Far Cry vs Far Cry 2 vs Far Cry 3
Three great games, one great series. But what's been the best game in the series thus far?
Published on Dec 21, 2012
From whichever angle you look at Far Cry 3, it’s hard to deny that it is made of Game Of The Year material.
Whether you examine its shark-infested waters, its rolling hills, or its rickety bridges, quality oozes from every pore. It’s easy to forget, therefore, that the previous games in the series – Far Cry and Far Cry 2 – were very good as well. One series, 3 great games. A comparison is in order. In evaluating these 3 games, we're faced with Crytek chalk and a couple of lumps of Ubisoft cheese.
Far Cry 3 vs Far Cry 2
The last 2 games in the series are very much open world experiences, whereas Far Cry is a straight-up FPS (although it does give you a fair helping of environmental freedom).
If we're going to compare them, it makes sense to first decide which of the latter 2 takes the free roaming biscuit. And to me, that’s a no brainer. Far Cry 2 had many great ideas. The game played very impressively with fire: it would spread through the African wild like... well, wildfire, and with a few seconds work you could transform whole areas into smouldering piles of ash.
As excellent were the animations, which all happened, unusually, from the first person perspective. Healing would involve manually ripping bullets out of your thigh or popping a dislocated elbow back into place, and when picking up an item your character would physically reach out and grab it.
This, alongside small touches such as a map that could only be accessed in-game, made Far Cry 2 a very immersive experience, and you felt very much a physical part of its world. That world, unfortunately, was just a facade; a shiny window display that was not representative of what lay within.
Every time you found yourself being pulled in by the setting you’d get booted back to reality, probably by a large, guard outpost-shaped foot (seriously, those things were annoying). NPCs were either impossibly hostile or as interesting as an empty tissue box, and if they weren’t trying to kill you for tying your shoelaces they were doling out yet another mindless, boring quest.
It played like an MMO, with repetitive missions barely affecting a story that it was hard to care about, and once you’d played for a few hours you’d experienced everything Far Cry 2 had to offer. Far Cry 3 is an upgrade in every way.
It takes the quality meat of the previous game and runs with it, trimming the fat along the way and shaking in a few welcome spices. There is a coherent narrative, characters with personality – with Vaas, of course, being the standout figure – and a living, breathing world complete with wild animals around every franticly turned corner. It’s the ultimate sandbox experience: a host of different systems coming together in near perfect harmony and a large variety of quests to embark on.
What more could you want? So, that’s Round 1 to Far Cry 3. But how does it fare against the original? That’s a very difficult question to answer, partly because the games are very different, and partly because they’re two games of immense class.
Far Cry 3 vs Far Cry
The game that started it all – Far Cry – is more like the original Crysis than anything else, offering you a story driven single player experience across 20 or so large, open levels. On release, it stunned the gaming world.
The visuals – especially the draw distance – were eye-wateringly good, and the enemies seemed hyper-intelligent. If they weren’t flushing you out of cover with grenades they were hunkering down themselves, or hunting in packs to investigate the rustling of jungle foliage.
But it was the option to approach your objective in a variety of ways – ranging from all-out stealth to non-stop action – along an unlimited number of in-game paths that really stuck in the memory. Far Cry 3 created fewer shockwaves, but it is without doubt the more well-rounded package.
All the best elements are still here from Far Cry – the freedom, the meticulous planning before you hit an enemy stronghold, and, most entertainingly, the hand-glider – without any of the original’s quirks. And these quirks are numerous. Far Cry’s voice acting is abysmal, its story iffy, and stealthing around can be very frustrating because enemies seem to have superhuman eyes and ears – one fart out of place and they’re on you like piranhas. However, Far Cry is challenging in ways that Far Cry 3 isn’t.
On higher difficulty levels it would leave you red-raced, screaming at your monitor, but it would always have you coming back for more. In Far Cry 3, if you don’t crank the difficulty up to max then you feel like a super soldier from the start, which is a tad puzzling as supposedly you’ve never held a gun before. The Far Cry series is a good example of how games, in general, have become easier over the years, whilst also becoming more accessible to a wider audience.
What we have here is a battle of ideals, a clashing of innovation and polish, a smashing together of the old and jagged and the slick new school. On one hand, Far Cry did something unforgettable, and introduced us to ideas that would be repeated over and over again is subsequent years.
On the other, we have the pinnacle of gaming excellence: the result of years and years of wholesale changes and minute tweaks that have created one of the best open world games to date. Choosing between them is a toughie.
If we have to come down on one side of this fence that we're precariously balancing on (why can’t we just stay up here, the view is great!), we'll have to side with originality and say that Far Cry is the best game of the series.
Where Far Cry 3 plonks you in a gorgeous world and lets you have endless hours of fun, Far Cry demands your time, effort and concentration, and therefore feels more engrossing.
And it’s still relevant today. So once your done with Far Cry 3, go on Steam, GOG or Amazon and buy Far Cry for a couple of quid. It might just blow your adventuring socks off.