Sun, sea and sandbox
Far Cry 3 promises to be one of this years biggest, densest, and most action-heavy open-world games when it hits in late November (or early December if youre in the US). It also looks to be one of the maddest, both in terms of its unhinged characters and the sheer wealth of things to do. Why do we know this? Because two noble GamesRadar Editors recently went hands-on with the games first three hours, and ended up doing a whole bunch of stuff they didnt expect to be doing.
This is their catalogue of that stuff.
1. Finding out that our new hero is a wuss
In stark contrast to Far Cry 2s selection of battle-hardened mercenary gun-bastards, Far Cry 3s hero is as green as a seasick lime. Jason Brody is a young, out-of-his-depth American tourist having one hell of a disappointing seaside break. Stranded on what feels like a desert island holiday camp for the mentally ill, his friends are all either missing or dead, and he has no way of contacting home. His response? A whole load of whining and sobbing.
The opening sections of the game, set during Brodys initial escape from the pirate camp he wakes up in, are soundtracked one long string of terrified whiny yelps and proclamations of his own weakness. Its actually a smart change from the usual over-confident grit spouted by game heroes in the face of impending death, and probably a deliberate foundation for what we expect will be a slow-burning story of empowerment.
2. Discovering that our friends are hateful douches
At first its not easy to be sympathetic to Far Cry 3s main cast of good guys. In fact so loathsome is their initial introduction that the notes we wrote during the games opening title sequence genuinely cannot be published on this website. Why are they so horrible? Four words: SPRING BREAK BRAH WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Introduced via a horribly upbeat montage of extreme sports holiday imagery, Brodys crew are immediately identified as the most standard-issue bunch of showboating college brats that the dark arts of extreme national stereotyping could possibly muster. We think the effect is intentional though, because the holiday footage immediately jump cuts to them having a much, much less fun time. Its actually quite effective from a dramatic perspective, but more than a bit sadistically cathartic too. For a bit, anyway. Which leads us on to our next point.
3. Suddenly feeling a bit sorry for our hateful friends
Yay! One of my hateful bro-friends is now in a bamboo cell looking all battered and sad. Oh wait, hes looking really sad, and not that bro-ish at all now. Oh hang on, this place is actually really scary, and that mad-eyed guy verbally torturing us is pretty well acted and genuinely a bit disturbing, and suddenly this all feels like a cross between Apocalypse Now and Hostel and can we get out of here now please?
4. Heroically fighting off the bad guys but then getting eaten by a Komodo Dragon while reloading
You thought the wildlife could be a hassle in Far Cry 2? Komodo dragons are total arses. Theyre vicious, theyre low to the ground, and they blend right into the grass, making an attack from them very much like being gored by your own lawn. Theyre all over the place in Far Cry 3, and they think nothing of slowly shuffling towards you while youre otherwise engaged with bigger, more obvious gun-wielding adversaries. And then theyll take a big bite out of your leg. And it will really hurt, and they wont even care. Arses.
5. Actually enjoying the car chases
Far Cry 2s car chases, although theoretically brilliant, were fairly horrible experiences in practice. However fast and evasive you managed to be, their incessantly aggressive Terminator-style AI would mindlessly chase you to the very ends of the Earth and smash the living crap out of you. Over and over, forever, until you were dead. It was like being bullied by a room full of anthropomorphised washing machines.
Well no more. Far Cry 3s driver AI so far seems balanced just right. Pursuers are aggressive enough to provide a thrill and demand smart driving, but are also plausibly flawed, falling away and giving up at just the point they should. Car chases now feel like the rewarding emergent set-pieces they always should have been, rather than the eye-rolling irritation they were.
6. Finding a lot of quite nice people around the place
Dont let the unhinged madness of arch-villain Vaas and his band of pirates completely put you off Far Cry 3s island as a potential holiday destination. While we were expecting an entirely brutal wilderness filled with murder and ribaldry at every turn, we rapidly discovered that the region is actually an area of long-standing contention between the pirates and a whole load of rather civilised folk who want them out.
For starters theres an entirely peaceful village, which is home to a lovely bunch known as The Tribe. You can hang out there, rest, and shop to your hearts content. In fact it feels so much like a holiday destination that we started to wonder if Brody could just leave his friends to their fate and stay there, free of trouble. It seems like a better plan, all things considered. And then theres the doctor we met later on. Hes a total 70s acid casualty, but a thoroughly nice chap, and very helpful indeed. Couple in all the various community notices and requests for help, and you have an area that feels a lot more friendly to exploration than Far Cry 2s realm of unending bastardry.
7. Being a murdery postman
Late mail is annoying. Mail theft is a crime. But you know whats even worse? When the postman delivers a parcel and then stealth-machetes you in the back because youve got a better gun than him, before zipping off into the sunset on the very same quad bike he arrived on. Not to mention when that departing silhouette is the last thing your dying eyes see, drawing cruel contrast against the hope it brought just moments earlier when you saw it coming towards you carrying ironically - the medicine you we so desperately relying on.
Note: There may have been a side-mission in Far Cry 3 which charged us with hurtling cross-country on a quad bike to deliver desperately relied-on medicine before a tight timer ran out. We may have completed the mission and collected the reward, and we may not be proud of what we did next.
8. Crafting a pig-skin wallet
All over the map there are icons representing animals indigenous to different parts of the jungle. After getting tired of seeing You cant carry any more money flash up on the screen we decided to do something about it, which meant hunting boars. After moving to an area of the map lousy with them, we took out our pistol and began taking shots at a nearby oinker, only to see it turn tail and run away. Another one we shot at actually did the opposite, and ran straight towards us. We shot it after taking a few hits, but were surprised to see the piggy give up such a fight.
After skinning it (and killing and skinning another) we went into the crafting window and looked through the wide range of options. Many things, from being able to carry items to having multiple weapon slots, are actually tied to crafting, incentivizing spending some time killing helpless animals for their hide. We found the wallet section and crafted a new one. Success!
9. Killing a dog for profit
Several, in fact. And it wasnt just the usual open-world equation of long, uneventful trek + random animal = inevitable murder. Dog destruction is actually a prescribed side-mission objective early on. Having completed the first real story-driven combat mission (a raid on a pirate camp), wed already had to increase the meat/lead ratio of one aggressive canine in order to survive. Wandering the roads surrounding the camp afterwards, we came across one of Far Cry 3s many mission-dispensing noticeboards. It turned out that a guy wanted a pack of wild dogs clearing from his land, and having already proven ourselves pretty handy at the old canine reduction business we signed up.
One odd point though. The note specified that it wanted the dogs killed in a very particular way. Namely with a shotgun that the poster had left near the objective. This guy didnt just want the dogs dead. He clearly wanted them obliterated. Our temporary boss was clearly a scary mental type, but we were getting a free shotgun out of it, so the dogs died.
10. Getting into a massive, needless firefight in the road
Far Cry 2 saw you fighting a lot of random enemies while driving, but it became fairly standard fairly quickly. In Far Cry 3 we experienced something similar, but it quickly escalated into something much more impressive. After watching some allies get into a shootout with another jeep we ran into the road to help, and soon found ourselves pinned under gunfire.
A few screeching noises let us know that the battle had grown, and we moved to a safer position to assess the situation. What once was a two-car battle had now grown to be five vehicles large, with each group hiding behind their car and trading bullets. Nothing a few grenades couldnt unravel, though.
11. Fighting a tiger (and losing)
After creating a wallet we felt like we were the kings of the jungle, and went back on our path to hunt and kill other animals for the skins. At one point we heard a roar and thought nothing of it--there was a good chance, we figured, that it was simply an ambient noise--but we were wrong. Moments later we were on our backs, staring up at a vicious tiger.
We sprung to our feet and fired a few shots but the beast was too fast, and we were dead. Looks like Jason doesnt have the biggest bite of them all. Worse yet, we didnt save after making the wallet, meaning we had to go back and kill more pigs. Lesson learned, we suppose.
12. Assassinating a guy with a big knife
Soon after being allowed to explore the world we noticed some wanted posters on a wall. Going up to the assassination one was instinctual, since open-world assassination missions are usually fun, but we noticed something unique. Apparently we had to assassinate this poacher in the traditional way: With a knife.
And thats just what we did. We snuck up to the area where he was, silently took out his cohorts with silent knife strikes, and then sprinted towards him full speed. He spun around just in time to see us lunging forward, piecing his chest with our big, shiny knife.
13. Playing Resident Evil Mercenaries in the jungle
Another rather cool side mission (Far Cry 3 seems to be jam-packed with them, and early signs point to a shedload of creative variety this time around), this one was triggered by interacting with a stone monument atop a hillside jungle clearing. Seemingly part of Far Cry 3s asynchronous online offering (there was talk of leaderboards), it directly copies the central mechanics of Resident Evil 4 and 5s Mercenaries mode, only using autonomous sociopaths instead of the parasite-afflicted mutants as targets.
An enclosed area, a countdown timer, points scored for kills and kill combos, extra time to collect by hitting special icons Its pure Resi Mercs, only the addition of Far Crys cat-and-mouse stealth mechanics bringing a slightly different pace and flow to proceedings.
14. Playing a structured, linear level in an open-world game
The problem with open world games is that all too often the immense freedom and emergent, gameplay they impart comes at the price of level design. The scope might be immense, but by nature of open-world gamings freeform structure the kind of detailed, paced level design found in linear games is rare. But theres a cool subversion of that trope early in Far Cry 3.
Tasked with finding some rare cave mushrooms to cure an unconscious friend, we found ourselves exploring a large, winding, multi-leveled subterranean complex. After swimming, crawling and climbing our way to the top, we thought we were nearing our goal, when we suddenly realised that wed been infected with some other mushrooms along the way. The mystic fungus kicked in and everything went a bit Arkham Asylum by way of a rather brilliantly directed trip sequence. No spoilers, but the whole level was a damnably well-paced diversion, and made us rather hopeful for some more standout structured shenanigans in amongst Far Cry 3s wilderness wandering.
Mad for it?
So, any of Far Cry 3's freeform lunacies taking your fancy in particular? Think it looks like a big enough imprvement over FC2 to secure your purchase? Let us know.
And don't forget to check out out current Far Cry 3 giveaway. You can get a giant knife and a cloth just for being funny. Cloth for comedy. You can't say fairer than that.