The lights are on
Far Cry 3 starts off as one of the most subtly explosive games I have ever had the opportunity to witness. At first, you and your "trust fund" friends are enjoying a nice, adventurous vacation somewhere on some Pacific islands, but then that is all shattered and goes straight to hell. You could almost compare this latest Far Cry game to the Taken series of movies, as they do have a few similarities- namely: badass main characters, friends and/or family being abducted by drug/human traders, and iconic action segments spread throughout the plot. Of course, if Far Cry 3 were a movie (no, not like that crappy Far Cry movie they made) then it would be ten times better than Taken 1 and 2 combined. Far Cry 3 is realistic and completely unrealistic at the same time, closely related in many ways to Just Cause 2- where you witness beautiful graphics and yet can combine outrageous elements such as a hang glider and sub machine gun to take out your foes in droves. That is the glorious reality that Far Cry 3 brings with it...
While main single player campaign's character Jason Brody's (not to be confused with the egghead of a character Jet Brody from Lucas Arts' Fracture) ascent into an ultra badass killing machine is slightly far-fetched, that's hardly an adequate reason for complaint, as it only makes the intelligent AI easier to take down. While you may quickly forget the story or it may fade into the background once you see all of the content available and side quests available, the story itself is quite well written if a tad bit cliched as well. No matter what qualms you might think you will have with Far Cry 3, the sheer amount of things to do and the interacting characters such as Hoyt, Vaas, Citra, and Brody's friends make it a very worthwhile experience nonetheless. The story mainly revolves around rounding up your captured friends, helping the tribal islanders to extricate themselves from the tyrannical reign of Hoyt's pirates and Vaas' loyal soldiers of fortune, and to accomplish any other destructive goals you may be interested in in terms of side missions and treasure hunting.
Far Cry 3 takes it's cues not only from the other games in the Far Cry series of course, but from other Ubisoft developed games such as Assassin's Creed with certain elements such as the refined silent kills and tower climbing puzzles. While the game may take it's cues from these other games however, it remains it's own new, fresh adventure because of much appreciated additions such as being able to permanently free the portions of the islands surrounding pirate encampments or lauding the new and improved checkpoint system. One of the most interesting aspects of strategic gameplay on the jungle island is also the continual ongoing war between man and nature. While the pirates are the biggest threat to Brody and his friends, there is no end to animal and natural pitfalls that could cross your paths or befall you woefully along the way on your journey as well. Tigers, sharks, and komodo dragons among other animal enemies make appearances, both to harm you or to help you in ways (such as loosing an enraged komodo dragon or tiger upon hapless and unsuspecting pirate goons).
Another finely tuned aspect of the game is the collection system, where you can view and sell any relics, drug items and recipes, or items (pouches, upgrades, weapons, etc.) you come across. Tying into the collection system is the fact that you can craft and collect special upgraded pouches for holding more weapons, items that you've looted, and more. While it may not make the most sense to force players out of their comfort areas and out into the wild in search of better upgrades and items, it does make the whole exploring experience enjoyable and gives you a chance to take into account just how grand the world is indeed. The open world formula is one of the best that I've seen in a game, especially in one focused heavily on high octane action and shooting elements, and I'd mostly compare it to that of Red Dead's world as well. Being able to approach missions and various objectives however you want to caters to every type of player out there and also makes for a perfect combination of stealth, action, and whatever hybrid of the two you wish to approach certain situations with. You have choices between stealthily stealing into an enemy encampment and taking out the opposition silently, taking enemies out by striding confidently into camp guns blazing, or by unleashing the animal fury of nature upon unsuspecting enemies.
The only true complaint that I have about any of the game's major aspects is the lack of coordination the enemy AI sometimes shows. While they are much better handled than the previous two Far Cry games', they still too often are gungho to rush into enclosed spaces where you can easily toss grenades or spray them with lead and fire, making for some frustratingly easy kills at times. They also have problems distinguishing from some breaks in elevation or in cover as well, and will fire at an indestructible piece of environmental cover while you flank them and take them out. Despite this somewhat annoying little chink in Far Cry's armor, one that has always and will probably always be an issue, there are still many things that make up for it in this particular offering. You can unlock a plethora of content by earning experience points for completing missions, activities, and taking out enemies in interesting ways, as well as hone your skills and watch your progression literally grow on you- via the tribal tattoo you have inked at the exposition of the story of course. By the end of the game, you'll find yourself feeling quite fulfilled and also wanting more in the form of either more single player experience or the multiplayer and cooperative components.
One of the best things about the cooperative mode is that it's stand alone story ties indirectly and directly into the single player narrative, while remaining unhindered for better or worse by it. While the coop modes largely dumb down the open world-ness, and aim for a more linear and explosive experience, it is still one of the better cooperative modes I've enjoyed all year, right on par with the ever exciting legendary runs with four players on Halo as well. While it won't be the biggest focus of the game for many people, as the multiplayer and single player modes will take that mantle, the coop does provide a nice little cooldown or warmup for those two awesome time spenders as well, and could even be compared in many ways to enjoying Left 4 Dead's coop with other players.
While the multiplayer is very enjoyable, and is nothing to underestimate or scoff at, it isn't quite on par with the big name shooters such as Halo, Battlefield, or Call of Duty yet- but it could be getting there, and could be refined enough with one more excellent game more like this one than FC 1 or 2. The multiplayer has the major staples of any good multiplayer mode, including progression and skills trees, plenty of weapons and attachments, and varied game modes to play and enjoy. Sometimes you do notice some lag issues and crappy hit recognition indication throughout the multiplayer, much more so than the well crafted single player's, however, the map editing tools, the survival instinct on par with Hitman's highlighting of enemies, and the team worked needed to win matches make for exciting and acceptably enjoyable experiences despite these issues. Even the fact that you can completely degrade the other team's best player in a classic "finish him!" moment makes the multiplayer all the more interesting and refreshing as well.
The environment, characters, story, and sheer plethora of content makes Far Cry 3 easily the best game in the series to date, as well as a very strong shooter too. I'd definitely rate it as one of my more enjoyable experiences of the year, right up there with both Halo 4 and Lego Lord of the Rings, to name a few recent games. It's up to you to decide whether or not this game appeals to you, but I've made my promise and given you the best review I possibly can- so now it's your turn to make good on yours and decide whether or not it is the game for you... Enjoy the experience if you do choose to embark upon the stunning journey and ride the wave to it's conclusion... It is an exceptionally crafted one.
Concept: Craft the best Far Cry game to date by meshing both new and old aspects of the game and by traveling back to a similar setting to it's first iteration.
Graphics: The visuals are beautiful and hold on to your eye as you gaze across the beautiful...and deadly jungle landscape.
Sound: From bullets hitting the ground to tigers roaring their primal fury in your face before promptly mauling you to death, the sounds of war are perfectly captured.
Playability: As much as I enjoyed Far Cry 2, which was by no means a terrible or a great game, Far Cry 3 fixes nearly every issue that it's older brother had with great success, and only adds one continued issue of AI mechanics to the mix.
Entertainment: While it's no paradise, you won't want to miss this ship before it sails... It is quite the grand, explosive cruise...
Replay Value: High
Overall Score: 9.25
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