Just barely pulling into the end of the year, Far Cry 3 is the really the last big release of the year and it’s good that there aren’t many games to worry about after this one because Far Cry 3 is huge and there are more things to do than you can count on both hands. I've always been a fan of the Far Cry series and each one of these games have been very different from one another. The first game is even different depending on the platform you play it on. Far Cry 2 was a big step forward from the original game which featured an open world but not in the traditional sense. Far Cry 2 improved that and made the game an open world missions based game involving multiple factions instead of just a linear story. Well Far Cry 3 again takes a new approach that feels a lot like a combination of the first two games. Returning to the tropical setting and getting away from the sequel’s African Safari but also returning to a linear story but still has a mission based format. Far Cry 3 takes everything that made the first two games great on their own and combines them into a better designed package.
Far Cry 3 makes the best attempt at a story than the previous two games and the story is really good. This game has also introduced some of the best characters of the year. While most of the main characters friends seem like douche bags who should have died in a cheap horror movie but somehow survived, all of the island’s inhabitants are well realized insane maniacs or people that are so out there that you can never even tell if they are crazy or not. From a maniac slaver archaeologist that seems like Nathan Drake on drugs to the insane Pirate leader Vaas who has some of the best voice acting of the entire year, Far Cry 3 has a plethora of amazingly realized characters, even if some seem a little cliché. While Far Cry has a pretty simple rescue your friends and get revenge story arc, the way it pulls of that arc is what makes the story so compelling and exciting to play. There are a lot of great missions in this game which overshadow some of the lesser qualities of the game. While the story is really good it does have some hitches that bring it down a little such as the game leaning pretty heavily on some mysticism and insanity dilemmas and then never making good on any of those things but when you have finished Far Cry 3’s story there is clear open and closure and it is still a complete experience.
Like the previous game you are thrown in an open world with guns and things to do and it’s one hell of a time. The Far Cry series has always had some of my favorite shooting mechanics and while Far Cry 2 still feels better to me, Far Cry 3 isn’t a slouch either. The shooting here feels great and just getting into gun fights is such a thrill, especially when you are using the environment to your advantage. And I just want to say that using the bow is so much fun. Whether it’s hunting or taking out enemies from a far the bow is worth taking the time getting the hang of. It’s also worth pointing out that the Assassin’s Creedification of Ubisoft continues here in a very obvious way.
The island in Far Cry 3 is huge and when you start the game your map is blank and across the world are eighteen radio towers that you have to climb up and disable which opens the areas on your map and shows you what is in that area. This is even accompanied by a camera sweep around the world in the area you open up. So in this world are your story missions which are clearly marked but there are also a number of side missions to do for other people. There are a plethora of options available to you in the world presented in this game. If doing missions isn’t what you’re looking for then there are enemy bases to take that you conquer after you have killed everyone inside which can be done by stealthily sneaking around or by loudly shooting your way in which will sound the alarm and cause reinforcements to arrive. If neither of those suits your fancy then maybe you can shoot the animal cage doors that same bases have and let a tiger loose on their own men. Taking bases is some of the most fun in this game, especially because the stealth is fantastic, but be warned that if you clear the bases then there won’t be any soldiers moving around the world anymore and there is a lot of fun involved in just running into soldiers in the open world. I say running because driving isn’t really your best option.
The driving is only fun because it’s so broken and getting into a car is just mayhem. Using the hang gliders, boats, or four wheelers is fine but any kind of car or truck is just all over the road and learning to master the vehicles really takes some time but when you do it can be fun to just go crazy with the cars and jeeps. Something to point out that’s pretty odd about this game is the fall damage. This is something you can upgrade but it does feel like just tripping off a ledge can take off a little too much health. You really have to learn the safe jump distance which is actually pretty short but after you have upgraded it’s usually not a problem.
If you are already running around in the open world then you may want to take part in the fine art of hunting animals and skinning them alive. The hunting in Far Cry is extremely addicting. You can hunt all types of animals and take their skins which you can then use in another one of the games mechanics which is the crafting. When you start the game you can hold one gun and very little of anything else but as you hunt more animals you can craft new ammo belts or weapon holsters and increase the amounts of guns, bullets, or medical stims you can carry. The hunting is one of the more addicting things in the open world and something I enjoyed way more here than in games like Red Dead that let you do the same thing. Plus the skinning animations are quicker and less annoying here. Again the problem with hunting is that it’s easy to knock out all the crafting early in the game giving you less reason to do it later aside from the pure thrill. There is so many side quests and mini-games to do in the open world that as soon as you are let loose you can spend hours just getting lost in all of that stuff without even touching the story.
I highly recommend scaling as many of the towers as possible to uncover the entire map but it’s also interesting to note that all of these towers are unique and not just a carbon copy of the next one which is a nice touch that wasn’t even necessary. Climbing those rickety towers was the thing that made me notice that I can be afraid of heights in a video game. There are so many other small side missions out there to do. There are full on poker games, knife throwing contests, combat challenges, races, and hunting missions you really have a million things to keep you busy. If that’s not enough then take a bounty mission where you have to sneak in and knife a specific enemy to earn the bounty. The choice is yours on what you want to dump hours of your time into and all of the options are well worth it.
The multiplayer is surprisingly a jam packed for co-op players. There are three multiplayer options including co-op, competitive, and a map editor for competitive games. The map editor, while a nice addition on a console game, feels really difficult to use with a controller and would work way better on the PC version but if you were really determined you could make the controls work and make some amazing maps as I’m sure some people will. The competitive multiplayer is what you would expect it to be. It’s not exactly a Call of Duty clone but it’s pretty close. You shoot other guys in team deathmatch and there are perks. The real thing to notice are there are few modes in the competitive online. Just deathmatch, domination, and a conquest style mode.
The real treasure of the multiplayer is the co-op missions. This is like its own game in itself. The co-op is a separate story that is very similar in structure to Left 4 Dead and even has an opening video that is comparable to the Left 4 Dead opening only with more dubstep so it’s better. It’s a four player co-op experience about a bunch of down on their luck disgraced people on a boat that are coming back from making a little money on a job when the captain decides to aid some pirates in stealing all of that money so the four of you are traveling through the mission stages in search of the captain to get your cash back. This is a great mode and the leveling you do in this mode also carries over to your competitive character so you can earn more perks and weapon loadouts. While the competitive stuff may not drag everyone in like a Call of Duty game, the co-op is well worth checking out with some friends.
Far Cry 3 is most definitely a game meant to be played on the PC. You can see the potential in the games appearance but it hits some issues on the Playstation 3 mostly with the games cutscenes. There is an obvious dip in the framerate but it’s really only the worst during the cutscenes because during the actual gameplay I never had anything that because the game to be a nuisance to play. The character models and animation here still look great.
Vaas is truly a frightening looking character and has a menace about him that I have never seen or felt in a video game which mostly has to do with the great design and detailing combined with the impressive voice acting. The foliage and water especially here look a little lacking but you really just learn to ignore it because the game itself is so much fun to play and none of these things get in the way of that. There are a lot of tripped out dream and hallucination sequences all over this game and all of them are just insane colors and far out imagery thrown in your face and the whole time this game still just looks fantastic. Far Cry 3 is a pretty huge game and they did the best they could to make it run as smooth as possible on the PS3 which works out really well. You aren’t getting PC quality on a console here but the game still looks pretty great.
This game is jam packed with so much content on one disc that there are hours of entertainment in just one of any of the features here. The story is fun to play through and the side missions and open world randomness are enough to keep you just walking around the island for days. The shooting is some of the best out there on the market and the open world in Far Cry 3 is beautiful and well realized. Whether you are exploring the jungles or sneaking into enemy bases there is so much fun to be had taking down animals or the crazy pirates on the island. The stealth is some of my favorite in a first person shooter and works better here than it has in even earlier Far Cry games. There’s nothing more satisfying then tagging an entire base with your binoculars and then stealthing your way through it. On the flip side however I love being out in the world and ducking into bushes to hide from a passing jeep only to jump out unexpectedly and take them all down.
The boss fights are some of the more awesome yet disappointing parts of the game. All of the boss fights turn into quick time knife fights that are all well done and take place in a trippy looking dream sequence but the problem is it’s hard to tell how it is supposed to make sense in the story. I really enjoyed the story in Far Cry but it suffers a lot from the fact that it’s hard to tell what is going on with the dream parts and it is never fully explained. The game leans pretty heavily on some mystic themes but never clears it up or cashes in on it but that being said it is still worth playing through and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. This game also just had some of my favorite characters of this year and it’s worth playing multiple times just to experience them again.
Far Cry 3 was a really late game for this year but maybe it’s better that way as it has nothing to compete against and gives everyone the chance to see this great game for themselves. This is a nice way to wrap up a questionable year in gaming and Far Cry 3 actually stands out as one of the best games of this year. I really enjoyed my time with this game and after I finished it I just started a new game because I couldn’t wait to jump back into a fresh world just full of crazies waiting for me to take over their island. The co-op is also a lasting experience worth the time it takes to play through it and I can only hope to see some DLC to support it. That goes for the main game as well as there are a ton of great options for DLC here. Far Cry is a must own for fans of first person shooters or open world games and this game gives us an amazing close to the year.