Publisher:Ubisoft Platform:Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3 Release Date: 2012
Far Cry 3 may mark the first time the series has returned to a tropical setting since the lamentable string of console spin-offs that first defiled the series, but Ubisoft's next take on Crytek's breakout title is still trying to carve its own path to gamers' hearts. Generally, that's something that seems to work for the better too - we were especially glad to see that the Trigen mutants of old aren't set to return.
Instead, Ubisoft will have you squaring off against a more colourful array of enemies, with players cast as Jason Brody - a tourist with a sketchy past who ends up shipwrecked on a chain of tropical islands. Forced to face off with the maniacal mercenaries who call the isles home, Brody gets beaten, drowned, shot, blown up and crashed into - all just in the demonstration that Ubisoft treated us to.
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What stands out about Far Cry 3, though, isn't the sudden savagery of the violence, but how it contrasts with the lush greenery and beautiful vistas that characterise the islands. Far Cry 3's landscapes look undeniably amazing, both in the official trailers and in the demonstrations that Ubisoft showed us. For example, you'll find low mists and water haze around complex environments, such as the base of a waterfall. At first we were suspicious that this fog was masking technical limitations that Ubisoft didn't want us to see, but then the clouds were blown back and a massive valley unfolded before us.
When it comes to the action, Far Cry 3 looks set to be similarly impressive and will follow the by-now familiar path of giving players general objectives to solve how they wish. You'll be told simply to escape an area or get through an enemy base, which can be achieved either by sneaking or shooting.
In a step that moves Far Cry 3 yet further away from the series' starting point, Ubisoft has also now dropped an RPG system into the game. It was integrated with an alarming lack of subtlety in the version of the game we saw, however; after every successful kill a giant '+10' or '+20' would appear on screen, brashly proclaiming your gradual advancement.
While the implementation of the RPG system is lacking though, the idea behind it is still sound and a good fit for the series. The idea of having to build proficiency with new weapons certainly sounds a lot better than Far Cry 2's jam-prone weapons that would let you down in the middle of a firefight.
However, while the concept of an RPG/FPS hybrid suggests a level of freedom and autonomy, the demonstration we were given looked incredibly linear. The demo ran through such blazingly quick and pre-plotted routes that it was honestly hard for us to tell if Far Cry 3 is a genuinely open game that was showcased by a developer with a plan, or if it's going to be limited to a series of very deceptive corridor romps.
Naturally, we hope it's the former - because if Far Cry 3 is as open and empowering as it is beautiful, it'll be one hell of a game.
Far Cry 3 is scheduled for release in 2012 on Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3. It will be published by Ubisoft.