Monday, 29 April 2013

JoyStiq: Far Cry 3 XBox 360 Review

A Nightmare Get Away

There's a reason why first-person shooters are the most popular gaming genre and the Far Cry series is one of them. The original title blew our minds to teeny-tiny pieces back in 2004 with its amazing visuals and fun gameplay. The Crysis series may be Crytek's flagship series now but Far Cry was its heart. The guys over at Ubisoft Montreal are doing great things with the license though and Far Cry 3 is clearly a result of a labour of love. Someone over at Ubisoft Montreal's studio must have said, 'Guys, let's take all the best bits of Far Cry and Far Cry 2 and make a new game.' This simple equation works and makes Far Cry 3 one of the best shooters currently on the market. The game is set in a gorgeous tropical environment that's as dangerous as it's visually appealing. Add elements of insanity and drug induced delusions and you're good to go.

You play as Jason Brody as he tries to escape the clutches of drug dealing pirates lead by a charming and insane guy called Vaas, the game's primary antagonist. After Jason escapes he must survive and try and save his friends who were captured along with him. He goes about this task with the aid of the Rakyat, a tribe native to the island he finds himself on. The Rakyat are adversely affected by Vaas and his cronies' drug dealing activities and adopt Jason in order to groom him into a fierce warrior. While I never got too invested in the previous games' stortlyline Far Cry 3 makes you care about the people you meet and makes you despise many of them too. Vaas is an unstable individual and this makes him the most interesting person in the game. He is a lunatic and embodies the game's theme of insanity in terrible and twisted ways. There are moments in Far Cry 3 that make little sense because you experience them through Jason's drug addled state. This is executed well and the sense of disconnect makes playing the game more interesting. The story is similar to Lara Croft's escapades in Tomb Raider in that both stories are about survival and going from a normal person to a warrior capable of dealing out death. Where Tomb Raider is intense and focused Far Cry 3 is massive and allows players a great deal of freedom.

The Far Cry series has the reputation of setting graphics benchmarks for games and Far Cry 3 doesn't drop the ball in this regard. The Dunia 2 Engine gives Crytek's CryENGINE 3 a run for its money in producing a lush tropical setting that's stunning to see. I think we've come to that point in gaming where great visuals are standard in any game. Far Cry 3's visuals are still exceptional though and the manner in which the tropical setting, characters, fauna and flora are presented is amazing. Far Cry 3 is a sandbox game and its beauty makes its open world fun to explore; experiencing the sounds, feel and general atmosphere of the tropical jungle. The animals are spectacular in how they look and behave and it's possible to interact with almost everything in the game's open world.

Vaas, the face of insanity.

Far Cry 3 is more than just a shooter, it has some RPG elements in that you can level up according to three skill tree options: the Spider, Heron and Shark. Your progress is depicted on your arm in the form of tattoos, which is pretty cool. You can approach combat situations stealthily like a spider would, attack from long range much like a heron or go in guns blazing and use aggressive tactics like a shark is more inclined to do. The combat is rather difficult to get used to, even on a lower difficulty setting and it’s frustrating. The game has a steep learning curve to players new to the genre. Once you get the hang of it combat is fun and you can use the environment to assist you in eliminating enemies. You can use elements like fire to flush enemies out of hiding or even set loose captured wild animals to take down bad guys for you. You pick up and buy guns and ammo as you progress and can upgrade your weapons. The in-game economy is your usual FPS fare. Most of the fun lies in the sheer amount of things you can do. The side quests are fun – whether you’re hunting animals for their pelts, taking down pirate encampments and turning them to safe zones or just transporting medicine. The game world is massive and you can spend 30+ hours just on the single player campaign.

Far Cry 3 offers great value for your money in terms of how much it has to offer. There are two multiplayer options: co-op and your usual free-for-all mode. Both modes are loads of fun to play but the co-op mode stands out. You can embark on a campaign with up to three of your buddies helping you out. It’s definitely a case of ‘the more the merrier’ as the campaign can be hellishly difficult.

In an on-going spirit of saving you money you can pick up Far Cry 3 for as little as R550.00 if you browse through most of the local e-tailors. This is a great thing for our struggling wallets.

Far Cry 3 is a great game but got relegated to the background with all the big releases we’ve been seeing lately. It’s one of the most solid games on the market today though and its large scope means it will keep you busy for a good while. It does get buggy but that’s easily overlooked.

A Nightmare Get Away

This game is well worth any serious gamers’ time and is very satisfying to play.

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