A psychedelic trip to wonderland.
– A beautiful, vibrant, and unpredictable world
– The different types of animals in Rook Island
– The various ways of tackling enemy outposts
– Great voice casting
– Map Editor
– Clichéd plot
– Uninspired Multiplayer modes
This generation is certainly not lacking in the sandbox genre area. Franchises like GTA, The Elder Scrolls, and Fallout continue to push the boundaries of what an open world game feels and plays like. Far Cry 3 is no different. While some might argue that its been overshadowed by the massive marketing campaign of Assassins Creed 3, I am of the opinion that the latter game failed in a handful of areas, while Far Cry 3 soars high to become what in my opinion is one of the best games of 2012.
Without spoiling the story, Far Cry 3 starts with a set of flashbacks of a group of tourists from California on vacation in the remarkably beautiful Rook islands. What initially seems like a vacation of a lifetime ends sooner than expected when a gang of slave traders kidnap those tourists and hold them for Ransom. You take control of Jason Brody, one of the tourists as he escapes custody and journeys to rescue his friends and while at it transforms from a California college boy to a mindless killing machine set loose in the jungle. While Jason and his friends are not the most likeable characters in terms of personality, the real stars of the show are the Villains in Far Cry 3. Most notably among them is Vaas. Voiced by the amazing Michael Mando (The Last Templar), Vaas is a twisted manipulative psychopath that gets you on your toes from the first moment you make contact with him while being locked up in a cage. As far as I’m concerned he truly defines the fundamentals of how a villain should act in videogame medium, and for this I consider him to be one the most celebrated villains of 2012 (The E3 debut sold it, really.)
Now the story itself is a mixed bag. On one hand the transformation and leveling up you see with Jason Brody is brilliantly demonstrated, and you really see Jason grow from a college boy who has never held a gun, let alone killed a person to a savage in the jungle. On the other hand the extremely streamlined clichéd script which in spite of some twists and turns doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from movies like Dances with Wolves and Avatar along with the lack of logical explanation behind some of the segments in the story can hold the game’s narrative from true greatness. Don’t let this alarm you much however, as you are missing out the whole point of the story that just simply wants you to feel like John Rambo (On drugs), it wants to empower you and set you loose to do whatever the hell you would imagine yourself doing in a virtual jungle. You will be traversing temples, burning pot fields with a flamethrower, injecting yourself with serums and drugs that enhance your perception skills and fighting off one of the best set of villains you will encounter in a game.
Rook Island, the jaw dropping setting of Far Cry 3 is pretty much what sells the game out in the graphics department. It is just strikingly beautiful to look at, and when you put it side to side with its predecessor Far Cry 2 (with its war torn environment), it would outlast it by a mile. Unlike Far Cry 2, Far Cry 3 is enriched with color, and the high resolution in textures does not hurt either. While the frame rate is not up there with Id Software’s Rage which runs on 60 FPS, it still does a respectable job at maintaining a 30 FPS for the most part, without getting undermined by the amount of NPC’s or the open world nature of the game.
Motion-Capture Technology also plays a vital role in Far Cry 3. As the cut scenes play out, you would immediately be impressed as the characters on screen are marvelously brought to life by the impressive tech.
This is where the game shines the most. Far Cry 3 functions as a role playing shooter. Jason shoots, hunts, levels up, and this process repeats. This game relies a great deal on hunting and scavenging supplies that are vital for character upgrades. If you choose to ignore the wildlife and its benefits you will be missing out on important upgrades including larger weapon holsters, that allow you to carry more weapons and ammo, a bigger wallet to carry more money, and a larger rucksack for gathering more loot. Hunting is key here and is a crucial element for Jason’s journey to becoming a warrior of the jungle.
The story mode itself presents a great deal of diversity. From temple platforming missions, to cinematic action packed sequences to wacky psychedelic encounters, the story missions do a great job at avoiding repetition. Outside the main story arc, there are tons of available side quests to engage in. Opening the map up happens in the form of scaling radio towers (Far Cry 3’s equivalent of Assassins Creed’s viewpoints), and there are 18 of them spread across Rook Island. Jason joins a tribe called the Rakyat that help him throughout his journey to save his friends. One of the most crucial aspects of the game is spreading the Rakyat’s influence across Rook island, and that happens through liberating enemy outposts. It’s important to point out that Far Cry 3 is as much of a stealth game as it is a shooter. For every enemy encounter, Jason is allowed to go stealthy with silent kills or just simply burst out guns blazing. Why not raid an enemy outpost using a bow and a knife or just drive into an outpost and shoot your way to the very last enemy with a turret, or snipe every single enemy from a distance, or set loose a tiger that’s being locked up and let it do your dirty work for you (yes, that’s possible, and magnificent actually). The options here are numerous and this keeps the experience fresh and unpredictable each time you come across an enemy outpost. Once you liberate an outpost, it becomes like a central hub for your operations were you can sell your loot, buy new weapons, and use the site for fast travel, which is a feature Ubisoft improved from Far Cry 2. Hunting and Wanted missions will also be unlocked in the outpost to add more replay value.
Far Cry 3 is a role playing shooter, in the sense that whenever Jason completes a mission, he earns experience points that can be spent on various skills including cinematic takedowns, extension in health bar, and improved weapon accuracy. Once you’ve earned a skill or two, Jason receives an extension on his arm tattoo (or tatau) by the Rakyat. Once you’ve mastered every skill and became the warrior of the jungle, you receive the full tribal tattoo. Good stuff, really.
Walking down the jungle in predator mode, listening to the sounds of hisses signalling komodo dragons, or in another case hearing the roars of a tiger nearby, this stuff really never gets old. Aside from the great voice casting of the characters in the game (Michael Mando ftw!), everything else just sounds natural and in place. Action sequences usually feature dubstep music to get the momentum going, and in emotional times when Jason is sitting besides his girlfriend, you can hear a mellow groove playing in the background. Such sounds help keep the world and the narrative relevant and intact.
While I would have preferred if Ubisoft concentrated all of their effort into making a spectacular single player experience even MORE spectacular, the inclusion of multiplayer in the equation does not hinder the experience in any way. While it might seem uninspired and ‘been there done that’ kind of experience, it really goes a long way to give multiplayer fans more bang for their buck. There are co-op missions that can be played online and offline (two player split-screen), online team deathmatch, domination, and other unique modes such as Battle Cry, to keep you occupied long after you’ve finished everything there is to finish in the campaign. Also, did I mention that there is a map editor?!
There is a lot to do in Far Cry 3 and you can easily get absorbed by the beauty of Rook Island. Aside from the story mode, there are animals to hunt, pirates to kill, collectibles and challenges to engage in that would keep you occupied for at least 25 hours. Far Cry 3 takes a lot of influence from many great titles, and its amazing to see how it balances them out in a complete package. Although this is a late addition to 2012’s vast line-up of games, it is in my opinion easily one of the best. Action Adventure fans rejoice, for Rook Island awaits you.