December 16, 2012
Before starting off, it's worth noting that previous experience with past Far Cry games isn't needed, as each main game does not tie into each other in regards to story. In Far Cry 3 you play as Jason Brody, your typical "bro" in his mid 20's and lives in California. Jason is with his two brothers and close friends as they take a vacation in the South Pacific. While all seems fine at first, a fateful skydiving trip to an uncharted island leads to Jason and his friends getting kidnapped by pirates. You are then thrown into the world of human trafficking and do whatever it takes to become stronger and escape with all of your friends.
This is easier said than done since there is nothing special about Jason and killing another human is easier said than done at first. As any commercial or trailer for the game will tell you, Far Cry 3 is about insanity and it nails this as you slowly progress down this path of murder. While most games act completely oblivious to your main character being a glorified psychopath, Far Cry 3 lets you get a realistic look at yourself as you become someone totally different by the end of the game.
From the moment you are kidnapped and start playing, you are introduced to Vaas. Vaas is one of the many odd characters you will meet as you travel through this tropical island and these characters help make the story as memorable as it is. The villains you try to stop are truly evil and the game does a great job at making not only Jason, but you the player hate them for the things they have done. Still the villains stand out not only because of fantastic writing, the voice actors do such a great job of becoming the character and rank up there with the instantly memorable villains in games.
Ignoring all of the side quest alone will give you a campaign that last well over 20 hours and the flow from mission to mission makes putting the game down the hardest part of the experience. Far Cry 3 feels like a first person survival simulator and immerses you in ways most shooters don't and can't. Instead of just feeling like a floating head who has guns to shoot with, Far Cry 3 takes the experience one step further and adds little touches that go a long way in getting wrapped up in the experience of playing.
Surviving will require you to not only know how to shoot, but how to sneak, craft, and traverse the massive island. The game starts off by showing you all of these features with simple tasks like, buying a gun, turning on a radio tower, and hunting a boar. While this sounds simple at first you will find these three tasks will show you what it takes to survive and progress. Still if taking your time and sneaking isn't your cup of tea, the game can also work by just running around all guns blazing.
No matter how you play, you will be rewarded with different benefits. In fact, mixing the two styles together works seamlessly. You gain XP for clearing missions, killing enemies, exploring and more and this XP can be used to improve your abilities. Each skill learned is represented by a new tattoo on your arm and this will grow in as you continue to learn new skills. Different skill trees let you unlock skills and play the way you want, but the unlocking every skill can be done with enough time. This way you are never locked down to one play type and can mix things up.
Quest variety brings a fresh breath of air with many of the story missions taking you all over the island. There are many notable missions that stand out and you'll wish you could replay them just for the memorable set piece moments. The side quest don't hold a candle, but are sure to keep you occupied if you're looking for more to do and highlight some parts of the island you may not see otherwise.
Hunting, a trend that seems to slowly be creeping into all the popular open world games, is also in full force with Far Cry 3. And if you plan on carrying more than the bare minimum, prepare to hunt a lot. This by no means is a bad thing and could easily be a game by itself, with such deep hunting mechanics in place. The large amount of creatures will also keep you guessing as there are more animals out there looking to kill you then the other way around. Soon you will easily be addicted to hunting goats and crafting wallets.
This just scrapes the surface of all the features Far Cry 3 has to offer as the campaign is packed to the brim with content. While this could've easily been enough of a reason to buy the game at full price, the game also includes a multiplayer and co-op mode. These end up feeling like features included just to have multiplayer on the back of the box as a selling point. While the multiplayer adds nothing special, it also adds nothing to complain about. Still there are many better shooters with better multiplayer in terms of community and content.
Co-op surprisingly leaves the worst taste in your mouth as it had more going for it than the multiplayer in terms of originality. On a remote island next to where the single player takes place, you play as four maniacs who are looking for a ship captain who betrayed them. There are six missions broken up into the same mission patterns and this becomes a drag to play before the first is over. The challenge comes from wave after countless wave of enemies that all feel like bullet sponges. So expect to feel the exact opposite feeling from the co-op compared to single player. The overall ending to the "story" in co-op will make you feel as though you wasted your time and if you are not doing them for trophies/achievements, you have.
A lacklustre multiplayer and co-op still can't take away how good Far Cry 3 is in not just gameplay or story, but also visually. The vibrant jungle setting is extremely detailed and each area always feels different. Still with most open world games, there are always going to be some technical hiccups, but it's never anything too serious. Having a technical polish on massive games like this is no longer rare, but the same amount of detail goes into character interactions. Cutscenes between you and a character feel like a real conversation with the great lip-sync and eyes tracking you. There is never a moment of the "uncanny valley" when a character just misses actually looking real, but ends up looking creepy.
Sound design also is an interesting mixture as the developers decided to use electronic music to give the soundtrack a different feeling. In some special circumstances the game will even use some licensed songs tied into the missions. A lot of time and care went into not only how this game played, but how it looked and sounded.
Taking the multiplayer out of the game still makes Far Cry 3 one of the most feature-heavy games in 2012. There are plenty of missions to complete, collectables to pick up, weapons to buy, animals to hunt, drugs to try, easter eggs to discover and much more. Mix this together with the challenges you can compete in against your friends or online and Far Cry 3 will easily keep you occupied for as much time as you want to put into it with plenty of new to discover.
In a year full of shooters Far Cry 3 stands up there with the best of them. The story is definitely a stand-out, as it will be sure to make you question your morals and how far you will go to save your friends. The gameplay will delight and entertain you with the absolute wealth of content there is to complete, but the same can't be said for the game's multiplayer offerings. The future of the first person shooter genre and the Far Cry series has never looked brighter.Editor's Choice
You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.