2013-04-25_00003

Just finished playing Farcry 3, I skipped Farcry 2 for reasons I’m not really certain, although I did enjoy the original, at least until it just got weird. My thoughts on the game below …and some screenshots!

Farcry 3 is a beautiful looking game, the wide open island vistas and dense tropical foliage within the islands are breathtaking.  Water looks stunning and the sheer scale of the environment within which you can explore, without seeing a loading screen (fast travel aside)  is impressive.  The physics of the environment are still there, with explosions and foliage reacting as you move through it, although there isn’t any destruction or deformation such as cutting trees down with gun fire. The buildings are mostly static and indestructible, presumably this is a limitation of the game rather than the engine, due to destructible buildings being a previous feature of older Crysis games, also running on the same engine. Sadly no material penetration on the corrugated fences either, you can’t shoot people through thin flimsy barriers that I noticed.

The one exception to deformation are the fire effects, which are impressive to behold. What happens when you set fire to dense jungle and grassland? yep it really does burn….and it spreads to nearby flammable foliage too! I was really impressed how this could be used to strategic advantage, sowing confusion, driving enemies away or towards you, and sometimes burning them alive. It can also be to your detriment of course, setting you on fire or blocking your path temporarily.

The jungle like environment houses lots of wildlife, and you can get many missions to hunt down or skin that wildlife for money or simply as a means to craft upgraded equipment. The hunting and crafting was very enjoyable and I was partly sad I managed to max out so many items as quickly as I did.  With only a few rare animal hides preventing me from wearing the height of combat fashion. Hunting tigers leopards  and bears is quite a scary prospect for the early game, they are pretty tough, seemingly immune to the head shots that down humans. While this may be a little irritating and make no sense, it does create a sense of fear when those animals can kill you in a couple of hits and soak up your gunfire.

It is particularly satisfying to break open a cage in an enemy camp, or draw a aggressive animals into their ranks, without being seen. Sometimes this is baited for you to do, sometimes it can happen naturally. Enemy humans, even the armored ones are no match for an angry bear or tiger, and you can sit quietly in the bushes watching the aforementioned beast maul the entire enemy camp. The more you play the game, the more you learn to use the wildlife and the environment to your advantage, especially when choosing your path of engagement. Taking out a camp or base without setting off alarms or being detected is very satisfying and the multitude of options available to you on how you can do that, are full of exciting potential.

The main story does what it needs to do, providing a reason to be where you are, hate who you do and save your friends. While there are one or two poignant moments, it mostly serves as a vehicle for an open world survival game. I really would have liked to see some infections or diseases modeled in the gameplay, perhaps even eating and drinking as concerns to add to the priorities beyond killing stuff. That would probably cause some issues with the re-spawn mechanic though, so perhaps it would over complicate things. You do trip out a few times, with some enjoyable visual hallucinations, they are more story experiences rather than gameplay challenges though, you never hallucinate or fuzz out at a bad time.

The selection of weapons and variety of equipment are decent, every class of weapon has an upgrade path and most weapons have some customization options, suppressors, scopes or sights and even camo patterns. Unfortunately because the weapons get progressively better, there is little reason to ever go back to older weapons of the same class. All the assault rifles use the same ammo for example so every new assault rifle is just better than the one you had before. There are also signature weapons, which are like “special” unlocks, they tend to have unique configurations and camo patterns, and are often better than what you can buy and make from the standard guns. Again nice but also causes all other weapons within the class to become obsolete. I generally prefer options and tradeoff rather than linear progression of weapons.

The ui is an ugly and somewhat cumbersome feature, literally using up half the screen space on any resolution. Cluttered and scattered with pop up windows telling you mundane things which could have all been incorporated somewhere better than it is. It’s functional, I just wish it was a little better thought out, recent patches have given options to disable different pop ups but that doesn’t change the intrusive nature of what you want to see. The sounds of the environment are great, and add to that uncertainty in the early hours, as you flinch at the growl of a wild animal somewhere nearby, unseen. The music that fades in can be off-putting though, it features some decent tension but also some distracting samples of animal noises which are not actually part of the environment, causing confusion.

My other issue is also ui related, the looting system is fubar, often looking directly at a corpse, standing directly over it and crouching is not enough to show your desire to interact with it. Requiring you to shuffle your perspective about until you trigger the prompt. It’s especially frustrating when you want to loot a corpse and all you get is a prompt to pick up an inferior weapon a few feet away that is nowhere near where you are looking with your reticule. They really needed to separate looting corpses and picking up weapons, given weapons often share ammo types it is highly unlikely that you would need to grab a weapon on the ground, instead of simply reloading the one you have. Auto looting or using two different commands would have worked, I’m surprised this wasn’t picked up on by what is obviously a talented dev team.

Farcry 3 has lots to see and do, the gameplay gets a little repetitive after a while much like assassins creed games. However the foundation of that gameplay and the sheer variety of options in how you tackle the challenges before you, more than make up for it. It’s definitely one of the better quality first person shooters released in recent times and deserves your attention.

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