The Split Personalities of Far Cry 3

Opposites attract in Ubisoft's latest open-world shooter.

by

There's a scene in Far Cry 3 where you're desperately trying to escape a sinking boat, its hull filling with water and the floating bodies of enemies you've recently killed. In your frantic rush for survival, music rises from the background. Rather than an action movie chase theme or some intense tribal drumroll befitting the game's tropical island setting, the soundtrack to your life-or-death moment is a serene, twinkling piece of music that wouldn't sound out of place at the tail end of an indie rock album. The effect is a profoundly bizarre sense of tranquility and calm considering you're trapped in what might easily be called a nightmare scenario.

Whether you choose to look at this scene within the standards of first-person shooters or not, it's a powerful moment. It's also one of the clearest examples of Ubisoft Montreal's drive to combine seemingly conflicting ideas into one harmonious experience. From the mission structure to the song selection, Far Cry 3 is very much a game of contrasts. Let's explore a few:

Scripted Missions and Open-World Exploration

One of the most ambitious goals Ubisoft Montreal has is the idea of marrying the tightly scripted set pieces of a corridor shooter with the free-form nature of a sandbox action game. The world itself--a tropical island paradise gone slightly to hell--is yours to explore however you wish. There are no real constraints on where you can go at a given moment, with plenty of side quests and discoverable secrets out there to steal your attention away from the main storyline.

That world sounds a bit like Far Cry 2, right? Well it should, because the overall structure is largely the same. In fact, a lot of the missions are similar as well, giving you a simple task and the flexibility to approach your goal from whichever angle you want. One example has you assaulting the rusted skeleton of a beached ship in order to disable the radio antenna perched atop the main deck. You can sneak in through the bottom and silently pick off each enemy in your way, or simply grab a hang glider, find a tall mountain, and fly straight onto the deck of the barge without messing with a single bad guy.

But mixed in with that hands-off approach to mission design are some set pieces of a more tightly scripted nature. The sinking boat is one example; it's a mission that has you infiltrating an enemy vessel (apparently you assault a lot of boats in this game) to find a friend of yours. While starting out fairly open-ended, this mission gradually funnels you toward a single, predetermined conclusion: you throw open the doors to a room filled with explosives just before they go off and send the boat sinking into the watery abyss. That's the point at which the game says, "Hey, I'm gonna show you this really cool scene. Feel free to keep playing along, though." Cue your desperate attempt to swim back up to the surface.

Calming Beauty and Unsettling Insanity

Everyone here is just a little bit off.

This is an approach you don't see very often in video games. Players tend to spend their time in either a violently morphing corridor of roller-coaster thrills (think Call of Duty) or the static landscapes of an open-world sandbox (think Borderlands). Rarely do the two overlap. With Far Cry 3, however, Ubi Montreal wants to marry the two--at least in some of the key story missions. If it works, it could make for a very exciting experience.

Your character, Jason Brody, comes to this tropical island with a few friends looking for a sunny getaway only to discover that this place is filled with a militia's worth of violent and insane criminals. Even the friendly characters you meet, like a doctor you turn to for medical assistance, are teetering on the brink of insanity. In fact, characters like the doctor might be the most unnerving because you can't pinpoint what's wrong with them; they just seem slightly off.

Now, contrast that with the island itself. Far Cry 3's geography is absolutely gorgeous, from the cascading waterfalls to the towering green mountains. It's the type of setting where your survival instinct is constantly battling with your desire to just stop for a moment and stare at the fireflies. You don't have to rely on the story's suggestion that this is a place that would attract tourists and backpackers. All you have to do is look around, and you can tell that for yourself.

These two things--the island's calming natural beauty and the deeply unsettling undercurrent of insanity present throughout your journey--should make for an interesting combination. There's very much a Heart of Darkness feeling to it all, the idea that there's something twisted inside all of us, and this place is the catalyst for its emergence.

Shoot-Outs and Rabbit Holes

Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty. (With lots of blood.)

Far Cry 3 is definitely a first-person shooter…except when it isn't. In addition to those aforementioned missions where you need to assault an enemy holdout in search of some objective, you'll encounter other missions that Ubi Montreal likens to good old-fashioned Alice in Wonderland rabbit holes.

One of these missions has you going off in search of a particular species of cave mushroom for that slightly batty doctor mentioned earlier. You swim through an underwater tunnel entrance, climb up the walls of the cave, and begin to scour the place for that one specific mushroom. But along the way you start to get a little woozy, and before long that wooziness transforms into a full-on psychedelic experience. The cave walls morph into a forest, a house appears out of nowhere, and each time you approach the door, the entire house moves back 10 or so feet. In other words, Jason Brody is tripping hard, and he has to gather himself back together before he finds himself passed out alone in a desolate cave. Maybe that mushroom Jason was looking for wasn't the only special one in the cave.

It seems safe to assume that these missions will make up only a fraction of the overall storyline, but it's interesting to see this sort of thing in there. Far Cry 2 didn't offer much in the way of palate cleanser missions, so it's pleasing to see that Ubi Montreal realizes that doing the same sort of missions over and over can get a bit tedious. If that means casting aside your AK-47 for a few minutes in order to have a bizarre out-of-body experience in some magical cave, then why not? There are plenty of bad guys to shoot when you're done.

Discussion

173 comments
TheKokopelli
TheKokopelli

Hopefully they can pull it off better than RAGE, which featured an "open" world and corridor levels. The game was great at the start, but by the time I put in the second disk, I was thoroughly bored with it. Having play FC1 & 2, I am hoping it'll return the roots of 1 and be an awesome successor to the series.

UnaSolida
UnaSolida

I think I can speak for evry1 who played FC2,, PLEASE MORE MALARIA PILLS!

Agent_2X
Agent_2X

First time when I watched it I thought it's a movie! The graphic looks so cooooooooooooooooooool!

botsio
botsio

far cry 3 makes me want to tell ubisoft montreal why sept.7 2012.men!dads that's a very far cry by me.but the trailer is the ish!probably the most dramatic and intense movie like trailer so far.i like this game i must admit.its a must have for any first person shooter fan.

hornspiller
hornspiller

Lol, I love how they tell how Jason is a regular guy from about 3:05 all the while you see this regular guy sneaking up on mercenaries, stabbing one in the jugular and throwing the knife at another guy in one motion. Scary regular guy... :D

gbeck1
gbeck1

Yes, looking forward to this. Looks great

maybock3000
maybock3000

If they can work out all the kinks that were in FC2, they will have a solid game of the year. No problem.

Leopard_Gr
Leopard_Gr

The way it seems from the video "split personalities" Far Cry 3 is going to be an epic game. Definitely going to get it!

hoscba
hoscba

This is going to be epic!!

botsio
botsio

far cry 3 has a lot to offer.brings new skills to the fore to make FPS more interesting.i see it being a huge success.

TryDaBeardON
TryDaBeardON

Far Cry 2 would have been fine, if it was finished. But stuff like the Jackal's tapes playing same thing over and over after your found five or so really took away from the game. So just finish this one, and it's going to rock. The characters already look awesome.

JFHansen
JFHansen

it would be nice to have some structure within the sandbox game-play. Far cry 2 had almost no structure, and the storyline was weak at best. but was very strong in the sandbox sense of things, your freedom to execute missions the way you saw fit, was what made it worth playing. But in the end I do love a well crafted cinematic storyline to pace me along, maybe Far cry 3 has what im looking for...

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

The story sounds like it could be trying too hard and ultimately it may end up taking away from the experience but everything else looks pretty awesome.

Angre_Leperkan
Angre_Leperkan

I'm somewhat intrigued. However, I recall being pretty damned excited for Far Cry 2, and I remember how that game turned out... technically good, but not good in so many irritating ways. I'll watch out for this one, definitely not a pre-order for me.

mroberts
mroberts

3rd person view sucks. Why do you want 1/5 of your viewing area to be taken up by your virtual back?

semsuddin
semsuddin

To bad it isnt 3rd person view :(

splinter10
splinter10

So excited for this game. The Story, the gameplay, the graphics, the scale. Everything is just on point. Cannot wait.

inola2
inola2

Looks extremely good so far, will follow with anticipation of yet another masterpiece

arnab9385
arnab9385

I loved the setting of the original Far Cry...looking forward to this one!!!

savaxe
savaxe

looks like a copy of the idea of the game fall out only that there are no creatures in it.I

Agent-M
Agent-M

It looks really promising, I hope its way better then the 2nd game.

dantefenix
dantefenix

wow looks really good this time around.....huge world to explore again with superb visuals.

ztg360
ztg360

I am psyched for this game I liked far cry 2 (didn't like the fact that If I destroyed an outpost and drove back through it 5 mins later the enemies were there again) but other than that I liked it a lot.

slonekb05
slonekb05

good start, adding more of a elder scrolls open feel will do this game some good

icetone
icetone

this is gonna have EPIC MULTIPLAYER! im difinitely getting this also like the new character can't wait to play the story to see what happens

icetone
icetone

I'm excited how its returning to Far Cry first looks with everything looks much more alive and vibrant than in Far Cry 2 which was good but alott of things could of been made better though I hope its open world still and atleast this time you actually have a actually character unlike Far Cry 2 in which you chose who you were without customizing anything hopefully Far Cry 3 will bring back the experiments and monsters with a better story and character which I loved in the 1st Far Cry

edubb85
edubb85

Far Cry 2 was great in many ways just the driving got to be tedious. The weapons and graphics were great especially the way fire spread. I really liked the flame thrower

beutlich99
beutlich99

I'm sure this will be good, but hopefully it doesn't ship with the game breaking save glitch that Far Cry 2 shipped with. I still never finished that game because of that glitch.

Snakehead11
Snakehead11

I didn't really like Far Cry 2, but this game looks really good so far.

Powerwalk
Powerwalk

Going to get this game just for the psychedelic trip out part sounds awesome.

AceBalls
AceBalls

Far Cry 2 was a bit repetitive but definitely not boring. This will undoubtedly be better!

Ninja-Hippo
Ninja-Hippo

Anyone else find it hilarious that he says every other FPS features slick, military dudes whereas this game has Jason who is just a regular guy - right as said 'regular guy' sneaks up on a bad guy, grabs his knife, stabs him with it and then throws it effortlessly at another guy's neck.

foxglove1313
foxglove1313

so it's Uncharted meets Skyrim with a dash of Bioshock thrown on top of a COD/BF shoot 'em up? My interest is piqued.

stailcookie
stailcookie

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

LEGOslayer
LEGOslayer

Ok well it looks like they scrapped some of the more arcadey ideas they were having. I might just be sold on this.

Fisheagle
Fisheagle

Really sounds like a good buy. I enjoyed Far Cry 2 and if they have changed system a bit to break the monotony, then well and done. I will buy it when I can

Elann2008
Elann2008

@philmcCrevis They're not Crytek. They are Ubisoft. It even says on the left side who the developer and publisher are.

Elann2008
Elann2008

This is all great, but the blasted white hit markers in the middle of the screen? Come on developers! What were you f'in thinking? If you cannot disable them, I will never buy this game.

jwsoul
jwsoul

@mocking27 Have to agree that's how you do it. Right now looks like a must buy lets see huh.

dalua360
dalua360

@philMcCrevis I don't think Crytek is working with Far Cry anymore, since Far Cry 2 it was Ubisoft that bought the rights I think, not 100% sure though. But anyway, FARCRY 1 and 2 were awesome regardless who made them, and I think Ubisoft will deliver again!