OXCGN’s Far Cry 3 Review
You’d be insane to miss this trip…
by Daniel Geikowski
©2012 Daniel Geikowski
The sun is shining, there’s a cool breeze in the air, filled with the sound of the ocean lapping upon the coast.
There is no time to enjoy the weather, though; I’ve got an island to retake.
I creep through the jungle foliage, approaching an outpost just to find it being patrolled by some nefarious pirates. I take out my camera in order to get a closer look at what I’m dealing with, when all of a sudden a snake strikes from the long grass, latching onto my hand.
I frantically pull the snake away, dispatching it quickly with my machete. Realising the snake attack didn’t give away my position, I quietly creep up to a clearing overlooking the outpost.
I take out my bow, ready to take down these scumbags quickly and efficiently.
I ready my arrow, and just when I find the right moment to strike, something happens.
The guards all jump to alert. Surely they haven’t detected me?
The guards all start to panic as a Sumatran tiger attacks the outpost, viciously pouncing on each pirate as they scream in terror.
All I can do is stand there, and watch in amazement as the tiger easily clears the outpost, doing all the work for me.
Far Cry 3 doesn’t tell you how to do things; it just points you in the right direction and lets you decide how to get there, and how to get things done.
It’s a faithful formula that’s certain to please not only fans of the Far Cry series, but fans of the FPS genre looking for a change in scenery from futuristic warfare and cyborg warriors.
Ticket to paradise
Jason is on holiday with a group of friends also consisting of his girlfriend Liza, older brother Grant, and younger brother Riley.
He and the group decide to go skydiving, landing on the tropical Rook Island. Upon landing, the group are attacked and captured by a group of violent pirates, led by a crazed psychopath named Vaas Montenegro.
Jason and Grant are locked up together, and upon learning they will be sold into slavery, Grant breaks out of the cage with Jason in tow, determined to rescue the others.
Jason collapses during the chase through the jungle, regaining consciousness in the safety of a village under protection from the Rakyat tribe.
He notices a strange new tattoo on his arm, given to him by a Rakyat tribesmen for his feat of strength shown by escaping Vaas alive.
Under guidance of the Rakyat tribe, Jason sets out upon Rook Island, determined to rescue his friends at any cost, and escape this beautiful, yet violent paradise.
The story of Far Cry 3 is a much darker tale compared to the original Far Cry, and even Far Cry 2.
Many of the inhabitants, especially the pirates, talk about and deal with insanity running rampant throughout the island. Most pirates are addicted to drugs, and scientists as well as local tribesmen use the local flora and fauna to make various concoctions that cause hallucinations.
This plays a major role in the game, as Jason experiences these crazy trips at pivotal moments throughout the campaign. These do add character and variety to the standard FPS formula, are hard to describe, and should be seen to be believed.
While it does deal with slavery, family, and the inner-workings of one’s soul, Far Cry 3‘s narrative is pretty flimsy in sections, asking players to prolong the suspension of disbelief in order to keep on track with the narrative.
Overall, it’s a thought-provoking story, making players think about what shooters ask us to do, and how characters blindly change over time, becoming desensitized to high levels of violence. While it’s no BioShock, it’s far from a mindless shooter.
The local population are trapped in the middle of a war between two factions, the violent pirates led by Vaas, and the native Rakyat tribe, determined to restore peace and tranquility to the island.
In addition to these factions, Jason will meet some important characters, each with their own part to play in the narrative.
Whether it’s a mad scientist, Aussie hitman, tribal goddess, CIA operative, or crazy German-American, each character shows a quirky personality that shines in comparison to the local, boring population.
Personally, I feel Vaas to be the strongest character in the game, with some well-delivered dialogue from Michael Mando, along with great accompanying animated actions.
The Vaas character was created for Far Cry 3 when Ubisoft saw Mando’s audition. They loved his portrayal so much that they specifically designed the character based off of his performance.
As a result, Vaas comes across as a truly convincing character. He’s violent and unpredictable, but also one of the best villains of 2012.
In contrast, Jason is by far the weakest character in the game, and while it doesn’t detract from the experience too much, his voice acting and overall personality did not come across as passionate as other characters, which annoyed me.
While I enjoyed the eclectic range of characters, it felt like they only made cameo appearances within Far Cry 3. For the majority of the time, players will focus on interacting with a particular character for a set amount of missions, then move onto the next character.
Even when completing a character’s missions, players can’t talk to them to get background information.
I felt the story would have been a lot stronger if characters were given more game time, interacting with each other throughout the entire campaign.
Ain’t no holiday
Missions primarily consist of Jason building his skills as a warrior in the eyes of the Rakyat tribe. As Jason gains more confidence in his abilities, he is solely focused on rescuing his friends, and enacting revenge on the psychotic Vaas.
For the vast majority of the campaign, you’ll be doing the dirty work for someone at a particular point in time, in exchange for help locating your missing friends.
One early mission has Jason searching a cave for a particular mushroom, which leads to an entertaining adventure. Another mission sees Jason eradicate a drug plantation using the best device possible for the job, a flamethrower.
The most entertaining missions, once again, are those containing Vaas. Not only are missions containing Vaas action-packed, but his character portrayal goes a long way toward keeping the player interested in continuing the campaign.
While missions can be somewhat repetitive in terms of objectives, the freedom Far Cry 3 gives the player in the way they accomplish these objectives goes a long way to keeping the campaign fresh and exciting.
The various locales and equipment available to the player prevent Far Cry 3 from becoming a stale, grinding experience.
Say hello to my Little Friend
Far Cry 3 gives players a wide range of tools, allowing them to complete objectives in a play style that suits them.
Whether that be walking through the front door with an AK-47, popping pirate skulls from a distance with a silenced sniper rifle, or blowing the entire place up with C4 or an RPG, the choice is literally in the hands of the player.
Weapons can be purchased at general stores throughout Rook Island, or they can choose the cheaper option, looting from dead bodies.
As the player liberates pirate-held outposts for the Rakyat tribe, they not only gain a point of fast travel, but also the ability to purchase weapons and ammo, as well as a place to sell gear.
For those cheapskates out there, deactivating radio towers controlled by the pirates across the island grants free weapons across stores. Therefore, deactivating all towers will give players access to all weapons for free.
For the artistic bunch out there, paint jobs can also be purchased and added to weaponry for that extra bit of flair.
This is a smart, intuitive way to incorporate a skill tree into the game, as it fits in with the tribal themes of Far Cry 3.
As Jason gains experience, he can unlock skills in three categories, each represented by a new section on Jason’s arm. Players are free to choose which skills to unlock, as long as they have met the desired requirements.
The Heron deals with long range takedowns and mobility, sort of like a standard Ranger class. Players can unlock abilities such as sprinting and swimming underwater longer, to performing underwater and aerial takedowns, as well as increasing accuracy with long range weapons.
The Shark relates to assault takedowns and healing. Leveling up this class grants players all kinds of abilities, from being able to take down multiple enemies and heavy gunners, to increases in health and effectiveness of healing syringes.
Finally, The Spider deals with stealth takedowns and survival. Perks in this tree allow players to silently dispatch enemies, as well as increasing the amount of plants and skins the player can harvest.
Although to be honest, during one playthrough players would be able to unlock all abilities, so it’s pretty much a matter of what you prefer to unlock first.
Heaven or Hell?
It’s a stunning, beautiful island paradise in stark contrast to the dark and violent nature of its psychotic inhabitants. Not only does Rook Island have the typical gorgeous beaches, but many hidden nooks and crannies for players to stumble upon.
Many a time I uncovered a hidden cave with underwater passages leading to some gorgeous, picturesque areas. The wide variety of great-looking areas really go a long way toward making Rook Island feel like a real destination.
Not only that, but the many species of animals also help make the island feel alive.
Animals range from domesticated dogs, chickens and pigs to buffalo, snakes, deer, tigers and Komodo dragons. The water also isn’t safe, teeming with crocodiles, manta rays, and sharks. [Ed.: Real men do nothing but fight sharks and tigers with their knives, and a fully upgraded bag of syringes.]
Animals can both help and hinder the player. While they will attack the general population and also attack enemies, they won’t think twice about attacking you. Countless times I was attacked while scouting outposts, or even just exploring areas.
The main reason players will hunt animals will be for their skins, which are necessary to craft items in order to carry increased amounts of weapons, ammo, syringes, money, and of course, items to sell.
The most prized items can only be crafted from the skins of rare animals, in which the player must hunt with specified weapons, in order to claim their skin. These animals are tougher than normal, and can be a handful.
The wind in your hair
While players can fast travel between points, I opted to take vehicle transport, so as to no deprive myself of stumbling upon a hidden area or group of pirates to kill. Players will no doubt aim to head to a mission point, only to be distracted and wander from the beaten track.
Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes. From ATVs, cars, jeeps, buggies, and trucks to jet-skis, boats, and even a hang glider, there’s no lack of variety here. Players will even get their hands on a wingsuit to descend through the sky in style.
All vehicles handle well, and sound pretty zippy. Most can take a fair amount of damage, and if players have the repair torch equipped, they can keep their favourite buggy running even after launching it off a cliff into a harmless tree.
But nothing beats the view of jumping off a cliff with a hang glider, then deploying the wingsuit. The panoramas are amazing.
But wait, there’s more
After completing the main quest, players still have a lot to do. It should be noted that you can play after the ending.
There are animals to hunt, hidden relics and items to find, assassination missions, races, and much more.
The Trials of the Rakyat side missions offer bite-sized pieces of action. These usually charge players with taking out as many enemies as they can in a certain amount of time, and it’s a great way to take a break from exploring the unknown of Rook Island.
There are many outposts to liberate from the pirates, and these can be tackled in any way the player sees fit.
While players cannot change the time of day like they could in Far Cry 2, players can still ultimately choose their method of attack.
For players who played through Far Cry 2, you may find this exciting.
Once you clear an outpost, it stays that way.
No longer will you drive around a corner, only to find your recently liberated outpost is once again filled with filthy, insane pirates.
The fantastic fire mechanic from Far Cry 2 also returns, and it’s fun to once again watch a large area of jungle go up in flames, because the car you were driving exploded after it rolled down the hill, because you were trying to impress the natives by drifting around corners. Shame on you.
Depending on play style, Far Cry 3′s campaign will last anywhere from ten to fifteen hours. It took myself about fifteen hours while only completing a few side missions, although I did do a fair bit of exploring.
One final note, make sure you don’t forget to eat the berries left for you when you come across the boat cave. Don’t worry, they provide a great way to incorporate some backstory into Far Cry 3, detailing how Jason and the crew ended up on Rook Island.
May also have other side effects…
Holiday with friends
There are the standard team deathmatch and King of the Hill style modes, which are familiar to anyone who has played competitive multiplayer before. While it’s not bad, it doesn’t break any new ground either.
Players who deeply engage with Jason’s story and enjoy the diversity of Rook Island will probably not have any lasting interest here.
What will pique interest, though, is the return of the map editor.
This once again allows players to unleash their artistic nature, showing others around the world on their idea of paradise… in which they would then go around mercilessly slaughtering everything that moved.
Far Cry 3 also has a co-op mode available, acting as a prequel to the events of the single player narrative.
Players take control of four characters, each who were working on a cruise ship that got overrun by Vaas’ pirates. It turns out they were in cahoots with the ship’s Captain.
After realising they had been betrayed by the Captain, players head to Rook Island in order to get back the money they are owed, as well as blowing away a few people along the journey.
While it is a better offering than the multiplayer component, it still trails behind the amazing single player campaign.
The problem is the mission design. It’s more linear than the single player offering, which in my opinion takes away a key element of what makes Far Cry so special: the open-world design.
There are a few moments where players compete among themselves, racing to plant more bombs than other players, kill more guys, etc., but the majority of the time will be spent shooting bad dudes.
Enjoy your stay….
With the campaign lasts roughly ten to fifteen hours along with the additional side quests, there is no reason why you can’t have an extended holiday on the gorgeous, albeit violent and unstable, Rook Island.
The more players invest in the game, taking time to explore and take in the effort Ubisoft have demonstrated in delivering such a convincing world, the more they will enjoy their time.
Is Far Cry 3 a perfect game?
No, no game ever is or will be.
The co-op and multiplayer offerings, with the exception of the Map Editor, are not as great as the single player experience.
The AI is a bit stupid and moronic at times, with enemies blindly charging at the player.
There are also a few graphical bugs, with some models and textures popping in. It’s understandable, being a highly-detailed and expansive game world, but the current-gen consoles show their age trying to present a game of this size.
However, dismissing the game based on these flaws would deprive players from experiencing one of the finest crafted and most beautiful game worlds of this generation.
Yes, Far Cry 3 does have a few negatives, but they are far outweighed by the list of positives.
Far Cry 3 may not be perfect, but it’s by far one of the best games of the year.
©2012 Daniel Geikowski
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