FarCry 3 Co-Op Preview: A Far Cry From Fun
My first impression of FarCry 3′s co-op mode–revealed during Sony’s E3 presentation–was that it seemed like a harmless, though somewhat unnecessary inclusion. For a series built on stealth, infiltration, sandbox exploration and cool PC mods, FarCry has never really been synonymous with Left4Dead-style cooperative play. That’s not to say it couldn’t work and be fun (which was my hope), just that it wouldn’t be playing to one of the series’ core strengths. So, harmless, potentially fun, though unecessary. That’s what I expected, with the hope of being pleasantly surprised.
What I got was a bit of a mess, one I can only hope developer Ubisoft Massive–based in Sweden, not Ubisoft Montreal who’s developing the single-player campaign–can clean up before the game’s forthcoming fall 2012 launch. It just doesn’t feel ready.
This is four-player co-op, which means myself and three others need to work together to kill some pirates. Our first objective: we have to repair a nearby train (by holding a button next to it), while simultaneously holding our position against attacking pirates. This had its fun moments, to be sure. We shouted some plans and huddled around the train, all while killing lots of baddies.
But. Having come straight from my time with the single-player campaign (running on a PC), the first cause for concern was actually the graphics. Co-op was demoing on PS3s, and while you wouldn’t expect the same fidelity between those two platforms, this was striking. Grass looked sharp, rigid, jaggy in a way that previous generations were. Buildings and other structures resembled cardboard.
Similary, enemy animations were stiff, like shooting gallery targets that pop up, closer to Time Crisis than FarCry.
The problems continued when we got separated, as the game doesn’t go out of its way to help you find your lost buddies. No radar, and no easy way to sync up. While a Ubisoft Massive rep did mention that a radar would be included in the full release, it didn’t make our task any easier. Compounding the situation, certain co-op character models looked very close to enemy models, leading to more than a few instances of misplaced friendly fire.
If a buddy goes down, you can come to their aid, and hold a button to revive them, a la Left4Dead. Additionally, you can activate a special power called “Battle Cry,” which causes your allies to regain health at a faster rate. These features were cool, though not revolutionary.
After we got the train on its way, we entered a sort of “bonus round,” which was literally a shooting gallery. You’re all perched up on a sniper ledge, each with a bolt-action sniper rifle, and the goal is to kill more pirates in the valley below than your comrades. You’re awarded points for each kill. It was fun and simple, but it looked pretty terrible.
In the next area, we had to pick up several bombs from over yonder, and place them on a bridge that had to be blown up for some reason. Picking up bombs makes you a slow walking duck, so we had to communicate and cover whoever the bomb-bearer was. We did it! But my co-op bretheren looked like enemies, and I shot them many times, and they me. The game doesn’t penalize you for friendly fire, thankfully.
What’s potentially most interesting about FarCry 3′s co-op is actually the story, which we still know very little about and did not explore in the demo. I gathered a little information from a Ubisoft Massive rep on hand. Apparently, co-op represents an entirely separate story from the single-player campaign, and is actually a prequel to those events. Co-op stars four unique characters, who crash land on the island. Their captain, a dastardly villain, sold the four co-op folks off to pirates and made off into the jungle. Now they’re out for cooperative revenge.
FarCry 3′s co-op potentially has something fun going on underneath the bad graphics, weird AI and general clunkiness. There’s still some time before fall, so here’s hoping that Ubisoft Massive can make some adjustments. But in the end, co-op isn’t why you’re going to buy FarCry 3 anyway. It’s an extra mode, and it’s separate from the single-player campaign, which is honestly what FarCry is still all about (single-player hands-on coming soon).
FarCry 3 is out for PC, Xbox 360 and PC this fall 2012. Stay tuned for more FarCry 3 coverage from Game Front.