Gaming Review: Far Cry 3

FarCry3

For future reference: when skydiving, be sure that your projected landing zone doesn’t happen to be an island full of evil pirates that are more than willing to take you hostage.  And to think I was only concerned with the parachute not opening…

The kids of Far Cry 3 definitely didn’t expect to be captured for ransom upon living through a high dive out of a plane, yet this is where they find themselves following a trip down memory lane.  We play as Jason Brody, a scared younger brother to a military man capable of getting them to the edge of a camp, before Jason has to leave his older brother in a mad dash to the jungle, safe from the gunfire that trails close behind.  Safe from the pirates, for now, he dives deeper into the jungle, eventually losing himself to the beast of the island in his search for vengeance to what Vaas and his men did to his friends and family.

After this opening in which the player falls face first into the story and controls, we’re pretty much free to do whatever we want in this beautifully rendered open world.  For me, that means exploring all there is to see and do past the main missions (such as helping out the islanders, racing medical supplies from one location to the next, and collecting all the memory cards, dead soldier letters, and relics out there).  First, that means scaling cell towers in order to clear up sections of the map and make more weapons free to the player at the local shops and vending machines, but eventually in order to actually carry all the weapons at our disposal, it’s time to get over that squeamishness of skinning an animal (don’t worry, the animals still remain rather skin covered after you take a knife to them).  Certain animal skins are required to upgrade your wallet, ammo packs, loot bags, etc., and you’ll have to travel all over the island to reach their stomping grounds.

Not all predators will go down peacefully, so it would be wise to invest in a sniper rifle to tag the more ferocious at a distance, or pump the larger prey full of shotgun shells, all the while praying that they’ll fall before they maul your face off.  The wildlife is a rather unpredictable beast on this island, but that can be used to your advantage.  For example, in many of the pirate camps that you must take over to give back to your side of the natives, there are often caged creatures that will do a lot of the dirty work once freed.  This was always my favorite way of going about this, all the while sniping the stragglers from a distance.  Just be sure to keep your ears open for the creatures that are stalking up on you as well.  Once these camps are won over (and people who had nothing to do with clearing it out finish up their boasts of “Who’s the man? ME!” and “This was all me!”), that section of the map will become a more peaceful place to be, but the pirates are always around.

With plenty of upgradeable weapons at your disposal (I had a rather strong affinity for the explosive arrows for my bow, though I typically went for the silenced kills), it’s easy to go through this game running and gunning.  But sometimes an up close and personal stealth kill is the way to go, which is where Jason’s knife comes into play.  At first the simple takedown is available, but eventually the skill points rack up and Jason is able to upgrade his magical tattoo with images representing new abilities learned.  I went for a lot of the health related stuff at first, but another strong “purchase” is the upgrades for the takedowns.  Though I was never quite capable of mastering the takedown from above for some reason, there are still plenty of others to enjoy, with my personal favorite being the combo in which you takedown the first person, grab their knife, and throw it into a different person in close range.  Eventually you can also do similar attacks with their guns and grenades, and there is always something so satisfying about these attacks before diving back into the gunplay (which is often aided by the camera because scoping out locations through the lens allows you to mark the enemies in your sights, and label them accordingly.  Like magic).

Jason may seem superhuman considering where he was when he started the game off, but in order to rescue his friends it was required of him to evolve or die into a person that I didn’t really like being (I felt dirty – maybe this is why a lot of games have voiceless characters), losing himself to a mythos that he believes he is a part of.  In other words, he basically becomes someone you wouldn’t want to stand next to in line for fear that he might start adamantly talking to himself about cutting the head off a giant or something.  Some might even call him insane.  Just ask Vaas, who is equally tied to this word as a mirror image of Jason as they constantly butt heads to bring the other down.  The story is definitely an interesting one, that’s for sure, worthy of the Alice in Wonderland quotes that often break up the acts of the game, but I will say it all leads up to a quick resolve as Jason comes to terms with what he has become.

I thought I was also going to go insane considering how many times I went through the same phone conversations because apparently if you give up too much time to side questing people feel the need to remind you of the main quest in the same exact way (did Vaas ever tell you the definition of insanity?).  Luckily this is my biggest complaint of the game since my fear of sea creatures doesn’t really count as a negative towards it so much as a negative towards my inability to overcome an irrational fear.  That, and Jason must have really weak bones in his legs.  That’s the only explanation as to why he takes so much damage when I jump over fences from a height of a few feet on a hillside.  Do his shins go shooting up through his body and puncture his internal organs or something?  Cuz that’s the only reason I can think of as to why I am dying on the ground, waiting for the long load screen to contemplate what exactly is wrong with this boy.  Guess that’s better than the time I tried jumping onto a ledge and was teleported into a body of water in which there was no way to swim out of, though.  This island really does a number on you…

Because I’ve never played the games of the Far Cry series before, and actually heard a lot of disappointment about the previous entry, I was quite surprised with how much fun Far Cry 3 is, thanks in large part to the open world nature of it that surrounds a pretty interesting storyline / character study.  Now add in some strong FPS combat and exploration elements and we’ve got yet another great game to cap off the year.

Final Grade: 9/10     

[Side Note – I didn’t get to play the co-op feature of this game, so let me know what you thought of it!]

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