Intro to the game
Far Cry 3 is a delightful and harsh tropical wonderland, crawling with wildlife and threatened by the pirates and drug runners that disrupt its peace. The troubled paradise you explore is colorful and wild, enticing you to investigate its ravines and discover new ways to enjoy the open-world playground sprawling in front of you. This is a game that ignites the desire to complete every last challenge and check out every last icon on your map. You gradually journey across the entirety of two sunny and sinful islands, hunting for rare game, speeding medicine to needy communities, and skinning sharks so that you might craft new wallets with their hides. Far Cry 3 is an excellent game, marred mainly by some irritating design elements and an inconsistent story that often defaults to generic “tribal” cliches to make an impact.
About the Gameplay
Far Cry 3 attempts to set up Jason’s motivations for revenge and a thirst for the power to take out the over-the-top crazy Vaas and his pirate gang. But it quickly devolves into clichés about the corrupting influence of the savage wild, and plays directly into the white savior trope. It isn’t long before the violence stops feeling grounded and starts feeling deliberately shocking. That same sensibility collides with Jason’s story of revenge and tattoo-driven empowerment. As people start to point out the terrible things Jason is doing in the name of helping his friends, things spiral out of control.
When the story leaves those cliches behind for deeper territory, however, it does manage to communicate ideas of substance. It takes many hours for its themes to come together in a coherent way–yet in certain aspects, the incoherence makes sense. As protagonist Jason Brody, your initial quest to rescue your friends from a chaotic and truly frightful pirate. His name is Vaas, who turns into a personal journey blurred by drugs, and fueled by the desire to follow a new and exciting spiritual path. Those friends are too shallow for you to care much about them, which keeps the story at arm’s length for a good half of the game.
But his friends’ shallowness ultimately allows Jason to take a guilt-free look inward, as he grows further mesmerized by the customs of the local Rakyat tribe that takes him under its wing. You might see the narrative curveballs coming after a while, but the trippy manner in which certain events unfold effectively blurs the lines between reality and Jason’s occasionally drug-addled imagination.
Nonetheless, narrative oddities stand out. Some of Jason’s friends are strangely unaffected by the horrors inflicted upon them. The game quickly glosses over an event that would make most of us emotional wrecks, making Jason’s proclamations that the issue was harder to deal with than he expected ring hollow. Some moments seem made to be shocking for the sake of shock alone–not because they develop the world or its characters–but FarCry3 isn’t so much about story as it is about its world, and the ways you exploit it for your own personal enjoyment.
Story missions have you navigating caves and holding off enemies in modern shooter fashion, but out in the wild, you have an entire paradise to tame.
And it’s that lush and menacing world that makes Far Cry 3 utterly enthralling. The game is big, certainly, but where Far Cry 2 could feel aimless, its sequel feels more focused without ever losing its sandbox appeal. One core activity may sound familiar to returning fans: you shoot up enemy outposts so that you may liberate them, turning them into safe zones where you can load up on ammo and other supplies. These camps also serve as quick-travel points, lessening the tedium of driving from one objective to the next.
Early on, freeing an outpost can be remarkably easy: you shoot down a handful of pirates, and the flag is raised declaring the camp as the Rakyat’s. Further in, however, you must put Far Cry 3’s diverse possibilities to intelligent use.
Trickier, but cooler still, is to methodically eliminate each pirate without alerting the others. This is tough, but your tools support it: you can lunge for any unwitting enemy nearby and impale them on your machete before they can call for help. A perk system lets you spend experience points to upgrade stuff like this, including a great trick that lets you steal the dying guard’s own knife and throw it at someone else for a second silent kill.
From my point of view, Far Cry 3 is…
My favorite method, though, is often more practical. If you can get to one of the alarm panels in person, you can tamper with it to disable them all . It’s silent, instant and comprehensive. But the panels are always in the heart of the outpost, watched by everyone. Getting to one requires perfect scouting, obsessive planning and steady nerves.
Far Cry 3 rounds out a sizable and quality campaign with a series of cooperative missions that have up to four players shooting enemies and completing objectives. With only two players, certain encounters can get frustrating, and gunning down bullet-absorbing heavies can be a real slog. But when the action comes together, the impactful gunplay shines. Even if the more-structured levels might have you missing the freedom of the open island.
Competitive multiplayer doesn’t feature many surprises during the course of the match, though the back-and-forth action of Firestorm mode, in which teams try to set fire to each others’ supply depots while protecting their own, gives rise to tight battlefield tension.
Outside of matches, character progression is home to some intriguing twists to the usual array of expected features. One twist is decoding, in which you earn electronic objects (CDs, memory cards, etc.) after completing matches, and then decode them–an automated process that takes place over a few minutes or longer. Another is the battle cry, which provides a bonus (such as a health boost) to you and nearby teammates.
I will soon write more on Far Cry 3, in the future. I will start the high difficulty mode, playing for the whole game for the second time!