Review: Far Cry 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, Windows PC)

Far Cry 3 is a sprawling, ambitious and often quite captivating adventure game that pits you against a huge, hostile force of bandits who have kidnapped you and your mates during an island holiday.

These degenerates are not, fortunately, the only inhabitants of the island, crammed full as it is with humans and wildlife that appear to be going about their business regardless of what you’re up to.

This is one of the most impressive aspects of Far Cry 3 –  many games attempt to create what is inevitably termed a ‘living, breathing world’, but equally inevitably they fall short, often relying on such ‘cheats’ as spawning triggered by your character’s position, or simply failing to sufficiently populate their shiny new world.

The island in Far Cry 3, on the other hand, is teeming with life and living. There’s something happening around every corner and, very often, it’ll happen without any input from you and end up being incredibly entertaining.

You may come across an enemy camp, for instance, and decide to scope it out. As you do, one of the gunmen dotted around the place cries out ‘Tiger!’ and suddenly they’re all looking in the direction of a big cat that’s just wandered out of the jungle and into the camp. And the next thing you know, the tiger is cleaning up the bad guys for you, doing your dirty work!

Instances like this are frequent, and they never get old.

In an admirable attempt to maintain the fiction of the island, you’re not just given weapons, ammo or even the gear to carry them in, but have to ‘craft’ them from animal skins obtained during your travels. To obtain them, you have to find, track and kill the animals concerned.

So, while you may be able to fabricate a holster that will allow you to carry four main weapons at a time, it’ll require a fair time spent away from the main ‘meat’ of game doing a bit of hunting – and fishing, shark skin being a prerquisite for certain items.

The world map is initially fuzzy and obscure, ‘revealed’ by locating and scaling the 18 radio towers and freeing up their transmissions. This has the effect of clarifying the map and boy, is it huge!

Primary missions are always handily marked out, but you shouldn’t let them force you down the linear path of just completing the main quest, because there’s so much more to do.

The island in Far Cry 3 is gorgeous and it begs to be explored. Better, you’re rewarded for doing that exploring, finding long lost treasure, recovering loot, discovering a beautiful waterfall or lagoon or coming across a new form of transport that is fun just to drive around.

It won’t be long, however, before you stumble across some enemy types and they can be hard work.

Enemy AI is very smart. They don’t merely sit and wait for you to come and get them or, like most games of this type even now, get behind cover then pop up, shoot, then duck back down again in a predictable cycle.

No, on spotting you these guys immediately send someone off to flank you, they move quickly and often, switching cover, throwing grenades and generally make a really good showing of themselves.

The net result being that you can very quickly find yourself under some serious pressure when you come under attack and, given the chance, you’ll be surrounded with fire coming in from all sides. This makes effective weapons and health management critical, to avoid finding yourself staring down the business end of an enemy weapon while you’re still fumbling  around for a fresh mag.