Genre: First Person Shooter Developer: Publisher: Ubisoft Classification: MA15+ Consumer Advice: To Be Classified
Release Date: 3rd Dec 2012 Platforms:
Average of 17 Ratings
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Look, I know how dangerous the fauna in our particular part of the world can be. I've known the fear of seeing snakes in the wild, I've been chased by cows, I've swum with sharks. I patted a tiger once, but that was at Dreamworld and I'm not sure it counts. And while I'd seen a Cassowary before, I'd never really been afraid of them.
It took 10 minutes in Far Cry 3's world before I realised the Cassowary is basically a modern day velociraptor - a thought which occurred when it kicked me over and pecked me to death.
Far Cry 3 tells the story of Jason Brody, but the game isn't really about that. Far Cry 3 is about watching your plans fall apart at the drop of a hat - and about picking up the pieces as quickly as you can. In fact, Far Cry 3 is about getting the story out of the way so you can get back to the good stuff.
With this in mind, let's get the story out of the way. Jason Brody isn't a likeable character. I think it's thanks to good sound work that he's coherent through the game, as Robert Crooks runs the words in his script together as if the whole thing was sent to him #viatwitterhashtags.
He starts off as a guy **** outta luck, trying to make something out of nothing - but as he goes troppo the few likeable parts of his personality start to dissipate alongside his personal relationships. The island he and his friends find themselves stuck on is controlled by crazy pirates, and the only way for him to get his friends (the ones who are still alive) back together and back home is by siding with the native Rakyat.
Along the way he takes some hallucinogens, murders many, many people and finds himself growing as a person. Yes, the game uses drugs and murder to convey positive personal growth. Other things happen that make less even less sense - things I can't detail without wading waist deep into spoiler territory.
Still, it's not all bad in the story department. It seems like the Ubisoft Montreal team has trouble drawing the line when it comes to 'heavy' topics - so when you meet a rapist who has purchased one of your friends, and you're forced to work with him while he continuously makes references to raping that friend... the game goes too far with the concept quite quickly, taking a rather serious concept (sex slavery) over-the-top.
It's odd, because for all its mature themes and introspective musing about the nature of the modern first person shooter, the game's story ultimately fails to take the idea far enough. Characters remark constantly about how you are a great warrior, about how Jason is a powerful killer - not so subtly tying power to killing - but by the end the only pay-off we get is a moment - literally a moment - of self-reflection from Jason as he laments that he'll never be able to fit in back home now.
It's not the first time this year that a game has used the shooter model to comment on shooters either - Spec Ops: The Line attempted something extremely similar - and it's interesting that neither ultimately capitalised on the execution of the concept.
On top of this you've got hard-fail quick-time events - where if you fail to press the button (or the game fails to register a button press, which I'm certain happened once) you're thrown back to the start of a lengthy Simon Says sequence.
It's in the story portion of the game that Far Cry 3 forces you to play a typical Call of Duty style game, too. Many missions are run-and-gun action pieces, but FC3 is at its best when the player is planning, sneaking and adapting - not shooting, running and reloading.
That said, you've got to play through these story missions to get most of your Skill upgrades and to unlock the Wingsuit/Parachute combo so I recommend turning your brain off and blasting through it quickly.
Ok, so, the story part is out of the way... let's talk about the real Far Cry 3.
Far Cry 3 takes place on the Rook Islands, an archipelago somewhere near Indonesia occupied by the Rakyat - island natives locked in a deadly struggle with a group of pirates. The islands are home to Tigers, Bears, Leopards, Velociraptors Cassowaries, Snakes, Dingoes (which, by the way Ubisoft Montreal, don't bark), Wild Dogs, Crocodiles, Sharks Tapirs, Pigs, Boars, Buffalo and birds. All but three of these species would just as soon eat you as look at you - but only when they're not eating each other.
Rakyat, pirates and animals all live in a constant state of war - an eternal struggle for survival not at all dependent on your presence. Each entity in each group has its own motivations, and those motivations direct their actions when it comes to conflict - and what this leads to is an element of unpredictability throughout the game.
Meanwhile, you have your own motivations. You want to synchronise (in the Assassin's Creed sense of the concept) the radio towers to uncover the game's map - this will let you get an outlay of your surroundings and find the area's outposts. You also want to take over these outposts to limit the patrols of pirates throughout the game - this the game's olive branch to all those players who were frustrated by the lack of permanence in Far Cry 2's respawning checkpoints.
After you take over the outposts you'll want to do the hunting challenges - these let you hunt rare game, which you will use later to upgrade your backpack or ammo capacity or... so on. Each of these is a game of its own, and each is fantastic.
The radio towers are jumping puzzles. They start out simple enough - climb some stairs, jump over some ledges, duck around and through some girders - but eventually become quite challenging. Knowing that you will die and respawn at the closest captured radio tower should you fail to make the next jump ramps up the tension quite a bit.
The outposts are sneaking games. Your first goal is to approach the target outpost from height and scout things out. The camera button allows you to tag enemies from distance, and tagged enemies can be viewed as outlines regardless of obstructions like walls or plants. Once everyone is tagged, you begin the process of eliminating all guards from the outpost.
Each outpost has at least one alarm post - neutralising this is your first goal. You can shoot it, but if there are multiple alarm posts it can be difficult to get a bead on them all - and once the first one is shot the guards will scramble to trigger the others. If you sneak into the outpost and disable one alarm, the entire system for the outpost will go down. This is definitely a better option.
I sneak slowly into the outpost, moving from bush to bush. A sniper stands guard in a perch nearby - I can't move further into the camp without him seeing me. If you prep correctly you'll have a silenced weapon on you - an SMG, a sniper rifle, a pistol. I carry two silenced weapons at all time - a sniper rifle I use to shoot out the bamboo doors of animal cages, and a pistol I use for snipers in perches. When I'm certain the sniper can't be seen by any of his friends I put a bullet on his brain and sneak further into the camp.
Two guards stand together, chatting about their various venereal diseases. One can't die without the other. I sneak close to them - five metres or less - and I hit the Takedown button on one. I run him through with a broad bladed machete, his eyes widening as I do. On the screen I'm prompted to move to the next guy and I do, my knife ramming into his chest before he can say a word.
One of the alarm posts is nearby - I disable it with ease now and I move on to the rest of the outpost. As I move on to take out the rest of the outpost, a tiger comes strolling into the camp. I was tense before - the game rewards you for taking down an outpost without being seen - but now my heart thumps in my chest. If the tiger sees me I'll have to deal with it, and that will definitely cause me to be seen. If I'm seen, I'll also have to deal with the rest of the guards in the outpost - and I'm not sure I'll have enough health left after I take out the tiger. I hide beneath one of the outposts huts, praying the tiger ignores me.
My wish is granted, and the tiger growls before chasing down one of the guards. I use the chaos this event creates to run, uninhibited through the camp to another sniper perch. Another thrust of my knife and I'm now in control of the best vantage point, completely unseen. The tiger goes down to a Heavy - a well armoured enemy packing a machine gun - and I only have two targets left.
I could again attempt to take out the targets one at a time - it's not an unreasonable suggestion (if I have the perk which allows you to takedown a heavily armoured target) - but instead I take a different tack. I throw a lump of C4 in a tall arc at ground in front of me. The noise alerts the pair and the run over to investigate and then... well. C4 has quite a kick. The outpost is mine, and I've got a new place to fast travel to when I want to leap around the map (another successful attempt to manage complaints players had regarding Far Cry 2.)
The tiger element is completely dynamic. It might not be a tiger that rolls through - it might be a leopard or a bear, or even some pigs. The tiger might see the player. Instead of animals, it might be a group of Rakyat who arrive, ready to help you fight the battle for the outpost - or if you're unlucky, it might be extra pirates (though they'll leave if there's no conflict). Or there's a chance nothing different will happen, or that many of these will happen at once - but the beauty of Far Cry 3 is that your plan needs to be ready to adapt on the fly.
Hunting, too, follows a similar thread. Animals tend to congregate around certain areas - you'll find sharks in the ocean, tigers not in the ocean or bears around caves - but they're not locked to any particular zone. Still, the map will tell you there is a higher likelihood for finding certain beasts in certain places - and the animals you find there will often correlate. At the same time, predatory beasts can often be found in smaller numbers near areas marked as say, pig zones. This is because you're not the only hunter on the Rook Islands - and Far Cry 3 is smart enough to add that into the mix.
The world of Far Cry 3 makes sense in and of itself - and this strong inherent logic is important to an open world game. An open world game isn't about giving the player rule sets to adhere to - it's about giving them rules to break. A great open world game lets you think laterally as well as logically - and Far Cry 3 allows you to do that.
Of course, it's this approach to rule enforcement which really highlights how out-of-place the story missions are - but it's also the method by which you're able to draw the purest fun from the game.
The star of Far Cry 3 isn't Jason Brody, it's the Rook Islands. The mountains, the deep caves, the sandy beaches and the luscious jungles all play a far bigger role in your enjoyment than the murderous frat boy you inhabit does.
Far Cry 3 isn't the game the previews pretended it was. It's not the story of Jason Brody, a douchebag tourist in way over his head. It's not about a man slipping into madness as he becomes comfortable with killing. It's a game about man's tenuous dominion over nature. It's about thinking for yourself, about adapting or dying and about having fun doing it. It's a reminder of all the bad things people say about Australian wildlife, and you get to see it without getting sand in your boxers. So where the bloody hell are you?