At its core Far Cry 3 is about saving your kidnapped friends after having arrived on an island that’s inhabited by a not-so-friendly cast of characters. But, dig a little deeper and you’ll find that there’s so much more to it than that. Featuring one of the best stories of the year, Far Cry 3’s filled with insanity.
In traditional style, Far Cry 3’s set on a tropical island paradise that’s gone horribly, horribly wrong. The star of this nightmare of insanity is Jason Brody, an everyday man who finds himself stranded on an island far beyond the reaches of civilisation as we know it. There’s but one sure thing on this twisted island from hell and that’s the insanity. Kidnapped by a psychopathic drug lord, thrown in a cage, and forced to witness the death of friends and relatives at the hand of Vaas Montenegro, pushes Jason to the brink. In pursuit of revenge, Jason is thrust into a strange world that sees him challenged to adapt to his surroundings on the fly, pushing him to become a badass almost overnight.
After being rescued from the edge of death, and under the tutage of Dennis, Jason is awarded the “Tatau”, a mystical tattoo that’s given to the warriors of the indigenous Rakyat tribe. The tattoo isn’t just a clever story element and instead it becomes an integral gameplay element throughout the game, starting out as a rather simple band, players have the opportunity to expand upon its design by unlocking additional skills, which are then displayed as part of the tattoo on Jason’s left forearm. It’s a visual representation of the skills unlocked, and it’s a rather neat and intriguing one that we’ve not seen done before and by the end of the game the Tatau will take up a fair amount of real estate.
Taking on the warlords of Rook Islands isn’t going to be any easy task though. Luckily, Jason gains the support of the Rakyat and its leader, Citra, the sister of Vaas. She’ll help guide Jason onto the path of the warrior. Though, as things start moving along at an increased pace, Brody finds himself constantly questioning himself and the actions of others, whilst he’s condemned to make some of the toughest choices of his life.
The highlight of the story is the game’s primary antagonist, Vaas. He’s the guy you’ll undoubtedly have seen in count trailers and Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3 Experience short-series. What’s that, insanity? Yes, that’s the one. Whilst Vaas isn’t the only antagonist in Far Cry 3 – there’s also Hoyt – he’s certainly the more notable of the two. He’s brought to life magnificently through some of the best dialogue and voice acting we’ve ever seen. In fact, we’d argue that he’s one of the best villains this generation. He plays the role brilliantly and helps push the storyline forward when required. If we’re honest, we truly wish there was more of him – we couldn’t get enough.
Likewise there’s other characters that we wished there was more of, but for other reasons. Especially that of Dennis and Dr. Earnhardt, of whom helps introduce Brody to the local remedies of the island – including those with some rather intoxicating side effects.
In essence, when it comes to Far Cry 3’s gameplay there’s nothing out of the ordinary for a first-person shooter this generation. However, Far Cry 3 puts a unique spin on much of its mechanics. The core gameplay still consists of running and gunning down the villainous enemies that inhabit the island and its remote village outposts. You’ll still have an arsenal of weaponry whereby players can purchase weapons of their choice from Rakyat-controlled outposts. Though, many of the weapons are expensive early on or require additional objectives to be completed before they’re made available. This can be eased along by the player taking control of Radio Towers that are scattered across Rook Islands, of which once possessed by the player, will lower the cost of weapons, unlock additional weapons, and further expand the player’s view of the world map.
That’s an important thing in Far Cry 3, due to the sheer scale of the world. It’s massive and populated with an extremely wide array of characters and wildlife. It’s impressive for a shooter and rivals the best of open-world adventure games. Tacking control of key radio towers and outposts with greatly advance the players ability to roam around the island with ease, and that includes the option to fast travel to key locations.
The wildlife also plays an important role in the grand scale of things. You’ll not have the ability to simply purchase everything you need to survive the treacherous island. That includes the player’s rucksack, weapon holster, pouches, quiver, and medical supplies. Instead, the player is encouraged – and forced – to hunt the islands wildlife in order to obtain key materials required in the crafting process. Through doing so, players can extend the amount of weapons they can carry at any given time (by default, this is only one), the amount of loot they can carry in their rucksack, and the amount of arrows they can carry in their quiver, among other things.
Crafting medical equipment that’s assigned to one of four key categories – Medical, Hunting, Combat and Exploration – will allow Jason to survive an array of the islands perils with ease. The standard medical syringe will allow Jason to restore health, another will make the user fireproof, whilst others will increase the amount of dive and sprint time.
That’s all well and good. However, it might be a turn off for some who’d instead prefer to simply purchase all the required assets. It’s not something we can complain about and there’s enough reason to warrant it both design and story wise. However, simply giving the option for players to choose between buying and hunting the materials might have been a better one. For a game that’s so focused on emphasising the hard struggles and choices that Jason Brody has to go through to save his friends and escape the island, it’s just a rather odd one.
Yet, then again, with the pure size and scale of the island and the amount of animals that are spread throughout it it’s easy to see why the choice was made to push the focus onto hunting. If the game had instead focused on simply allowing the gamer to buy everything they need then they’d be less focused on actually exploring the world. So, in that sense it certainly works out well. Plus, who doesn’t love punching a shark in the face? We know we do.
Far Cry 3 isn’t just a single-player affair though. In addition to a multiplayer component – that we don’t think is all that special – there’s a standout co-operative mode that can be played both online by up to four players and offline by two players.
Set six months before the main campaign, this storyline that essentially serves as a bit of a foreword to Jason Brody’s story stars four survivors each of whom have their own unique personality and traits. There’s the Scottish thug, Callum, Tisha, the ex-soldier, Leonard the dodgy cop and Mikhail, the Russian hitman. The story revolves around them attempting to exact revenge and recover their loot after they’re sold into slavery by their captain to Vaas. Better when played online, there’s certainly worth to the storyline and mechanics of the co-op campaign and it’s most definitely worth a complete playthrough, even if just to offer additional insight into the overarching story of Far Cry 3.
There’s certainly no doubt that Far Cry 3’s one of the best looking shooters available on the market. It’s rather beautiful and striking throughout. The highlight of which is undoubtedly its massive – and we really do mean massive – open world island. It’s simply filled to the tipping point with unimaginable detail. From its character models and animations to its wildlife and terrain, there’s very little to complain about, all in all.
The same could be said for that of Far Cry 3’s voice acting and musical score, of which is top notch throughout. Brody’s character – when needed – really becomes a centre piece to the intense ambience and cinematic nature of the game. Likewise, the majority of the inhabitants of the island – both those of whom are sane and insane – are brought to life splendidly, including that of Citra, Denis, Uncle Sam, Hoyt, and the myriad of others.
Though, the key attraction to be found here is that of Vaas – as we’ve mentioned already – who’s simply the highlight of the cast. Vaas Montenegro’s dialogue and scripting is perfectly delivered by voice actor Michael Mando (who’s also the likeness used for Vaas) and is truly second to none.
If we had one thing to complain about it’d have to be the lip-synching. Though the performance and motion capture delivered by all actors used throughout the game is arguably near-perfect, the lip-synching just isn’t quite up to scratch. It’s always slower than the lines that are delivered by the ensemble voice cast. It’s a bit of a let down to their fantastic performances. However, it’s a minor niggle that one should be able to overcome, considering how badass and awesome the rest of the experience actually is.
Ubisoft’s managed to craft one of the best stories in a modern shooter – it’s a true highlight for the genre this generation – it’s filled with everything a single-player fanatic could ever want. There’s a protagonist who’s forced to make tough choices in a bid to save his friends. There’s a killer antagonist in the form of Vaas. And there’s one of the most colourful bunch of characters that we’ve seen in quite a while. Throw in some of the best dialogue we’ve seen in a shooter, a few drug-induced adventures, and silky smooth gunplay and you’ve got yourself a recipe that’s close to perfection.
Far Cry 3 hits retail in the UK on November 30, ahead of its release in North America on December 4 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.
- One of the best stories in a shooter this generation
- Michael Mando’s fantastically delivered Vaas Montenegro
- Exploring the massive open-world tropical locale of Rook Islands
- The somewhat anti-climatic ending
- That there wasn’t more Vaas
- Lacklustre lip-synching performance