The definition of insanity is quite relative. If you asked me, I would say travelling on Mumbai’s Western line in a fast train during peak evening hours definitely qualifies, while Vaas, Far Cry 3’s antagonist (along with Albert Einstein), believes it is the act of doing the same sh*t over and over again while expecting new results. By that definition, our very existence can be categorised as insane since we go about doing our daily routine 24/7, expecting something to change – that promotion at work, winning the lottery or finding the love of your life.
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But this isn’t the Oprah Winfrey show, so let’s not lose track of why we’re here – to talk about Far Cry 3. After the rather abysmal Far Cry 2, I’m really glad Ubisoft went back to the drawing board and addressed all of its flaws, besides implementing their ideas for an actual sequel to Far Cry. In doing so, they’ve created one of the most immersive, visceral and entertaining shooters this year.
Like its predecessors, Far Cry 3 is an open-world game, which means players have access to a living, breathing game world that’s full of consequential stuff to do, unlike games like GTA IV that had all these side activities for the sake of it. Hunting animals allows you to skin and use their pelts to craft items that let you carry more weapons, syringes, ammunition and so on. Gathering herbs helps you craft syringes that can heal you immediately or even buff your combat/hunting skills. Liberating and capturing outposts gives you more quick travel points across the game world, while unlocking cell towers removes the fog of war from unexplored areas, shows you points of key interest and bestows players with free new weapons.
But like all open-world games, Far Cry 3 also falls prey to repetition. While hunting animals and overtaking outposts are fun distractions, they can get a bit mundane, especially after you’ve taken over your tenth outpost or skinned your 50th tiger. To combat this, Ubisoft has allowed players to approach the game in a very non-linear fashion. You can go all out Rambo and kill everyone, or you could tag them using your camera and then proceed to take them out silently one by one. The game really does favour stealth and gives players a healthy arsenal of deadly silenced weapons, including one very badass bow and arrow. If going all Turok on your enemies is not your thing, you can attach silencers on nearly every weapon and proceed to hunt your prey in silence.
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Nearly everything you do in Far Cry 3, be it finding stuff or killing stuff, nets you experience points that you can then allot into three skill trees – The Shark, The Spider or The Heron. The Shark skill tree works on more aggressive attributes that allow you to sustain as well as dish out more damage in your balls to the wall approach. The Spider and Heron skill trees work towards your ranged and sneak skills; ideal if you’re planning on using a stealthy approach. I really like the fact that the game did not lock me down to just one tree and I was able to freely choose attributes from all three at my discretion. Be warned though; to purchase these skills, you will first need to unlock them through story quests.
The story is obviously the meat of the campaign and players step into the boots of Jason Brody, an American tourist stranded on Rook Island in search of his friends, who’ve been kidnapped and sold off to some highly unpleasant people. In most forms of entertainment, you largely find yourself rooting for the good guys(s). However, in Far Cry 3, your so called “good guys” are rich, spoiled white people who look like they’ve stepped out of an episode of Jersey Shore. So when bad things happen to them, it’s only natural to feel a bit happy.
Nearly every character in this game is vastly overshadowed by Vaas, the game’s antagonist, who is as magnetic as he is crazy. Every time Vaas shows up on screen, he dominates, amuses and scares all in good measure, making him an utter treat to the senses. I found absolutely no reason to root for Jason, who goes from helpless timid tourist to tribal spec ops badass in a couple of hours. It just didn’t work for me.
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To be honest, Far Cry 3’s story is really not its strong point. It’s the act of exploring the game world at your own pace that completely sucks you in. Making matters even more conducive is the fact that outposts don’t magically get repopulated with enemies, nor is every single enemy out to run you down a la Far Cry 2. You can get around Rook Island using the game’s many vehicles and you can even fast travel between liberated outposts, but the real joy, like Skyrim, is to explore the island on foot. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to stalk a panther or a bear or a lion at night, armed with nothing but a bow and arrow. I nearly pooped my pants the first time I was attacked by a crocodile underwater and I’ve spent many hours exploring hidden caves or just enjoying the gorgeous vistas of the island at sunset.
Besides the lengthy single player, you even have standalone co-operative missions that can be played by up to four players. The story for Far Cry 3’s co-op takes place before Jason Brody came to the island, and you’ll be plopped into the boots of four very generic grunts as they strive for justice against the man that stranded them on that very island. Co-op is obviously a more linear affair, where you have to run through certain instances and fight off waves of enemies. It isn’t particularly enthralling, but it’s a nice addition to the game. Besides co-op, Far Cry 3 even ships with competitive multiplayer. Between my erratic internet connection and Ubisoft’s unhelpful matchmaking system, however, I couldn’t sink a lot of time into it, but the little that I did play was pretty generic, and reminiscent of Call of Duty.
The PC version of Far Cry 3 is utterly gorgeous provided you have the adequate hardware and are willing to spend a bit of your time experimenting. But once you achieve that sweet spot between performance and beauty, Far Cry 3 excels in the visual department. I did find the sudden day and night cycles and weather transitions a bit awkward, but other than that, Rook Island is a sight for sore eyes. The in-game HUD could have been moved down a bit to the lower left hand side as it feels a bit intrusive. And I don’t understand why the game has to keep reminding me of my objectives. Every time I veered off the story to explore, I’d keep getting pop ups at regular intervals that I had to meet this person or go here. That definitely seemed a bit odd and not to mention annoying.
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Even with minor issues, Far Cry 3 remains one of the most solid shooters of 2012. It doesn’t provide players with a very deep and meaningful plot, but it definitely makes up for that when it comes to expansive gameplay. And even though I did find fatigue setting in at times, there’s always something to do on the island be it hunting, killing or exploring. With a lengthy campaign, a map editor as well as co-operative and competitive multiplayer, Far Cry 3 is provides solid bang for your buck. But even if the game was single player-only, I would still have recommended it just as rabidly. It’s that freaking good!
- Expansive gameplay that rewards and encourages exploration
- Non-linear gameplay
- Solid gunplay
- Looks insane
- A very satisfying experience
- Can get a bit repetitive
- Lackluster multiplayer
One of the most immersive, visceral and entertaining shooters of this year. A must-play.