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Far Cry 3 review

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Price when reviewed : £26
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It takes a while to get into, but this varied open-world shooter is worth the effort

The Far Cry series is an odd beast. The first title was as much a graphical showcase as a game thanks to its stunning island scenery, cheesy voice acting and horrible AI. The developers, Crytek, then went on to make the futuristic Crysis series, while the Far Cry name passed to Ubisoft.

Far Cry 3

It’s an island paradise… apart from the pirates. And the snakes

Far Cry 2 followed: a malaria-induced descent into madness in an African nation on the brink of civil war. It was unrivalled for atmosphere, but the repetitive gameplay was a bit of a turn-off.

Far Cry 3 is a bit of a hybrid of the first and second games, with some Assassin’s Creed thrown in (which seems to be the inspiration of choice for big titles at the moment, as shown by Bethesda’s steampunk stab-em-up Dishonored).

It’s an open-world shooter set on an island somewhere between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The game starts off with quite a jolt. After a montage of you and your friends drinking, partying and skydiving, having the time of your lives, you wake up chained to a bamboo cage with a Mohican-toting madman standing over you.

You’ve been captured by pirates, and it’s up to you, Jason Brody, to rescue your friends and get the hell off the island. As action heroes go, Brody is an unlikely one. While Far Cry and Far Cry 2’s protagonists had military or mercenary backgrounds, which at least explained their ability to reload an assault rifle in three seconds, you’re just an over-privileged Californian bro in his early twenties stuck in a nightmare situation.

Far Cry 3

Dennis. He’s pretty cool

The disconnect between the pampered Americans and the unadulterated barbarity of pirates operating on the fringes of civilization lends itself well to much of the game’s tension, as well as Jason’s character development. Under the guidance of the island’s native Rakyat warriors, he morphs from a terrified innocent into a tattooed assassin, bristling with weapons and high on home-made drugs – in the process becoming increasingly distant from his friends.

The open-world model means Far Cry 3 has more in common with RPGs such as Skyrim than Modern Warfare 3. You’re free to roam around the island (which is absolutely huge) picking up missions and side-quests to earn money and experience. The side missions aren’t a patch on Skyrim’s immersive extra quests, and mainly involve boilerplate assassinations, vehicle racing or hunting a specific animal, so it’s easy enough to ignore them and get on with the main mission if you so wish. However, gaining experience is useful, as this unlocks skill points to spend on special moves such as stealthy takedowns, faster movement and increased damage resistance.

The story missions, of which there are an enormous 38, are generally remarkably varied, and become gradually more bizarre as the game goes on; you progress from blowing up pirate ammo dumps to Indiana Jones-style quests in trap-filled ancient ruins, with some drug-induced hallucinations along the way. At first we found the game difficult to get into. When you start, you’re only capable of carrying one weapon and a couple of magazines, which means you constantly run out of ammo in a firefight, and have to fall back on stealth and your trusty machete.

Far Cry 3

Dr. Earnhardt. He’s definitely not stoned

To even the odds, it’s vital to learn the art of crafting. Everything you need in Far Cry 3 can be fashioned in the jungle from the skins of various animals. By hunting and skinning everything from dogs to wild boar to komodo dragons and tigers, you can increase your ability to carry weapons, ammunition and explosives. You can also take advantage of the planet’s native fauna to make medicines and performance-enhancing drugs, which help you with everything from holding your breath for longer to spotting animals from a distance.

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