– By James Allen
2012 was a thrilling year for triple-A video game titles, with almost every major developer releasing a steady flow of both PC and console names, however, a slightly annoying fact hints to one thing; we are being sold an endless sea of trilogies. Repeated titles, polished, perfected and kicked out the door with an extra digit on the end. Fine, I get that is where the money is, but is it unfair to yearn for something more? Regardless, as I face the third installment of the glorious Far Cry series, I put my miseries to bed and put on a brave face for what will surely be another heart-in-mouth no-holds-barred beautiful open-roaming thriller… or will it?
Memories from Far Cry 2 are unspoiled and fantastic. That game set a new level of first person shooter interaction with a brilliant storyline and an immersive sensory-shocking environment. I expected broadly the same from FC3, and surely enough, I wasn’t let down. Our poor protagonist has swapped African plains for Pacific jungles, awash with thick foliage, ancient ruins and towering mountains that begged the glorious return of the hang-glider. This new environment comes with a new set of jungle mastery skills that involve hunting and crafting the flaura and fauna from your surroundings into a variety of potions, kits and weapons that will help you get from A to B with added Bear Grylshness. This is a really nice touch. Not only do we now feel totally immersed in our environment, but as the gamer we are taught to live off of it, to need it.
The game sets you up as an American youth, “Jason Brody” who, while on some awesome holiday with 5 of his best buds, is captured by pirates (Starting to sound a bit cliche perhaps?) and is then the only one who manages to escape their claws. You meet with the more friendly locals of the island who seem to recruit you and turn you into the guerilla fighter who can get his friends back and maybe give the pirates hell while doing it… *yawn*. I’m sorry but as far as storylines go, this is nothing extravagant. I think what the devs relied on here must have been depth of character, and I assure you, there is no lack of that whatsoever. Your initial antagonist is a crazy mohawk-wearing scar-faced pirate who seeks only to make your time in this holiday paradise unpleasant and difficult, although we quickly find that he is swapped for another faceless, voiceless baddy altogether (much to my dismay, a little mix of crazy goes a long way in the Far Cry series).
The game’s long and complicated storyline involves many interactions and odd plot points, but you still get the feeling you are stuck on rails. Yes, its the age old problem of; you can make a game as beautiful and lavish as you want, but somewhere, deep down, you are solving somebody elses problems. Do you know who I blame for this? Give it some thought, I bet you do… Thats right, the massively choice based storyline of Fallout has left me thinking that every game should do its very best to reflect the almost perfect plot layout and multiple choice timeline that every number in the Fallout series managed to capture perfectly. Well, screw it, this isn’t Fallout, so I must press on.
The paradise you have been dropped into in FC3 is peppered with little enemy encampments, which you must “liberate” by exterminating a handful of pirates. This lovely little addition means that every now and again, you can take a little break from the storyline and go to town on one of these poor unsuspecting camps in whichever style you find suitable; Gunz a blazing, explosives discharging, or, my personal favourite, as stealthily as our good friend solid snake. Weapon choices in the game are not endless, but they are satisfactory. Each weapon has a certain customizability (Silencers, sights, the obvious) which allows you to craft a perfect little arsenal for your skill-set. The only problem is that if a certain mission requires you to take a certain weapon for a particular reason (say, a flamethrower to burn a field of marijuana crop) then you have to throw down one of your precious weapons in order to complete the mission.
When it comes to large open-field adventure such as FC3, NPC coding doesn’t tend to be an issue. It can be as simple as; see protagonist, take cover, fire weapon, throw grenade, scream for help and repeat, and since many of our pirate friends tend to be broadly the same character, you quickly realize that breadth of enemies (outside of key players, who you rarely meet outside of cutscenes) is not huge. This can be forgiven when you consider just the sheer size of the space involved, but in comparison to say, Skyrim, it isn’t a scratch on the number of beautifully built and voiced NPCs in that epic game.
So, to reflect, this brilliant game with its brilliant maps and shining plot has a small tendency to be let down by its repetitive NPCs and lack of plot integration, but you know what? I couldn’t care less. This game is just another example of gaming perfection, encompassing first person shooter with intense customization and exploration, it takes a step towards that gaming euphoria of near real-life experience yet teeming with explosions and tigers, sunken ships and sharks, jungle queens and pirate schemes that draw you out of real life. I wouldn’t swap this game for anything.