Far Cry 3 is a first person shooter sequel with very few similarities to its predecessors. The first Far Cry was developed by Crytek and had a more open experience than most of the first-person shooters at the time. This meant you had more freedom to decide how you would go about your objectives. Ubisoft developed Far Cry 2 internally, it was a completely open world and brought a level of almost insane detail to certain simulatory functions of it. Toss a molotov and watch the world burn as the fire spreads from one piece of vegetation to another. Or just watch the migration patterns of animals from a scenic hilltop and then take a hang-glider down for a closer look. I had mixed feelings about Far Cry 2, but it was different from other games at the time and there was much to like even if it was a little bit unfocused as a game.
The hang-gliders return in Far Cry 3, and the pacific island environment is even more beautiful this time around but the design is more gamey than before. Now you’ll use looting, selling, crafting, hunting, doing side quests, leveling, managing your skill-tree and more. These are all great additions to get the game to be more consistently fun, even if it is a little bit less of a stimulatory masterpiece as a result. The malaria medication management from Far Cry 2 has, thankfully, not returned.
Far Cry 3 actually bears a passing resemblance to the Assassin’s Creed series of games as you’ll do some first person platforming to vault to the top of decrepit radio towers dotted across the island. Each one is small puzzle in figuring out how to ascend the broken struts and reach the final ladder to the top. Shutting down a cellular spectrum radio jammer once you’ve reached the apex reveals objectives and side-quests on your map device. Instead of diving into some hay from the top you’ll usually use a zipline to get back down. Normally, I hate first person platforming, it’s one of the lamest things you can do in a game and so I’m super surprised at how well FC3 does it.
The story starts out with Jason Brody and his friends on vacation when a skydiving accident leaves them captured and held for ransom by pirates in different parts of the island. Jason is rescued by a native group called the Rakyat who help him develop his skills and get on his way to stabbing dudes and looting tigers. The story can be safely ignored because it seems confused about who Jason is and how he becomes able to do these things. Nothing about the story is linked to its predecessor. I was never quite sure if the game is supposed to be appealing to bros or trying to tell some other story.
When Jason takes a mission to retrieve dog tags from the remains of Japanese soldiers for their families who have wanted to know their fate since World War 2 Jason implores the quest-giver to lower the price he charges the families. Later on, flashbacks from eating “food” you find lying in a cave bring us to Jason’s crew partying in a dance club dancing and generally carousing. When you rescue one of Jason’s friends from a burning building, Jason remarks constantly about how they’ve owned the bad guys and what a good time that all was. Just as if he is still just on a fun carefree adventure with his pals except for the fact that their other friends have been captured and might be dead. The friend you’ve rescued reminds Jason of how stupid he sounds when they could have died seconds prior.
I can’t tell if there is a redeeming quality to the characters or not. On one hand, those flashbacks have them behaving like deplorable Jersey-shore-alikes. On the other, a few moments of the game implore us to believe that these characters are intentionally shallow to make a point. If nothing else the storyline is written and acted well enough. Though none of which are better written and acted than Vaas, the pirate bad guy you can see on the box art in this review. His personality is delightfully evil and you’ll wish he had more time on-screen before the game is done.
Looking past the despicable characters you’ll find a tremendously fun system of unlockable killing maneuvers on your skill tree which encourage stealth but at their best reward happenstance. Over the 36 hours of time I spent with Far Cry 3 nothing stood out to me more than clearing outposts. These little bastions of foes contain an alarm system you’ll want to disable for the most experience points. Once you’ve done that, stealthily killing everyone inside and around the outpost to claim it is a tiny sandbox adventure reminiscent of movie action sequences. Your options depend on the terrain around the outpost and the enemies inside it. For example, if there is a wild animal trapped in a cage you can shoot the cage with a silenced weapon from afar and watch it maul your foes to death. It’ll distract anyone who isn’t killed so you can get the drop with a well placed knife in their backs. Even when I died while attempting to clear these outposts I didn’t care because it was just as much fun to fail and try again as it was to succeed. Maybe next time I’d get frustrated and switch to the flare gun to set everyone and everything on fire, or I’d sneakily kill and drag bodies around corners to do it for the most experience points.
Far Cry 3 is full of experiences like this that you won’t find anywhere else. Unless you hate fun, stabbing dudes, and mayhem you have no reason to not join in on it. The combat and the whole experience stand tall when compared to other, much blander, shooters. Play it stealthy or loud, play it to enjoy the scenery, just don’t pass up on it if you didn’t get a chance to play it before 2013.
5 out of 5 Press X to Jasons