Saturday, December 08, 2012

Far Cry 3: What the best dressed mercenaries are wearing this season

"Whoo! Let's all drink some beer and then do some
Skydiving - I hope we don't end up landing in some
godforsaken War Zone!"
The first Far Cry game introduced us to a beautiful tropical island, a sandbox paradise capable of breaking all the highest specification PCs - consisting of a combination of a gorgeous gameworld and a graphics engine - and towards the latter half of the game was single-handedly ruined by a cliched B Movie Island of Doctor Moreau plot and a tendency to force your poor character out of the glorious sunshine and into the same old grimy grey corridors.

Far Cry 2 took us kicking and screaming back into reality. Large clawed mutations and Mad Scientists straight out of a Made-for-the-SyFy-channel-movie were replaced with poorly maintained weapons that had a tendency to jam mid-battle, laugh-a-minute bouts of malaria and respawning enemy checkpoints that made driving around an absolute pain in the arse - but for all its faults, it was great fun. The buddy system which saw your companion run through bullet-ridden war-zones to drag your injured body to safety was a little bit of genius.

Vaas, The main protagonist of Far Cry 3. He's absolutely
fucking mental.
Which brings us to what is probably the last big game release of 2012 - Far Cry 3. Like its predecessors it shares no plot elements other than a big tropical paradise to navigate, blow up and set fire to, and it's really rather, rather good.

You play Jason Brody, one of a gang of obnoxious American college brats who find themselves in a living nightmare when a holiday skydive takes them right into the middle of a warzone where they're captured by the Mohican haired psycho Vaas.

One of the best game openings/tutorials of recent years sees you escape from his insane grasp (did I say he was mental mental chicken oriental?) and then your story begins - to free your imprisoned friends and seek vengeance on Vaas.

Your journey sees you grow from a naive pacifist who has never killed to being a warrior of repute who name is feared. There are none-too-subtle and heavy handed references to Heart Of Darkness. Yes, I get it, if I stare into the abyss too long it'll stare back at me, etc, etc. Just give me something to shoot.

Much like Skyrim and GTA IV, the joy of Far Cry 3 comes from stuff going hideously, hideously wrong.

Far Cry 3, the game that allows you to kick a shark in the face.
You're in the midst of a carefully planned assault on an enemy outpost in which you've done it by the book; Studying the compound from a high vantage point and noting the location of every single soldier there, sneaking down and killing two soldiers and dragging their body into the shadows - and then stumbling across the one soldier you hadn't spotted before who evades your silenced gunfire and sets off the alarm. What was a Splinter Cell-esque incursion now becomes a free-for-all gunfight with grenades and molotov cocktails making mincemeat of any cover.

You're sneaking through the jungle foliage with your bow and arrow hunting down the panther who has been wandering around - he's completely and blissfully unaware that you're there planning to turn his skin into a new wallet - more on which later - and you're drawing back the arrow to fire the fatal blow.. and then the panthers mate who has been sneaking up on you from behind ("Clever girl") savages your arm and in the same manner as one would kill a circus, goes for the jugular.

I've been playing it for a week and I've got dozens of stories like that, and I'd suspect that every person who has been playing it will have their own little tales of how things haven't gone exactly to plan - or if they have, how proud they were to have pulled it off.

So, I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I've been trying to hold off the main plot because - much like Red Dead Redempton - I don't really want it to end. The gameplay has a few niggles - unlike Far Cry 2 which rarely took you out of the game world, Far Cry 3 seems to rely overly on going into a variety of paused game menus to do stuff - but it's still very impressive.

But the reason for the title of this blog entry? A minor niggle - but has subsequently been pointed out to me by somebody else, so I know this isn't just me - is that it is bloody damn specific about what animals you need to kill to use their skin to upgrade your wallet, holdall, satchels, etc. My mercenary is now probably one of the most coordinated fashionistas in the Jungle - Alligator Holdall, Shark Skin Wallet, Tiger skin grenade bag. I make this shit look good.

AND FINALLY: A few days ago the views of this blog finally stumbled over the one hundred thousand mark. I've been writing it for a little over 4 years and 315 posts - from humble beginnings, and all that - and I've enjoyed every minute - and I'm glad that there are people out there who enjoy it too :)

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