E3 2012: Far Cry 3 Preview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 05:16am 05/06/12 | Comments
AusGamers was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Ubisoft's Far Cry E3 2012 demo ahead of their pre-show press conference and the show-floor. Read on for our full impressions...
Nabbing a sneak-peek of the Far Cry 3 E3 presentation means we were able to prepare an in-depth preview to not only coincide with all the game’s new E3 media, but also get this juicy info you to ahead of the show-floor hustle and bustle.
Mark Thompson, lead level designer for the game, ran us through the new demo, and prefaced what we saw with a reminder that last year there was a focus on presenting the game’s protagonist, Jason Brody, as a victim. However, Ubisoft has been anything but tight-lipped about Brody’s in-game transformation from prey to predator, and today’s demo outlined this point with gusto.
Our opening scene was a jarring one, too. Solidifying the team’s desire to craft an adult and mature first-person shooter experience, the demo kicks off with an attractive island native, topless, riding our hero. His left forearm is tattooed, a point that stood out as he caressed her naked body. The whole scene also had a mystical, tribal feel to it, further cementing the other touted component to Far Cry 3: other-worldly. She speaks to Brody in a siren-like manner and the whole situation feels strange and out of place – a point the team appear to be making throughout your psychological journey.
The scene doesn’t last long (poor guy), before Brody stands up to address a collection of other islanders, all of whom he rallies into a unified war-cry. It turns out, you see, these people have also had enough of Vaas, the unstable individual who has become the game’s antagonist poster-boy, and Brody is there, apparently, to bring an end to his criminal insanity.
Moving on, the demo once again takes us into the jungle, which also once again, is breathtaking to behold. Thompson told AusGamers what he was playing was running on PC, and it shows. Moving through the dense tree-line, Brody approaches a cliff that overlooks a beautiful bed of water below. “I’m coming for you Vaas,” he proclaims, before taking a running jump off the cliff to perform an actual dive into the water (a rarity still, in games). Swimming through the lush water, it’s hard to pay attention to what Brody’s actually doing because of the plethora of underwater plant and animal life.
The scenic route, as it were, doesn’t last long though, as he approaches a jetty where a guard has just killed and dumped a body in front of you (he has no idea you’re there though). An on-screen prompt offers the player a chance for a stealth, melee Takedown, which Thompson happily obliges to, and the poor sap is dragged into the water below where he’s stabbed in the neck (and down into his chest), filling the water, and first-person scene, with a willowy plume of blood. It’s gruesome and lasts only a second, but visceral nonetheless.
The stealth charge continues as we push on further through more jungle. The diversity of plant-life and the game’s lighting and colour palette cannot be understated -- this is one of the best-looking games this side of Battlefield 3, and has so much more detail in its environments, I’d argue that it’s not only a better visual example of art-direction, but a better looking game overall.
A victim, tied, is being harassed by two goons and Brody remarks his dismay at the sheer state of things. Thankfully for the poor girl, there’s a flanking path to come in behind the bully and take him out with more intimacy, which is followed quickly by another on-screen prompt offering a “Chain Takedown” -- an option that will let players string together ferocious stealth melee kills. Melee deaths in general are very close and personal; a deliberate design decision given the team’s attempt at ringing home the gravity of killing. Brody’s transformation to staunch deliverer of death will not be an easy one, we’re told, and the player is going to feel this right from the outset.
Shortly after rescuing the girl, he comes upon a pirate encampment, replete with guards and lookouts. A trusty, stealthy scoped bow is what the doctor ordered here, and Thompson continues to show off the game’s heavy stealth component; sniping guards with his rudimentary weapon left and right. A final piece of the puzzle, however, comes in the form of a missed shot which alerts the guards to Brody’s presence. Suddenly things go from measured to mayhem and everyone is trying to get a piece of the Californian preppy gone-badass.
He switches from bow to automatic weapon (it looked like a SCAR-H, but I could be wrong) to deal with the mess, and the classic shooter stuff comes into full effect. Explosions, pink mist and all the barrel and create destruction in the world is happening in front of, and around, you as the infiltration of Vaas’ lair stays the course. Eventually our hero, path cleared, scales a wall (using his knife as leverage – the wall is quite tall), and enters the lion’s den. And this is where Ubisoft continues to shine, because they remind us that Far Cry 3 is not just a shooter – it’s an experience driven by characters loaded with personality and misdirection.
Vaas’ ego is projected on a collection of TVs amassed, apparently, just for you. It’s all a trap, you see, with the girl in the beginning of the demo revealed as his sister (whether this is an on-the-fly revelation or something you’ll learn earlier isn’t known). Doors close behind you and a fire erupts seemingly on-purpose. Brody escapes, of course, and we’re presented with a move you’ll be able to add to your skill-tree that sees Brody stabbing an assailant in the neck once again, only this time he also pulls the pin from a grenade strapped to the corpse’s belt. He then proceeds to “this is Sparta” kick him (replete with awesome animation) into a car where another goon is taking cover. The grenade goes of and you can pretty much just imagine what the end result is. It’s all very, very cool.
The parade of intense action continues though, as moving on to the next point of cover shows a tiger attacking the enemy ahead before turning its attention to the player. Apparently there’s a full ecology attached to the game’s myriad systems that is heavily tied in with a working economy (we’ll have more on this in a forthcoming interview with Mark Thompson). Taking out the innocent creature then triggered a heavily-armoured flamethrower baddie who took a bit to get down, but in all, even the diversity of enemies and the opportunity for creatures paints the game as something of a visceral challenge.
Brody makes his way into a door shouting Vaas’ name, but before he can make a clear sweep of the room he’s just entered Vaas stabs him in the torso, and the game trips into a hallucinogenic sequence. Whether this is part of Brody’s ongoing flip-out to action-hood, or a side-effect of a poisoned knife, or something else, wasn’t revealed, but the whole thing was slightly reminiscent of the Batman: Arkham Asylum Scarecrow levels and totally out there. If these gameplay sections can maintain a fresh and innovative direction throughout the entire experience, players are definitely going to be in for one hell of a ride.
The demo ended just as tantalisingly as it began and absolutely left me wanting more. In an E3 filled with slipped titles, no-shows and little else, Far Cry 3 is already a glowing beacon of hope, especially for the FPS genre. Ubisoft’s consistent focus on freedom, emergent gameplay, amazing characters, mature themes, tight visuals and unique gameplay continues to shine through in every piece of Far Cry 3 we see. Stay tuned for more on the game from us in the coming days and weeks.