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Far Cry 3 Review

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On 12/27/2012 at 12:00 PM by Travis Hawks

The douche bag sim you never knew you wanted.

For fans of open-world games, first person shooters, RPGs, or… anyone. Note that the Mature rating is there for a reason.

I never expected to become so enamored with a game where you inhabit the body of the hugest douche bag to ever visit the South Pacific, but it happened.  After suffering through a fairly irritating opening sequence, you eventually find that you are free to explore the Rook Islands at whatever pace you desire.  In some of my early self-paced explorations, I decided to stealthily capture an enemy outpost.  Hiding in the bushes and taking stock of what foes lay within the compound, I heard the loud roar of a tiger that charged into the outpost and slaughtered everyone inside while my knife and gun remained completely unused.  I conquered that outpost by letting the game’s systems collide and work in my favor.  These types of situations happen continuously in Far Cry 3 and whether they were to my benefit or demise, it’s always a blast to witness.  It’s these interacting systems that make Far Cry 3 a special experience that is worth playing, despite the grating narrative.

Apparently, the story’s writer had every intention of making some decent points according to a recent interview, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have to spend a huge amount of time inhabiting the body of a realistically repugnant individual, Jason Brody.  Thankfully, the glimpses into the perspective of this complete ass are confined to cutscenes that won’t interfere with your roaming around the islands or with the actual activities in the story’s missions.  These two elements are crafted so well that it makes the whole thing worthwhile. 

Far Cry 3 blends shooters, RPGs, and sandbox games in a logical way that allows for stealthy attacks on enemies, gathering doo-dads for the locals, exploring underwater caves just to see what’s in there, and crafting new weapon holsters.  The foundational combat mechanics are certainly up to snuff, and allow for enough notable improvement in your abilities with each weapon upgrade to motivate you into trying new firearms.  Buying the higher level large machine gun is worth the cash, as the improvements in sights and lethality are easily noticed.  You’ll also be able to upgrade your ability to shoot from the hip and other useful combat enhancements with the game’s skill tree that adds more incentive to go on a few more side quests to gain XP.

You gain XP with every kill, be it when charging into enemy encampments or quietly assassinating patrolling guards, but there are also a host of typical RPG side quests that pop up around the islands as well.  These are mainly enjoyable because they give you a reason to poke around the environs with a bit of purpose while giving you some more XP to cash in on skills to boot.  There are plenty of other activities outside of those vanilla RPG quests, though, like using a variety of vehicles to deliver medical supplies over some dodgy roads and assassinating key targets with just a knife.  Sure these are pretty gamey things to be doing, but it’s important to realize that Far Cry 3 is a gamey game and you’re just going to have to accept this fact to enjoy it. 

It’s easy to get distracted by things like gun vending machines and obnoxious pop-ups about worthless info (like crab facts), but if you can ignore those egregious examples, you’ll have an easier time accepting the more important leaps of faith like the fact that your character went from spoiled white dude to efficient killing machine in a five minute span.  Your ability to skin any animal in about five seconds and craft ammo pouches instantly feel just as unbelievable as in any RPG where you might do similar things, but just like in those games, this keeps you from being bored with the realities of mundane activities.  The reason these unbelievable details might grate a bit more here than in other games is that the interacting A.I. systems of the humans and animals in the environment are so intriguing and feels realistic enough that your brain starts to think the whole affair is a good simulation.  But reminding yourself that it’s all just a game helps you dig in and appreciate what all of the different interacting systems are going to do next. 

When you tackle the actual campaign, the missions are a fun roller coaster ride in the vein of many current shooters.  There is some leeway to tackle situations in different ways, but there’s typically one main avenue to approach the goal.  This never bothered me much since I was getting my free will workouts in during my independent exploration of the islands. 

The missions do have the cutscenes that are by far the worst part of the entire package, with the only other really bothersome bits being quick time events.  Some of the QTEs in the game require extremely precise timing with no second chances and repeat tries require you to listen to any and all dialog over and over again.  A few of these got really tiresome as I set to memorize each button press in a scene after dying almost every time a new one was revealed and I missed pressing it by an undetectable margin.

The missions provide a nice curated journey alternative to the free-roaming exploration that helps keep either from becoming tiresome.  I appreciated that once iniating a mission (story or side quests) I was forced to complete that task or actively abandon it in the menu before just goofing around more and thus avoided my Skyrim problem where I never really accomplished anything.

While spending close to thirty hours in the game, it was easy to notice some technical niggles that can’t be overlooked.  The loading screens are too long, which is especially bothersome when repeating those QTE sections over and over.  There are also occasional problems with locking on to a fallen animal or enemy when you want to take their loot.  This causes a lot of futzing to eventually pick up eight bucks and a meth pipe.  The saving system is also a little strange at times, with auto-saves sometimes returning you to a location and finding that even though your ammo is depleted all the bad guys you already killed have respawned.  None of these issues became overly frustrating to me, but if one of them is your particular pet peeve, you’ve been warned.   

In addition to the solo exploration and campaign there are multiplayer and co-op features included too.  The multiplayer games are well made, although the game types are limited to team-based zone attack/defense types that only vary in the particulars.  There are your typical XP gathering and weapon unlocking mechanics too with nothing particularly notable about any of it except that you are battling on scenic Pacific island maps. 

There’s also the ability to create your own multiplayer maps that can make it into the online rotation which will undoubtedly keep the variety up for dedicated players.  The map editor works really well, even for a rube like me who typically dislikes doing these types of things with a controller.  You should definitely buy Far Cry 3 for the single player game, but if you passed on all of the other similar multiplayer games out right now, it will probably help you get your fix.   The same can be said for the co-op maps, that have you and three other players (friends or match-made) battling through missions similar to the on-rails experiences found in the solo campaign.  These can also be a good time, but feel simply like a sideshow to the dynamic world you get to explore on your lonesome in the main game.

So, please, try to ignore that you will be playing as a complete tool and that you will be watching some uncomfortable moments involving first-person sexing.  Try to enjoy everything else about a game that’s a generally great accomplishment.  Just push those cutscenes out of your brain and hop into the nearest jalopy, cruise across the one-lane island roads, and find that next outpost to overtake with your RPG and flame thrower… or maybe just your knife this time.  This is the key to happiness in the Rook Islands of Far Cry 3.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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