The lights are on
Far Cry 3 was released quite late into the year, barely making the 2012 roster. But does it have what it takes to meet the bar set by the top games of the year? While I haven't played and Far Cry games before this one, which is admittingly one of my bigger pet peeves, I was highly impressed with the scale of this game. It was quoted to be "like Skyrim with guns", and though I don't feel it's as free and filled with places to go and things to do, the comparison is somewhat deserving. But i also see some other tie in similarities from other games. Assassin's Creed has some influence on this game, and I couldn't shake off a memory twitch of Dead Island here and there. These influences are very light though, and Far Cry 3 stands tall on it's own.
Rook Island is huge. When I first looked at the map I though i knew it's size fairly well. It was a decent length going mostly horizontal. Then I scrolled down, and saw an entirely different section of the map. I then unzoomed and as roads, and other map symbols faded out of view, I realized that the playing field was actually twice as large as I had thought.
Large worlds are nothing new, but the island looks amazing. crisp graphics present a tropical jungle waiting to be explored however you choose. Speed boating over waterfalls, Hang gliding of a cliff, racing down the roads, or on foot sneaking to hunt down prey. The world is begging to be explored, but more on that later.
What's most impressive here is the characters. Jason Brody's (protagonist) transformation throughout the game is wonderful. He begins with his stomach turning at the sight of death, and later becomes a killing machine who is loosing his mind. This transformation is displayed through Jason's comments to himself, his interactions with others, and even the skill sets reflect his change. Before long Jason will be able to kill enemies in ways you wouldn't of thought from the get go.
Voice acting in characters such as Vas are amazing. The characters feel real from the start, and more so believable. Every encounter with Vas will immediately draw in your attention.
Also to add in some hallucination events that look very well and keep things interesting from the jungle that envelops the whole island. Speaking of, even though the Island is mostly all jungle, each area somehow manages to look unique, and not just a copy and paste job of the same jungle.
A rich group of kids take a vacation to a tropical island. Your typical MTV vacation, everyone is having a blast. There's you, your 2 brothers, your brother's girlfriend, your girlfriend, and your 2 best pals. What could go wrong? Well skydiving onto the wrong island could go wrong. This miscalculation results in the group getting tangled into a slave market where they are the products. Luckily, you're able to escape, and it's up to you to save the rest of your friends and find a way home!
That's the premise, but things get interesting as Jason comes across new challenges, and all the violence he causes takes toll on his inner self. As I mentioned, the transformation of Jason is incredible, and a key piece in the story. What starts as just a desperate attempt at freeing and escaping with his friends, eventually turns into a blood drenched vengeance hunt. At least for Jason.
Vas, who I've already mentioned, seems to be often compared to Jason in a symbolic manner, and that just builds the tension between them. The two of them is like pitting Pokemon Blue vs Pokemon Red. They're almost like the same thing, but at the same time, they're entirely different. Kind of hard to explain, but I think the Pokemon fans will know what I'm talking about.
The game offers 2 endings based on a final critical decision, but neither ending is fully satisfying, and your choice shouldn't take too much thought for you once you get there. But both endings are worth seeing, but you may just want to look the second option on youtube.
At it's core, Far Cry 3 is a first person shooter with light RPG elements integrated it. It's nothing intense, but what's there has a bit to offer. To start us off, let's look at the FPS perspective. The shooting works well, and still remains fun despite all the generic shooters going around today. Firefights can be fun, and intense, but you can also avoid them by using stealth, which actually works pretty well. More on that later. A different thing to worry about in this game is monitoring your health, as it's easy to become low on health. You then have to heal yourself which actually can give your enemies a shot at killing you if you're not careful. It ads a slight bit of stress to combat which I enjoyed. The guns are plenty and can each be customized with different attachments and paint jobs. The variety is pretty good too. You got all your types of standard weapons, snipers, rifles, pistols, shotguns, and then you have specials like the flamethrower and bow. However I wouldn't recommend actually blowing your money on the weapons itself because you can mostly get all of them for free at some point in time.
Let's talk about some of the RPG elements here. First off, to explain how you can get free guns, you activate radio towers across the island. Doing so opens up the area on your map and also allows for new stock in the markets. It'll also give you access to some free guns everytime you activate a new tower. So if you want weapons, don't waste you money, go and scale some radio towers. Doing so requires some light platforming, but it gets fairly complicated towards the end.
Other things to do around the map are clearing enemy outpost. This allows for new fast travel, and clears the surrounding area of enemies. Due to the size of the map, clearing out these outpost for fast travel is almost essential. They're also incredibly fun to eliminate as you can do them multiple ways, and stealth is highly recommended. You can inspect the area identifying enemies, take out to alarm boxes so they can't call for back up, then move in and pick them off with stealth melee take downs. Or pick them off from a far with a sniper after shooting out the alarm boxes. Or charge in guns blazing. You're even more rewarded with xp if for not triggering the alarm, and even more so if you remain undetected, and clearing an outpost undetected is incredibly satisfying.
After freeing an outpost or climbing a radio tower, a handful of new side quest are available, but you continually get the same type of quest. Hunting missions where you kill specific animals with a specific weapon, wanted dead quest in which you have to kill a target with a knife, Supply drop missions which is a race against the clock from checkpoint to check point. They're fun the first time, but after encountering the same mission types again and again, it can get kind of dull. It is a good source of xp though. There are some side missions which are unique to their own, but they're really just random chores that don't offer too much challenge. That said, the story missions are intense and a lot of fun, but apart from climbing radio towers and clearing outpost, there's not much to distract you from the beaten path.
Another thing you can do is hunt. The island is filled with different hunting areas and you'll want those animal skins. Skins help you craft certain items like ammo pouches, make for more carrying space, and a larger wallet. Each needs a specific animal skin to create. The best part is that these are all available to you from the beginning of the game. You just have to go out and hunt for the skins. You can also gather plants to craft special syringes which can enhance certain abilities.
Speaking of abilities, skill trees! Far Cry 3 has 3 skill trees to choose from. And unlike most RPGs of this style, your bound to explore all 3. And why shouldn't you, by the end of the game, I had all but 3 of the skills unlocked. Some of the skills are brutal allowing you to do brutal stealth takedowns, or shoot from a zipline. A cool feature is that when you get a new skill, you also get a new piece of your tattoo. It's a cool feature.
The story missions are the ride and joy of this game, and they're really something to experience. The world is huge and there's a lot to do, its just that the variety of things to do is limited. There's still exploring to do, collectibles to find, and sights to see. Not to mention you can hop on about any vehicle you can find. From hang gliders, to speed boats, to ATVs, so messing around on these can still be fun.
There are two options here: co-op, and competitive. Co-op is fun, but it's challenging if you don't have all 4 players. Also the options of stealth aren't here as it's almost an arcade style shooter as you move from area to area killing all in your path. it's fun though.
Competitive multiplayer is as generic as it gets. If you've played call of duty's multiplayer, you've layed Far Cry 3's. It's a nice add on, but if you own a COD game or Battlefield 3, why would you choose to play this one?
Far Cry 3 is excellent in presentation. Amazing character development, a gripping story, and beautiful scenery. It's only weighed down by its lack of variety in side quest, but for what the main story is, it's still entirely worth it. Multiplayer is a nice touch to keep the game in your system a bit longer, but it's not enough to keep you going for months. But even with all that Far Cry 3 is a game to be experienced for it's single player story alone. Check it out.
I was going to buy Dishonored instead of this, but you've got me doubting again.