December 17, 2012 by Paul Curtin
Your girlfriend’s missing, your boat’s been destroyed, you’re trapped on a mysterious island where everyone is crazy… and best of all, like one of last year’s best games, you don’t have to worry about any of that if you don’t want to. That’s because in Far Cry 3 you can either worry about all that serious stuff by strictly playing the campaign, or you can ignore it all for as long as you want and instead hunt wild animals in the jungle, discover secrets scattered throughout the island, and find plenty of other random adventures that occur during crazy unscripted events you might accidentally create. Like Skyrim, Far Cry 3 is a paradise for people with short attention spans that also surprisingly offers up a solid story despite its open world setting that has so much going on.
Getting distracted in Far Cry 3 is as easy as being a kid in candy store.. a candy store that also sells ice cream and toys. The more time you spend exploring the mysterious Rook Island, the more chances you’ll have to find side missions or simply something off in the distance that’ll catch your eye and tempt you to investigate further. Whether it’s pirate outposts that can be overtaken and used as fast travel locations, rare wild animals that can be skinned to create bigger bags and holsters to expand your inventory, plants and herbs that can be picked to help boost your skills, or ancient timeworn structures that might contain secrets — there’s so much to do in Far Cry 3 that it’s hard to decide what to do first.
Far Cry 3 is filled with unique experiences unlike any other game, my favorite being hunting animals with the front bumper of my car or unleashing a pirate camp’s caged pet tiger onto its owners and watching from afar. Unfortunately, Far Cry 3‘s exploration slowly becomes somewhat repetitive, and the rewards don’t seem worth the time invested. Most items you find are worthless with no function besides being able to be sold to vendors, and even the secrets you uncover aren’t very interesting besides the few rare times an item has a funny reference to something like The Simpsons or Breaking Bad.
After about the tenth radio tower you’ve scaled to unlock better weapons and more areas on the map or pirate bases you’ve cleared out and taken over, things start feeling too similar — especially when enemies will often repeat the same lines of dialog that you just heard the last pirates you killed say. At least in Skyrim the guards were all complaining about an arrow they took to the knee; on Rook Island almost everyone is sick of living on the beautiful tropical island that they consider a “shithole” — some pretty snobby bad guys who should be grateful they’re not guarding some outpost in the middle of Antarctica if you ask me.
All joking aside, Far Cry 3‘s repetitive side-quests differ enough to keep you from going insane, and even after hours of hunting dogs, tigers, and bears — and thinking you’ve seen it all — the game will offer up some enjoyable new adventurers like hunting sharks. When not hunting wild animals, clearing outposts, and completing other objectives found on the island, players can at any time jump back into the game’s main story. Unlike other visually stunning games with weak storytelling, Far Cry 3 actually delivers a memorable story in an open world environment, something many sandbox games fail to do.
Sadly, while the story is indeed memorable, the game’s character development is somewhat of a mess and all over the place. Throughout the entire campaign, you’ll play as Jason Brody, a generic and spoiled white young adult male who is vacationing overseas with his other spoiled white friends. The use of drugs is a constant reoccurring theme, and drug-induced flashbacks reveal how Jason and his posse of douchebags got in the mess they’re in. The moments where Jason is tripping out are easily the most memorable and make for some very unique visuals that will almost have you feeling high as you play. But the flashbacks where Jason isn’t tripping and just remembering how he and his friends got to where they are now almost takes away from any sympathy you have for them after being captured. Sure, Jason and his friends aren’t bad people, but they’re annoying, and none are given a chance to really redeem themselves for being dumb and getting themselves in the mess they’re in.
Jason is the only character that evolves throughout the story by becoming a killer in his journey to save all of his kidnapped friends and at the same time help the locals retake their island from the pirates. Jason’s physical evolution comes in the form of upgrades that the player can unlock as missions are completed and he levels up. Early on in the campaign players can unlock more typical abilities such as better accuracy, speed, and health. But as the game progresses and Jason becomes stronger and colder, there are also more skillful maneuvers he can perform, such as leaping down onto enemies and impaling them with a knife, chaining together melee kill after melee kill, or my favorite that allows Jason to take a pirate’s knife out of their own holster after killing them and use it to throw at another nearby enemy and kill him, too.
Strangely, because of the generic and predictable path he takes to becoming a skilled assassin, it’s not Jason who feels like the game’s most important and interesting character, and instead it’s one of the game’s main villains who actually steals the show and is the true star of the game. Playing the unpredictable psychopathic head pirate, Michael Mando as Vaas is chilling and close to being on the level of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. Mando’s voice acting and motion capture is unlike anything ever seen from a video game villain before, and hopefully his amazing performance will lead to him being used more in future games.
The only complaint that can be said about the Vaas character is that there’s simply just not enough of him throughout the lengthy campaign. Ubisoft’s last two E3s spoiled his biggest and best two scenes, and when he needed one final jaw-dropping scene that nobody has seen yet in the game’s final act, the story switches to a different villain who we’re told is Vaas’ boss and responsible for him going crazy, but with so little build up actually pales in comparison. With Ubisoft even using Vaas as their poster character for the game’s cover art and most of their other promotional material, they should have scrapped the game’s main villain and given Mando’s character an even bigger role.
In an effort to keep players around far after they think they’ve discovered everything the island has to offer, Ubitsoft has again included multiplayer, and once again, it’s an enjoyable experience. Teamwork is encouraged through a revival system along with Battlecrys that work like a lite class system where each player can give one of four different buffs to nearby teammates such as boosting or restoring health. There are multiple modes, maps, and unlockables items awarded through a unique decoding system to customize your character, all of which are nice, but other than the pretty visuals and map editor, there’s nothing that makes Far Cry 3‘s multiplayer truly stand out as anything original that’s worth playing over more popular multiplayer shooters already on the market.
The map editor however is something that I wish more games had; in a time where publishers are trying to nickle and dime consumers into buying every little bit of worthless DLC, having a map editor that allows for creative people to design maps on par or even better than the designers is an amazing bonus feature. Plus it’s a lot of fun if you just want to screw around and set up your own version of Deadliest Warrior — my favorite moment that had me in tears was watching a bunch of Vaas clones fight a group of hungry bears in a pit full of scared chickens, and being surprised to see both sides lose as a random rocket flew into the picture from another guy I forgot to remove from the map, hitting the ammo refill box, and leaving nothing but explosions and chicken feathers flying into the air and dead bodies on the ground.
Newly added co-op mode also has its own share of problems. Instead of allowing four friends to play together in the campaign’s massive open world island like Dead Island, Far Cry 3‘s co-op ditches the open world that made the campaign so addicting in favor of more confined and linear levels. Co-op is mostly enjoyable, albeit repetitive, and at times even slightly frustrating when enemies can attack you from areas that you’re not allowed to go. But it’s still nice that the developers have taken some time with co-op and even added cutscenes with four different characters who weren’t involved in the singlplayer story and who help make for some entertaining moments. At the end of the day, co-op isn’t something you’ll be wanting to play over and over again, unless you’re a diehard fan of cooperative play, in which, Far Cry 3 might still not be the right game for you.
Despite the story’s flaws and numerous minor glitches you’ll find scattered throughout the island, Far Cry 3 isn’t a bad trip and rather a crazy journey you’ll want to take. Far Cry 3 is the first game since Fallout 3 to merge FPS and RPG elements together so well in an open world setting. But Far Cry 3 does its own thing by being more shooter than RPG and feels almost more like one of last year’s best games, Skyrim… but with guns. Come to Rook Island for the campaign’s solid singleplayer story, spectacular visuals, exotic wild animals, and numerous other adventures you might find, but don’t stay too long for the more generic multiplayer and co-op. Far Cry 3 gets 4.5 out of 5 stars (Amazing).
- Amazing merging of FPS and RPG elements in an open world
- One of the best character performances ever from Michael Mando
- Stunning visuals, physics, and character animations
- Open world environment offers what seems like an unlimited amount things to do
- Solid gunplay from the way guns sound to the way they look and feel
- The game’s best character doesn’t get enough screen time and is misused in the end
- Singleplayer gameplay becomes repetitive towards later stages of the game
- Multiplayer and co-op feel too generic
- Plenty of weird smaller glitches like in other open world games