Pop Quiz Hot-Shot! You are a young man away on vacation and have just escaped the clutches of a sadistic group of modern day pirates. After falling into a fast flowing river you awake to find yourself the new hope for a group of locals who want to overthrow their oppressive piratey overlords.
What do you do?
WHAT. DO. YOU. DO?
In the case of Far Cry 3 you learn how to disable scrambling devices from the top of radio towers, go hunting, pick flowers and use a zip line that makes you wish someone would bring the Krypton Factor back.
Far Cry 3 picks up with some footage of a group of rich kids who are living it up in tropical climes, which is perfect gaming fodder when the great nation of Britain is slowly sinking under flood-water, but in a SHOCK TWIST it transpires that these jovial times were in the past and now two of them are tied up in a nicely crafted cage being talked to by the GREATEST ANTAGONIST OF ALL TIME* Vaas. Vaas is what would happen if you took Noah Puckerman off of Glee and had him adopted by Marlon Brando’s character from Apocalypse Now, being brought up on a diet of Fruit N Fibre and hardcore snuff porn. One part pure evil embodiment, one part the best friend you had in Cub Scouts Vaas is perfectly performed by * Initialising Google* Michael Mando, both from design point of view and an exceptional example of digital acting, some of the best I’ve seen outside of a Team Ninja game – Oh how I still hate Flying Fox!
The gameplay kicks off in the worst possible way, with a slow trek through the pirate village, that is obviously there to assert your older brother as the strong, dependable lead as he kills his way through the camp, using his military skills. It’s frustrating because there is only a small margin for error in these sections and a failure results in a hefty jump back to the start BUT it’s OK in the longer term as it gives a sense of scale and ferocity to the antagonists. Almost escaping your brother is killed in front of you and you are given the chance to run by Vaas. And run you must, through a breathtaking sequence of jungles, cliffs and rope bridges, all the time being chased by an unseen foe. It’s very well executed – at one point literally – and it perfectly sets up your character’s place in the pecking order. You are the weakling, you are the runt of the litter, but you are free. You now have to become the man you are supposed to be.
Now this isn’t as easy as falling into a river, oh no you’ll need some help and Far Cry 3 gives you Dennis. A Spike Lee-alike who has a very optimistic and spiritual manner for someone living on an island torn apart by violence and insanity, but there you go he is genial, likeable and I am sure he would love for you to send him some monies to proceed with payment of two hundred million dollars to your account.
The game shifts at this point to be a blend of old Far Cry, Far Cry 2 and Just Cause. Mostly Just Cause. Imagine just cause as a first person shooter but with wildlife and you are pretty much on the money, and that’s not a criticism at all.
So a couple of tutorial missions in and I’ve freed up my first radio tower, getting a severe case of the wobbles when I looked down – ironically after my character reminded him self not to do so – I’ve hunted boar and crafted a back pack to store items and I’ve liberated an encampment using my jeep as a battering ram. It worked.
Freeing up the radio towers gives access to new weapons and puts key objects and areas on the map, much like the synchronisation parts in Assassin’s Creed, and that’s not where the similarity ends, the game also carries the weight of the Creed franchise, and why not? The characters seem to regard you in high esteem and the use of tattoos to illustrate your skill tree also impresses the locals – as well as this old, grizzled gamer.
In short the game is just opening up, I feel I am doing it an ill-justice by giving an opinion so early on, but such is the nature of the One Hour Play-Test. What I have played has assured me that I am going to really enjoy the game and I can’t wait to explore more. I haven’t been able to test the social features, Uplay aspects or multi/co-op modes as the Far Cry servers are not on line yet, so sorry about that, but this is all about the single player experience.
Jump in, the islands await you. Say hi to Vaas for me. You won’t regret it.
* Even better than David Bowie in Labyrinth!