Notebookcheck

Far Cry 3 Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 12/15/2012

Off to the jungle. Ubisoft ends the 2012 gaming year with a big bang. Although it's built with open-world architecture, Far Cry 3 wants to be an intense ego-shooter with a gripping story. But notebook users have more to fear than all kinds of opponents: the Dunia 2 engine can be a menace too.

Far Cry 3 Logo

For the original German review, see here.

Upon hearing the catchphrase "Far Cry" not every gamer's eyes will light up.  Though the first part made a good impression in many respects, the second part, released in 2008, had to pocket some serious critique. Along with the aimless storyline, critics also denounced the game's limited variation, among other things. Unfortunate design choices like the irritating malaria and constantly respawning opponents made the game even less fun.

Although Far Cry 1 had its own faults (skimpy storyline, higher level of difficulty, frustrating save-system) no one could deem the successor anything but a step backwards. With Far Cry 3 Ubisoft dares to try again. The ambitious open-world shooter shouldn't be inferior to other action titles in any way. Will the plan have worked this time? We completed a few missions and investigated the game's hardware demands.

The kidnapper Vaas seems to be a little insane.
The kidnapper Vaas seems to be a little insane.
Grant, the protagonist's older brother, doesn't stay around very long.
Grant, the protagonist's older brother, doesn't stay around very long.
Such a coincidence: in the first level we already find important utensils.
Such a coincidence: in the first level we already find important utensils.
The escape from camp is rather implausible.
The escape from camp is rather implausible.
A helicopter right next to the hanging bridge: will that go well?
A helicopter right next to the hanging bridge: will that go well?
We hurdle through the wilderness at night too.
We hurdle through the wilderness at night too.

Description

The starting point of Far Cry 3 is as simple as it is exciting. Desiring to experience an adventure and flee their sad daily routine, a group of young people travel to a tropically-inspired island. You have some fun in discos, admire the picture-perfect natural scenery and abandon yourself to all sorts of sporting activities such as skydiving. But the dream-like fun soon turns to bitter reality: the main character, Jason Brody, falls into the hands of local pirates who snap up clueless tourists and demand ransoms to earn a living.

Right at the beginning we meet the well-created antagonist, Vaas. Due to his mentally-unstable streak the guy spurts a kind of "Apocalypse Now" charm. After a short and somewhat disconcerting "conversation" thanks to the help of our older brother Grant, who was also kidnapped, we're able to escape our bamboo-cage. The subsequent getaway makes for a good start, and it suggests that Far Cry 3 doesn't take the whole believability thing very seriously. Like in the stealth passages in Call of Duty we breeze effortlessly past dozens of opponents.

When we're discovered by the pirates at last (as the script demands), the protagonist flees into the jungle with his last shred of strength. Jason isn't terribly strong though: after a helicopter-encounter the young man falls into a river and has to be rescued by a member of the Rakyat tribe, who nurses him back to health.

The degree of detail on the characters is uncommonly high.
The degree of detail on the characters is uncommonly high.
Far Cry 3 portrays the world very coherently.
Far Cry 3 portrays the world very coherently.
It's not long before the first gun shows up.
It's not long before the first gun shows up.
The tribal village exudes a voodoo flair.
The tribal village exudes a voodoo flair.
Ubisoft really worked hard on the interior spaces.
Ubisoft really worked hard on the interior spaces.
The safe houses are a great alternative to the arms dealer.
The safe houses are a great alternative to the arms dealer.

When it comes to the main character Ubisoft unfortunately forfeits potential. While the talkative Jason with his common background (a "John Doe commoner") makes a somewhat uncommon action hero, the game quickly descends into the usual shoot 'em up. Instead of letting the protagonist slowly familiarize himself with his foreign situation, the ego-shooter quickly presses a firearm into his hand. So, shortly after the game begins, Jason can already smoke out enemy camps. Anyone expecting a sympathetic and struggling character after the emotional beginning will be a little disappointed. Apart from the interesting main storyline, Jason generally stays silent (though the storytelling lies above the normal level for the genre.)

But what should he be standing around all day blabbering about when there's so much to get done on the island? The developers filled the enormous game world - which for our taste is rather oversized - with all sorts of tasks and side activities. Far Cry 3 offers, among other things, hunter killing missions, tribal examinations, automotive courses and mini games like throwing knives. Above all, climbing radio towers (clears the "Fog of War") proves to be essential.

The radio towers absolutely ought to be scaled.
The radio towers absolutely ought to be scaled.
Without an interfering transmitter there's more information on the card.
Without an interfering transmitter there's more information on the card.
Few action games offer such a far range of sight.
Few action games offer such a far range of sight.
Tower conquests end with a neat tracking shot.
Tower conquests end with a neat tracking shot.
The developers overdid it a bit with the collectible plants.
The developers overdid it a bit with the collectible plants.
In terms of atmosphere Far Cry 3 plays in the top league.
In terms of atmosphere Far Cry 3 plays in the top league.

With the character and crafting systems, the ego-shooter is almost reminiscent of a role-playing game. By collecting experience points the protagonist unlocks skill points, which we invest in the three talent trees "Heron", "Shark" and "Spider", however our fancy takes us. The practical improvements are doubtlessly one of the greatest motivating factors.

The crafting system is also thrilling. With materials that Jason collects he can produce his own healing concoctions or bigger ammunition bags. Since Ubisoft hammered the island with way too many boxes and plants, you should expand your inventory first. Most objects require special pelts, which we can acquire from specific animals at marked places (goats, wild pigs, deer, etc.) With the money we find we can purchase new guns of course.

The light and mirror effects are sometimes too strong.
The light and mirror effects are sometimes too strong.
Dr. Earnhardt likes to stay in the greenhouse...
Dr. Earnhardt likes to stay in the greenhouse...
...where he consumes questionable substances.
...where he consumes questionable substances.
He rescued our girlfriend.
He rescued our girlfriend.
This isn't Alice in Wonderland, it's one of our main missions.
This isn't Alice in Wonderland, it's one of our main missions.
At least the nasty drug trip is worth it.
At least the nasty drug trip is worth it.

Does this sound to you like the perfect genre mix? Not quite, because of the sheer size of the game and its respective repetition - like in the last Far Cry - a certain arbitrariness looms. The principle quantity before quality reigns in almost all open-world titles.

It would be hard for us to imagine that in the course of the expedition there are no moments in which the motivation breaks down. That's partly because the player soon begins to feel all-powerful. In Far Cry 3 you're showered too quickly with items and money. The abrupt changes in weather, the extremely bright color scheme (a slightly plastic look), the console-style menus and the missing physics bothered us as well. These are joined by an impractical save-system and limited mission areas.

But when it comes to the most important ego-shooter characteristics Far Cry 3 does everything right. Thanks to the smooth animation and the good feedback (both acoustically and visually), the fights feel comfortably fluid. In terms of the KI-technology, the game leaves behind a patchy impression. Intelligent maneuvers (flank attacks) alternate with oafish actions (rushing forward blindly). But the great background music and the extremely thick vegetation easily overshadow that shortcoming.

The weapon slots need to be released from time to time.
The weapon slots need to be released from time to time.
Of course it's easier to fight in a team.
Of course it's easier to fight in a team.
When it comes to shooter mechanics, there's hardly anything to critique.
When it comes to shooter mechanics, there's hardly anything to critique.
We can take the pelts off of dead animals.
We can take the pelts off of dead animals.
Far Cry 3 scores with a heavy degree of vegetation.
Far Cry 3 scores with a heavy degree of vegetation.
We find ourselves in idyllic scenes continually.
We find ourselves in idyllic scenes continually.

Benchmark

The benchmark sequence (a 40-second sprint through the tutorial village "Amanaki") is about average in terms of demand: there are passages that run more smoothly and scenes that stress the hardware more. According to our experience, 35 fps should be enough for proper gameplay.

Settings

Although the texture sharpness and the polygon count aren't worthy of reference, the Dunia 2 engine is one of the best engines currently in production for the PC market. One of its greatest strengths is the incredible visibility. Depending on your position, you can overlook gigantic mile-long stretches. Lush meadows, majestic mountains, palm trees as high as towers: the ego-shooter unfolds a first-class atmosphere. The island world is framed by a beautifully reflective sea of water. The light and weather effects are just as impressive, although the picture is sometimes too bright and shiny.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

A shame: the technology isn't quite as high-quality as the Frostbite 2 engine (Medal of Honor WarfighterBattlefield 3) or the CryEngine 3 (Crysis 2). But much of the action competition looks distinctly worse (Black Ops 2 and Borderlands 2 among others).

The extensive graphics settings point a finger at the loveless console porting. In order to appeal to as wide a range of customers as possible Far Cry 3 supports both modern DirectX 11 hardware and older DirectX 9 systems.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

With DX11 turned on the user can regulate the ambient occlusion variant (there's SSAO, HDAO and HBAO), the option "alpha to coverage" and the level of the MSAA anti-aliasing. In the "video" menu you can also change the resolution, the picture mode and the field of vision. The vertical synchronization (prevents line adjustment) was deactivated for our benchmarks.

For those who don't feel like messing with the advanced graphics options in the "video quality" menu, it's possible to just use the five presets. Worthy of praise: except for the DirectX mode, all settings are directly adopted into the game (though not always correctly, which is why we recommend restarting).

Cool: the weapons improve with upgrades.
Cool: the weapons improve with upgrades.
The (expandable) inventory is filled rather quickly.
The (expandable) inventory is filled rather quickly.
The ego-shooter is almost like a role-playing game.
The ego-shooter is almost like a role-playing game.
Collectible materials enable the protagonist to produce objects.
Collectible materials enable the protagonist to produce objects.
The three talent trees ensure motivation.
The three talent trees ensure motivation.
We only saw a fraction of the gigantic island.
We only saw a fraction of the gigantic island.

Results

As expected, the ego-shooter functions with some pretty substantial hardware hunger. According to our benchmarks, entry-level solutions will get by only with low graphics options. While the HD Graphics 4000 processor chip only manages 30 fps when set to 1024x768 pixels and the preset "low", the old HD Graphics 3000 just struggles around the range of 20 fps - an unplayable result. For the middle preset and 1366x768 pixels (DirectX 9) you'll need at least a GeForce GT 640M.

For those who wish to enjoy a high level of overall quality and the DirectX 11 mode, including double anti-aliasing, you'll need a graphics card from the high-end segment (starting with the GeForce GTX 660M). A combination of (very) high detail, multiple MSAA and 1600x900 and/or 1920x1080 pixels can be fueled only by absolute luxury GPUs, like the GeForce GTX 680M or the Radeon HD 7970M.

Quadruple to octuple anti-aliasing should be generally ignored. With all the controls set, Far Cry 3 jerks around even on potent gaming PCs. Similarly to Assassin's Creed III and Hitman: Absolution, with moderate settings the frame rate is sometimes massively dependent on the CPU.

Benchmark Table: Far Cry 3

Verdict

Far Cry 3 is a successfully developed action game which, with its open-world mechanics, makes a nice contrast to the predominantly linear shooter competition. But it isn't quite a top hit. Several shortcomings in terms of design as well as conception-related weaknesses tarnish the good overall impression. Thanks to the diverse possibilities and long playing time, the game is ideal for passing cold winter evenings.

Longer routes can be crossed by quick travel or with vehicles.
Longer routes can be crossed by quick travel or with vehicles.
The wheels steer a little spongily.
The wheels steer a little spongily.
Guns are mounted on some boats.
Guns are mounted on some boats.
Cars serve for land exploration.
Cars serve for land exploration.
The island is especially impressive from up in the air.
The island is especially impressive from up in the air.
Who parked this four-wheeler?
Who parked this four-wheeler?

Test Systems

Thank you once again to the company Schenker Notebooks (mysn.de), who provided us with our three main platforms:

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 675M(X), GTX 680M & Radeon HD 7970M, 8 GB RAM)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M & HD Graphics 4000, 8 GB RAM)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000, 8 GB RAM) 

GPU drivers: Nvidia 310.64 Beta, AMD 12.11 Beta 8 & Intel 9.17.10.2875.

from left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
from left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Far Cry 3
 Far Cry 3 (2012)
low
1024x768
DX9 Low Preset
med.
1366x768
DX9 Medium Preset
high
1366x768
DX11 High Preset (SSAO, Standard Alpha To Coverage)
2x MSAA
ultra
1920x1080
DX11 Ultra Preset (HDAO, Enhanced Alpha To Coverage)
4x MSAA
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
132.8
122.8
102.7
66.4
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
145.4
137.9
117.1
74.5
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
131.4
119.7
100.2
65.6
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
113.6
103.2
85.6
63.6
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
120.8
86.2
55.6
 7AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
106.6
102.6
81.3
54.1
 8AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
96.8
78.8
51
 12NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
120.052
108.52
902
51.552
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
110.6
92.9
80.6
40.4
 15NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
111
100.9
84.9
38.4
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
120
111
87
37.6
 17AMD Radeon HD 7970
111.4
102.6
76.6
35.7
 21NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
132.4
123.6
91
34.3
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
116.42
1012
83.93
35.73
 23NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
109.2
101.8
79.1
32.3
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
80.5
76.6
80
30.44
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
105.22
91.352
67.73
28.43
 30AMD Radeon R9 M290X
61.9
29
 31AMD Radeon HD 8970M
88.9
79.6
47.12
23.52
Pos      Model                                     Far Cry 3
lowmed.highultra
 35NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
78.7
69.4
68.4
23.552
 36NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
122.3
120.8
82.22
30.652
 38AMD Radeon HD 7970M
83.3
75.2
45.12
25.43
 39NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
132.6
118.7
68.3
24.8
 40NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
107.7
97.7
72.1
27
 45NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
97.522
88.362
60.43
20.93
 46NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
103.63
92.53
60.654
22.94
 49NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M SLI
86.1
63.1
21.7
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
76.3
69.3
55.1
17.5
 54NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
88.1
53.1
21.7
 55NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
85.554
774
49.25
16.45
 59NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
61.5
19.7
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
83.8
83.42
46.154
15.24
 66NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
76.4
65
47.7
16.2
 69AMD Radeon HD 7770
110.7
89.4
44
14.3
 70NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M SLI
105.7
88.8
42.6
15.6
 78NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
110.7
82.2
43.752
13.452
 80NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
82.5
60.3
35.8
 82NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
81.4
68.4
38.8
12.9
 86AMD Radeon HD 8870M
54.8
48.4
26.8
11
Pos      Model                                     Far Cry 3
lowmed.highultra
 92NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
85
57
35
17
 98NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
67.6
37.4
13.1
 100NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
77.9
62.9
35.5
10.6
 103*AMD Radeon R9 M265X
56.9
32.5
10.4
 105AMD Radeon HD 8790M
65
46
18
8
 106AMD FirePro W4170M
63
43
17
8
 111NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
76
53.9
26.8
8.3
 112NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
53.6
46.5
28.3
8.8
 113NVIDIA GeForce 840M
70.1
47
25.4
8.4
 115NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
58
42
26
7
 116NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
78
53.4
25
8.4
 120Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
57
39.7
16.8
5.9
 122NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
65.552
44.852
21.652
6.42
 127NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
55.5
35.8
16.6
 141NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
27.032
27.322
26.192
7.532
 143*NVIDIA GeForce GT 645M
51.1
41.1
22.4
7.3
 144AMD FirePro M4100
39
5
 145AMD Radeon HD 8750M
57
40
18.5
6
 147AMD Radeon R7 M265
442
32.852
18.652
8.3
 152NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
44.1
35.7
28
12.8
Pos      Model                                     Far Cry 3
lowmed.highultra
 180AMD Radeon HD 8730M
48
37.2
18
5.7
 197AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
44.4
27.6
18.9
 198AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
22.9
17.5
11.8
3.9
 200AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
39.2
24.3
11.4
 203AMD Radeon HD 7660D
52
29.4
16.3
5.1
 221AMD Radeon HD 8650G
42.7
27.5
19.5
 226NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
552
31.952
16.752
5.052
 227AMD Radeon HD 7560D
45
25.9
14.4
3.9
 231NVIDIA GeForce 820M
51.3
33.3
15.9
 233NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
45.8
29
14
 235Intel Iris Graphics 5100
28.7
22.5
11
4.3
 242AMD Radeon HD 8550M
15.4
15.3
11
 247Intel HD Graphics 4600
38.1
23.4
 252AMD Radeon HD 7660G
33.9
20
11.8
3.5
 257Intel HD Graphics 5000
28.58
19.18
7.07
 270ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
38.5
21.8
13.6
4.2
 280AMD Radeon HD 7610M
33
19
12
 286Intel HD Graphics 4400
20.1
14.2
 289AMD Radeon HD 7550M
32.1
17.6
10.1
 297AMD Radeon HD 7600G
13.7
8.2
Pos      Model                                     Far Cry 3
lowmed.highultra
 323AMD Radeon HD 7480D
25.1
14.3
5.1
1.7
 324Intel HD Graphics 4000
31.92
21.352
7.8
 327AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
19.1
12.7
8.6
2.5
 329Intel HD Graphics 4200
26.2
16.5
 353AMD Radeon HD 8330
18.8
11.5
 376AMD Radeon HD 7420G
14
11
10
 381Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
18.7
11.4
 418Intel HD Graphics 3000
20.4
12.6
 439Intel HD Graphics 2500
19.252
11.9
 478Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
10.3
6.2
* Smaller values are better. / * Approximate position

 

Legend
5Stutters – This game is very likely to stutter and have poor frame rates. Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, average frame rates are expected to fall below 25fps
May Stutter – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, stutters and poor frame rates are expected.
30Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 25fps
40Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 35fps
May Run Fluently – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, fluent frame rates are expected.
123Uncertain – This graphics card experienced unexpected performance issues during testing for this game. A slower card may be able to achieve better and more consistent frame rates than this particular GPU running the same benchmark scene.
Uncertain – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game and no reliable interpolation can be made based on the performances of surrounding cards of the same class or family.
The value in the fields displays the average frame rate of all values in the database. Move your cursor over the value to see individual results.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Far Cry 3 Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2012-12-15 (Update: 2013-06- 6)