Game: Far Cry 3
Reviewed: January 2015
A big tropical island; this isn’t exactly unknown gaming territory, is it? Okay, not every big tropical island is the same, but still, there is a certain feeling of déjà vu going on here. Far Cry 3 sees the game series return to its roots, in a way, by taking place on a big tropical island, somewhere in the pacific, if it existed that is. The setting and story is all fictional, but along the way you’ll find a few references to things that could be real, like Japanese war bunkers from WWII. Most of the time, though, you’ll be greeted by some friendly locals, some local island warriors called the Rakyat (also friendly), a group of angry piratey henchmen of the games, and your, chief nemesis (Vaas), lots of tropical plants, a number of dangerous animals, and plenty of fields of hemp; just for medicinal purposes, of course.
The character you play as is called Jason Brody, an American who went on holiday with a bunch of his young friends, got drunk, took drugs, and ended up agreeing to a sky-diving experience over some random tropical island. Unfortunately, when you all get to the surface, you find out the island isn’t exactly paradise, and you end up being taken hostage by a local madman called Vaas. Vaas could be described as many things, but a psychopathically deranged loony would be the most fitting term to describe him. Poor Vaas has lost his mind, and likes to kill people in horrible ways, but although he seems to kind of be in charge of the other nasty people on the island, he too is essentially a puppet of others. I shall not go into too much detail as I’ll spoil the ‘story’; although I’ve probably told you a lot already, sorry.
Anyway, poor Jason ends up escaping, and then decides to go around murdering people and animals himself too, all in the name of helping his friends, and those local warrior Rakyat people. What a jolly fellow. Perhaps it’s post-traumatic stress, perhaps it’s the hemp, and perhaps it’s a little bit of both. Who knows?! I suppose you could avoid using weapons altogether, but that’d make the game a little bit impossible to complete.
So, first thing you’ll find is that the game world is full of collectable items, from ancient relics, to memory cards that contain details of drug cocktails, and let’s not forget the star of the show, the skins of dead animals. Yes, PETA would be horrified with this game, and deservedly so. What other game revels in the slaughter of poor innocent tigers, leopards, crocodiles, and other endangered animals? Of course, you don’t have to kill them. But then, you are kind of forced to when a big growling spotted or striped cat goes racing out of the bushes and pounces on you. Of course, self defence, that makes it okay. But no, I need a bigger rucksack to put all my loot in (yeah, you kind of become a pirate yourself too), so guess what? Skin some more animals, and that rucksack is yours! Want a new grenade belt? Kill some dingoes. Want a bigger satchel for all your ammo? Kill some bears, or some tapir. Whatever moves, it’ll become your furry handbag to store even more weapons and ammo, so you can slaughter even more of them.
Of course, this is in-between killing the piratey people again, climbing up ruined radio towers and shutting off transmission-blockers (which will allow you to see where things are on your electronic map), exploring ruined temples, visiting the aforementioned Japanese WWII bunkers, and doing a few story missions along the way, if you feel like it. You’ll also get to drive a number of off-road vehicles, the occasional truck, some knackered old hatchbacks, and a few boats. Oh, and don’t forget hand-gliders, if you can be bothered climbing up somewhere really steep to launch yourself off.
I bet you think I really hate the game, and I’m mocking it as a way of deriding it for all its silliness and casual attitude to killing things and drug taking, and you’d be half right. I am mocking the game for the silliness, the casual attitude to murder, and drug taking, but hate it? Not a chance, I absolutely love it!! This game is enormous fun, if a little controversial. But who cares about controversy? Ah, well, I suppose every tabloid journalist worth his or her salt would, just to get a headline about games being evil. It’s funny, though, since I haven’t really heard a bit about Far Cry 3. Sure, it’s probably mentioned somewhere, by someone with nothing else better to do, but for the most part, said journalists are probably too busy ranting about the oh-so-poor ‘Uplay’ application that Ubisoft uses as DRM these days. They might also be actually playing the game themselves, and enjoying it!
Seriously though, the game is immense fun, and I have sunk many hours into the game, collecting every damn collectable possible, skinning as many animals as I needed to upgrade every backpack, or pouch (don’t worry, I’m nice and stopped after that, and just killed them for self defence thereafter), unlocking every outpost (which doubles up as a nearby spawn-point if you ever die, or re-join a game), disabling every last radio tower (even some really annoying ones that were pretty awkward in their plat-forming requirements), driving every type of vehicle possible, collecting loads of plants and crafting numerous cocktails of useful game-play enhancing drugs (in-game of course), and soaring high above the island on one of the numerous gliders that are dotted around the mountain tops. I’ve swam in the ocean and rivers, fending off sharks and crocodiles, I’ve explored caves, and ancient temples, and I’ve also had a go at the various mini-games in some of the towns and villages on the island(s), with things including knife-throwing, supply-runs where you race through checkpoints within a certain time, an island racing league, which is pretty much the same thing, something called ‘Trials of the Rakyat’ (where you just shoot as many enemies as possible, in the best possible way, to earn as many points as possible, within a set time - okay, that was long-winded), clay pigeon shooting (minus the clay, and replace the pigeons with any rare tropical bird of your choice), and poker. Don’t worry if you aren’t normally that good at poker; since playing the game I’ve turned into the world’s greatest poker player, so either I’m very good, extremely lucky, or the game very nicely stacks the odds in your favour.
Finally, if you are really bored, you can always carry a blow-torch around in case there are any Rakyat standing next to a broken-down car, begging for help. They’ll give you money for your help, and all you’ll have to do is point said trusty blow-torch at the bonnet, and hold it there a few seconds. I might try that instead of going to my local mechanic next time my car has smoke coming from its bonnet. Or maybe not.
So yeah, there are many, many things you can do on the island, besides all the killing, the torture, the drinking, the drugging and the humping… oh wait, I think that was just one cut-scene, so scratch that. Somewhere amongst all that is a wide open world of stuff that’ll keep you occupied, even if it is a little bit bad, even if it is a little bit controversial, and even if you’ve probably done those things in other games before anyway, but maybe not all in the same game.
It also helps that the island does look gorgeous, with great lighting, and a good use of colour, and is filled with vegetation and interesting places to explore. I loved the look of the island so much that I took over 5000 screenshots, catching as many different angles of the scenery as possible. It is this that makes you want to explore, and the fun, and tactical game-play that keeps you playing. You can’t always go in with all guns blazing, and a lot of times, especially early on, you’ll have to be quite stealthy with your actions, performing silent take-downs via QTEs (Quick Time Events), and generally planning ahead. Scoping out an area with a digital camera that highlights enemies is a must too; the better for keeping tracks of the enemies. If something doesn’t work, try a different approach. You’ll usually start just outside the area you were, if the tiger dung really does hit the air-re-circulator. If you do survive, but barely, you can use a medical syringe to replenish health, or if you have none available, Jason will either bandage himself, dig a bullet out of his arm with a knife, or snap his arm back into its socket, quite literally. The latter takes slightly longer than the syringe though, and probably hurts a lot more too.
Speaking of game save-points, the game does auto-save at key points, but you will also have to perform a manual save too if you were to leave the game and come back. The game saves your story progress, the collectables you’ve picked up, the locations you have unlocked on the map, the weapons you have, and the loot you’ve got in your rucksack. It does NOT save the exact location where you are (although you’ll usually be placed in a safe-house nearby, so long as you have taken over the nearest enemy camp). The game also does not save in the middle of an actual story mission or otherwise; you’ll get checkpoints at various intervals, some slightly further apart than others, but you can only do a proper save once the mission is complete. Some of the missions can take a good half-hour or more, so in a way, it can be quite annoying if you suddenly had to quit because real-life came calling. So it is best to plan ahead with your game time too, and not undertake a mission if you plan on going to bed about 5 minutes later. It won’t stop you exploring, as you can save your general status any time, but just expect a long walk (or drive) should you rejoin the game the following day without taking over the nearest enemy encampments. Unlike Far Cry 2, where the enemies re-spawned, Far Cry 3 does at least save this progress concerning the camps, and you’ll find the enemies replaced by friendly Rakyat should you return.
Throughout the game you’ll be able to earn skill points from completing the main quest missions, as well as side-quest ones, and perhaps from hitting certain statistical targets; to be quite honest, I didn’t pay full attention to when and where I got them, but when I did, a message flashed up on the screen, and I went to the menu to pick out which skill I wanted upgrading. It is done in such a way that the skills represent your own Rakyat training, and so every new skill means you get a new bit of tattoo added to your arm. The inky type, not the Russian girl band. Skill upgrades include stuff like being able to aim better from the hip, performing double ‘silent take-downs’ on foes, taking down enemies from above, being able to shoot while flying down zip-lines, and various other combat associated tasks.
I suppose I should talk about the sound quality of the game before I wrap things up. Oh god, the review has gone all serious now, and lost its sense of fun. Well, the sound of weapons seems satisfying enough, and most of the main characters seems to be voiced well enough – gone are the days of unprofessional voice acting. It’s just a shame most of them don’t really say anything all that interesting. You’ll get requests for help, and some slightly crazy mutterings (particularly in Bad Town), and of course anything quest specific, but for the most part, you could completely ignore it, and be none the worse off. Oh, and a few screams. Yes, overhearing torture in one area, and if you aim down the sights of your weapon (iron sights) you’ll send locals running and screaming too. Fun stuff, if you like that sort of thing. You do get treated to bit of Ride of The Valkyries later in the game though, so that’s worth a few bonus points, especially from our website.
So, all good reviews come to an end, and so I must bid you all fare-well. But before I do that, I better make something up to generalise about the game, assuming you are still reading. Hopefully you’ll already have made your order for Far Cry 3, and started playing it, since you already know my opinion of it by now!
Sure, Far Cry 3 has a few shortcomings; the not quite perfect save system, the UPlay DRM which took me a bit to fix (I had to turn off some synchronisation setting in UPlay to stop it crashing), the fact it tries to install some crap every time I load the game (it fails, and it continues anyway), the over-usage of drink and drugs as a theme, the mindlessness of the killing, a slightly annoying stealthy mission late on in the game (with poor checkpoint spacing), the over-usage of QTEs, the reliance of just one save game slot (which leaves it open to potential corrupted save game issues) and the adding of many species to the endangered list, if they are not already extinct, that is, after playing this game. But if you focused on all the bad stuff, you’d be missing out on a great sand-box style game where you can do whatever you want, within the scope of the game, to your hearts content. Getting bored of the main story? Go annoy some local pirates. Fed-up with driving around or fixing cars? Go jump off the side of a mountain…with a glider of course. Tired of collecting plants? Go torch a hemp field instead (apologies to any druggies reading this, such a thing would be heresy to them).
The game has so much to do, and I like the unpredictability of certain situations, both in how the AI enemies can out-flank you, and how the animals can affect the situation too. You can shoot cages in an enemy camp, and an enraged tiger might be set free to kill half of them. One time, I had stealthily killed a few enemies in one mission, only to find myself being the hunted, and in a few seconds I had gone from tactical genius to some leopards potential meal, with me grappling with it after being pounced on, and then the alarms going off, and getting surrounded by the remaining enemies. Sure, it can be frustrating when the game throws a curveball like that at you, but it makes the game-play that bit more challenging and interesting as a result, and that’s what it’s all about.
If you like what you see, be sure to get this game if you haven’t already. I myself purchased a download code when it was on sale during a Black Friday weekend, and while I was initially suspicious of whether the game would play at all, having had issues with UPlay, once I got them sorted, and got into the game itself, I didn’t have a single issue at all. No crashes, nothing. Maybe the odd flickering bit of scenery when high up in the mountains, but nothing game-breaking; the game is very, very reliable. At least it was for me anyway, but of course it might not be for you (that’s my disclaimer). Anyway, it’s time for the scoring!
Verdict: A fine addition to the series, which has come a long way since the first game. I shall give it the following arbitrary final score:
Are you a murderous, hemp-loving psychopath like Vaas? Let us know in the forum!