In one sentence: Brutal, visceral survival taking Far Cry back to its glory days with buckets of blood and adrenaline.
Far Cry 3 is the story of Jason, a thrill-seeking rich kid kidnapped by twisted pirate warlord Vaas and plunged into an island conflict with nothing less than the lives of his friends and his own sanity at stake. With the clock ticking and his mind draining away, can Jason conquer the beautiful but deadly Rook Island before it conquers him?
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
As a rich kid turned rebel warrior, Jason has a surprising mixture of skills to put to use as he survives Vaas’ deadly hunt and tracks down his remaining friends. You’ll start out tiptoeing around with a pistol and a machete but the more of the island you liberate, the more supplies will start flowing into friendly shops and you’ll quickly be able to outfit yourself with your weapons of choice. There’s a real progression in both his character and his skillset as the game progresses which makes missions all the more satisfying – there’s one such mission early on in the game where Jason is tasked with infiltrating a beached ship and interrupting a radio signal being broadcast from its control room. He has to kill patrolling guards to get the key and the right frequency but if he’s spotted the guards will destroy the valuable mission items and the mission will fail.
At this point, you’re not a high level and you only have one weapon slot unlocked. Guns are all but useless here as they’ll attract more attention, so you’ve got to be stealthy and choose your targets wisely using Jason’s camera left over from his ignorant tourist days. Making your way through all the debris on the beach you carefully pick off the guards one by one, loot their corpses, and sneak aboard the boat. You interrupt the signal but reinforcements arrive and you’re left with no option but to man up and clear them out before moving on. Jason grabs some body armour, takes a deep breath, and says “Okay. I’m ready” and the delivery of that single phrase makes the entire confrontation. Whereas Far Cry 1 & 2 put you in the shoes of fairly experienced men, Jason is a fresh-faced kid who’s never held a gun before in his life. As he meets his friends and becomes more battleworn his progression as a man and as a warrior becomes startling compared to their terrified naivety.
THE WARRIOR’S PATH
This is where Far Cry 3 takes a brief break from reality. Jason levels up as he completes missions, kills pirates, and explores. He has a mystical tatau (Tattoo) on his left arm which grows as he spends skill points in one of three trees, The Heron, The Shark, and The Spider, focusing on long-range killing, direct assault and healing, and stealth/survival respectively. You can pick and choose talents from all three trees to get the perks you want, you’re not locked down into one once you’ve made your choice. These all add something useful, even if it’s not obvious at first, to his repertoire. The Shark tree in particular is quite overpowered with an early perk that makes first aid kits almost redundant. Even so, you’re always kept on your toes, because you’re always outnumbered and it’s up to you to look for the advantage because Vaas and his men sure as hell aren’t going to give you one. If you run into the jungle they’ll follow you, tossing grenades sporadically and blind-firing if they think they can see you.
The game doesn’t hand you anything – holster upgrades, bigger packs, if you want extra firepower you’re going to have to carve your way through the island for it, hunting and skinning animals to make better equipment from their leather and harvesting plants to cook up stimulants and healing salves. If you want to save your friends, you’re going to need to get a lot of blood on your hands.
Throughout the game Jason is at the mercy of several psychopaths – and those are just his allies. The most terrifying among the island’s inhabitants is without a doubt Vaas himself, a savage killer broken at his core with only the few briefest bittersweet glances of humanity exposed to make his cruelty all the more horrifying. As the game begins he’s taunting you and your brother, both locked in cages awaiting your sale into slavery, and as the first level concludes with your escape (Which he allows), he roars after you “If the jungle doesn’t eat you alive, I will”. There’s something so unsettling, so tangible, about the twisted state of his humanity – he has to be the greatest game villain of this year by a long shot, if not the decade. Jason himself is slowly devolving, slowly descending to Vaas’ murderous level and while it’s not as well-handled as his antagonist’s insanity, it’s still pretty convincing. If there’s one thing Far Cry 3 does right, it’s humans, the voice direction and facial animation is of the highest standard from start to finish.
Every action feels solid and real, from sprinting to driving, from firing a pistol to ramming a machete through someone’s neck, exploring the jungle itself is a constant joy whether by land, sea or air. When you slide down a cliff face vertigo rushes up to meet you, when an enemy smashes the butt of a gun into your face you fall over and have to clamber up and away. Realism is relentless and you will feel hunted and outnumbered when the pirates take up the chase, but exhilarated when you start leading charges and run screaming into the heat of battle. Advantages can swing around at the flip of a coin because of the great damage balance – if someone shoots Jason in the head with a shotgun, he will die, but similarly, a pirate won’t survive an AK-47 round to the chest.
There’s a few implementations of standard multiplayer modes on offer here, and while it’s good, it feels stilted and awkward in comparison to multiplayer focused FPS titles like Halo and Call of Duty. Far Cry 3 is a predominantly single player title (and rightly so). Tactics, planning, stalking your prey before the sudden, brutal combat that makes the campaign so compelling is largely lost when people start busting the teabags out. You’ll be buying this game because of the storyline and the single player gameplay, so the addition of any multiplayer is just a bonus – don’t expect it to expand the game’s lifespan by much though. In 2013, no-one will remember Far Cry 3 for its multiplayer.
There’s a map editor too for the budding architect in every gamer, but you can’t use vehicles in them, which takes away a lot of the joy in playing with friends especially. Creating your own island to stage epic deathmatches in is a mode you can lose hours in by itself, and does a lot to shine the slightly lacklustre multiplayer up a bit.
Should you buy Far Cry 3? Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. This is the one true five star title of 2012, without a doubt, epic, satisfying, and huge. Go buy it and lose yourself in the insanity for a few weeks.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.