E3 2012: Far Cry 3 Hands-On Preview – Stepping into Insanity
Written Tuesday, June 12, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
It really is a jungle out there in Far Cry 3, in more ways than one. Assuming the role of stranded tourist Jason Brody, Ubisoft Montreal wants to gradually drive you mad, with the recent tagline of 'face your insanity' revealing one of the core concepts at work in the game. That is Brody's own descent into madness, as he's relentlessly stalked and goaded through the jungles of Far Cry 3's tropical paradise by the psychotic Vaas. It's enough to put you off backpacking for good.
Our hands-on opens with Brody's first-person view, as he has sexy time with a woman in tribal body paint, who also happens to be Vaas' sister. Gradually turning, we see that Brody and his slinky lady lover Citra aren't alone either, as the entire tribe looks on. Pervy. Accepted into the tribe as a warrior, Brody bears tribal tattoos on his forearms that are apparent as he outstretches his hands to make a rousing speech to his subjects.
Promising to lead the tribe to glory, Brody's out to exact his revenge upon Vaas, which presumably starts with banging his sister and turning an entire tribe against him. If that doesn't work, we're not sure what will. Flash forward and Brody finds himself facing a pristine blue sky, a vibrant green jungle, a cliff edge and a drop into crystal clear azure waters. Sprinting up the jungle clearing to the precipice, we leap into the glittering water below and swim towards a ramshackle wooden pontoon, where a lone troop is methodically dragging corpses into a pile at the edge.
We dive and submerge ourselves beneath the water, leaping up to grab the guard, stabbing him in the throat and drowning him just to be sure. Climbing onto the platform, we pull out our bow and arrow and set to work stalking through the undergrowth on the hunt for Vaas. His ruthless troops start emerging from out of the leaves and bushes, as we're drawn towards a soldier beating a woman bound with ropes around her wrists. Executing the terrorising troop with an arrow to his cranium, we're flanked on both sides by more of Vaas' maniacal minions.
Holding the trigger draws back the bow and letting go fires an arrow. It's a perfect stealth weapon, but it just doesn't cut it when we're practically within the belly of the beast, right on the outskirts of one of Vaas' encampments. While we're able to take down the first set of guards with an arrow and an assault rifle snatched from a corpse, the game's twitchy and overly sensitive movement and aiming controls make the whole business of shooting enemies a messy, clumsy affair. The sniper in the nest just ahead takes us down with a fatal shot barely before we see the red laser from the camouflaging foliage.
Back to the start then. We manage to quickly claw our way back to the sniper nest, carefully taming the wild controls to shoot our way into the valley, where Vaas' basecamp is situated. Entering the first room, we've definitely come to the right place. There's a stack of flickering television screens displaying various expletives, and the windows are blocked as shutters displaying the words “fuck you” drop. The stairway down to the door is set alight, and the fire rapidly spreads, engulfing the wooden shack.
Clambering our way up a ladder onto the tin roof, we need to move fast before the shack collapses under the duress of the inferno. But there's soldiers in every direction with only one thing on their mind. Killing us dead. Jumping off the roof, we narrowly miss a patrolling guard below, and have to run to cover to regroup, throwing a grenade at the truck with a turret in the centre of the camp. Switching weapons seems fiddly under such heavy gunfire, so we try shooting open the bamboo cages to release a pair of huge tigers that are understandably angry having been held captive, buying us time to get to grips with changing guns.
The tigers tear towards the soldiers, ripping them to shreds, before heading our way. We're in deep crap now, as not only are we in danger of being mauled by a pair of loose tigers, but there's still a sniper to deal with and a heavy flamethrower-wielding soldier who's emerged from the hangar at the top of the camp. We run around like a headless chicken and inadvertently find a small alcove where we're able to pick off the sniper and then unload a clip into one of the tigers. We're still very aware that there's one tiger left wandering around, so we make a break for the hangar, bagging the heavy trooper with a few rounds of buckshot to the chest.
Once inside the hangar, we're hoping that Brody is finally safe and free to breathe for a moment. Fat chance. Vaas is waiting behind the hangar door ready to launch an intimate, silent ambush, stabbing Brody with a poison tipped bone dagger. Our vision goes hazy and we find ourselves waking to a terrifying hallucinatory nightmare, taking tentative steps along a bridge built out of the upturned screens of flickering television sets, with branching paths illuminating bizarre, surreal scenes. On the left, there's an image of Brody putting a gun to his own temple, while on the right, Vaas' sister pole dances provocatively. Further ahead, there's even more weirdness to behold before a staircase lights up in front of us, leading inexorably into Vaas' clutches.
“Come on motherfucker!” Vaas yells, grabbing Brody's arms and pushing a pistol into his face. “Pull the trigger! Come on, shoot me!” Vaas' face changes to Brody's, indicating that perhaps the protagonist's descent into madness is reflecting Vaas' own psychotic, twisted ways. “You are me, and I am you,” Vaas taunts as the demo draws to a close. In blindly seeking to exact his revenge upon Vaas and gain his big payback, is Brody becoming every bit as deranged as Vaas? Is he any better than Vaas? How far will you go before you completely lose sight of your own humanity and slip into complete psychosis?
Far Cry 3 might take place in an idyllic tropical paradise, but beneath the lush jungle canopies lies an impenetrably dark heart and a game that'll challenge you with some interesting questions regarding Brody's moral compass and the escalating extremity of his methods in getting even with Vaas. Ubisoft Montreal assured us that it's working on tuning up the sensitivity of the controls, which was the only concern we encountered while playing Far Cry 3. That and the savage enemy AI. Address both of these issues, and Far Cry 3 has all of the components in place to make for an outstanding sequel.
Throw in a separate 4-player co-op mode, competitive multiplayer and the return of the popular Map Editor in an improved and optimised capacity, and Far Cry 3 could well be one of the most ambitious and comprehensive first-person shooters you'll play this year. One that ought to make losing your mind a worthwhile endeavour.
Far Cry 3 is out on September 4th, 2012 in North America and September 7th, 2012 in Europe.