Thoughts on Far Cry 3
Before i jump into my thoughts on Far Cry 3, here’s a shot of the entrance to the Raptor Canyon:
Be sure to visit the Flickr page and check out the full resolution image.
I’m going to try and make some 360 degree photos soon, as i think they will provide a lot more depth to the screen shots. No promise on when that will be, but hopefully soon.
Well after reading some good reviews for Far Cry 3, and being surprised that it was actually out already (how did i miss that?!), i decided to buy it and give it a shot.
First of all, its a great game and im thoroughly addicted to it. So if there is anyone that’s been considering it, i do recommend it. I don’t recommend it to anyone with system specs lower than my PC, because performance is a bit of an issue with this game. My PC has a dual core 3ghz cpu, 3gb of ram and a 2gb 6950, and the game runs like a dog. A dingo even 😉
I’m running the game in a lower resolution and on medium settings and there is plenty of FPS drops and general poor performance which makes it quite difficult to play at times. I’m a long time gamer though, so i’m used to playing games with a low FPS, as i’ve never had the latest and greatest hardware for all the new games. There are also a few little annoying bugs, like not being able to climb small steps or over small rocks. You need to try and jump or get a run up. Its really frustrating and i cant imagine how it got passed testing.
As far as visuals go, its hard to judge because im playing on lower settings, but considering its set to medium, i have to say that im impressed with the textures and the amount of detail available, considering the scale of the game. There is some noticeable LOD transitions and pop, but again this could be due to the medium quality. The game is much more appealing than Far Cry 2 was, the lush tropical setting just begs to be explored, and its very easy to get distracted off-mission and just spend hours exploring and looking for secrets. For the most part, the environment looks fantastic, but there are times when you get the feeling that it all looks the same. Its a HUGE improvement over FC2 though, and when i say that it “looks the same”, its just that some areas appear to be filled with “generic jungle 101”, when compared to some of the beautiful locations you can find. Its difficult to judge the lighting without playing it on a higher setting, but i think i would have preferred a less saturated look to the game, because it almost looks a bit too “cartoony” at times. A simple tweak of the TOD settings will set that straight, so hopefully some futures mods will see the game looking much more realistic. There are times when the game looks amazing as it is, so i think with a more realistic TOD, it would look very special indeed.
I do wish there was more variety in the style of the Pirates though, as they are pretty repetitive looking and its not much of a challenge to spot them coming. It is a deliberate gameplay decision, but i cant imagine there being too many heavily armed militant groups that all wear matching outfits. Bright red shirts are easy to spot in the jungle 🙂
I’m playing the game on medium difficulty, which im finding is a good challenge at times. But that is mostly due to the performance drops, which make the game quite choppy and hard to aim, drive and jump. I think if the game was running super smooth, it would actually be very easy, as im not having to re-do any missions or dying from anything other than falling off a ledge or getting confused in a low-FPS fire fight.
The game world is filled with all kinds of animals, which really bring the environment to life. Its amazing to see the animals going about their lives, just walking around and eating, or when you stumble upon a tiger or bear stalking some prey, which is great to watch. You can be alerted by a pack of stampeding deer or goats and then shortly afterwards see a tiger come bounding through the jungle after them. Which is very entertaining if they happen to burst out of the jungle and into the path of your 4×4!! Seeing a tiger bring down a buffalo is truly awesome, particularly when the tigers discovery-channel-worthy take-down, sends them flying into a rice field filled with mines, which then explode and send their limp bodies flying through the air and onto another land mine. The sound of the explosions scares the rest of the nearby buffalo, which sends a few more of them into the rice field and trigger off a few more mines. OMG, i love it.
The animals can be killed and their skins collected and “crafted” into storage upgrades such as back packs, holsters and ammo belts. This is a really great idea, but i cant help but feel that the system is a little too convenient and makes it too easy to craft the upgrades. Considering that you play the role of a young guy who up to this point has never fired a gun or done any of the survival stuff your doing, it would have been better if you had to deliver the skins to someone and pay them to craft them for you. During my travels i tend to shoot whatever i see and collect their skins, so its not long before i have a surplus collection of all kinds of skins, which im then able to turn into as many upgrades as i want. It would have been nice if some of the animals were much more dangerous and difficult to kill. That way when you wanted a particular skin for an upgrade, you really had to plan it out. As it is, its all too easy to just get close to an animal and hit em with the flame thrower and they’re dead in seconds. Jumping on a jet ski and “bonking” sharks is an easy way to collect their skins. You just clear the area of all sharks and then dive down and collect their skins. Having to use a particular fishing boat with a harpoon would have been better, or a certain type of truck or 4×4 with a cage and a large-caliber mounted gun for tigers and bears would have made the task a bit more important. This may have put too much emphasis on these tasks and drawn the players attention away from the primary mission of rescuing your friends, but considering how many other tasks there are, it wouldn’t have been an issue. Its not a big deal, but i think it is perhaps too easy and it might be nice to see some mods that make the predators more dangerous.
As you performs certain tasks, you gather skill points that you can use to learn special skills and abilities. Whenever you learn a new skill, a tattoo is added to your arm, which gradually covers most of it. There’s really not a lot to it, you just play the game and spend the skill points as you get them, and from what i have seen so far, all skills cost one point and the only rule is that you have to learn certain skills before you can unlock the others further down the line. This is another system that is perhaps a bit too easy and requires little thought on behalf of the player, and i can see myself never using some of them or even bothering to try and learn them all.
Another gameplay element that has become somewhat useless is collecting different plants to craft syringes. You can craft different types of syringes that heal, or aid in hunting and even luck. After i learned the healing skill though, i dont feel any need at all to collect plants and craft medical syringes. Theres no point when i can simply press Q whenever im injured and i can heal myself 100%.
I would have liked to see the plants collected and used to create toxins that must be used to bring down certain animals using blow darts or arrows. This would have made the skin collection process a lot more involved and enjoyable, and guaranteed the usefulness of plants.
Throughout the island there are little relics that can be found in secret areas, or in places that require a bit of travelling. These relics are really just an easter egg hunt that provides nothing more than a number you have to reach (i think there is about 120-130 of them). There is no reliance on these relics, so again they are there just as “somthing to do”, rather then something you WANT to do. Sure its nice to spend time exploring the island trying to find everything possible, it certainly adds to the life of the game, but it would have been nice if there was a reward for your efforts, such as a tie-in with the skill system, so that certain relics unlocked different skill sets or allowed you to learn very special skills.
In the early screen shots, the player can be seen wearing a watch, which i can only assume would have been used for sleeping as it was in FC2. This looks to have been dropped altogether, because so far i have not seen any trace of sleeping at all. I’ve had Jason awake for about two weeks straight now.. must be all those meth pipes and coke baggies i keep looting 😉 Its a real shame because i think it would have brought more strategy to the game and tied several elements together perfectly. What better way to enhance the hunting experience then by making some species nocturnal, so they can only be hunted at night? Wound a deer or goat and leave them as bait, while you hide on a cliff top or in a tree, using night vision to hunt an approaching leopard. Or going down to the rivers edge at night time, where the eyes of crocodiles can be seen glowing, allowing you to pick them off. As it is, there really is no strategy involved in the gameplay, and i think some time specific elements would have enhanced it greatly. All the pirates seem to be doing is standing around waiting for trouble (complaining about how it burns when they piss, how hot it is, the bugs etc.), or just driving or walking around on a set route. They could have had the pirate camps come to life at night time, with loud music and copious substance abuse. So when you crash the party with your AK, the music is killed and the alcohol and drug fueled crazies come charging at you into the darkness, machetes at hand! Towards the morning, the pirates could be sleeping off the nights activities, and the camps are easier to raid. This would have really added some much needed variety, because apart form their layout, all the camps are very similar with no real differences. Players really aren’t required to change tactics when trying to take them over.
At the moment i think i must be about 50% through the main mission. I’ve rescued 3 of my friends already and i’ve uncovered a lot of the island and collected a lot of the items and weapons. I cant see the story being stretched out too much longer considering the situation, but i do hope there is a few more twists involved so that it takes full advantage of the massive environment. It would be a shame to see the main mission wrap up quickly, with the player left with just exploration to tide them over.
It may sound like i’ve nit picked a lot, but its mainly because i like the game so much, that i see so many areas that i would love to see expanded. That’s where the modding community comes in, and will guarantee a long life for this game. I think the developers will no doubt continue to support it for a while yet, because its in desperate need of some bug fixes and optimizations. Even in its current state, i highly recommend it to anyone who has been considering it.
Far Cry 3 has some gameplay and control elements that are very similar to ideas i have for Trespassing. Its allowed me to see where they can be improved or expanded on, and given me a lot of new ideas too. Anyone curious about the performance of FC3 compared to what i’ve been working on might be surprised to hear that FC3 is actually much much slower and i generally get much higher FPS for all scenes in CryEgine2, at a higher resolution and set on high detail too. Also, my jungle is way more detailed and have none of the “generic” look that a lot of Far Cry 3 has, because almost everything is placed individually and not painted all at once. Far Cry 3 has the advantage of 100% new assets with lots of custom location specific stuff, which i am yet to start working on. This makes a huge difference and will really bring the island to life and make everything look overgrown and alive, but its still a little way off yet.