to stab it over 15 times. Norman Bates would be proud.

Far Cry 3 is taking its open-world moniker very seriously and in my limited time with the game, I could see myself investing countless hours into it. I also like the fact that stealth has been properly implemented into the game and it’s quite possible to take an entire outpost out using nothing but your machete, silenced weapons and/or a bow and arrow. Traversing the island is also made simple thanks to a nifty fast travel feature that will allow players to jump from one discovered location to another. However, like Skyrim, the real charm is to actually physically haul ass across the island. This way, you’ll experience some of the random dynamic events you may tend to miss out on if you rely a lot on fast travel. In fact, during my playthrough, my exploration turned near fatal as a relaxing swim in a lake soon turned into a frantic battle as I was suddenly accosted by a not-so-friendly crocodile. I was told that swimming in the sea could attract the attention of sharks and other unpleasant aquatic life as well.

To say I’m excited for Far Cyr 3 would be an understatement. Ubisoft has meticulously cut out all the boring stuff form Far Cry 2, mixed it up with what we loved about Far Cry 1 and proceeded to expand exponentially upon that formula. The result is an attractive game with solid gunplay and enough varied content to please fans of the series and the genre.

Far Cry 3 releases on 29th November 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC .

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