If there’s one thing that gamers love, it’s adventure. Sure, some of us enjoy getting up and going outside to climb mountains and explore rain forests. Most of us, however, enjoy adventure from the comfort of our own homes. Over the past few months, games such as Bethesda’s Skyrim and Gearbox’s Borderlands 2 have kept our adventuring thumbs busy, but let’s face it, eventually we all get bored of dragons and futuristic wastelands, right? Far Cry 3 brings something different to the open-world game genre. It paints a disturbing picture of life in the beautiful tropical islands of the Indian Ocean, throwing together humor – both lighthearted and dark – with a healthy dose of gun fighting to create a cocktail of FPS questing that’s truly hard to beat.
The game follows our young protagonist, Jason Brody, as he attempts to save the lives of his friends and brothers from the hands of drug runners, slave traders, and pirates. As Jason, you must survive the tropical island as you search for your companions, and through hallucinogenic drugs and the enticing call of tribal life, Jason begins to unravel a deep story where he will learn as much about himself as he will the island and its way of life. The island’s jungle has a lot to throw at you, and if you’re unwilling to utilize the materials around you or the game’s crafting skills, you won’t last very long.
Almost everything can be used for a purpose in Far Cry 3. Animal skins can be fashioned into bags or wallets for holding loot, or weapon belts for carrying that little bit of extra firepower, which is so desperately needed in your battle against pirates and man-eating cougars. You will find yourself hunting rare game and searching for unique flowers in your spare time – the call of the jungle can easily distract the player from the main quest, which is certainly not a bad thing. But no amount of weapons will stop you from being mauled by the occasional beast, so you’d better collect plants to create health serums. The crafting is easy to use and understand, and the game’s database tells you all you need to know about the items you collect and the animals you hunt, helping give you an advantage over your enemy.
Every game needs a good villain, and Far Cry 3 doesn’t fail to deliver. Your first encounter with the island’s inhabitants will leave a bitter taste in your mouth as the unhinged pirate leader, Vaas, allows you to escape his compound to fend for yourself in the unforgiving jungle. This is not the last time you encounter Vaas, and after each encounter, Jason will leave with more reasons to dislike this lovable psychopath. But soon you’ll realize there are bigger fish to fry – as the story develops and Jason becomes a hardened jungle killer, Hoyt Volker, Vass’ puppet master, will come into play. Tracking down your friends and enemies is no easy task, and you will need the local tribe to train you in their art of island warfare. Jason will utilize take-down strikes, firearms, and hand-to-hand combat to take on the island’s pirate population and to gain skill points, which can be spent on the skill tree. Ubisoft brings something different to this classic leveling-up system as with every perk purchased, Jason gains a new tattoo for the player to show off. Eventually, Jason will have a full half-sleeve, signifying his transformation from American tourist to hardened killer.
The jungle setting really gives Far Cry 3 the edge over its competitors. The beautiful scenery of endless rainforests, idyllic beaches, and expansive cave systems are only occasionally broken up by slums and pirate strongholds. Picture Lost crossed with The Beach and you’ll have a pretty good idea of both the scenery and story line of Far Cry 3. Searching for your loved ones is your main priority, and the player gets a real sense that this drives not only the story but Jason as a character. The things you will have to do truly change the man you’re playing as, even in the short time that he spends on the island. By the end of the game, the Jason you knew at the beginning will no longer be present: instead, he is a new, harder, and much darker man.
A feature that sets this game apart from other titles is its multiplayer aspects; you’re able to play co-operatively with a friend in split-screen, completing mini-missions as you go through the island on a set path. Far Cry 3 also offers classic online multiplayer game modes such as Team Deathmatch, along with some unique modes such as Firestorm (where players must burn the enemy supply depot and capture objectives). Far Cry 3 truly covers all bases with a smooth, beautiful, and engaging single-player campaign which moves seamlessly into co-operative and multiplayer game modes.
As with every game, there are one or two bugs. The occasional graphical glitch might interrupt your play for a matter of seconds, but on the whole, Far Cry 3 is well-polished. If you’re looking for a slightly different take on the open-world game, then look no further. Far Cry 3’s main quest is enough to keep you entertained for hours, and the numerous side quests and mini-games are just added bonuses.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Far Cry 3 by Ubisoft Montreal and distributed by Ubisoft