The lights are on
Never have I seen such a false advertisement in a video game before now. The island on Far Cry 3 looks like it's straight from a postcard. People look at a place this beautiful and say, "I want to go there.", and main protagonist, Jason Brody, does with his friends and brother. Bad idea. While enjoying the life of barely legal young adults on a lush island, Jason and his friends find themselves trapped by pirates and put up on the market for slavery. And immediately, you meet one of the best villains in gaming history, Vaas (more on him later). With a great story, gameplay, and a big an awesome island to explore, Far Cry 3 has enough to be one of the best shooters of 2012.
From this picture, you likely wouldn't be able to tell that Jason was once a scared tourist just trying to have fun. That face carries determination, drive, and ambition. But there's a more vulnerable side to it. Fear. A hint of regret and exhaustion. This is the Jason Brody that you see in Far Cry 3. Jason is as scared as a human could possibly be early in the game. Slowly, you see him taught by the resistance on the island to be a warrior, to take what he wants and slaughter anything in the way. When he learns, he becomes more accustomed to murdering others, and his quest to save his friends carries him through. The story carries this character progression through to the last cutscene, and seeing the change is amazing. This progression is rapped in an awesome story with more than a few excellent characters, like Vaas. More than a few times, this man will ask, "What is the definition of insanity?". To save on spoilers, I won't tell why that question is such a great one to ask. Anyway, the story is fantastic, with plenty of really good twists to keep you intrigued.
Much of the gameplay is similar to that of a generic first-person shooter. The RPG element with it is what makes it different. As you play, you will level up and gain skill points, which you can use to upgrade your abilities. Those abilities are represented by tattoos on your left arm, which look good. All of the upgrades are a big help in combat. Also, as you progress, you will have to go in parts of the island not shown on the map or radar and find a radio tower. This will open up parts of the island for you to explore fully as well as give you free weapons to use. The system is similar to Assassin's Creed, and it encourages you to explore the island fully. Exploring the island fully will take a lot, however. In every section of the world, there are enemy bases that you can take over to make that part of the world safer.
Along with generic enemy killing, you can hunt in the game. There are areas in the world where certain animals are located. There are many animals to hunt, from the deadly Komodo Dragon to the even more deadly shark. These animals' skins are used to make bigger wallets for money, bigger pouches for loot, etc. My only problem with this system is that certain size pouches require certain animals' skin. I understand that it encourages hunting different animals, but if I can make wallet from pig skin, it doesn't make sense that I now need Komodo Dragon's skin for the bigger wallet. You can also make syringes for different purposes and different types of ammunition.
Along with all that, almost every mission can be tackled in any way you choose, and the plentiful weapons and upgrades mean that you can cater to your own play style. There also a lot of good side missions and activities to keep you distracted. One small complaint I had with the AI, though, is that they're not that smart. They'll usually take you out in sheer numbers, but don't expect them to flank and, sometimes, to even take cover. Despite that, the gameplay is awesome and addicting as well as very deep. I loved experimenting with the possibilities in missions and in the game world.
The graphics look amazing. Character animation is great. The island is stunning, especially from the top of a radio tower. Ancient ruins look great and are intriguing, and there's a lot of good detail. The visuals, understandably, just can't keep up, though. It takes a while sometimes for visuals to actually smooth out and look like they're supposed to. Surprisingly, however, I never hit a point where the frame rate slowed down gameplay.
The sound is, for the most part, great. Voice acting and dialogue are top notch, and gunfights sound great. I just had a minor complaint about distant gunshots. When I heard other people fighting, it didn't sound as good as if I was fighting. It sounded more like a gunfight from an older movie, which was strange to me. Other than that, everything is fine.
The multiplayer consists mostly of the same things you'd see in Call of Duty. There are the traditional Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, which we've all seen before. You play, level up, customize weapons, and play again. The huge world is split up into a good amount of maps for you to kill in. The biggest change, from what I've seen so far, is the humiliation or mercy system. Of course, that's just my name for it, and I don't the actual name of it. Anyway, basically, what happens is that the highest-scoring person on the winning team chooses to either humiliate or have mercy on the highest-ranking person on the losing team. You can unlock and choose from many of many ways of humiliating or taking mercy on the enemy. This is a very interesting and fun addition to me, and I want to keep playing just for that. The multiplayer mode isn't necessarily bad, but I would've expected something bigger and better in an open-world game. The main multiplayer mode, while good, is just underwhelming.
Unfortunately, I haven't really tried the level editor on the game, so I can't have an opinion on it. The co-op mode lets you choose between four different characters in a separate storyline from the single player game. You can do this split-screen or online, but I don't see many people playing this. The levels are linear and small, without an interesting story and with just generic first-person shooter gameplay. I was bored by the second mission.
Despite its small shortcomings, Far Cry 3 offers an excellent single player mode and a solid competitive multiplayer mode to keep you playing for a while. The single player story and gameplay are so good that they make Far Cry 3 a contender for the shooter of 2012. This is a must-have for anyone looking for a fun, unique shooter.
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