Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?Vaas Montenegro
Some game franchises have a steady supply of good games before finally having a breakout hit. A game which stands up and demands people pay attention to it outside of its immediate fan base. This can be for many different reasons but usually it's because it is an excellent game. Call of Duty had Modern Warfare. Saints Row had Saints Row The Third. And now after a few good games in the Far Cry series people who aren’t already fans need to pay attention to Far Cry 3.
The story sees Jason and his friends captured by a group of pirates and after you manage to break free you are tasked with the almost impossible objective of saving your friends and getting the hell off this island. You as a player will be tested throughout in doing terrible things to save yourself and you will be made to question whether you are such a good guy after all. Themes such as insanity will be recurring and many twists will make you wonder if you can ever be the same again after such an experience.
I liked the story for the most part and how it challenges many perceived notions about what you are willing to do to survive in a bad place. I felt the story did drag in the middle and could have been tightened up for a shorter, more direct experience which I would have enjoyed more. Whilst not everything it tries it pulls off, enough of it works really well to create an engaging unique story for the player.
Whilst the story is interesting I can't really say the same for the characters. Outside of Vaas, one of the game's protagonists I really didn't think anyone stood out. Jason who you play as didn't make me care for the character and his safety at all and his friends all seemed incredibly generic and disposable. Vaas is good but I think the main reason he stands out is because every other character in the game just isn't that great. If everyone was as well acted and thought through as Vaas we could have have something incredible.
The missions structure is great with a nice variety of stealth, action and options of either which make the game anything but predictable. The game will frequently contain some crazy imagery through the protagonist hallucinating which makes for some unique settings and encounters. I wasn't expecting to fight giant crazy monsters and the colors and sounds present make it seem like an acid trip for the eyes. It never strays too far into the bizarre though and is never unnecessary to play through.
A nice game mechanic you will be introduced to straight away is how you level up to unlock new skills, weapons and gear which is really great and one of the best I've seen in this type of game. If you fancy hunting some animals, which you aren't forced to do, you will be rewarded with new gear such as being able to hold more weapons and ammo. Liberate outposts and you will unlock a new safe place to fast travel to and be able to buy new weapons and attachments. Climb a radio tower and you will be able to see the area more clearly on your map as well as get new weapons for free.
This progression system in this type of game is fantastic and made me want to do everything there was to do outside of the main story to get my character fully equipped for when I do start the actually story itself. It encourages you to explore the island without being too forceful like other games and strikes the perfect balance between rewarding the player but not making it too easy. More games should take note of this.
Hunting as I just mentioned is one of many different elements present in this game and I have to say it is one of my favorite parts of the entire game. Whether it was sniping sharks, blowing up tigers or knifing a tortoise only to immediately be filled with regret and vowing to never do it again, hunting was probably the most interesting part of Far Cry 3 for me. Accessing new upgrades was an integral reason for this in the beginning but I enjoyed it so much I found myself still taking on hunting quests for no reason other than the challenge of completing them. I wish it had played a bigger part in the game and I would be happy if the next game was just an open world hunting game with hundreds of animals to track down. It won't be but I would still play it.
Many twists will make you wonder if you can ever be the same again
The open world is incredibly well crafted and thought through with the map being big enough for you to explore but not too big that it feels ludicrous. Whether its liberating outposts and climbing radio towers like I mentioned earlier, or searching for relics there is a ton of content which makes the world seem like it is brimming with life and not just some dull place where a story is told. The side quests lack the imagination of many other parts of the game which is a shame but overall there is still a lot to keep players busy and it so well polished it makes for one of the more enjoyable open world experiences I've played in a while.
Controls are solid and the gameplay overall is very fun. The way you can change weapons and heal yourself quickly during firefights is very well thought out and put together and doesn't cause any problems at all. The AI of the enemies lays nicely between challenging enough to keep you thinking but not predictable so the game becomes boring. The driving mechanics are slightly odd but use of vehicles is so minimal it isn't cause for concern.
Graphically the game is very nice to look at due to the gorgeous environments and fantastic art style. I suffered only a couple of instances of texture popping but with no frame rate problems I found it to be a lovely looking game overall. Because the game looks so stunning it makes the appalling actions of the characters seem all the more awful. Great juxtaposition indeed.
Another thing I feel compelled to mention is the sound. The effects are solid with weapons, animals and enemies all sounding convincing but it's when the game uses licensed songs to fantastic effect that I really like. The opening of the game uses M.I.A's 'Paper Planes' to establish the sort of people the protagonists are and really stylizes the level of excess and carelessness present on the island.
My favorite however is during a mission that sees you burning down a field full of marijuana and as the fumes fill the air not only does your vision become distorted, but the sound of Skrillex and Damian Marley blasts through your speakers. Yes, it's silly. Yes, it's over the top. But I think it's awesome and is destined to be a cult favorite for many years to come.
The co-op in this game I found to be completely unnecessary and for the most part just awful. It takes out everything that makes the main game so great such as exploration, being able to play the game numerous different ways and the fun of each enemy encounter. Instead you get a completely sterile and boring set of 6 levels which challenge you to either carry an item to a certain point, fix a vehicle or just take down waves of enemies. If there was no achievements for this mode I would have given up almost immediately and it doesn't provide anything that isn't already done so much better in the game elsewhere.
I would be happy if the next game was just an open world hunting game with hundreds of animals
I appreciate when games include separate co-op only campaigns such as Portal 2 if it is done effectively but this mode is so bad I wish I hadn't wasted my time with it and somewhat soured my experience of the game. Having the option for a friend to join your main game and take out outposts together would have been great but really the game should have just been 100% single player. After this I didn't even try the multiplayer as I didn't buy this game to shoot other players in the face so I would say if it’s an open world exploration game you want to play with an intriguing premise, stick to the main story.
Another small issue I have with the game is load times. Due to the size of the map you will find yourself using the fast travel feature very often. It is implemented well as it doesn't force you to traverse huge areas of the world however it does suffer with quite long load times. I played the game with an installed disc on Xbox 360 and every time I used the feature the game would take up to ten seconds to load. It doesn't sound much but when you are using the feature many times it adds up and slightly takes you out of the experience. Not a huge problem but no doubt a flaw that you should be aware of.
The game is pretty long to fully complete but not a ridiculous length like some open world games. I managed to get all the achievements in about 23 hours which is quite reasonable and I don't think I'll revisit the game to get the remaining relics anytime soon. I would however like some DLC which many have expressed interest in, including a bizarre Dinosaur DLC. I would just like more reasons to explore such a well put together world and if that includes hunting velociraptor and tyrannosaurus rex, well that sounds good to me.
Small issues aside, Far Cry 3 is a fantastic game that I would recommend to people looking for a different kind of shooter. The open world is a breath of fresh air where most FPS are becoming more scripted and linear and even when the game does have some scripted sequences it doesn't become boring like recent games of the genre. The story isn't perfect but I commend them for trying to at least do something different and interesting which for the most part I think was a success. I really enjoyed my time and look forward to future installments which are hopefully being prepared right now. Thank you Far Cry 3, for the most messed holiday of my life.