I fought a shark, nippy crocodiles, several tigers and was bitten by 12 snakes during my time with Far Cry 3. It’s a madhouse out there, and prowling natural predators are just the beginning on a tropical island that is hellbent on killing you. While sharks can largely be avoided by staying out of the god damn shark-infested ocean, deadly encounters on land are inescapable.
Far Cry 3 returns to paradisal warfare and begins with a fun-loving recap of island memories, which is soon engulfed by the crazed ideologies of antagonist Vaas, a classic villain who takes great pleasure in his various attempts to kill protagonist Jason Brody.
Brody is a man thrust outside of his comfort zone. Having narrowly escaped the murderous clutches of Vaas, he finds himself separated from his girlfriend and travel buddies. Unsure what nightmarish hell is being bestowed upon them, Jason embarks on a quest to save his friends and for the first time in his life, feels like he truly belongs as he encounters a spectrum of unstable characters.
Far Cry 3 is an exciting adventure in one of the most satisfying open worlds I’ve had the pleasure of exploring this year.
Far Cry 3 is a game about choice. It prides itself on offering an attacking or covert method to nearly any combat scenario. Hiding in rough foliage, Jason can snap a picture of patrolling guards around any secure outpost to mark their locations and keep a watchful eye on them, even when they’re out of clear sight.
From here, you could launch into a full scale attack, or try and distract them and subtly sneak by to complete your objective without raising alarm; a happy medium is the most natural approach, and you’ll need to work at both ends of the spectrum to complete specific missions, but how you approach success in the open-ended scenarios is up to your imagination.
Much of what makes Far Cry 3 entertaining is knowing crucial elements are out of your control. Brody is always outnumbered and under supplied. The odds are against him, and yet they can so quickly turn. Hearing a terrified NPC scream “TIGER!” when you’re pinned down under a barrage of fire resonates with the sweet taste of justice, but you’re not out of the woods yet.
The beast was accidentally freed by a stray bullet — the cages aren’t too secure — and is rampaging against her captors. It frees you to move to a more advantageous position, but don’t let the feasting creature out of your sight; unless you take her down, you’re on the menu for dessert.
Rook Island is littered with 30 enemy strongholds that can be liberated to become a safe house and fast travel point for Jason. During one liberating moment, I was on my deathbed, and shot open a bear’s cage in a moment of desperation. Seconds later I held the advantage, until the bear turned on me (but that was after I had secured the safe house). It was a gamble that had to be taken, and resulted in horrifying death for all involved.
Aside from investing in safe houses, Far Cry 3 suggests you activate a total of 18 radio towers to build your map — without them, you’re travelling blind. Operating the towers also unlocks more weapons in the store, removing the need to pay for them, and optional side missions. Anyone with the slightest hint of OCD will spend the first hour or two after the tutorial seeking out all of the radio towers that are immediately available to complete the map. Leaving it incomplete for even a second longer than it need be feels all wrong.
The main mission structure follows the twist and turning story of Jason Brody, with satisfying explosions and cries of fear, but aren’t all that special in themselves. It’s not so much the type of missions that make them a blast to play, but the unpredictability of the environment and the freedom to tackle them in any way you see fit.
The two islands combined are roughly ten times the size of its predecessor and is a sight to behold. When it’s on song, it’s absolutely stunning, and despite a wealth of fast travel points, you’ll actually want to drive around and glide overhead to witness it all — activating the radio towers gives you a reason to do so.
There are a few loose corners, which are to be expected in such a massive world, and sharks all of a sudden don’t look so menacing when they’re pixelated right in your face and embarking on sharp 90 degree turns. However, these blights are fairly minimal.
Crafting and upgrading skills play an integral role in breaking Jason out of his shell. Skill points are earned in conjunction with XP, and can be awarded to a number of traits that make Jason stronger and a more ruthless killing machine. They’re depicted on-screen by Jason’s growing collection of tattoos.
Crafting is a little more tiresome if it doesn’t go your way. For instance, I needed a goat skin to take my weapon holster from a measly one to two slots and for the life of me couldn’t find one. Such frustrations will vary between players and how much time you’re willing to spend looking for animals to kill. Besides my goat debacle, it’s a solid system that increases in difficulty as you progress. To hold three and four weapons, for example, the holster requires deer and then shark skin.
The story itself is engaging and a 15 hour affair that will keep you hooked at every twist and turn. Little on the islands is as it seems, and nobody can be trusted, as Jason religiously discovers. Just when you think you’ve got something sussed out, another spanner is thrown in the works in what is a compelling single-player campaign.
The same can’t be said for the co-op, which is akin to a horde mode under the guise of a second campaign. It has its moments, but is an excuse to shoot lots of clones with up to four players, or two split-screen, and becomes repetitive immediately. While it does possess its own storyline, the multiplayer focus removes so much of what makes the solo campaign enjoyable.
My only real conundrum within the campaign is the dominance of fire. It’s all over the place and for a man who can fend off a croc, Jason doesn’t bode well against it. Putting out fire — which drastically drains your health if left untreated — is handled by holding down the same button that is used to heal yourself, which means you need to do it twice whilst facing certain death from whatever put you in this perilous situation in the first place. It actually takes longer to put out a few lingering flames than it does to snap your fingers back into place.
From what little of the multiplayer I’ve experienced, it’s a fairly standard online shooter with common game modes including team death match and domination style objectives, and an emphasis on Team Support items trying to set it apart. Its longevity is questionable, but nobody should be buying Far Cry 3 for its multiplayer, when it has such a delectable campaign.