Review: Far Cry 3 (PC)
GAMEPLAY PT. 1
I can't complain about the core combat mechanics. Far Cry 3 is unforgiving, especially in the harder difficulties, but it is fair, and once you get used to how the game should be played, it all works quite well. In this way, it's comparable to Crysis; If you don't play by it's rules, you won't enjoy it very much. The difficulty is initially quite steep because the enemy NPCs are often mobile (making them difficult to hit) and aim quite well. Adding to this, when the game begins, you have next to no ammunition and only a single weapon slot. Once you manage to increase these, things become much easier, and once you get used to how to battle the NPCs, the game will smooth out a lot. Give it a few hours, and you'll have a blast – trust me.
The game occasionally throws in something new or clever into the combat to stand out from the crowd. These aren't big features, but just little touches which make the experience original. For example, healing yourself usually means using a medical syringe, but if none are available, you'll see yourself get bandaged or reset a dislocated finger. Similarly, shooting an ammo cache you just resupplied from will make it explode into a lethal fireworks display. Set the ground on fire, and like in Far Cry 2, the fire will spread with the wind, causing widespread destruction. Again, this doesn't really have a major impact on the gameplay, but it is unique.
Fire – it spreads
There's also plenty of vehicles in the game for you to use during and between missions. General exploration can be a blast. There's nothing like blazing the off-road trails of a mountainside in an old SUV, or taking to the skies in a hang glider. Even the various boats and jet skis are a ton of fun. Some of the cars though, have very sensitive and sharp steering, which means it'll take a while for you to learn how to use them.
The game also incorporates a leveling system. As you accomplish missions and do various things, you'll earn skill points which you can unlock in one of three different skill trees. Initially, you can do little except shoot and move around, but as you use the points, you'll learn various new skills including takedowns for silently disposing of enemies, health bonuses, as well as changes in movement speed and the ability to fire a weapon while in a vehicle. There's isn't much need for choice in picking skills though, as you'll earn points faster than you'll unlock new available skills.
Unfortunately, as fun as the game can be while killing bad guys in a mission, it is in the other gameplay mechanics where Far Cry 3 shoots itself in the foot – repeatedly. The redundancy of choice in the leveling system is just the most basic example. Let's talk about the weapon slots I mentioned a while back. They are part of a very complex inventory system, which is good as a concept, but doesn't work well in practice. Far Cry 3 realizes that most guys going on vacation in the south pacific don't have full combat gear with them. This means Jason starts the game in a t-shirt and you'll have to craft your own gear. You'll need to craft a backpack, holster, wallet, ammo pouch, syringe pouch, and several other bags and pouches.
Thought one ammo pouch was good enough? Nope – you need five different ones just for carrying various forms of ammo
To craft this gear, you need animal skins. Animals dot the game world, with species from bears, to pigs, to sharks each inhabiting small parts of the map. Each piece of gear you craft requires a number of skins from a specific animal, and this usually means you'll be running all over the island to find that particular creature. It's rare to find two craftable items which use the same animal, and when you upgrade gear, such as when making the extended backpack (which unlocks after building the regular backpack), you'll need an entirely different animal to do it.
If the game gave you enough gear to survive with, and simply offered you the opportunity to expand, I'd see this as a fun challenge. However, Jason's initial arsenal most likely won't last through a single fire fight before running out of ammo. Now, the game puts focus on stealth, and chances are you'll be pretty okay with limited weapons once you learn this, but unfortunately, you'll likely end up in open battle almost immediately after the map opens up: Enemy patrols drive across the island and dangerous animals lurk around every corner – you are simply not prepped to play unless you actively spend an hour or so crafting items. Again, once you do, everything will be more reasonable, but that initial hour or two will likely feel very unfair.