Wow. Dear gamer, I must admit to have been taken somewhat unexpectedly. Although Far Cry was a decent enough adventure before it got weird, and Far Cry 2 was disappointing in every way, there was little to suggest the series had legs, and few probably greeted the announcement of a third title with bated breath. What even these hopefuls could not have expected was a first-person adventure of such great fun, personality, intrigue, freedom and outstanding potential. If the full game plays anything like this thrilling fifteen minute segment, then Far Cry 3 (may I whisper it?) will easily be one of the best games of the year.
Hard to believe isn't it? I assumed the same as the lead wakes up in a small island village by the gun store. Walking out of the village I was given control of my weapons, a small arsenal of scavenged weapons, and the task of turning on the radio tower to show new locations and missions. Using a battered old car to scale a path in the beautifully foliaged hill teeming with animals (from a charming behind-windscreen view), I came across the tower and a bandit guarding the entrance. Sneaking up reasonably close to him, I made to loosen an arrow into his head. However, at some point I had accidentally changed to an explosive arrow, exploding him to pieces and carefully spoiling my stealthy approach much to the amusement of the queue which had formed behind me.
Wait. Explosive arrows? Are there more? Shifting through my inventory I found a flame-tipped number, and, once I had climbed a third of the tower, I loosened it into a group of goats grazing below. Napalm. Minutes later I was zip-lining back to ground before launching myself from a cliff attached to a hang-glider before storming an enemy camp to acquire a rocket-launcher. Did I know it was there? No. Had anyone told me to do it? Nope. Like all great sandbox games I did it because I could.
Far Cry 3's great strength is this zealous sense of adventure, wisely mimicking the high-octane action of Just Cause. The engine is solid and satisfying; each bullet feels like it hits, whilst the handling of vehicles is just right. The island environment is enormous and incredibly detailed, vibrant with colour and hints of exploration. Moreover, it truly feels alive; islanders go about their business, animals graze and hunt, hunters wait in ambush – the island feels a living, breathing system and culture, and the fact you are there is a coincidence. Unlike other games, it does not feel like you are the centre-piece; a beautifully considered idea for such a location.
The resulting impression is that you really feel like you can do anything, and, like the equally impressive Dishonored, when you open your mind to this possibility you truly can; the world is your oyster to be sleuthed or ravaged as you wish. The option to turn off your HUD and make it minimalist would complete the impression. The lessons of Far Cry 2 have been learnt, and the result is a deeply engaging and invigorating experience. Definitely one to keep an eye out for.
Find out more about Far Cry 3 on the Gamewise Wiki.