The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
If you were one of the many viewers of the Ubisoft press conference at E3 2011, that line still might resonate uncomfortably with you today.
Gamers were probably confused but at the same time enthralled when the demo of a mysterious game set on a tropical island was shown off publicly for the first time. Most people had no clue if it was a new IP or a sequel to an existing series until the end of the demo where we are told that the impressive demo is indeed Far Cry 3. However, among the beautiful graphics, immersive gunplay, and intriguing narrative, one aspect of that demo stood out from any other game on the market: a true madman unlike any other video game villain we have seen in the modern age of gaming.
This madman, as it is later revealed, is named Vaas, a name that the game doesn't let you forget that easily. One trait that makes Vaas unique among video game baddies is his motives, which throughout the game are relatively unknown. At every encounter, I didn't know what to expect. Was he going to shoot me? Bring out another integral character from the game and eliminate them? Or perhaps preach me one of his unusual rules in his code of conduct, and then knock me out and feed me to tigers? Every situation with Vaas is unpredictable, which makes the game all the more tense.
Experiencing unorthodox torture at the hands of Vaas in the first person view is even creepier!
Another characteristic of Vaas that makes an amazing villain is the fact that Ubisoft cleverly didn't make him another big muscled, low IQ stereotypical antagonist. It's clear from the beginning of the game that Vaas isn't rich, isn't taking mounds of steroids (although I'm sure he was taking some other drugs), and isn't trying to prove to the world that he is the biggest bad ass in the world. Instead, Vaas has a unique persona that you would expect from a psycho madman stranded on a remote island. The fact that Vaas is just another human being who happens to have the upper hand in most situations adds to his uncertainty and complexity as a character.
Another reason that Vaas is so unusual as a video game character is the fact that he is introduced so abruptly that it makes the player think what exactly is Vaas trying to accomplish, which goes back to his motives. The introductory sequence all unravels so quickly that it is hard to get a grasp as to what Vaas is actually capable of. As players later find out, he controls an imposing army of trained militants who have bases set up around the chain of islands. This isn't learned until later in the game, however, and players might have been fooled from the beginning to think he controlled just a small gang of misfits. While this lack of background information about Vaas might be irritating to some, to me it fits in perfectly with his mysterious motives and his erratic behavior.
While there are plenty of reasons to kill Vaas and eradicate his army, there is one exception that makes his demise a tad more controversial. This exception happens to be his sister Citra, who eventually becomes a close ally of Jason (the main character) later in the game. While it's apparent that these two don't share any tight bonds, in the end they are siblings and killing Vaas might change the mindset of Citra into taking Jason on as well. As I completed all these tasks in hopes of putting Vaas down, at some intervals I wondered if maybe Citra and Vaas were collaborating to kill Jason and his friends. Intriguing theories like that popped into my mind throughout the game, and I applaud Ubisoft for creating a mounting tension that Vaas and Citra might conspire in an event that would alter the rest of the narrative.
Citra's mystique that applies to her army as well creates a similar vibe to Vaas' force, except that they aren't trying to kill you.
Sure, there are plenty of antagonists in video games that have made a mark on the industry and have had superb dialogue and performances that even surpass most movies. However, most of these characters have had sinister and malicious intentions that were fleshed out in a deep cutscene or prologue that might have revealed why they were committing their heinous actions. Vaas brings something new to table as his erratic behavior and unclear motives create a sense of fear and uncertainty in the player that last for a good portion of the game. As Jason progresses through the story, the possibility of Vaas going off the deep end and causing an unimaginable atrocity becomes increasingly higher. All of Vaas' characteristics in play make him one of the most memorable villains in gaming history.
If you found something else that makes Vaas or any character in the game unique, leave it in the comments below. Or if you want to rave about how awesome Far Cry 3 is, feel free to do that as well!