Review by Perfect Light
"Did I ever tell you about the best game of the year?"
Growing up as a console gamer means you make some sacrifices. Some of them simple, some not so much. One of the games I never experienced was the original PC release of Far Cry until it was released as Far Cry Instincts Predator for the Xbox 360. I thought it was an average title, until I caught wind of its sequel, which was a flawed game but worth at least experiencing. Now that Far Cry 3 has released, we finally have the game the second instalment should have been.
The Rook Islands look absolutely incredible, even on the Xbox 360. The draw distance is fantastic, standing from the lookout points right out of Assassin's Creed, you can see miles of beautiful scenery stretching in every direction. So far, I haven't experience any pop-up or dip in framerate, but I have noticed a few extremely minor instances of screen tearing. There is nothing that will detract from the overall experience, however, because you'll be spending too much time gleefully spraying bullets into a tiger's cage to watch it massacre an entire outpost on its own.
Canadian actor Michael Mando brings the game's truly terrifying villain, Vaas Montenegro, to life in a memorable way which is certainly one of 2012's most memorable antagonists. As for the protagonist, Jason Brody, he sounds almost like Nolan North, but those with a good ear will know (and be thankful, that dude's in EVERYTHING) that it's not. Unlike Far Cry 2, the dialogue and animations are natural and feel lifelike as the characters look at you directly instead of speaking like wooden statues momentarily given life.
Without ruining anything important, you are Jason Brody. You skydive onto the Rook Islands during a vacation with your older and younger bother, girlfriend and a few other friends. At some point, you are captured by Vaas and his pirates to be ransomed and then sold into slavery. After you make your daring escape and are rescued by a local tribe known as the Rakyat, Jason must learn the ways of the warrior and hunt Vaas while searching for his missing friends.
One of the major improvements immediately noticeable about Far Cry 3 is the removal of the constantly-respawning outposts from the second iteration, a welcome change to be sure. Outposts have become an event, something you can scout and move around to locate all the enemies before you begin to pick them off one by one. Also improved is the game's stealth system, as enemies will not instantly know exactly where you are the second you take a shot. As long as no one sees you, can can continue sniping enemies freely without fear of being attacked.
The game is an open world sandbox, but one of the problems I had was the game constantly reminding me about the main objective, flashing the goal and making a loud noise every few minutes if I was out exploring the island. This is a sandbox game, dammit, just let me sandbox in peace! Hopefully this issue will be fixed with a later patch, but that it shipped in that state is mind-boggling. That is not to say that exploring the map isn't a blast, because it is. There are a multitude of vehicles for you to zip around in, including jeeps, ATVs, hang gliders, jetskis, boats and more. There's also a much-improved fast travel system which allows you to instantly warp to any taken outpost from anywhere in the world. There are no load times moving between the islands, which is pretty cool, and indeed hardly any load times at all, even when going into a building. Installing the game will cut any load times down to almost nothing.
There is no shortage of side activities if the main missions ever get boring. You can hunt to improve your equipment or for bounties, fulfill assassination missions in which you bring down specific targets using your knife and races in all corners of the map, plus a slew of collectibles to find. It all comes together beautifully in that you will constantly have something new to pursue if any mission begins to grow stale. There is well over 40+ hours of content in the single-player alone to keep the disc in the tray for weeks, if not months.
As a single-player gamer, I did not experiment with the multi-player aspect of the game, but I have heard average things about it. Competent if you're into that kind of thing, completely skippable if you're not.
Far Cry 3 came at one of this year's most stunning surprises. Beautiful graphics and voice acting, extremely competent shooting mechanics, a fun sandbox to explore and a wonderful cast of characters to interact with. Far Cry 3 has the honor of being my personal game of the year, a tremendous achievement and one you will not soon forget.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/20/12
Game Release: Far Cry 3 (US, 12/04/12)
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