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December 10, 2012
Far Cry 3 - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
29/11/2012UbisoftUbisoftUbisoft Montreal1-22-12
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Firing on enemies, causing blood splatter.
While the first Far Cry game was developed by Crytek the company gave up the franchise to Ubisoft to focus on their Crysis series which has then meant Ubisoft have had to move development of the sequel, the 2008 Far Cry 2, and this game to internal studios. But the results have been impressive and while the last game moved to a rather drab African savannah setting, Far Cry 3 returns to a lush tropical island in the Pacific. So what's it about?

Far beyond the limits of civilisation lies an island (which given the accents seems to lie between New Zealand and Asia), a lawless place ruled by violence and human suffering. You're Jason Brody, backpacking with your friends around Asia, looking for fun and adventure. You end up on this beautiful island that's not on the map... You quickly find out that this place has forgotten right from wrong. It's a place where you must live by the principles of violence to survive.

So Far Cry 3 is essentially an open-world First Person Shooter, but it's not just a game about mowing down the opposition as it offers some interesting side-quests, hunting, and even RPG elements which allows you to guide your characters abilities. As with any good game the first hour or so is comprised of "tutorial" based missions; how to move around, throw a rock to distract enemies, use weapons, craft and use items and use Skill points. As with any great shooter the game offers a wide range of weapons including pistols, SMG's, Shotguns, LMG's and some other special weapons including a flame thrower and bow and arrow - the latter of which is brilliant for stealth takedowns.

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Poker is indeed playable in Far Cry 3.
Ultimately the storyline in the game serves its purpose in setting up your characters hatred for Vaas and your seeking to save your friends, and later on vengeance before being drawn into a much larger world and storyline. While your friends are pretty much douchebags, and honestly, not overly enjoyable in cut-scenes every time an enemy, or even friend from the island, pops onto the screen the storyline comes to life and will see you want to complete the rather lengthy game - around 15-20 hours if your rush, probably double that if you explore the islands, and clear all enemy camps and towers. During the campaign you will also encounter a dozen 'Trials of the Rakyat' missions which see you fighting off waves of enemies, while destroying blue tubs which give you extra time. Your objective is to rack up as many points as possible before the timer runs out with your scores being posted to a wall for your friends to see.

One integral aspect to this game is Jason being able to hunt animals including sharks, tigers, buffalo, crocodiles, boars, deer’s, and komodo dragons to name a few. These animals can then be skinned to craft new items primarily allowing you to carry more essentials such as ammo, money, items or syringes (for healing or boosting abilities). In many enemy encampments though they will have a caged animal, shoot open the cage and the animal will run wild through the encampment often taking down a couple of enemies for you and without raising suspicion that you released the animal.

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Far Cry 3 is set on two tropical islands.
By completing missions, killing enemies or performing tasks you will earn Skill Points which brings us to the RPG elements - it's possible to spend these skill points to enhance Jason's abilities - better aiming from the hip, faster reloads, increased health restoration, takedown enemies from above or below, more time holding the sniper rifle stable and so on. Many of these skills don't unlock until you've reached a certain mission or experience level which does make this aspect of the game seem somewhat limiting.

As with previous titles the landscape can very much been a friend or foe. Enemies can be hidden or obscured by the foliage - as well as animals such as bears or leopards which will tear you to shreds. Naturally, you can use the jungles to hide from enemies, or set the grasses/trees on fire to draw enemies out of an area. In fact, the setting fire to landscapes or buildings is quite a useful tool - unless, of course you get burnt yourself. Water too can be useful allowing you to swim up close to enemy encampments without being spotted.

The landscape is also littered with items to loot be they from dead people or crates with loot around the lands. Unfortunately this loot generally only holds a few bullets, a small amounts of cash, or inexpensive items to sell at stores. I would have liked seeing less loot, but with items of more value as it feels a bit "grindy" - although there is no requirement to actually do any looting. Picking leaves off trees is also a valuable source of power as you can create syringes with abilities to aide you - replenish health, animal repellant, increased awareness of animals and being able to hold your breath longer underwater.

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The sexy Citra from Far Cry 3.
While we absolutely loved this single player campaign we do have a few small niggles. First of all, your limited rucksack size means you'll often be selling items to make room for more pickups. It would have been nice though if a) you had a storage locker to store item (in particular animal skins) in case they are required later, or b) at least be able to buy these items back from shops at a later date. There were also some odd occasions when control is taken away from you, in cut-scenes for instance, but you feel restricted by not being able to look around or worse still, when these cut-scenes give you control back for some reasons you've lost your weapons - for instance you'll need to take out an enemy with a knife - but what about your guns, or bow and arrow? They go AWOL for a few moments. That should have been resolved better.

Moving on from the single player campaign and the developers have also included an extensive co-op mode and while there's not much story here - it takes place six months prior to the events of the main campaign and sees pirates taking over a cruise ship, and with the Captain assisting them - the action is relentless.

Supporting 2-players split screen or for 4-player online. In this mode four characters - Leonard, Tisha, Callum and Mikhail - work together through a series of missions and it really is a delightful, action packed mode which is split up across six chapters. During these missions there will be tasks to complete - planting bombs, repairing equipment, holding down locations and similar. It's exhilarating and with a few other good players you can have a great time in these modes which probably add another 3+ hours to this game, with much replayability in Co-Op.

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Sneaking up on an enemy for a Stealth Kill.
Somewhat disappointingly we found the Multiplayer modes in Far Cry 3 somewhat lacking. Sure, it has ten maps provided in the game, and there are user generated levels (more on that soon), but the game modes aren't anything too unique with Team Deathmatch, Domination, Firestorm (where you need to set fire two two enemy nodes simultaneously before making it back to the radar dish before the fire consumes you) and Transmission (where you need to take control of various points on the map and hold them). That's it. Nothing too special really and in a game such as this, a bit disappointing.

Naturally other familiar multiplayer niceties are included such as a “Kill Cam” which offers quite a bit more detail than usual with a rotating view of the enemy location, his health and the weapon used to kill you, Leaderboards, Statistics, Weekly Challenges, and XP to level up your character and provide new/upgraded items. Something new is the "Final Move" which allows your team to select a humiliating post-game move. But yes, overall a disappointing multiplayer experience given the quality of the Campaign and Co-Op modes.

One aspect of this release that very much impressed was the level editor which uses the objects, texture sets and rules established within the main game so you can create your own levels. Not only do you have full control over the terrain, objects, spawn points, objective locations, but can test the map offline, and then upload and share it for the world to enjoy. This is such an enjoyable process that - even before we played the game proper - we delved into this mode and created a map. What started out as playing for 30 minutes, ended up being over 3 hours of time building our battle-scarred island which is now available online (called Aardvark Island for those interested).

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Sliding along the cable into the gunfight.
There's no denying that Far Cry 3 is a stunningly gorgeous looking game - the surround screenshots show just how powerful Ubisoft's Dunia Engine 2 engine is, and since it's use in Far Cry 2 it now has improved Water Technology, Weather Systems, AI Technology, Animation and Facial Systems and Global Illumination. What that means is this is one awesome looking title with an entire island created with as much realism, detail, and variety of locations as we've seen in any game. One minute you'll be walking along a sandy beach, the next crawling through dense jungles, then swimming down a river, climbing to a high peak, exploring ruins, walking through a village, paragliding through the air, driving along a road, or any number of activities. Animation on the characters - and in particular the motion-captured cut-scenes are spectacular and you'll be riveted every time Vaas, Sam or Buck make an appearance (or indeed any of the other main characters).

Unfortunately there are a couple of issues that hold this game back from being a standout on the visual level. First of all the frame rate occasionally stutters, and there is occasional draw-in but given the massive amount of detail being drawn that's not surprising, and doesn't affect the gameplay too much. Likewise some of the texturing and shadows look a little odd. I'm sure there's a name for it, but at times it looks like you're viewing some objects, or shadows, through flywire. Still, that's only when you stop to look at something closely and doesn't affect gameplay. What does affect the enjoyment of this game is the amount of screen tearing. Not only is this quite evident in the game world when panning around, but even when scrolling around the skill tree - there's no excuse for that and for that reason the visuals score much lower then these gorgeous screenshots would suggest. As I've said though, this is still a gorgeous game visually.

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Battles in Far Cry 3 can be frantic.
Music in Far Cry 3 has been composed by Brian Tyler who has worked on films including The Expendables, Fast Five, and Battle: Los Angeles, and another small video game you may have heard of called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Needless to say, the music score in this game is top notch, although at times we had to question the use of electronic styled music in more stealthy/silent moments. Perhaps the developers could have put the music away a little bit at times. As you could imagine surround sound channels get a decent workout, and the explosions and gunfire are up with the best of them.

Dialogue also deserves a special mention too. Despite the fact that there is occasional repetition from people around the islands (although even my wife says I become repetitive in comparing everything to "sliced bread") what's there is delivered well - even if often with a Kiwi accent. In the cut-scenes though this dialogue is superbly scripted and delivered - I don't think we've seen a villain with as much personality as Vaas for a very long time.

There's no doubt that Far Cry 3 isn't just a great shooter, but one of the best games of 2012 and sets a benchmark for open-world games. Due to screen-tearing the visuals disappoint slightly (and perhaps if you have a decent PC you should opt for that version), but if you only have a console this game is still an essential purchase. With a superb storyline, brilliant dialogue delivery an extensive campaign, fun co-op missions, multiplayer and level-editor there's no reason not to check this out.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSFar Cry 3 has some amazingly gorgeous visuals, but let down slightly by screen-tear and wierd texturing/shadowing at times.
SOUNDMusic good, but occasionally a little unsuited, effects are great, but it't the dialogue - particularly in cut-scenes - that is a highlight.
GAMEPLAYFar Cry 3 is such an enjoyable game be it in the main missions, the side missions, hunting animals or just exploring the landscape. One of the best games we've played in 2012 despite a few very minor annoyances (looting).
VALUEThe main campaign is 20+ hours, the amount of other things to do will have you playing for days, if not weeks. Oh, then there's co-op, multiplayer and the level editor. Superb.
OVERALLThere is no doubt about it, Far Cry 3 is one of the best games we've played this year, and indeed this generation. The only disappointment is that the aging PS3 hardware struggles at times, but don't let that put you off this essential purchase.

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