Far Cry 3 Preview: A Smart Game with Boobs in It? Impossible.
Note: I highly recommend you take a few minutes to watch Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3 demonstation from E3. This article deals with that demo.
Also, check out my hands-on impressions of Far Cry 3′s co-op mode.
Far Cry 3 wants to be a smart video game. It wants to have challenging themes. It also wants to have blood, boobs, guns, tribal tattoos and explosions. Can it have it both ways?
Lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem is the one driving this. He’s a bright, fast-talking Yale graduate with a degree in English literature, and he clearly wants Far Cry 3 to be a deep, layered psychological thriller (check out this interview where he explains that concept in depth).
Let’s set the stage. In Far Cry 3, you are Jason Brody, just a regular guy on vacation in paradise, when a group of villainous pirates–lead by a sadistic madman named Vaas–kidnap Brody and his friends. If Brody is to survive, he must undergo a dramatic transformation, which means coming to terms with shooting a lot of people. Basically, he must become a killer, and Far Cry 3 will examine that process every step of the way. It’s a violent, dark game, but one that’s actually trying to say something about violence, as it were. Yohalem has compared what the story is going for to Pulp Fiction–on one hand a violent gangster movie, on the other a story about redemption.
That’s what’s going on under the hood. But what does the game actually look like on the surface?
At first glace, you probably wouldn’t suspect Far Cry 3 is trying to stand shoulder to shoulder with narrative masterpeices like BioShock or Portal. Watch one of FarCry 3′s trailers, and you’d almost think it was for a slasher film like Touristas: a group of young, smiley people travel to a foreign land seeking adventure, only to be thrust into the clutches of evil pirates who want them all dead. The E3 demo opened with a pretty graphic voodoo sex scene, as a topless woman named Citra–Vaas’ sister–rides you cowgirl style, whispering that you’re a warrior.
Doesn’t this seem more like a low-brow action film, more appealing to the senses than the brain?
Could that be the point? There’s no rule that says you can’t have a smart narrative that deals with violence, drugs and sex (i.e. Pulp Fiction), and it’ll be interesting to see how Far Cry 3 pulls all that together. You have to give Ubisoft Montreal credit for trying something narratively ambitious.
Now that we’ve laid down what Far Cry 3 thinks it is, let’s talk about what we actually know about it so far.
The E3 demo picks up about half way through the game, and Jason has been on the island for 6-8 weeks. He’s changed quite a bit. Tribal tattoos (each representing your actual in-game achievements) cover his body. He’s gotten pretty close with Vaas’ sister, Citra, as mentioned above. He stands in front of a tribe known as the “Rakat,” and it would appear he’s become an Avatar-like leader among them. His plan is to find Vaas, and kill him. I just got here, but sounds like a plan!
After jumping from a cliff into the water, you’re given the first real glimpse of how beautiful Far Cry 3 can be. The jungle, see-through tropical water, shadows and lighting look pretty incredible, all running on a PC (one of the common threads of this E3. All the most impressive titles ran on PCs). There were also glitches in the demo (flickery textures, plants that block bullets, etc.) but this was a demo build after all, and by and large the game is looking very nice.
The first half of the demo focused on stealth mechanics. If you swim up close to enemies while under water, you can push a button when close enough, pull them under water and stab them with a machete. Making my way through the jungle, I snuck up behind two guys, stabbed the first guy in the back, then shifted the controller sticks towards his partner, and stabbed him in the face in one smooth animation. Once past those two, I sniped a guy on a ledge above using the bow, which is a stealth weapon and thus does not alert enemies.
After killing enemies, you’re awarded with “XP,” which slowly fills a guage that pops up on the screen. When the guage fills completely, you’ll level up. Apparently, Brody will gradually become more powerful this way–he’ll swim faster, learn new moves, etc.