rAge 2012: Far Cry 3 Impressions
I distinctly remember the hype around Far Cry 2, a game set in Africa that boasted a rather impressive AI system and fire propagation mechanic. The map was massive, the mechanics encouraged creative play and the setting was rather different. Sadly, Far Cry 2 didn’t deliver on all the fronts it promised, with the story falling rather flat and the innovative mechanics ultimately being gimmicky. This latest entry into the Far Cry franchise may not have the same amount of hype behind it, but the game itself may be what Far Cry 2 should have been.
I’ve been waiting to get my hands on Far Cry 3 since it was announced at E3 last year. The visuals, the gameplay, the theme. All of it looked like a marked improvement over its predecessor, which got me extremely excited. Sure I was cautious, especially after paying Far Cry 2, but after finally getting a good hour with it at rAge my worries were put to rest.
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The demo on show offered no story elements and only a portion of the Rook Islands to explore, but it was incredible just how much I could do in this limited space. At first glance Far Cry 3 looks like its predecessor with a new tropical skin. Gone is he dry and desolate fell of the savannah, replaced with a beautifully designed island that features beaches, rain forests and the fringes of civilisation all brought together in impeccable harmony. The Rook Islands look absolutely stunning on the PC’s running the demo, and it shows that Ubisoft have really gone out of their way to create a game that is that little bit more beautiful.
Gameplay retains traditional mechanics seen in Far Cry 2, such as fire propagation, healing by pulling bullets out of your arm and more, but again it’s the small additions that make it feel like a large improvement. A fluid cover mechanic allows you to pop in and out of cover without sticking to it, and although it’s not a new system it certainly is one of the most polished out there. Peek over or around cover is easy and the game rarely gets confused when determining what you want to do around cover.
Far Cry 3 also adopts what is becoming somewhat of a trend in recent games: a bow and arrow. The bow is probably the most satisfying weapons to use when dispatching enemies purely because of the variety to offers. From normal steel tipped arrows to extremely deadly explosive ones, the bow is probably the best weapon to have equipped in any situation. It’s also extremely satisfying to use and control. Arrows fall over even moderate distances if your don’t fully charge your shot, and some enemies may not go down with a simple weak shot to the leg.
Fire propagate was a large feature of Far Cry 2, and I’m glad to see it return in Far Cry 3. Pick up and flamethrower or equip fire arrows and watch the carnage unfold around you as your immediate surroundings turn into a fiery hell. It just as easy to get yourself killed in your own fires as it was before, but it’s great to see the AI respond more naturally to it. Enemies will flee and panic rather than simply standing still and being burnt alive, so you’ll have to carefully choose where to start your forest fires in order to gain a large advantage from them.
In short, Far Cry 3 seems to be listening to its fans. Rather than a complete overhaul of mechanics that weren’t essentially bad, Ubisoft have decided to refine and improve on features and mechanics that weren’t essntially executed well in Far Cry 2. It was an absolute pleasure to play, and I can’t wait to experience insanity again when Far Cry 3 releases in December later this year.