Far Cry 3 - Preview

Far Cry 3 on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at GAME

There are so many first-person shooters out there that you'd be entirely forgiven for getting your Call of Duty's confused with your Medal of Honors, or your Modern Warfares with your Black Ops (Opses? Opsi?). That's not likely to ever be the case with Far Cry 3 - here's a game that's wilfully unique, and it's a colourful, eccentric alternative to the standard blockbuster fare.

It helps that Far Cry comes from a long line of slightly off-kilter games - nuttiness, it seems, is in its genes. The first game, developed by tech wizards Crytek, offered a tropical paradise ravaged by mutants, and an experience that was equal parts Predator and Magnum PI.

Cry Me A River

The second, for which development duties turned to Ubisoft Montreal - the home of the Assassin's Creed series - was altogether darker in tone. The setting was no longer sun-kissed but instead one that was ravaged by the heat, a savage version of Africa that framed a gritty, downbeat game.

Far Cry 3 on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at GAME

For Far Cry 3 there's a neat balance that's been struck between the two prior extremes. The open world you're free to roam in is a wild one, full of hostile beasts and even more hostile people, but it's also one that's colourful and more than a little peculiar. This isn't the po-faced fare of many other shooters - instead, it's an FPS that's all about having fun.

That said, the story's certainly no fairytale. You're Jason Brody, a carefree traveller who's out exploring the tropics with his mates. Things soon take a turn for the nasty, though, and your fellow fun-seekers are picked off while you're left to fend for yourself in the manner of the best teen horror films.

Into The Wild

The island that Jason Brody's stranded on is no theme park, then, but there are plenty of opportunities for gleeful chaos within its shores. Caged animals can be set upon packs of enemies with a well-placed shot on an iron padlock, and there's the option to either approach hostile camps with slow, silent stealth or with all guns blazing.

And then there's the good old-fashioned thrill of exploration, an element that's been further fleshed-out for Far Cry's third proper outing. The island needs to be reclaimed, and it's separated into hostile territories that can be won over one by one.

Far Cry 3 on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at GAME

There are some quite surprising influences in the mix, too, and at times it's not Call of Duty or Battlefield that are the points of reference, but rather last year's incredible fantasy romp Skyrim. There are fetch quests and crafting, the latter of which encourages you to properly engage with the island's flora and fauna. You'll need to gather sticks and leaves as well as animal hides to conjure up the basic tools of survival, a feature that promises to make Far Cry 3 run deeper than any of its first-person rivals.

A Smart Shooter

The skills help do that too, with a variety of powers available to unlock that can help with your shooting or boost your athleticism. Neatly, the powers you acquire manifest themselves in an evolving tattoo that adorns your left arm, a constant reminder of your progression through the skill-tree.

And for all this freedom, choice and borrowings from role-playing games such as Skyrim, Far Cry 3 still knows how to pack an explosive punch. There are still traditional levels that are more like those seen in Call of Duty or Battlefield - although, typically, they're delivered with a witty little twist. At one point you're asked to assist a mad doctor in his experiments, and you get a little too familiar with some of the hallucinogens he's concocting. What follows is a brilliantly warped psychedelic set-piece.

So here's a first-person shooter with a difference, then - and one that looks like an interesting alternative to the usual suspects.

SKU: Previews-183708
Release Date: 25/10/2012