Although the term insanity is occasionally thrown out there to describe hectic multiplayer matches, it takes on a new and more realistic meaning within Ubisoft’s much-anticipated first-person shooter, Far Cry 3. In itself, the game is a surreal trip through a world gone wrong, where humanity’s devilish side has taken over. Think of it as a beautiful-looking rendition of what Hell could be like, forcing those who wish to survive to complete aggressive acts that they’d never dream of performing otherwise. Do you think you have what it takes to escape from its picturesque rabbit hole? If so, there’s a great experience awaiting your thumbs and their complementing digits.
Unlike most shooters, Far Cry 3 doesn’t let players take on the role of a grizzled badass. Instead, controller holding users are introduced to and given control of a twenty-something named Jason Brody. A party-loving everyman who never dreamed of killing anyone, he ends up being the only one who can stop an organization of psychopaths from doing unspeakable things to a group that includes his best friends and loved ones. Frankly speaking, the resulting experience, which is essentially a fictional character study at its core, examines the survival instinct that our kind possesses.
Let’s take a moment to introduce what is one of the genre’s best and most interesting plot lines. You see Jason Brody and his chums were vacationing in Asia before things went awry. The expensive and budget less trip was taken in order to celebrate his younger brother Riley’s graduation from a pilot training course, and saw the pals move throughout the continent. However, what was a phenomenal trip turned dangerous when a friendly disc jockey inserted an idea into the group’s collective mind after telling them to finish things off in grand fashion by skydiving towards a desolate, but beautiful island. Looking back, that’s something that they never should have done. Then again, hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
When the friends landed on the idyllic island, they found a gun-toting greeting party awaiting their arrival. It seems that someone spilled the beans regarding the excursion, sparking the interest of a lunacy-filled slaveholder named Vaas, as well as the psychopath that he works for. Vaas and his armed mercenaries ended up taking everyone hostage, setting the stage for the interactive portion of the campaign. That’s because, as Jason, players must escape from captivity, then work towards freeing his fellow captives. It’s obviously not an easy task, but it’s what needs to be done. After all, how could one simply run away without attempting to rescue his friends and loved ones?
Over the course of the next ten or so hours, gamers must help Jason inch closer to his main objective by forging alliances with some of the island’s strange inhabitants. Although their motives are questionable at times, those are the folks who dole out the missions, and help give the campaign its compilation of thirty-eight offensive, defensive and stealth-based quests. Those noted tasks either help friendly groups take over parts of the region – something which can also be done by liberating outposts – or let Jason inch closer to his buddies. Plus, at least one helps the local merchants, who require radio towers to do their business. There are eighteen of those to alter if one chooses to do so.
What’s great about Far Cry 3 is that it’s a cohesive and incredibly immersive story, which makes you want to stick around until the end, in order to find out what will happen. Since it’s a game that is themed after insanity, it’s harder to gauge exactly what will occur, which is a commendable quality. Additionally, all of the characters are unique in their own creative and troubling ways, and that helps to further the campaign’s focus on presenting interesting character studies.
Although the gaming industry has seen more than one complex storyline become marred by sloppy gameplay mechanics, Ubisoft’s triple-A effort does not fall into that unfortunate category. Its rather traditional first person shooting is fine-tuned and polished, and its location traversal options are varied. Although you’re not going to find an incredible leap forward in terms of controller-based content here, you won’t come away disappointed, because there’s a lot to do and almost all of it is well-crafted.
While the campaign is filled with run and gun moments that are instigated by mission parameters or run-ins with patrolling guards, there’s more to it than being able to fire guns and throw explosives while in an offensive or defensive, covered state. In fact, Far Cry 3 places a heavy focus on hunting, crafting and exploring. Running or driving through bushes and over rocks will introduce different types of animals, which can be killed and skinned, gifting different types of materials that can be used to upgrade the protagonist’s gear. Some of the creatures are calm and cool, while others will attack at first sight, and you’ll often come across a mix of both varieties. Needless to say, players will always need to be wary of their surroundings, because danger can present itself at any moment. That’s especially true if you end up in the ocean, because quicktime event shark and crocodile attacks can occur.
Crafted items are important if you wish to survive in this tumultuous digital landscape. Some allow for more weapons to be held, while others let players carry more specialized ammunition for their unlocked weapons. However, none of those are more vital than the syringe capacity upgrades. That’s because, in order to properly heal, one must take a medical injection. While those can be purchased, they can also be crafted through the use of green leaves. Going further, other types of foliage can also be harvested in order to upgrade the hero’s stamina, as well as his hunting, exploration and diving skills.
Through progression, Jason earns new abilities, which can be selected by the player. Those who’d prefer to have as much health as possible can go that route, while others can choose to focus on combat, stealth or environmental skills. The noted system works on experience points, which are earned regularly. Killing an enemy will net you approximately 10 points, while taking out a foe with a headshot will net you thirty points. Additionally, using sneaky takeouts or fire propagation will net you bonuses, as will chaining kills.
The aforementioned fire propagation is something worth going into detail about, because it’s a helpful asset, much like zip lines, gliders and unlockable fast travel outposts. You see, much like its predecessor, Far Cry 3 presents a world that can be set ablaze. Simply spraying flammable buildings and foliage with flamethrower fire will create a chain of events, wherein nearby environmental assets will also go up in smoke. This can be used to your advantage, in order to take out groups of unsuspecting enemies, though setting individual foes ablaze is also very fun. Just make sure to avoid stepping on the flames, because you’ll lose a decent amount of health before the game will even allow you to put the flames out. That’s one of the only notable downsides to be found here, although I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that I came across a few miscellaneous glitches during my playthrough.
Please note that, once you’ve completed the main storyline, you won’t necessarily be finished with the campaign. In fact, you’ll most-likely have a lot more to do, because there are quite a few side quests to be found, as well as a plethora of collectibles. Liberating outposts unlocks some side quests, while others are available from the get-go. The varied list includes races, combat challenges, hunting expeditions, knife throwing competitions, poker games and more. Needless to say, there’s quite a bit of content to be found, meaning that you’ll want to keep playing after the story has concluded.
In addition to its unforgettable single player experience, Far Cry 3 also offers co-operative and competitive modes. You’ll be happy to hear that up to four players can team up to take on objective-based scenarios, complete with varied challenge types and unique character abilities. That facet of the game happens to be both entertaining and impressive, not to mention well made. Please note that the same is true of the multiplayer component, which doesn’t necessarily stand out above its competition, despite offering quality content that competitive addicts will surely enjoy. There are varied modes to be found, and the competition will definitely end up being stiff.
To progress this review, it’s important to discuss the presentation side of things, especially since that is an area where this release shines. That’s because it not only looks very good, but also sounds great. Rook Island truly feels like a living and breathing place, complete with day/night cycles and non-playable characters that go about their daily lives. Almost all of the included dialogue is complementary towards those assets, although there was one speech that lacked the oomph that its peers’ volume levels offered. However, with that being said, subtitles are available, so you won’t miss anything. That’s a good thing, because the game is well written.
Music is used sparingly and effectively, in order to accentuate what’s going on in the game. The decision to keep that sound facet minimal was a good one, because it allows the perfectly chosen songs to add to the digital moments that they are attached to. Then, whenever exploration, combat or stealthy infiltration attempts are required, players are able to experience the environmental sounds that the tropical oasis has to offer.
If you’re a fan of the first-person shooter genre, it behooves you to pick up a copy of Far Cry 3. Not only is it a great game; it’s also one that is packed with content, making its sixty-dollar price tag easy to digest. You won’t regret picking this one up, and will surely remember it for a long time to come. After all, we don’t often receive narratives of this quality, especially when it comes to games that focus on gunplay.
This review is based on an XBOX 360 copy of the game that we were provided with.