I finally understand why people think Far Cry 3's story is crap.

Posted by themangalist (1728 posts) -

SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY****

With all the end of the year discussion going on (sadly the decisions were made and minds were made up by the crew), I feel it is only appropriate to revisit the most common critique of Far Cry 3: The story, specifically, Brad/Jeff's disappointment in how good the start was and how lackluster the second half of the story (after Vaas' death) became.

Vaas is revealed to be the avatar of Rahul'ka:tik!ok, the God of Insanity on Rook Island. #spoilers #racistjoke

After listening to Jeff and Brad's impressions on the bombasts earlier this month, I went to play the game to see for myself. I didn't feel anything by the end of the game (other than thinking it was hours upon hours of quality entertainment), yet it was as if the game was urging me to feel something. I tried reading on the internet reactions to the ending, interviews, possible theories...I read about how the lead story writer defended the game to his death, stating that he told the story he wanted to tell exactly. I read about how some professional game reviewers thought the game's story would be "fixed" by making Jason actually Vaas (which i thought was super stupid btw). After all this internet truth seeking I suddenly came to realize:

Far Cry 3 was NEVER about insanity.

In the interview with the lead story writer Jeffrey Yohalem, the name Rook Island was an obvious wink to the player that this is a game about manipulation. That definitely made me rethink every major plot point in the game. I couldn't have summarized it better than fellow bomber Oldirtybearon in a thread about racism in the game:

@Oldirtybearon said:

Those "good brown people" you mention are not all that good, home boy. There is more than subtle evidence to suggest that Dennis, Citra, and the Rakyat tribe are using Jason Brody to further their own agenda. They don't want peace on the island, they want control back from Hoyt and Vaas. That's the power struggle. The Rakyat were used to controlling the population due to their brutality and their, well, batshit crazy philosophy. Hoyt Valker came to town with his mercenary army and brushed them aside with little effort. Jason stumbles into them and is plied with hallucinogenic narcotics (both ingested and tattooed onto his skin) to make him feel invincible. People who don't believe they can die become fearless. Jason's abilities stem from natural athleticism and a drug-induced DGAF attitude.

The "good brown people" are hardly defenseless. They just don't see the point in attacking Hoyt directly when they have a stoned college grad willing to kill for them. You could argue that Far Cry 3 uses the "white saviour" trope, but it in actuality turns that trope on its head with the narrative they actually present. Why do you think Citra kills you if you choose to kill your friends? They're done with you. Their enemies have been vanquished and they are now free to oppress and control the population once again.

The plot of manipulation is actually quite ingenious. I do agree that that specific story wasn't told really well, but what really killed it was that we all expected the game to be about insanity, and our expectations entirely buried whatever the game was trying to convey to us, or made it fit into the story we thought the game was telling. How did that happen?

I blame the oh-so-memorable E3 trailer introduced Vaas as the villain with a well written monologue and impressive acting. Praise was universal. What Ubisoft did was not only hype up the game, but also to their disadvantage, subconsciously planted the idea that the theme of the next installment of Far Cry, would be insanity. Vaas became the embodyment of it.

This is my favourite part where you shoot it with fire-arrows.

In one interview with Michael Mando on how he got the acting job as Vaas, he straight up said he was auditioning for a cold boss character, and gave a performance for the exact opposite. But the dev team liked his performance so much they decided to write a new character just for him, which would be Vaas. So take that as some evidence that the whole insanity thing was not even planned in the first place.

Now see, when you're going to write a story about an island of crazy people, you would probably write characters with a variety of psychological illnesses: Schizophrenia, depression, multi-personality disorder (as done to death as it is), and so on. Any writer wouldn't just pass on the chance to easily write a colourful array of "crazy" characters. When you think about it, Vaas is pretty sane, and so are most other characters in the story. Maniacal and violent? Yes, but so goes most action movie villains. Vaas only played the part of a disposable villain in the story, who also happened to get most screentime and attention.

Precisely 1 more giant humanoid monster to shoot at than I expected playing Far Cry 3.

It is extremely easy to mix up the theme of insanity which never was the point with the actual themes, because the plot devices used could easily apply to both. Hallucinations: you are going crazy, or that you are given drugs. Mystical powers from the tattoo: you are going crazy, or that you are fed the idea that you could actually perform superhuman feits. Brutal vengeance: you are going crazy, or that you are puppeteered to kill. The Alice metaphor could be seen as Jason's descent into madness, or to the game's theme, Jason's descent into madness to believe he is in control of everything, which he isn't.

So when I played the game I thought it was a poorly told story about insanity. The ending obviously lacked the oomph because I was so engraved in that false belief of what the story was supposed to be. It was all a sad mistake that we were led to believe the way we did pre-release, otherwise I would say FC3 was a more than "okay" story.

#1 Edited by themangalist (1728 posts) -

SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY****

With all the end of the year discussion going on (sadly the decisions were made and minds were made up by the crew), I feel it is only appropriate to revisit the most common critique of Far Cry 3: The story, specifically, Brad/Jeff's disappointment in how good the start was and how lackluster the second half of the story (after Vaas' death) became.

Vaas is revealed to be the avatar of Rahul'ka:tik!ok, the God of Insanity on Rook Island. #spoilers #racistjoke

After listening to Jeff and Brad's impressions on the bombasts earlier this month, I went to play the game to see for myself. I didn't feel anything by the end of the game (other than thinking it was hours upon hours of quality entertainment), yet it was as if the game was urging me to feel something. I tried reading on the internet reactions to the ending, interviews, possible theories...I read about how the lead story writer defended the game to his death, stating that he told the story he wanted to tell exactly. I read about how some professional game reviewers thought the game's story would be "fixed" by making Jason actually Vaas (which i thought was super stupid btw). After all this internet truth seeking I suddenly came to realize:

Far Cry 3 was NEVER about insanity.

In the interview with the lead story writer Jeffrey Yohalem, the name Rook Island was an obvious wink to the player that this is a game about manipulation. That definitely made me rethink every major plot point in the game. I couldn't have summarized it better than fellow bomber Oldirtybearon in a thread about racism in the game:

@Oldirtybearon said:

Those "good brown people" you mention are not all that good, home boy. There is more than subtle evidence to suggest that Dennis, Citra, and the Rakyat tribe are using Jason Brody to further their own agenda. They don't want peace on the island, they want control back from Hoyt and Vaas. That's the power struggle. The Rakyat were used to controlling the population due to their brutality and their, well, batshit crazy philosophy. Hoyt Valker came to town with his mercenary army and brushed them aside with little effort. Jason stumbles into them and is plied with hallucinogenic narcotics (both ingested and tattooed onto his skin) to make him feel invincible. People who don't believe they can die become fearless. Jason's abilities stem from natural athleticism and a drug-induced DGAF attitude.

The "good brown people" are hardly defenseless. They just don't see the point in attacking Hoyt directly when they have a stoned college grad willing to kill for them. You could argue that Far Cry 3 uses the "white saviour" trope, but it in actuality turns that trope on its head with the narrative they actually present. Why do you think Citra kills you if you choose to kill your friends? They're done with you. Their enemies have been vanquished and they are now free to oppress and control the population once again.

The plot of manipulation is actually quite ingenious. I do agree that that specific story wasn't told really well, but what really killed it was that we all expected the game to be about insanity, and our expectations entirely buried whatever the game was trying to convey to us, or made it fit into the story we thought the game was telling. How did that happen?

I blame the oh-so-memorable E3 trailer introduced Vaas as the villain with a well written monologue and impressive acting. Praise was universal. What Ubisoft did was not only hype up the game, but also to their disadvantage, subconsciously planted the idea that the theme of the next installment of Far Cry, would be insanity. Vaas became the embodyment of it.

This is my favourite part where you shoot it with fire-arrows.

In one interview with Michael Mando on how he got the acting job as Vaas, he straight up said he was auditioning for a cold boss character, and gave a performance for the exact opposite. But the dev team liked his performance so much they decided to write a new character just for him, which would be Vaas. So take that as some evidence that the whole insanity thing was not even planned in the first place.

Now see, when you're going to write a story about an island of crazy people, you would probably write characters with a variety of psychological illnesses: Schizophrenia, depression, multi-personality disorder (as done to death as it is), and so on. Any writer wouldn't just pass on the chance to easily write a colourful array of "crazy" characters. When you think about it, Vaas is pretty sane, and so are most other characters in the story. Maniacal and violent? Yes, but so goes most action movie villains. Vaas only played the part of a disposable villain in the story, who also happened to get most screentime and attention.

Precisely 1 more giant humanoid monster to shoot at than I expected playing Far Cry 3.

It is extremely easy to mix up the theme of insanity which never was the point with the actual themes, because the plot devices used could easily apply to both. Hallucinations: you are going crazy, or that you are given drugs. Mystical powers from the tattoo: you are going crazy, or that you are fed the idea that you could actually perform superhuman feits. Brutal vengeance: you are going crazy, or that you are puppeteered to kill. The Alice metaphor could be seen as Jason's descent into madness, or to the game's theme, Jason's descent into madness to believe he is in control of everything, which he isn't.

So when I played the game I thought it was a poorly told story about insanity. The ending obviously lacked the oomph because I was so engraved in that false belief of what the story was supposed to be. It was all a sad mistake that we were led to believe the way we did pre-release, otherwise I would say FC3 was a more than "okay" story.

#2 Posted by Giantstalker (1541 posts) -

I think the big issue is that Hoyt is barely characterized, and only thinly contextualized in the story. By contrast, this guy replaces Vaas, who is not only the initial antagonist but better acted and more integral to the actual core narrative of the game (with Citra). At least, that was my big problem with the whole thing. I kinda knew who Hoyt was, then before I knew it, the game was basically about this guy and his empire on the other island. Like the crew, I thought it was a waste of a character I was more invested in - Vaas - and just a poor transition to the third act in general.

As for the game as a whole? It makes no sense to me why the Rakyat "need" Jason, or why they would even use him to carry out their plans, when they basically have their own militia and arsenal already on the island. It's a concession I make because it's a game, not necessarily because it makes sense for the story.

You've written a great article here, but I think for many, the issues with Far Cry 3's story are not with interpretation.

#3 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4611 posts) -

I came in here with a pitchfork totally expecting to defend the game's ballsy narrative from more people eager to claim "racism!"

I am pleasantly surprised to see a coherent and intelligent dissection of Far Cry 3 instead. Well done,

#4 Edited by themangalist (1728 posts) -

@Giantstalker said:

I think the big issue is that Hoyt is barely characterized, and only thinly contextualized in the story. By contrast, this guy replaces Vaas, who is not only the initial antagonist but better acted and more integral to the actual core narrative of the game (with Citra). At least, that was my big problem with the whole thing. I kinda knew who Hoyt was, then before I knew it, the game was basically about this guy and his empire on the other island. Like the crew, I thought it was a waste of a character I was more invested in - Vaas - and just a poor transition to the third act in general.

As for the game as a whole? It makes no sense to me why the Rakyat "need" Jason, or why they would even use him to carry out their plans, when they basically have their own militia and arsenal already on the island. It's a concession I make because it's a game, not necessarily because it makes sense for the story.

You've written a great article here, but I think for many, the issues with Far Cry 3's story are not with interpretation.

I definitely agree that the game's story has turned less tight after the death of Vaas, but I wouldn't blame Hyot for that. As mentioned before, "Vaas" was not a necessary character to the story, not even after Michael Mando stepped up to play him. The story only needed a big crime boss who was vicious and cunning and Hyot played that role, it was the supposedly boring lackie who became so catchy and attention-grabbing that dwarved Hyot's part in the story. Under this context, it is an oversight that they characterized the lackie more than the main villain, which probably is the downfall of the story for many.

My disappointment came from me thinking FC3 as a poorly told insanity story (rather than taking it as what it is), and I believe this does heavily factor into the disappointment for most as well.

To your second point, Citra was at first dismissive and asked Jason to go on a suicide mission, which he did succeed. We can argue all day about the racist undertones of needing the white guy to save the natives but the point is that Jason had to go through a difficult trial to become the "destined one".

@Oldirtybearon said:

I came in here with a pitchfork totally expecting to defend the game's ballsy narrative from more people eager to claim "racism!"

I am pleasantly surprised to see a coherent and intelligent dissection of Far Cry 3 instead. Well done.

Thanks to you I didn't have to type the plot up. By the way, I rooted for you in that FC3 racism argument thread ;)

#5 Posted by Karkarov (3008 posts) -

@themangalist: @themangalist said:

My disappointment came from me thinking FC3 as a poorly told insanity story (rather than taking it as what it is), and I believe this does heavily factor into the disappointment for most as well.

Well said, cause I really had no issue with the transfer to the southern island at all. Vaas was not insane, he was just crazy violent and temperamental. His motivations and his reasons for doing what he is doing are perfectly understandable and the game goes to some length to make you know that Vaas actually isn't very different from Jason Brody. Both got manipulated by Citra, both had whatever crazy ass drugs the Rakkyat ply used on them, both of them were forced into being killers, and lastly both were forced to choose Citra or "someone/thing else".

On a separate tangent I can understand not liking the college kids. Especially Oliver. But why would anyone choose Citra over them? She is a manipulative beotch and just as violent and temperamental as Vaas, heck she made him into what he was. Meanwhile your friends (shallow, stupid, and unlikable pricks many of them they may be) are still just innocent dumb kids really who are also defenseless and killing them is completely different from killing a mercenary or a pirate slave trader. As much as you might want to bitch slap them half the time they aren't people you should want to kill and they don't deserve to die.

I do find it hilarious that Citra kills you though if you choose her. You get what you deserve there, my only regret when I told her to stick it was that after Dennis did his thing I didn't get to say "Know this, you may take my life, but I also have the right to take yours." and then finished the job.

#6 Posted by david3cm (635 posts) -

My disappointment with the story doesn't come from expecting it to be something it wasn't, but rather the unceremonious way most if not all the stories of the interesting characters comes to an end. And though you bring up some interesting ideas and it is a well written article, I don't fully agree with your arguments, and I am interested to go back and play through again to form a fully realized opinion.

#7 Posted by weirdo (144 posts) -

Well sure... If you want to look at it the SANE way

#8 Posted by Stymie (16 posts) -

@themangalist: I have to agree with some of the other comments; a large part of the dissatisfaction was the completely lack of characterization behind Hoyt. He felt very 2D as a character and didn't give much motivation to finishing the game (despite all of Sam's awesomeness). It was pretty easy to pick up on the idea, early on, that the game was designed somewhat as satire and that Jason's POV was not exactly reliable, as the author had mentioned. Of course, to an extent, that goes back to the insanity case (though I agree 100% that the game is mostly centered on manipulation) -- by the time I was at the point in the game slightly before Vaas dies, I seriously thought a lot of the characters were entirely in Jason's head. Willis, Buck, and to an extent Vaas -- they all seemed, to me, to be fragments of Jason's shattering mind. That's not to say I thought Jason WAS Vaas, but that he created these characters in his mind and interjected them throughout his recollection of how things went down.

Honestly, the notion that any of the three of those characters were real in the events of the game strikes me as incredibly bizarre. Personally though, I hate it when developers / writers come around saying that people didn't "get" their game. The writer in question complained that too many games "talk down to" gamers by being too simple, but really he's talking down to the people who played his game by saying they're too unintelligent to understand the vast, brilliant riddle that is the plot of Far Cry 3 (smells like Summer's Eve in here). I realized plenty early on that the game was a parody on racial tropes and video game logic (One Man versus an Island, go!), I still just think it was a poor plot that unraveled throughout the latter half of the game.

#9 Posted by boshmi (1 posts) -

My god. I created an account just to comment on this.

I do agree with you on the stuff about Hoyt. There I was, enjoying myself on the first island, trolling around with Rakyats, screwing with Vaas, that awesome villan... and then Willis shows up. So I am smashed into the mission where I have to kill Vaas. And I am just attacking him thinking, wow, a lot of work put into this game... and then I stab him... and he's dead. So the whole time I'm just thinking "What about Riley? And Hoyt? And that was one short storyline..." AND THEN I REALIZE THE GAME ISN'T OVER! So we fly to the second island. And I am really pissed off. I think the game could have been so much better, if Vaas had lived until the end. The second island didn't seem as fun as the first, and the game became slightly bland in those couple of missions on the 2nd island before the end of the game. But the thing that annoys me the most... is that you can only get the wingsuit AFTER you kill Vaas. God F*ck*ng Dammit! It would have been freaking awesome to just wingsuit off from a cliff, open the parachute, and Mission Impossible Vaas's hideout.

... Wow. I need a life.

#10 Posted by believer258 (11685 posts) -

@boshmi said:

My god. I created an account just to comment on this.

I do agree with you on the stuff about Hoyt. There I was, enjoying myself on the first island, trolling around with Rakyats, screwing with Vaas, that awesome villan... and then Willis shows up. So I am smashed into the mission where I have to kill Vaas. And I am just attacking him thinking, wow, a lot of work put into this game... and then I stab him... and he's dead. So the whole time I'm just thinking "What about Riley? And Hoyt? And that was one short storyline..." AND THEN I REALIZE THE GAME ISN'T OVER! So we fly to the second island. And I am really pissed off. I think the game could have been so much better, if Vaas had lived until the end. The second island didn't seem as fun as the first, and the game became slightly bland in those couple of missions on the 2nd island before the end of the game. But the thing that annoys me the most... is that you can only get the wingsuit AFTER you kill Vaas. God F*ck*ng Dammit! It would have been freaking awesome to just wingsuit off from a cliff, open the parachute, and Mission Impossible Vaas's hideout.

... Wow. I need a life.

No. You need to play Blood Dragon.

Online
#11 Edited by Gruebacca (506 posts) -

Even if you take out some of the undesired tropes this game uses and eliminate the confusion about just what the story is about, it's still pretty rotten. The whole ending came out of left field and didn't make any sense with Citra basically saying, "oh, btw, if you haven't noticed by now, I'm evil, and I've been controlling you the whole time. Wanna kill your friends and join us?" Then the ending comes down to a stupid black-and-white moral choice system that gives the player complete freedom to choose what they want, and given how confused the average player must be at this point, my guess is they would side against Citra because the sudden and hastened decision to kill your friends, no matter how dumb they are, sounds incredibly stupid to the player who has a free choice not to take part. It's completely disingenuous and shoddily implemented.

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