Far Cry 3 Hands-On Preview – Playing With Knives
Written Wednesday, October 10, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
I’m going to start our Far Cry 3 hands-on preview the same way that the game starts: with a song. No, I’m not going to get up in the middle of this packed room I'm writing this here preview in and start singing... Well, not again anyway…the locals didn’t appreciate my a cappella version of Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise last time so there’s no need to do it again. I’m talking about the song that the game starts off with, MIA’s Paper Planes, a song which perfectly sets up the game’s venture into the wild. The premise is simple and is conveyed perfectly by the heavy-on-the-MIA intro: a group of young and happening go-getters head off to a tropical island to have fun, drink, do all kinds of extreme sports and generally have a good time. “That sounds great!” I bet you’re thinking. Well, yeah it is, until you get grabbed by the locals and shoved into a wooden cage that is.
Given free reign with the first few hours of Ubisoft Montreal’s Far Cry 3, we thought we’d do what any self-respecting gamer would do. Start with the story just to get us into the thick of Rook Island – the island of the crazies as it shall forever be known – and then just go mental, you know, like stabbing Komodo dragons with knives and such.
That’s always been the beauty of sandbox games. The unchained freedom to do whatever you want and go wherever you like, and Far Cry 3 is no different. Creating a sandbox is easy though. Populating it with worthwhile activities that will captivate the player and keep them entertained for hours on end is the real challenge. Well, that’s where it gets tricky, yet based on a few hours alone with the game, we can tell that the game is in safe hands in that respect.
Having managed to escape the clutches of Vaas, something it looks like we might be doing throughout the game, we stepped foot into the wild and into the wide-open game world. It’s an overwhelming moment shrouded in questions… “What do I do?” “Where shall I go?” In the end though, the question ultimately for us was, “Wait a minute, what can I do!?” Let us give you a brief insight into life on the island when you’re not getting involved in the Dawson’s Creek vs. Final Destination-esque plot.
First things first, radio towers! No, I haven’t gone insane just yet, they’re worth mentioning as they’re always a good starting point for players. By simply climbing all the way to the top, players will not only unveil the local area to find out what they can do and where they can go in the vicinity, but they can also give you access to free weapons. Honestly, even now I’m not sure what the game’s justification was for that one. In short though, think Assassin’s Creed… just don’t jump off the tower! Oh, and watch out for the snakes at the bottom.
Snakes? Yes, snakes! By now you should be aware that Rook Island has a full, living, breathing ecology and it actually fills into the RPG aspects of the title. Early on in the story you’ll be presented with the basics of how to hunt and gather flowers, both of which have their uses. Gathering various animal hides can have advantages like increasing the size of your rucksack and picked flowers can be used to create potions and such. Think Red Dead Redemption, but with Komodo dragons instead of horses. Although I’m fairly sure you can’t ride the former bareback.
We’re not even scratching the surface here either and just wandering the vast environment will uncover many secrets and things to do. Whether you’re talking about clearing outposts and then doing the subsequent side-missions and mini-games that pop-up, or activating some bizarre artefacts of sorts and tackling the challenges they throw up – the one we had a brief go at was scoring as many points as possible in a set time by killing people quickly and stylishly. There always seems to be plenty to do on Rook Island.
Heck, if you get bored of all that you can just explore the island to your heart’s content, whether it’s the underwater caverns or the huge open plains, there’s a huge diversity to the island; you may even discover the island’s World War II history thanks to the Letters of the Lost you can find littered around. And if you do go exploring, thankfully you won’t get hassled as much as you did in Far Cry 2 either. But if you do decide to start aggro with the locals, don’t expect their friends within earshot to take it lying down. Ammo seems to be quite scarce though, so it’s not the greatest idea to cause a ruckus with a huge group of locals too early on. That said, if you can isolate a few individuals and then distract them by throwing rocks, all you need is a knife and some stalking skills... Spoken like a true Brit.
In terms of our brief hands-on with the actual meat and bones of the game, the story actually comes across as rather believable and even more so, interesting. Not only is it chock full of great characters like the slightly unhinged Doctor Alec Earnhadt, but Ubisoft seems to have captured the camaraderie and togetherness of the group of friends thrust onto the island – and conveyed it superbly too. By throwing the quirky characters – including Vaas, of course! – in with the chemistry of the ill-fated friends, and then letting it flourish on the bizarre Rook Island, we could be in for a bit of a treat.
As MIA says in her fateful song, “Pirate skulls and bones, sticks and stones and weed and bombs. Running when we hit 'em, lethal poison through their system...” I didn’t say it’d make sense, but it’s a song that’s been stuck in my head for weeks now thanks to Far Cry 3, and so I wanted to repay the favour and bring you into my world for a moment. You’re welcome! Oh, and that Far Cry 3 game is shaping up pretty nicely too. And yes, that is a nod to the brilliant 90s song in the headline, so I started and ended on a song. Again, you're welcome.
Far Cry 3 is scheduled for a November 30th and December 4th release in Europe and North America respectively.