Giant Bomb Review

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Far Cry 3 Review

5
  • X360
  • PS3
  • PC

Even when Far Cry 3's story eventually falls short of its promising start, you won't have as much fun hunting tigers, crashing hang gliders, and stabbing pirates in any other game.

So much mayhem awaits on this island. You have no idea.

Far Cry 3 takes the ambitious background mechanisms of the last Far Cry game--things like roaming wildlife and dynamic fire--and wraps an immensely fun and rewarding open-world game around them, set in one of the lushest jungle environments ever seen in a game. Far Cry 2 felt as much like an experiment in mashing together a handful of self-propelling simulations as it did a shipping product, but this third one is a real, honest-to-God video game that restrains those dynamics in the spots where they might infringe on the fun you're having roaming around a tropical island, taking over pirate outposts, hunting rare game, and crashing hang gliders into the sides of mountains. If you like shooters and open-world gameplay at all, you will have a lot of fun with all this.

The story mode has one of the strongest starts I can remember in years, as your prep-school party boy Jason and his idly rich friends skydive onto the wrong tropical paradise and get themselves kidnapped by pirates and slave traders. The short introduction is wonderfully effective at both making you resent the privilege of the protagonist and his ilk, and filling you with greater revulsion at their inhuman treatment by the psychopathic pirate leader Vaas. This guy is one of the most genuinely and believably chilling video game villains in ages, leading a cast made up of pretty colorful and well-acted characters who play out the struggle between the pirates and the native Rakyat people for control of Rook Island.

What follows is a lengthy campaign comprising Jason's attempt to ingratiate himself to the Rakyat and other influential figures on the island, in an effort to spring his friends from captivity and get the hell out of there. The succession of story missions presents an uneven mix of great outdoor setups--where the kind of unpredictable mayhem and destruction inherent to open-world games prevails--and a few too many basic corridor crawls, which end up feeling a bit like a slog and are not where this game excels. The best part of Far Cry 3 is when you're running around out there in that enormous open jungle environment, where just about anything can happen. With pirates, mercenaries, native rebels, and both docile and predatory animals all going about their business (and constantly getting in fights with each other), a host of controllable vehicles from ATVs to trucks to hang gliders, an entire arsenal of military-grade weapons hardware at your disposal, and the ability to set practically everything on fire, hilarious and unique events aren't just an occasional delight, they're the norm.

The free-form combat really encourages you to play the way you want.

Far Cry 3 takes some concepts whole cloth from other great open-world games like Assassin's Creed and Red Dead Redemption, but it's easy to look past the direct inspirations since the lifted elements just make this game way more fun. You'll need to climb and fix up a number of disabled radio towers, each of which acts as a unique platforming challenge unto itself, to reveal the surrounding map and side missions. Getting those transmitters back online also adds more guns to your ever-growing arsenal. Hunting and gathering herbs are important early-game activities, since you can craft the resulting items directly into better equipment and power-up items, and it's just fun to stalk your prey in the underbrush--and things get ridiculous quick when it turns out a tiger has been stalking you at the same time. There's even a leveling system and a full three-way skill tree that lets you spec out your character in ways that cater to the way you like to play. You'll probably end up with all the skills unlocked by the very end of the story, because Far Cry 3's prevailing ethos seems to be about making sure you're having fun in the open world as much as possible. All of these elements combine to give you a constant feedback loop of character progression that makes it really rewarding to get out there and do as much of this stuff as possible. Some of the formal side missions are pretty simplistic and don't stay entertaining for long, but there's so much else to do out there that you're not likely to get bored in this game.

Enemy-held checkpoints--one of the weakest points of Far Cry 2, due to their neverending stream of respawning enemies--become maybe the best part of Far Cry 3, since they're now a formal type of side mission. The enemy-tagging mechanic of the original Far Cry, and Crytek's subsequent efforts with the Crysis series, is especially useful here since you can now tag an enemy on the fly just by aiming at him for a second, and once he's tagged, you can see his movements clearly through walls. Each one of the roughly three-dozen outposts on the island thus becomes its own little self-contained combat puzzle, which you can approach from any angle and deal with however you want, whether by picking off enemies from a distance with a silenced sniper rifle, going in with a blaze of gunfire, or sticking the guards in the back with some amazingly fun combo takedown moves, better versions of which you unlock as you level up. There are even two levels of bonus experience if you manage to clear out an entire outpost without alerting anyone. Taking over outposts is one of the most interesting things to do in the game all the way up to the end, and they just get more satisfying the more special attacks you've unlocked.

It's a good thing Far Cry 3 gets so much mileage out of just about every aspect of its gameplay, because by the time the credits rolled I felt extremely let down by the squandered potential of the plot. At the outset, the game goes out of its way to stress what a pampered scaredy cat Jason is, but then never justifies why he's immediately able to skin animals, operate high-level military hardware, and gun down hundreds of soldiers like some kind of special forces survivalist. The game repeatedly relies on that tired old video game cop-out, the dream sequence, to avoid actually having to address major plot points, which usually leaves you asking "What the hell just happened?" But you never find out. And the story has a fundamental problem with momentum. There's a protracted sequence in the middle made up of repeated fetch quests, and the whole thing really starts to run out of steam in the last third or so, after it prematurely wraps up some story threads that should have formed the basis of the entire game right up to the climax. The only reason I care enough about the story's failures is because it's so darn good early in the game, and if it had matched that quality evenly through to the end, we'd probably be talking about this as one of the best games of this entire console generation.

You'd be surprised how often the wildlife does your job for you.

You sure can't accuse the game of lacking for content, though. In addition to the massive open-world story mode that you could spend dozens of hours in, there's a healthy suite of multiplayer modes too. The developers set out to include a full cooperative campaign that's more than a little similar to Left 4 Dead, right down to the four stereotypical characters (such as an Eastern European mobster and a Trainspotting-esque Scottish hoodlum) you can play as. There's a neat story justification for all this, with a lengthy CG cutscene setting the whole campaign up, and the things that happen in the co-op campaign tie into the world the game creates in a reasonably clever way.

The scenarios in the co-op campaign are linear, standard first-person shooter affairs that don't offer the sort of open, varied gameplay that the main campaign is so good at. You're basically moving from one area to the next, fighting off a bunch of enemies, and occasionally completing some objective. There's some amusing variety here and there, though, like a sequence where all four players are positioned up on a ledge and can only use an unlimited supply of grenades to take out a horde of enemies rushing in (and a player ranking afterward awards bonus experience based on how well you did). There's quite an elaborate loadout and class system here that lets you unlock not only new weapons and attachments but basic passive bonuses and even some team area-of-effect buffs like you'd see in an MMO. That leveling system also carries over to a perfunctory competitive multiplayer mode replete with its own leveling system, unlocks, and ability to prestige. It's fine that this mode is in here if you're really looking to wring as much time out of this game as you can, and there's even a pretty easy-to-use map editor in here if you want to make a map where you dig a big hole in the ground and fill it with sharks. But none of this stuff is required for me to recommend Far Cry 3. The game more than justifies its existence with the single-player mode alone.

The player progression makes it really satisfying to keep doing side activities and leveling up.

You'd be remiss when talking about Far Cry 3 not to mention how good this game looks on the PC, with the sort of DirectX 11 features that will stress any hardware currently on the market. I had plenty of those "Wow, games look like this now?" moments while creeping through the brush or sailing over the island on a hang glider. It also scales quite well; I was able to get perfectly acceptable performance out of my nearly three-year-old machine at home on above-average settings, though I was having so much fun with the game that I couldn't resist upgrading my video card just to max it out. The console versions retain a surprising amount of the PC version's fidelity, down to the density of the island's foliage and the shafts of sunlight peeking through tree branches, but they do so at a terrible cost to the frame rate. The game is generally playable, and if you haven't seen the PC version you won't know what you're missing, but with performance well below 30 frames per second that dips down to 20 or worse in the heaviest action, you shouldn't play this game on a console unless you have no other choice. Even a modestly equipped PC will offer a much better experience.

Ultimately, Far Cry 3 left me a little conflicted. It's a smartly designed open-world game with a ton of stuff to do, and the random acts of hilarity that occur out in the jungle will constantly leave you with unique stories you'll be desperate to tell your friends. If the story had made good on the strength of its initial premise, Far Cry 3 would have been shoo-in for best game of the year. As it stands, it's still the most fun I've had in an open world in ages, a game that plays so well and looks so good, I wish every other piece of it reached the same high bar. But you should play it anyway.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
186 Comments
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Posted by trolipo3

5 stars and the short descr is putting the game down.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

@smokyexe: I'd consider it a bigger spoiler if you told me he didn't.

Edited by phrosnite

Then again, you guys have forgotten that Brad rates fun in video games, not quality.

Anyways Far Cry 3 is apparently an awesome game, according to my bro, and the best game he has played this year. But he hasn't played Dark Souls because he doesn't like RPGs.

Posted by bkbroiler

@Little_Socrates said:

said:

If the story had made good on the strength of its initial premise, Far Cry 3 would have been shoo-in for best game of the year.

The Walking Dead for Giant Bomb's Game of the Year, everybody!

Yes, but TWD has some big technical hurdles to overcome that Brad has spoken of getting specifically. Also, I can see the argument against it of "how much of a game is it really?" Don't get me wrong, it might be my GOTY right now - maybe even story of the last 12 years - but I don't know if it's a shoe-in.

Posted by bkbroiler

@Krakn3Dfx said:

@smokyexe: I'd consider it a bigger spoiler if you told me he didn't.

Yes, but the manner in which he said it was even more spoilery. He said after he died - implying he dies partway through the game.

Posted by Little_Socrates

@bkbroiler said:

@Little_Socrates said:

said:

If the story had made good on the strength of its initial premise, Far Cry 3 would have been shoo-in for best game of the year.

The Walking Dead for Giant Bomb's Game of the Year, everybody!

Yes, but TWD has some big technical hurdles to overcome that Brad has spoken of getting specifically. Also, I can see the argument against it of "how much of a game is it really?" Don't get me wrong, it might be my GOTY right now - maybe even story of the last 12 years - but I don't know if it's a shoe-in.

...so XCOM or Journey for Giant Bomb's Game of the Year? I think TWD still has it, because it's enamored Ryan, Patrick, and Vinny pretty hardcore.

Also, what came out in 2000 that you're comparing it to? Deus Ex?

Posted by SpiderJerusalem

@Captain_Insano:

@Captain_Insano said:

@SpiderJerusalem said:

"If the story had made good on the strength of its initial premise, Far Cry 3 would have been shoo-in for best game of the year. As it stands, it's still the most fun I've had in an open world in ages, a game that plays so well and looks so good, I wish every other piece of it reached the same high bar. But you should play it anyway."

...Yet you gave the game a perfect score? The story stuff later in the game seemed to bother you quite a lot, at least enough to prevent you from giving the game five stars.

Sometimes I just don't understand you, Brad.

I feel that you (and many others) misunderstand GB's gaming system. 5/5 is not a 'perfect' score. It simply means that you should/must play that game. 4/5 means the game is pretty good and should play, 3/5 it's alright, you might want to play etc.

That's why I like and trust GB's rating system.

Fair enough. My main point was that the issues Brad apparently had with the game seemed significant enough to knock the score down a little.

But anyway, it's his review and I agree with a huge majority of it.

Edited by Krakn3Dfx

@bkbroiler said:

@Krakn3Dfx said:

@smokyexe: I'd consider it a bigger spoiler if you told me he didn't.

Yes, but the manner in which he said it was even more spoilery. He said after he died - implying he dies partway through the gaffme.

Maybe, but with most open world games, after you've resolved the storyline, you're then left to roam the world, finishing up side quests and stuff like that. I don't think you can read anything into that, it's the norm.

Even when it doesn't make any sense.

Posted by Encephalon

Bummer that the story stuff apparently doesn't pan out. I don't see anything that might draw me to this game other than it potentially getting crazy in the end, so I guess I can safely ignore it.

Posted by Triumvir

Interesting. Looks like another dumb ending for a video game story in a year of dumb endings for video game stories.

Anyway, good review and well-written, Brad. You definitely put this one on my radar.

Posted by xMEGADETHxSLY

Dont really want to play it on xbox but FUCKING MICROSOFT and their achievements.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

The most annoying this about this game to me personally is that I have a stack of over 10 skill points I can't use because I've ran around taking over outposts, activating towers, etc, and I can't use them because I have to do more main missions to unlock skills.

Admittedly, I have brought this on myself by avoiding playing the main game in favor of just dicking around, but I've never really had this issue in other open world games. Wanting to unlock a skill and having it tell me, "Do more missions to unlock this skill!" is kind of shitty IMO.

Still, love the game, probably my GotY at this point.

Posted by jsnyder82

Having a blast with this game so far. But oddly, the one thing I can't stop drooling over is how good the sky looks in this game. Seriously, during sunset, the clouds turn a beautiful pink color. It makes an already beautiful game that much more stunning.

Posted by AlKusanagi

Just from the first five minutes alone, you couldn't pay me enough to play this game. I do not tolerate brotacity on that level, even if it's supposed to be ironic.

Posted by kalmis

Really need to buy this game now!

Posted by bogusdd

God Far Cry 2 and its endless enemies

I still love it though

Posted by PhilipDuck

Couldn't agree more with Brad on this review, It is a shame when the story begins to die I'm going through that point now but the overall game makes up for that, my GOTY.

Posted by doobie

@Encephalon said:

Bummer that the story stuff apparently doesn't pan out. I don't see anything that might draw me to this game other than it potentially getting crazy in the end, so I guess I can safely ignore it.

so you just play games for the story then?

Posted by JasonLeeson

Dammit Brad! Now I really don't know what to play this on. PC specs..

  • i3 530
  • HD 6570 (2GB)
  • 12GB RAM

    Anyone? Shall I go for it?
Edited by Encephalon

@doobie said:

@Encephalon said:

Bummer that the story stuff apparently doesn't pan out. I don't see anything that might draw me to this game other than it potentially getting crazy in the end, so I guess I can safely ignore it.

so you just play games for the story then?

I wouldn't say that.

If you must know, I typically don't find the base mechanics of the shooter--that is, getting a bead on a dude and pulling the trigger--to be fun. So yes, with games of this type, I play them mostly for non-mechanical elements, such as story.

Posted by Phatmac

It seems pretty flawed so I don't understand the 5 star score. It really doesn't matter that much to me as I'll be playing it for sure.

Edited by ArtisanBreads

@Phatmac said:

It seems pretty flawed so I don't understand the 5 star score. It really doesn't matter that much to me as I'll be playing it for sure.

The story peetering out at the end isn't "pretty flawed" to me. There are very few games that have good endings. Hardly any really. And most don't have a good story at all.

If this has some legitimately awesome story moments then it has beaten most games.

Posted by bkbroiler

@Little_Socrates said:

@bkbroiler said:

@Little_Socrates said:

said:

If the story had made good on the strength of its initial premise, Far Cry 3 would have been shoo-in for best game of the year.

The Walking Dead for Giant Bomb's Game of the Year, everybody!

Yes, but TWD has some big technical hurdles to overcome that Brad has spoken of getting specifically. Also, I can see the argument against it of "how much of a game is it really?" Don't get me wrong, it might be my GOTY right now - maybe even story of the last 12 years - but I don't know if it's a shoe-in.

...so XCOM or Journey for Giant Bomb's Game of the Year? I think TWD still has it, because it's enamored Ryan, Patrick, and Vinny pretty hardcore.

Also, what came out in 2000 that you're comparing it to? Deus Ex?

I think it's a toss up still. I bet XCOM, Far Cry, and TWD will be the front-runners. I'm not sure about Journey... how did Vinny and Jeff feel about it?

I said 12 years because I was going to say decade, and then realized that didn't mean much, so just added in this decade plus the last one. Off the top of my head, I would say TWD is my favorite video game story since... Grim Fandango maybe? There's not much competition.

Posted by phrosnite

@JasonLeeson said:

Dammit Brad! Now I really don't know what to play this on. PC specs..

  • i3 530
  • HD 6570 (2GB)
  • 12GB RAM

    Anyone? Shall I go for it?

People still buy ATI video cards?

Posted by OleMarthin

@Lumley: i have played the 360 game and it is fine, not as good looking or as high framerate as the pc, but it looks good for a console game. the framerate is a bit low but it i stable so it's not a huge problem.

Posted by SystemActive

The characters and game play seem VASTLY improved over the second one after watching the quicklook here. I got bored halfway through the second one and never went back. Sure it looked awesome but it lacked any meaning to keep going on... Great review though,I'll be sure to pick this one for sure on the PC... Screw my 360 I don't want frame rate drops that destroys a game for me...

Posted by gamefreak9

I gotta say the review sounds like a 4star. What happened to not making 5 star ratings casual? I don't think this game is "groundbreaking". Its just excellent

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

Well, I was planning on buying it...or at least planning on paying attention to if I should buy it since last e3. It is good to hear it rose to almost reach its potential. I have this on my Christmas list, and will wait to see if I get it mostly so people have SOMETHING to buy me, but I will get it nevertheless.

Posted by Shaunage

I really enjoyed it. The open world stuff is so good that I agree it's still a 5-star even with a mildly disappointing story.

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

I fricken love this game, the few out of body experiences I have had so far have been visually stunning, it's like they were directed by Christopher Nolan. The Characters, Dialogue, Graphics, Side Missions, Crafting, Stealth Gameplay, Fire Physics, Shooting, Hang Gliding, Jet Skiing, Shark Fighting, I haven't had this much fun in a game since Skyrim. Been slowly going though the story doing all the radio towers then taking over the camps has been great, ever go in stealth for extra XP or just throw a molotov from afar and watch it burn and then times the crazy by 2 when I shoot the Bear cage and the Bear does the rest of the work. This is my kind of game, open world approach a situation how you want, really filled the void that I had with no Bethesda RPG out this year gave me. Easily my unexpected GOTY. Only thing it's missing is the physical map that Far Cry 2 had.

Edited by Bourbon_Warrior

@Mijati said:

Might have to pick this up once I get a new graphics card at the end of the month, luckily around the time of steam sales so might even be able to pick it up a bit cheaper than full price.

The 7950 which was rated very high on the benchmark for Far Cry 3 on Max Settings is $300 and comes with Far Cry 3, Hitman Absolution, Medal of Honor 2 and Sleeping Dogs. Thats like $170 of games free with a $300 GPU.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202006

Posted by ThePickle

Want to play this just for Vaas.

Posted by super_machine

I hope this makes up for the awful far cry 2. I have this pre-ordered on Steam ready to play on my PC. I can't wait to get home :)

Posted by UberExplodey

I want to play this but I still haven't busted open my steam copy of Just Cause 2.

Posted by kingofpeanuts

From what I have heard about the story I don't think I will play this. The first person I would shoot in the game would be the character you play as.

Posted by Yanngc33

DAMN YOU FINALS, DAMN YOU!

Edited by Bourbon_Warrior

@bkbroiler said:

@Little_Socrates said:

said:

If the story had made good on the strength of its initial premise, Far Cry 3 would have been shoo-in for best game of the year.

The Walking Dead for Giant Bomb's Game of the Year, everybody!

Yes, but TWD has some big technical hurdles to overcome that Brad has spoken of getting specifically. Also, I can see the argument against it of "how much of a game is it really?" Don't get me wrong, it might be my GOTY right now - maybe even story of the last 12 years - but I don't know if it's a shoe-in.

God I hope not, some bad gameplay with some cheap story telling, I hope this isn't the best 2012 has to offer. I liked the story but cmon GOTY, get out.

Posted by Tsuchikage

It's a shame that the story didn't turn out better, but Far Cry 3 still looks absolutely incredible. This looks like a strong Game of the Year contender to me.

Posted by tourgen

GOTY

suck it all you E3 Far Cry 3 haters

Posted by Paindamnation

Game rocks. But once you beat it, don't have much incentive to go back. But definitely a top game experience,.

Posted by upwarDBound

I was going to play Far Cry 3 regardless of the the quality of its story. I've got other avenues to take in a good tale. I only have games to do fun and ridiculous things in a virtual world.

Edited by Bourbon_Warrior

@xMEGADETHxSLY said:

Dont really want to play it on xbox but FUCKING MICROSOFT and their achievements.

I know right, the new Xbox needs to be out NOW! so I can have Graphics and Achievements. My Gamerscore has hardly changed this year with me playing all the games on PC and don't realy have any incentive to do all the crazy side missions, was having a look at the Xbox achievements aswell, looks like the kind of list I can get into.

Posted by JoelTGM

I've just started out, done a couple story missions, but now I'm just exploring and doing random missions. It's so much fun. I like open world games for the random stuff that happens, like when a jeep of bad guys saw me and started chasing me. I drove over a hill and then suddenly realized there was a cliff so I jumped out in time, but the bad guys just drove off and all died.

Posted by zombie2011

Been playing the game for a while and yeah the SP is fun, but the MP is really boring, the maps all look the same and it's just not that entertaining.

Posted by peterpasinili007

Glad I have it.

Posted by Sunjammer

Silly people buy single player games and whine about the multiplayer. Silly, silly people.

Posted by Droop

Woah 5 stars? Did not expect that. Been enjoying the game and spending a lot of time on it, but the more I play the more boring it gets. Not enough to do in the world and feels super empty.

Posted by billyhoush

I hope there are performance patches for the consoles. Regardless, I'm getting this on PS3 even if it turns out to be a slide show.

Posted by outerabiz

Sam is underrated, he was by a fair margin my favorite character in this game. But yeah, the perfomance they get out of Michael Mando for Vaas is amazing. Those Dream sequence boss fights are the worst cop out this year, especially because they seem to be hinting total recall, and they deliver a reverse George of the Jungle! Where is the ubisoft that brought us insane space mayans, and tinfoil conspiracy in our history simulators?

Posted by Roodog

I really like this game..it's like a bit of Skyrim with guns..and I love Skyrim!

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