GameGrin took the opportunity at this year's gamescom in Cologne to get some hands-on time with upcoming Ubisoft Montreal open world first-person shooter, Far Cry 3. During our short time with the game we had the chance to experience both samples of single and multiplayer gameplay.
It is worth pointing out that, unlike the rest of our appointments, this was an unscheduled visit to the public halls so we did not have the opportunity to see a formal presentation or to ask any questions of the development and publishing staff.
Our hands-on session with the game began with the multiplayer portion. It was the PC version of the game we were given to play, but it was nice to see that the Xbox 360 pad was provided as an optional controller for those unfamiliar with a mouse and keyboard.
Unfortunately where two audience groups had been taken into account on the controls set up, the same had not been considered in terms of language barriers given that the entire presentation was in German with no English option. Not that we mean this as a criticism, after all it was a public booth in a German convention, it merely needs to be said as it affected the level of information we were able to glean from the title.
Multiplayer was a fairly fun experience and the game mode we played was largely objective based. Set in a small town, the objective was to locate the fuel barrels of the opposing team and blow them sky high, whilst protecting your own. Naturally this gave a great opportunity to show off the impressive flame effects that the second iteration in the series was well known for. After blowing up the enemy's fuel barrels, you are then tasked with gaining control of a capture point in the form of a radio tower.
Points are also awarded to players for kills and the gameplay is of sufficient pace that combat is frequent. You are not overloaded with health so takedowns are fairly quick, but if you survive a skirmish you can duck into cover and quickly apply some bandages to bring you back to fighting fitness.
The post-death kill cam was particularly nicely implemented, showing 3D wireframe models of you and your killer so you can see where they got the drop on you, along with visualised bullet lines so you can see how cleanly, or messily, you were taken down.
There were a number of classes to choose from, each with different weapons loadouts, although we didn't have much time in the one game we played to experiment much with these. Whether these loadouts are customisable in any way remains to be seen, although the tendency of modern games is to offer weapon upgrades and character development so there is a good chance Far Cry 3 will follow the pack in this respect.
We are pleased to say that the GameGrin team performed well in this demonstration, with our players coming in highly placed on the leaderboard having helped the team to victory by securing multiple objectives. Overall the experience was an enjoyable one and although the mode showcased was not hugely original it was well presented and fun to play. Hopefully the other game modes on offer will be equally well polished and perhaps show some higher levels of innovation.
Our time with the single player demo was also quite brief and began with a fairly lengthy opening cinematic. Whilst we were unable to follow any of the plot it seems safe to say that the game will likely be exploring tribal themes with a smattering of mysticism. A supporting cast of characters covered in matching ritualistic tattoos seemed almost cult-like in the way they were presented. It is possible that we completely missed the point due to the language barrier, but this was certainly the impression we gained from the visual presentation.
The gameplay demonstration itself was a fairly linear sequence as opposed to the open world environments we are used to, although we put this down to the requirements of the demo. With a full world to explore it is not likely that many players would approach the demo as intended so this is an understandable choice to make for the purposes of the hands-on show.
We began atop a jungle cliff and although we had no idea what our objective was it was pretty clear which direction we had to go; namely down. A quick dive later and we were swimming towards the shore line where we could see a soldier keeping watch from a small jetty.
Swimming in behind him, we snuck around crouching and executed an barehanded insta-kill stealth move to finish him and grabbed his gun before moving down a jungle path. Along the way we encountered another couple of guards terrorising a civilian woman and took them down with two well-placed shots from the undergrowth before proceeding towards our objective.
After a while we came to a small group of buildings and made our way inside. Obviously we did not go unnoticed as a group of TV screens inside the building sparked into life and we were greeted by some unknown German-speaking protagonist. I have no idea what he was saying but he obviously wasn't friendly, as when he finished his speech the building immediately burst into flames around us.
Up until this point the graphics had been highly impressive. The water effects on our initial leap and swim were pretty enough with clear blue water catching the tropical sun and the jungle areas were suitably lush with vegetation. However, when the flames started leaping the strength of the game's graphical power really shone through. It's a truth to say that the flame effects witnessed are among the best ever seen in a video game, if not the best ever. Combine this with the crackling sound effects we could almost feel the heat on our backs as we rushed through the building seeking an exit.
Eventually we found our way to the rooftops where we were pinned in place by enemy fire from a central courtyard area surrounded by buildings. The firefight was particularly tense as it was not safe to leap down with so many enemies yet we were very conscious that the building was burning away beneath us.
After a tense few moments we managed to make a big enough dent in the opposing force to drop down and dash into cover. It was apparent then that cover placement and mechanics have been somewhat overhauled as the remainder of this section was very much focused on cover based combat. Cover placement was particularly well done with a number of viable places to hide and points to dash between and popping up to take potshots was a breeze.
At the end of this section, after all other enemies were defeated, we were accosted by an heavily armoured flamethrower trooper who functioned as something of a mini-boss. This section was disappointingly easy, as the successful tactic employed in defeating this bullet-sponge was simply to slowly backpedal while firing ensuring that we stayed out of range of his flamethrower. Perhaps if there were other enemies present during the combat this section would have been a little more challenging.
After this we entered a final cinematic moment which can only be described as 'trippy'. Our player was stabbed in the chest and flames appeared to flow from the wound. We were then taken through a dreamlike sequence in which our character walked over a path of TV screens, passing various other characters along the way. Again, much of this scene was lost in translation but it was very clearly an exercise in the surreal.
This concluded our time with Far Cry 3 and we were left wanting more. While we were unable to get to grips with the plot of the game and failed to see any significant open-world moments we left feeling suitably impressed with the gameplay, visuals and sound. Both single and multiplayer modes show great promise and with the added bonus of cooperative play and a gigantic open world to explore we are left feeling hopeful that Ubisoft can create a Far Cry experience that is significantly greater than the last entry in the series