Review by ShinesmanOW
"A shallow but fun romp in the jungle"
Far Cry 3 (FC3) is the third game in a series of open world first person shooters. This reviewer has not played the other two, so I will not attempt to compare it to the previous games in the series. While marketed as "Skyrim with Guns" it shares little with the Bethesda game except the open world format. It has some light roleplaying game elements, but these are a minor part of FC3.
It's a fairly casual game that's fun, but it's not terribly difficult and it doesn't require any substantial decisions. This reviewer strongly disagrees with other reviews that have characterized the writing as excellent - the story, to steal a phrase from Rossini, has wonderful moments but bad quarters of an hour.
___Overall: 7/10 (per GameFAQs "Good - a few problems, but worth the time to play)___
The game does not fit neatly into any single niche, and while it is a first person shooter by general format, there are also some platforming sequences, substantial stealth mechanics, some survival elements, and so on. RPG elements are limited to a perk system that does not substantially affect gameplay and a crafting system. The heavy reliance on quick time events (QTE) for most major plot sequences is not something that this reviewer cared for.
There is a "Story" mode that is the primary draw of the game. There is also a co-op mode and a multiplayer mode, but these are much weaker than the main game and are not a meaningful aspect of the gameplay. The story mode also contains a lot of minigames, some based on main game mechanics such as driving, others that are unrelated to the main gameplay including poker and carnival-style knife-throwing games.
The game is fast-paced, has a lot of variety, and is generally fun. FC3 is a fairly casual game and failing a mission objective or falling is much more likely a reason for a game over than an enemy bullet. Death has almost no consequences, and checkpoints during missions are common enough that this is also not likely to be a major challenge.
The action elements are towards the unrealistic or "classic" end of the scale of first person shooters, with the player being able to survive multiple direct hits, hitscan weapons (with the exception of the bow), and with crafting the player can carry large numbers of weapons, ammunition, and explosives. Ironsights are always available, but aren't really necessary with some weapons. The guns themselves are the standard shooter fare, again with the exception of the bow, and many can be modified with various attachments. Melee combat is minimal, stealth kills are animated and minimally controlled by the player. There is a formal cover system, but it's not controlled directly by the player and doesn't come up very often as the maps are not constructed entirely out of chest high walls.
Stealth is standard "crouch makes you quieter" fare, and is made substantially easier by a system that lets you mark enemies so that you can see them through walls and craftable items that do much the same thing. Silencers are very much the Hollywood type, though not as extreme as in some games since enemies will realize they're being fired upon. Other than one unlockable skill that only works for a subset of stealth melee kills, bodies cannot be moved. This can be extremely annoying.
Scattered around the islands are various collectibles, and getting to those items and to the radio towers that reveal maps sometimes involves some clever platforming. This is one of the game's stronger elements, though there is some frustration value in the unpredictable nature of slopes where things you can climb and things you cannot are sometimes surprising.
The RPG elements include a leveling system where skill points allow you to unlock tattoos that act like the perks in the Call of Duty or Fallout games. Most of these provide very small bonuses that are difficult to notice in gameplay, such as faster reload times, or allow for very situational abilities such as killing enemies by jumping from above where there are very few situations where they can be used. This is one of the weaker portions of the game, as most of the abilities are so trivial or come up so rarely that the concept of a character "build" is absent from the game. The inventory and equipment system is based on unlocking various weapons, though there is also a sack of stuff that is either vendor trash or crafting materials. Crafting only makes consumables or increases to carrying capacity.
The game makes heavy use of "press space or die" quick time events during story missions, including situations where several keys must be hit in short succession and a player may very well fail even if they are paying attention if the game throws in an unexpected key and the player does not know the pattern of keys or clicks. Given that these are story portions and the dialogue can't be skipped, this can result in serious frustration.
___Story and Setting: 5/10___
The writing in the game is erratic, sometimes good, sometimes painfully pretentious, and sometimes just laughably bad. The setting is nothing special, and there was very little effort made in turning the islands into a believable world. The storytelling is poorly done, with some of the major confrontations of the game resolving in bizarre ways that don't really satisfy and a lot of questions and conflicts that are hinted at but were never fleshed out. Sidequests in the game are painfully generic and rarely add to the main story or help establish the setting.
Adventure stories often live and die by the writing of the villains, and while the first main villain is initially terrifying, but he turns out to be so incompetent that it's hard to take him seriously. The second one is not given enough screen time to be a meaningful character other than being The Big Evil Guy That Everyone Wants Dead. The hero is not particularly interesting, though there is some attempt at character development. Even if that attempt is weak, at least they tried.
The graphics in the game generally get the job done, though they aren't exceptional. The sun and water effects are very nice, but the underbrush and terrain tend to have very basic textures, even on nominally high settings. Some of the character models like the basic pirates and the older native women are so heavily overused that it sometimes seems like there's a cloning station in use.
The sound design is poor, most notably the jarringly loud and bland menu music. Some of the music tracks are actively harmful, such as ones where you can't tell if the alarm is going off because the soundtrack includes sections that sound like alarms. The voice acting is tolerable for most characters, though a special mention for the voice actor for the first main villain (Michael Mando) who is very good.
For the most part, the game functions as intended. Crashes to desktop have been reported, and this reviewer experienced quite a few, mostly while in the menu system, a few while in the process of saving the game. The controls function as expected, though there are some situations where the character will do a cool sliding move instead of just jumping, sometimes doing a cool slide off the edge of a platform when you just wanted to hop up. There are annoying loading times every time a menu or map is accessed.
__Length and Replay Value 6/10__
The main quest itself is maybe five hours of content, though a certain amount of grinding might be needed to survive some of the later combat. Finding all of the collectibles, unlocking every item, and doing every sidequest is probably about 50-60 hours. This reviewer completed the game at maximum level with all items unlocked in 43 hours, according to Steam.
Since there is no meaningful character customization and every item can be unlocked and used in the same game, the replay value is extremely limited without adding artificial challenges. The heavy repetition of various game elements means that starting from the beginning does not substantially change the game.
The difficulty levels only change the amount of damage the player receives in combat, and do not substantially add replay value.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/10/12
Game Release: Far Cry 3 (US, 12/04/12)
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