In my last Backseat Game Review I mentioned Rick’s tenuous relationship with Ubisoft, hinting at the frequent diatribes I find myself subjected to every time the developer’s name comes up in conversation.
“They rushed AC3!”
“They try too hard to be funny!”
“They’re not ambitious enough!”
“They’re too French!” etc., etc., etc…
However, all that and the resounding disappointment of Assassin’s Creed 3 aside, Rick is happily eating his words while trippin’ his virtual balls off in Far Cry 3. And the critical response is almost universally positive. It’s clear where Ubisoft opted to focus their energies this year, and it wasn’t on AC3. It was on a shark-murdering, drug-taking pleasure cruise called Far Cry 3.
Since the point of these Backseat Reviews is more to give a passive viewer’s opinion of the game, I won’t take too much time elaborating on the plot or specific mechanics, but instead jump into what it was like to watch Rick play. As with most sandbox style games, there’s a lot of variety in what the player can do, including hunting, taking on assassination jobs and mini-games like knife throwing and poker. Since Rick is notoriously bad at throwing type games (I had to play horseshoes for him so he could unlock a suit in Red Dead Redemption), I got to try out the knife throwing, which was cool until he ratcheted up the difficulty to “Normal” and wagered $100 on my meagre skills. Oh well, at least he was able to earn it back by murdering animals.
Which brings me to one of the cooler things about Far Cry 3. Everything is very random, especially the animals. And the game gives you a lot of flexibility with regards to how you complete quests. Feel like taking a bunch of invincibility drugs and running into a burning building with a grenade launcher? Have at ‘er. Prefer to sneak around ninja-style and cut throats with your machete? That’s good too. Just don’t too attached to your plans, because random animal mechanics mean that your perfectly laid out siege may be interrupted by a gang of komodo dragons who it turns out are actually more effective at clearing out enemy outposts than you are. Which is exactly as entertaining as it sounds.
In fact, my favourite thing about watching Rick play Far Cry 3 is when some animal comes out of nowhere and mauls him half to death before he’s realized what’s happening. Our first night playing the game together, we were meant to be hunting tapirs when a tiger dropped from the sky and chewed the crap out of him while he ineffectively fired the tiny pistol he had equipped to the soundtrack of my uproarious laughter. I also really enjoyed the time he wandered into a pit of wild dogs, only to be shot at by enemies while trying to escape… right into a tiger’s path, screaming like a girl the entire time.
I’m not sure what else to say about the game, but it’s definitely more colourful and nuanced than your average shooter. The story at least tries to be interesting and the lead character follows a distinctive arc, another rare thing for shooters these days. While probably not the sort of thing I’ll be trying out myself, Far Cry 3 seems to live up to its ambitions and has more than enough to do to satisfy the pickiest of gamers. It’s basically Skyrim with guns.
And, shark murder.