Eurogamer Expo 2012: Far Cry 3 hands-on
Quite frankly, I have no idea if the Far Cry 3 demo I’ve just played had any kind of narrative objective. The truth is that I sprinted out of the opening shanty-town after a short chat with an elderly female shopkeeper, jumped into the first jeep I saw and sped off into the sunset. What I do have an idea of is the level of ambition Ubisoft Montreal has for the latest installment in its open-world shooter series.
The tropical island setting, reminiscent of Crytek’s original game, feels ridiculously expansive, whilst remaining eventfully populous: More than 3 times did I travel to something that caught my eye miles away on the horizon, and each of those journeys was peppered with interesting encounters, many of which were based around Far Cry 3’s detailed and varied animal population.
Ubisoft have molded a convincing, living, breathing ecosystem, one that reminded of Red Dead Redemption’s. Tiger’s, buffaloes and a boar all met the front end of my grille as a head-bobbing Hawaiian doll jostled about on the dashboard. There was a bear that happened upon me during the middle of a gunfight, who proved surprisingly handy as a tactical distraction once I’d directed him toward my adversaries. And another tiger that sprung out of nowhere whilst I was sprinting through the salubrious, lush jungle, who managed to chase me off of a steep cliff into a river.
It’s also a technically ambitious game, rendering a heavy amount of detailed foliage with an impressive draw distance, beautifully tonal lighting and a multitude of complex physics interactions – the best of which I experienced when I drove a car of a cliff into a river: it jolted realistically and slowly swiveled upside down as the air glugged out and it flowed downriver. I was playing the specked out PC version and it will be interesting to see if the consoles can maintain a fidelity even resembling that.
Elsewhere there were worrying glimmers of Far Cry 2’s design issues – I could swear that a gang of enemies I previously defeated re-appeared in the same area upon my return, which immediately brought back memories of the dreaded re-spawning guard posts, although this may just have been Déjà vu.
The most structured incident I stumbled across was a small, well-defended enemy camp with a plume of black smoke billowing from its center. Here I sprung straight into classic Far Cry tactics, squatting in the bushes, scoping out the tactical options at my disposal: There was a heavily guarded entrance point and a few openings in the metal sheet exterior barrier, which I opted to take advantage of. After silently taking down the nearest guard I was spotted and set upon ferociously, which caused me to retreat to cover. Shooting feels thick, thuddy and appropriately powerful, and there’s a lightly sticky cover element that works naturally with your movements.
After emptying the camp a blue flag replaced the red one previously flown here and a team of blue NPC’s turned up to defend it. There were multiple other plumes on the horizon, suggesting some form of side-objective in which you overtake camps throughout the islands.
There are welcome remnants of both its predecessors throughout its look and feel then, but Far Cry 3 also plays like a step forwards in terms of its engrossing, detailed world of thick jungle and vibrant wildlife. And whilst I didn’t witness any of the psychotropic gameplay or narrative beats of a young photojournalist trying to find his inner-self by freeing an oppressed island, I did see a playground, a lush, unpredictable, tropical sandbox of freedom, tigers and lots of driving jeeps off of cliffs into rivers.