The tropical shooter series is back and better than ever, writes John Walshe.

Four years after the last Far Cry game, you could have been forgiven for thinking this is one franchise that had gone to the great gaming arcade in the sky, particularly since Far Cry 2 wasn’t near as successful as its illustrious predecessors, including the original title and the Far Cry Instincts follow-ups. Perhaps more surprising than the return of the first person shooter series, however, is the fact that Far Cry 3 is incredibly good, rejuvenating and rebooting the jungle-based shooter into a seriously addictive proposition.

After a montage opening sequence of parties, drinks and skydiving, all set to a soundtrack of MIA’s ‘Paper Planes’, we find ourselves playing one of two brothers trapped in a bamboo prison, being taunted by a bad guy who’s equal parts Joe Pesci in Goodfellas and Scarface’s Tony Montana, with a Mario Balotelli-like mohawk to boot. This, it transpires, is Vaas, the leader of a modern-day pirate army, who rule much of this would-be tropical paradise and have kidnapped the Brody brothers and their fun-loving friends.

Having watched his brother Grant murdered while he tried in vain to staunch the flow of blood, Jason Brody suddenly finds himself fleeing for his life through a hostile jungle, with a host of trigger-happy pirates on his tail. It’s a fairly frantic opening chapter, and before you can even catch your breath, our unlikely hero finds himself in a local Rakyat village, where a mystical jungle guru in khaki fatigues and tattoos called Dennis hands him a machete and money to buy guns.

It’s at this point that the game really begins as an open world shooter that sees you reclaiming radio towers (which work like the view points in Assassin’s Creed), taking over pirate outposts to make that area safe for your adopted tribe, and rescuing your former friends from the pirates’ clutches. As you immerse yourself in the story and its missions, you also build your skill set RPG-style, hunt rare animals, create medicines from local flora and, of course, build up an impressive arsenal with which to shoot bad guys. At the start, a simple hand-gun is all you can afford, but as you amass cash, everything from assault rifles to rocket launchers are on the menu.

The game looks lovely, with the tropical jungles, marshlands and beaches rendered in such detail as to induce Grade A jealousy in most Irish people. The sound too is top notch, with pretty impressive voice-acting across the board. The plot succeeds in dragging you into its violent clutches. But it’s the gameplay, which has just the right combination of stealth and shoot-outs, which will ensure that even experienced shooter fans keep coming back for more. A welcome return for a near-forgotten shooter series.

Platform: PS3, X360
Publisher: Ubisoft
Age Rating: 18
Score: 4/5

John Walshe