Have you ever wanted to leave everything behind and take a trip to a beautifully stunning island in the middle of nowhere, surrounding by gorgeous ocean where as far as the eye could see there was only clear skies? So were the desires of Jason Brody and his friends as they skydived into their new nightmare.
Unaware of the depravity which plagues this island, our sunny Californian guests are introduced to Vaas, the psychopathic leader of the islands pirates who has tortured and imprisoned you all in hopes of either selling you to the highest bidder or using your flesh to be fed to the islands wildlife for kicks and giggles.
Welcome to Rook Island
Far Cry 3 places you in the innocent shoes of Jason Brody, a young man who with his two brothers and friends, are trapped against their will awaiting their inevitable doom at the hands of Vaas who definitely doesn’t have it all upstairs. Upon an escape attempt instigated by your older brother who has military training, players are able to see their first killing from behind the eyes of Jason Brody who is more than terrified by the whole ordeal. Hanging on to the every word of your brother as you are desperately hoping to escape this bad dream, your escape attempt is abruptly interrupted quickly, becoming a race for your life eventually leaving you alone, desperate and ultimately forced to uncover the islands many secrets as well your own new inner discovery.
Rook Island is huge to say the least and becomes your new playground of discovery as you progressively embrace all it has to offer. Tasked with introductory mission types such as turning on radio towers to open up map locales giving you a better perspective of your surroundings which feels much like synchronizing areas in Assassin’s Creed, to harvesting plants for various medicine types as well as skinning animals, becomes a way of life for Jason on the island. Everything you do on the island has a purpose and scavenging is big part of that. Skinning various animals allows Jason to create wallets enabling him to carry more and more cash, larger holsters for carrying up to four primary weapons and make larger runksacks for additional and much needed items. Motivated to uncover all the advantages of survival, Far Cry 3 nudging players forward in what seems like unlimited exploration. Diving deeper players will uncover mysterious underground caves holding treasures, long lost sank ships holding secrets, lost letters from WWII revealing the islands dark past in addition to memory cards found on laptops explaining the horrors of the islands lucrative drug trade.
Aesthetically nothing in Far Cry 3 feels out of place due to the landscapes meticulously detailed environments. Vegetation is flush with greenery, hilltops are a breath of fresh air while waterfalls will cause you to stare as you take in the living breathing universe that is Far Cry 3. There are so many wow moments just taking in all the sights and sounds, sometimes you can feel completely overwhelmed at how immersed you become. And speaking of sight and sounds, the local wildlife is an organic experience all it’s own. In a crouch position thinking you’re about to quietly take out a deer with your bow in hopes of upgrading your equipment and all of a sudden you hear what sounds like an exotic cat only two feet from your position and you find out that you are also on the food menu sending serious goose bumps down your spine.
Echoes the sinister words from Vaas, just before he plunges you to your would be death by pushing with his foot a large boulder into a deep water filled pit which is tied to your ankles – After escaping death’s clutches on multiple occasions presented in all shapes and sizes, the initial fears of the unknown begin to wear off, enabling Jason to become more in tuned with the island around him building upon his self confidence. While Far Cry 3 is a visual explosion with a wealth of gameplay attributes deserving much praise and admiration, the evolution of the player is where the real greatness of Far Cry 3 shines through.
Upon meeting the strange yet reliable Dr. Earnhardt, Jason discovers that one of his friends has been rescued and uses the doc’s secret cave to hide each of his friends as he rescues them. However, the more Jason discovers, the more badass he feels about taking on the impossible odds to unearth more of the enemies plan. Jason eventually discovers there’s more to just escaping the island with his friends to save his own skin. Jason’s journey becomes bigger than his friends. This unnerving new reality also becomes ever present to Jason’s friends as he slowing evolves into an unstoppable killing machine and begins to love it. Killing in Far Cry 3 is an addictive affair which gradually intoxicates the player as you expand your skill points adding more skill attributes to your repertoire. While shooting enemies with various tools of destruction can be fulfilling, Far Cry 3 allows players to chain together melee kills of all types. Jason learns to leap from atop rooftops, mountainsides or wherever he has a higher position to take out one and eventually two enemies at a time. Stealth kills can also be performed allowing you to take out an enemy from behind while using the same enemies knife to throw into a nearby enemy. One of the best takedowns has to be when you run your machete into an enemy from behind, then take his sidearm arm and quickly dispatch multiple enemies, when this happens you can’t help but feel invincible.
While on the beating path of the main campaign there are many items on your map you can address, such as helping the locals with their troubles, liberating outposts, entering fun mini-games near those large red stones, help repair cars on the side of the road and go hunting for lost treasures among many other things.
Immersion at its best
Bringing the whole experience together Far Cry 3 introduces some of the best voice acting and character modeling in the business. Characters feel real as though this is not actually a video game but more of a re-enactment which you’re reliving. Facial expressions are spot on while dialoguing back and forth is far from being a chore, you actually want to hear and understand each and every encounter. Randomizing the experience, Far Cry 3 never allows for the same thing to happen twice or at least it doesn’t seem like it does. During an intense shootout where I was attempting to liberate a post, I found myself moving closer to the water for safety where eventually I was forced into the water and randomly introduced to a surprisingly large crocodile. With its mouth wide open, I went from twisting and turning while stabbing this crocodile to death as the water filled with its blood to literally running out of the water shooting nearby barrels near enemies destroying and liberating the post. Happening so fast, this seamlessly organic ordeal quickly raised the gameplay bar from very good to great in no time.
Eventually Jason finds himself torn between his friends and his newfound loyalty to the islands Rakyat tribe who initially rescues him from Vaas and started him on his new journey. Believing that Jason could be stronger, the islands beautiful priestess known only as Citra has her own agenda for you as your popularity on the islands grows. Snow White as you become known as is forced to endure beyond his years at every turn, ultimately revealing to you your true purpose.
After completing the campaign which you’ll never be completely finish unless you’re like me and must discover every nook and cranny of the islands wealth, a competitive multiplayer mode awaits featuring a serviceable experience that hints at the campaigns rich locales. Engaging in the games competitive team deathmatch offers simple gunplay of running and hiding with hopes of getting a beat on the enemy for that quick kill or melee. More objective based modes share influences from other shooters of the past with really no innovative hooks of its own to keep you dying to play over the coming months. Nonetheless, I found myself having a blast most of time. With the ability to heal a fallen comrade there isn’t more to the experience adding to tactical teamwork. It would have been great if Ubisoft Montreal could have incorporated the campaigns skill point abilities with the multiplayer’s killstreaks for a bonus in the incentive department. I would have loved to bring death from above on two enemies from a rooftop in multiplayer or sneak behind a player and perform a vicious attack just before taking his knife and throwing it into a nearby enemy player.
The games new map editor does bring a new deformation feature to the playing field with the addition of being able to include more objects, various terrains and wildlife online. Yet this doesn’t truly add to the gunplay dynamically. The map editor is a great addition but would be better served on a more ambitious multiplayer experience.
The Co-op mode is where Far Cry 3 begins to show signs of weakness in its formiable armor. Specifically designed for four players, the co-op experience is its biggest disappointment. Shortly after jumping into a co-op match and I was unsure whether this mode was actually apart of the same game I’d been thoroughly enjoying for more than 21 hours. Unlike the campaign the 4-player co-op mode traverses along a linear path to complete objectives. As you’re tasked with taking out enemies each player is given points for their kills, unfortunately you can’t do anything with your points. As with Jason Brody who was able level up with skill points this does not exist in co-op. Points are actually pointless unless you feel empowered by bragging on leaderboards. Players basically go into battle gunning down unintelligent enemies along a shooting gallery like setting before being introduced to the next high quality cutscene. The biggest problem with the coop is it feels as though it has no purpose. For a game driven by purpose and discovery there is just too much contradiction in its focus.
Ultimately walking away from Far Cry 3 and this real life vacation experience has left me looking for the next best island vacation as Jason Brody. Packed with so many memorable moments of near death experiences, gorgeous scenery, underground caverns and unforgettable human relationships and Far Cry 3 easily challenges any sandbox game this year while surpassing them in immersion and atmosphere. If you’ve never played a Far Cry game before, you’re in good hands as this is a completely new story waiting to be discovered. Far Cry 3 is easily one of the best first-person action adventure titles I’ve ever played and this years best!