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Hindsight : Far Cry 3

Cart: Far Cry 3
Carb: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC
Coin: Ubisoft Montreal

Well, this is a first for VoxelArcade: a Hindsight of a game that we’ve already reviewed. We must be getting old.

The thing is, the last couple of weeks of my life have been consumed by Far Cry 3 – arguably the greatest open-world game ever made. And it’s not something I can let pass. I’m not even really a fan of the open-world genre – quite the opposite – so I was surprised to become quite so hooked.

As a fan of linear adventures, I now find myself strangely happy to wander aimlessly for hours throughout the magnificent Rook Island. Searching for hidden treasures, hunting wildlife, crafting items, trading goods, scaling the peaks; it just never gets old. Day turns into night; night into day – all as my character, Jason Brody, slowly descends into a herb-fuelled, bloody madness.

So why the change of heart? Why the sudden attraction to such an adventure? Well, unlike the vast majority of open-world affairs, Ubisoft’s latest gem actually strives to be an engaging experience on a mechanical level as opposed to simply a conceptual one. Heavy-hitters such as Skyrim, Assassins Creed and GTA may have the scope and style nailed but sorely lack in truly engaging connections with the world that they depict. Controls often feel clunky and animations and camera angles are often awkward, with the sense that all the effort was put into realising a vast, rich world and in populating it with quests – or books.

One of greatest characters from a game, period.

Dr. Earnhardt: one of gaming’s greatest characters.

So much so, that it usually feels as though open-world development projects don’t leave enough fuel in the tank to see through the execution of smooth controls or truly engaging AI. Combat in the afore mentioned Skyrim, for example, feels more like hitting a piñata with a stick as you back-peddle endlessly in the face of relentless morons that posses all the battlefield awareness of a hungry toddler. Nine-times-out-of-ten, it feels as though the key features of what makes a strong single-player experience get sacrificed on the altar of open-world glory. Not least of these features being narrative.

Not so with Far Cry 3.

If you forget for a moment that you’re playing an open-world game, what you’re left with is an extremely polished piece of kit. Aside from the sumptuous visuals and audio, every aspect from vehicular controls to subtle camera movements, weapon feedback, enemy AI, narrative and key characters feel as though they’ve been lifted from the very best that Halo, COD, Mirror’s Edge, Tomb Raider and Half-Life have to offer. Pulling this off is an achievement in itself; placing it all within an open-world context is a sheer stroke of genius. The fact that they followed it up so soon with the deliriously decadent 80’s homage Blood Dragon, quite simply beggars belief.

Payback's a bitch

Payback’s a bitch.

Almost twenty hours in and I’ve only just made it onto the second island. The engaging narrative remains a pure and undiluted experience, much unlike the likes of, say, Red Dead Redemption. Every combat experience feels fresh, with the AI enabling each one to play out differently as my tactics adapt. Attacking enemy strongholds, for example, is as addictive as it is challenging. Do you go in guns blazing and risk triggering an alarm that will summon support? Do you perhaps use a silenced rifle to take out the alarms first? Or perhaps you should free the caged lion in the corner and let him wreak revenge on his captors as you throw in a few grenades for good measure?

Eschewing the fetch-quest nonsense that pervades most of its peers and filling it with such rich combat experiences, Far Cry has crafted a world where the story is of true action and adventure.

It’s a genuinely unforgettable journey.

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Husband. Parent. Gamer. Go figure.

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One Comment

  1. If you are on the second island, take my advice — slow down, you really don’t want it to end yet!

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