Audio in videogames rarely gets a mention, but in the case of Far Cry 3, we want to talk about it up front: the audio is magnificent, and an excellent reason to invest in a proper set of headphones.
We’ve been using some Turtle Beach XL1s – they frustratingly don’t come with the essential adapter for the Xbox, but are good value and work well – and perhaps because stealth is such an integral element of the gameplay in Far Cry 3, the increased aural awareness significantly augments the experience.
Audio cues, such as the direction and distance an animal noise is coming from, the location of an outburst of gunfire and even determining where the bad guys are by listening out for their inane chatter.
Which is not to say there’s much inane chatter, and that’s perhaps an uncharitable comment to make, because the scripting in Far Cry 3 is universally impressive (we’re not counting the horrible mystical ‘backstory’ shenanigans here) and often humorous too.
The voice acting is good to a man, or woman, nothing phoned in, with convincing expression throughout.
Just one tip, though: if you’re a games scriptwriter and you still think it’s awfully clever to write a sentence ending in “… got a bad feeling about this’, please go outside and give yourself a hard slap around the face.
On the performance side, it’s worth noting that Ubisoft, like it’s major competitor EA, insist on trying to connect you to their online servers at every given opportunity, so they can peddle more of their wares. T
his has the unfortunate result, when the Ubisoft servers are down, or malfunctioning, which they were every time we played this game for review, of completely halting the game as you press the ‘start’ button to try and get to the crafting, skills or rucksack menus and instead presenting you with a ‘connecting to Ubisoft servers’ message while it tries, in vain, to connect.
This is a major irritation and, from a game design point of view, a disastrous example of marketing muscle being exerted over development common sense. There’s no option to ‘go offline’ while playing the game so, short of disconnecting the Xbox entirely from your home network, no way of preventing this annoyance.
Additionally, there are many and frequent examples of ‘graphical glitching’, but they’re all incidental to your enjoyment of the game and a virtually unavoidable consequence of making a videogame of this reach and magnitude.
The strangest oversight of all is that, during the most pivotal moment of the entire story, right at the end, the screen goes completely black.
Blank, nothing. You can’t see anything, you miss what is effectively the game’s ending, and have to reload the last checkpoint before the visuals reappear.
That’s shocking, in what is touted as, and otherwise deserves to be called, a triple A, or AAA, release and, for us at least, utterly ruined the game’s finale, preventing the game from achieving a pefect ‘performance’ score.
Regardless, Far Cry 3 is a strong contender for 2012 game of the year, and will entertain you for weeks, if not months, and still be surprising you at the end of it. There’s simply no good reason not to buy it.