Review by horror_spooky

"A dingo ate your baby"

The opening moments of Far Cry 3 feel ripped out of a bad horror movie. We've seen the set up before. A group of friends, about college age, are partying on a tropical island. Suddenly, paradise becomes hell, and they are tormented, killed, tortured, whatever, until the credits roll. At the beginning of Far Cry 3, protagonist Jason Brody, his two brothers, his girlfriend, and his friends, are partying on a tropical island, only to have their world turned upside-down when they are captured by a group of pirates and readied to be sold into the human trafficking industry, particularly the sex trade.

How dark. Of course, the player is given absolutely no time to build a connection with any of the characters, so their plight is kind of hollow. Yes, I can feel for these people that are having horrible acts done to them, but our only introduction to these characters is a couple minute long found-footage style video of them acting like idiots on a beach. Frankly, it makes it hard, if not totally impossible, to care about their fate.

To make matters worse, Jason Brody is definitely one of the worst characters this generation of gaming has birthed. He always knows just the wrong things to say and he acts totally unrealistically to any and all situations that come his way. The first time he kills someone, he feels bad. After that, he's cool with stabbing dudes through the heart, blowing their heads off, shooting rabid dogs with rocket launchers, whatever he's tasked with doing. The voice actor for Jason needs to find another profession, as his delivery is definitely a huge part of the problem, though the horrendous dialogue doesn't help anything.

But I don't care. I don't. Because when I was finished with Far Cry 3, I was satisfied. The characterization is handled horrendously, with the exception of two characters introduced later in the game, and the villains, particularly the pirate leader Vaas. Jason Brody is an abomination of the character, and there are downright stupid plot developments that left me scratching my head and even laughing out loud. This is true, but I can't deny that Far Cry 3 is incredibly fun and one of my favorite games all year long.

I think that game development lately has put too much focus in storytelling and characters. Yes, they are important, and yes, Far Cry 3 would've been better had the story and characters been worth a damn, but even though it is severely lacking in those aspects, Far Cry 3 makes up for it all with the gameplay. Players are left to explore this massive island freely, and the island is full of interesting scenery and fun open world activities.

Lush jungles are highly detailed and impressively realistic. Huge mountains and deep, gorgeously rendered waters are impressive, and they aren't the roadblocks that they are in other open world games like Skyrim. Throughout the island there are plenty of distractions. Side quests are plentiful. There are hunting and assassination missions to go on, plus different collectibles that encourage scouring the island fully. Far Cry 3 borrows a couple of elements from Ubisoft's own Assassin's Creed franchise in the form of the radio towers, which serve as isolated platforming challenges that, if completed, offer the player a better view of the area and a clear map. The difference is that Far Cry 3 does it way better than Assassin's Creed.

Another element that Far Cry 3 takes liberties from Assassin's Creed for are the outposts. In Assassin's Creed games, areas of the world are hostile until the player liberates them, usually by burning down a structure. Far Cry 3 uses a similar approach and, once again, manages to pull it off much better than Assassin's Creed. Outposts are dotted around the island, with 34 of them total, and the player is tasked with liberating each outpost, wiping it clean of all enemies that happen to be patrolling the area.

What makes these sections so much fun is how Far Cry 3 allows the player to tackle each outpost in the way that they want. It's possible to pick off all the enemies from afar with a sniper rifle, but those that like to get their hands dirty can quietly sneak through the outposts, taking out enemies with brutal melee kills that give the entire process real weight. Some outposts have caged animals, such as an angry tiger, and this animal can freed and let loose on the guards, effectively taking care of the work.

Each outpost is a thrill, but the other activities in Far Cry 3 are also fun. Most side missions offer a distinct new way to play the game, and unique objectives that stand against the norm of the main missions. NPCs are voiced pretty badly and their animations and models are way less impressive than the main characters. In fact, it sounds like the voice actors for these NPCs were speaking into a can in the recording studio, but I digress.

Hunting is a particularly fun distraction, and there is even a questline that encourages hunting in unique ways. Called Path of the Hunter, this series of quests will ask players to complete such tasks as killing a bear with a bow and arrow, which is a very thrilling and rewarding experience. Animals exist in the world outside of these quests, of course, and don't be surprised to run into tigers, monkeys, dingos, turtles, sharks, and much more during your stay on the island.

Besides hunting and the aforementioned activities, there's also racing, knife-throwing, and poker to take part in, not unlike other games in the genre, such as the critically acclaimed Red Dead Redemption from Rockstar Games. Supply Drop quests are also quite fun. These missions require players to race across a section of the island in a certain amount of time, and can be very challenging and most importantly, a blast.

Online content is, unfortunately, blocked with an Online Pass. Curiously enough, even the co-op and multiplayer functionality of the game, which can be enjoyed offline in split-screen modes, can only be accessed once an Online Pass is activated. This is probably Far Cry 3's biggest flaw, but at least these modes are also very entertaining and ensure that there is plenty of content once the main game is conquered. Trials of the Raykat are arcade-like mini-games that offer leaderboard challenges to those across the world and friends that have the game. The multiplayer is sort of typical and boring, but it is more polished than your average game. Co-op missions range from mediocre to awesome, and the map editor leaves a bit to be desired, but this is all icing on the cake. The core Far Cry 3 experience is the single player one, and it is amazing.

Jason's journey in the main quest will see Tomb Raider-esque dungeons, stealthy levels, and guns-blazing firefights. The mission variety is definitely there. QTEs are used in a manner that doesn't take away from the experience, but rather enhances the scenes in the game that uses QTEs. Like I said, the plot is mostly pretty bad, but that won't matter because the actual level design and missions are awesome.

The game's frame rate has noticeable issues, but it's nothing game breaking. I also had the map freeze up on me a couple of times, but little bugs like this are expected in games of this size. Character models for the main characters are handled very well, with high quality animation. Voice acting for the main characters, sans Jason Brody, is also handled pretty well. Far Cry 3's soundtrack consists of a mix of loud rock music and blood-pumping dub step, which clashes with the pristine island in the most brilliant fashion.

Those looking for an artsy fartsy gaming experience will not find what they're looking for with Far Cry 3. Far Cry 3 is a gamer's game. The gameplay comes first. For the inevitable Far Cry 4, developers should aim at improving the storytelling experience, create a main character that can be stomached, lay up on the Online Pass nonsense, and fix the minor technical issues. Otherwise, Far Cry 3 is a gem of a game, and one of this year's best.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/17/12

Game Release: Far Cry 3 (US, 12/04/12)

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