Far Cry is back with its third instalment developed by Ubisoft Montreal with Ubisoft Massive, Ubisoft Red Storm, Ubisoft Shanghai, Ubisoft Reflections and it is published by Ubisoft. Far Cry 3 has taken a step away from the African desert of the previous game and gone back to its roots of a tropical island setting.
The general story revolves around Jason Brody. A white, privileged, twenty something adult male on a holiday with some friends which goes awry when you and your friends are kidnapped by psychotic guy named Vaas who is affiliate with a paramilitary organisation run by Hoyt Volker. At the beginning of the game you escape and you take it upon yourself to free your friends with the aid of the Rakyat (a tribal group of warriors who are led by a drug dealing woman named Citra and her trust worthy second in command, Dennis). The story seems very cliché and dated with its premise being a random guy, with no experience in combat, taking on waves of men. The setup is just unbelievable and feels like a story from a previous generation. Rita Mae Brown’s, which is paraphrased from Narcotics Anonymous’ and often misattributed as Albert Einstein’s, definition of insanity (“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”) is a big underlying theme and plot device in this game. The “insanity” may feel a bit like it is constantly being thrown at you but this doesn’t dampen the effect. I often found myself questioning my actions as I was expecting a different outcome from the same action. Essentially Ubisoft have brought that quote to life which is unusual for a game to try and do something like this.
Drugs are also a big theme in this game. The drug moments a few are far between but it really made sense. The backstory is explained and the drug moments also give an insight into the confused mind set of Vaas and Brody. It is an interesting idea that really worked and gave the story a less generic feel. My biggest gripe with this story was it wasn’t risky enough. It mentioned some great subplots of rape, mass murder, slavery….. but they are never really explored fully. They are just mentioned once and then forgotten. It seems the writers just didn’t have the balls to really go for it as these themes haven’t really been done before in big games and because of this we are left with an empty shell of what Far Cry 3’s story could (and should) be.
The ending doesn’t help either. Throughout the game I got the impression there would be a Sucker Punch/Fight Club twist with Vaas and Brody but this just doesn’t materialise. What you end up getting is an ending the felt very rushed and anti-climactic which also was a bit random. It may just be me but the game was building up for something that just never materialised
Character portray in this game is a mix bag of abilities. The protagonist (Jason) is awful. I am not sure if it was their intention to make him unlikeable but he just doesn’t fit with the whole “decent into insanity” story line. The voice actor did an admirable job but still just felt whiney and out of place. The other friends do show some varied personalities (which brings into question how they are all friends) and the likes of Dennis and Citra are nicely done even if they feel a bit stereotypical. The big one is Vaas. Vaas is an excellently thought out character with Michael Mando doing one of the best performances I have seen in a game. He really got me believing Vaas was real and really drove the story forward which makes is even more painful to see Vaas’ fate happen and before it should have. It is criminal what they did to him.
Far Cry 3 does at least get the gameplay right. They have taken what made Far Cry 2 (for example the fantastic use of fire) great and just built on it. Brody’s animations really draw you into the game, enemies react very well to combat and the missions are varied and are a joy to play. A new thing to Far Cry 3 is the inclusion of the wild life. You can hunt and skin wildlife which can be used to upgrade your equipment. The map is huge so expect to do a lot of hunting in your spare time. The map is hidden until you do a little bit a first person platforming (trust me it does actually work) on radio towers which also gets you free weapons as a reward. You can also attack small bases which, once liberated, can be used as fast travel points. A little disadvantage to this though is the enemies disappear forever once an area is liberated. It would have been better for enemies to still patrol the area (but less often) because once the Island is liberated enemies are hard to find. These liberated areas also offer you extra missions ranging from assassinations to races. This, the missions and anything you do in the game gives you experiences points which can be spent on upgrading you (represented by tattoos on your left arm). The upgrades keep you alive but do not worry about choosing which ones to go for first as by the end of the game you will have all of them. As I mentioned before there are races in this game. Just expect to be irritated by them. Generally, driving in this game feels very loose and the cars really do not have any weight to them. It was so bad it that when I played this game it made me avoid driving.
Graphically this game is good. The environments look rich in detail and the lighting is just superb. However, the graphics are not ground breaking with its generic arts style but it is a pretty game. The motion cap and facial expressions are what you expect from an Ubisoft game (i.e. excellent). The sound (again, like facial expressions, another strength of Ubisoft’s talent) in this game is fantastic. Weapons sound powerful and the soundtrack is mysterious and calming yet fits well with the insanity theme (the main Far Cry 3 theme music is just beautiful). I am not a fan of Skrillex but every time I hear "Make It Bun Dem" it makes me think of that mission burning the crops. Rarely do music and games blend but this is one of those moments.
The Co-op mode and online competitive multiplayer is fine but nothing to get too excited over. Co-op mode provides a small amount of linear missions and follows a new set of characters. It is by no means bad and is varied in the types of objectives it doesn’t pales in comparison to the single player. The Multiplayer is the same in quality. It feels very generic and nothing really there that pushes the boundary of multiplayer gaming (but this is by no means a bad thing). The amount of maps is very small; however, Far Cry 2’s map editor is back. I haven’t played Far Cry 2 for a long time but I noticed the map editor hasn’t really changed that much. But saying this, it is still one of the best map editors on consoles. The community really drive this forward and really show you how imaginative they are. The map editor takes some getting used to but it won’t be long before you are making some high quality maps.
Overall this game is a must. It does have some downsides, mainly with its story, but the core gameplay makes it extremely fun to play. I did notice one game breaking bug which I had to restart my console to get rid of (textures refused to load) and there can be situations where animals can get stuck but these bugs are a rarity. If you are looking for a great multiplayer experience this isn’t the game for you. If you are looking for a stellar single player experience that gets your creative juices flowing with the map editor, you should get this game. It was almost my GOTY