The announcement of Far Cry 3 at this E3 was certainly surprising. After Far Cry 2, it was good to see that the team at Ubisoft could still make good use of Crytek's original engine. We got a behind-closed-doors preview of the title, but if you already saw the Ubisoft E3 press conference, you've practically seen this already.
In what seems like tradition for the series now, you play a completely new character named Jason Brody, a man with the usual dark secret he's hiding from the rest of his comrades. After landing in a jungle island, he and his crew are attacked and captured by a mad arms dealer named Voss, and they're subsequently sent to the bottom of a well with cinder blocks tied to their feet. It's up to you to escape and stop Voss and his other cohorts on the island.
After an excursion in Africa, Far Cry 3 takes place once more in jungles that are similar to those in the first title. It also means the return of the open-world setting and open decision-making that you can do as you try to make your way off the island. During the demo, we were shown a temple that acted as an example of the development team's desire to promote exploration. We were also shown a sequence where there was a helicopter in the middle of a field with a large number of surrounding enemies. While the producers decided it was best to start off an assault by blowing up a bridge with a well-placed sniper shot to an oil barrel, we were told that we could take them on without that by distracting enemies so we can sneak by or using jungle foliage or the water to sneak by unharmed.
What was more interesting was what's seen on-screen but not being talked about throughout the presentation. Jason has the ability to slide into cover instead of just ducking behind it. He can also blindly fire without switching to a third-person perspective, and he earned some experience points for every kill. All of this points to something robust and greater than previous offerings, so it'll be interesting if they talk about these features later.
Graphically, Far Cry 3 is using a more powerful version of the Far Cry 2 engine, and there are some improvements that can easily be seen. The lighting system is an excellent match for the overall jungle setting. Waterfalls look magnificent, and the vegetation just as good. Some of the weapons have a good shine to them, while the shadows with rays of light piercing through are very well done. What is most convincing, though, are the animations. Enemies die in a convincing manner, and your own movements are also realistic. It's the animations of Voss, particularly the facial animations and lip-synching during his insanity speech, which looked rather convincing. After seeing him do his thing, it does make us excited to see the rest of the cast.
There's still some time to go before Far Cry 3 is released, but what's already there is quite impressive. Aside from the graphics, it's nice to return to the open world, open choices and jungle atmosphere from the original game. It remains to be seen if the enemies will be as colorful as Voss and if there's more to the movements you can perform. Hopefully, we'll find out long before the 2012 release date.
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