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Far Cry 3 Review – A Descent Into Insanity

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Have I ever told you the definition of insanity?

Hands down the best game I’ve played all year, Far Cry 3 improves on everything that was great with the last game; all the while incorporating successful and proven game loops (mechanics) from open-world titles like Assassin’s Creed and  Red Dead Redemption to create a seamless game world as well as a story that  grabs players by the throat and never lets go, even after the game ends.

During a fun, responsibility-free vacation with his girlfriend, friends, and brothers, Far Cry 3’s protagonist Jason Brody gets captured by vicious slave-trading pirates. Led by the psychotic Vaas, these violent thugs separate Jason from his friends and force him to defend himself against his insane capturer and his crew whilst doing everything he can to survive not only the dangers of the island, but the local tribes and gangs within it.

It’s a simple hook, yet it’s also a perfect case study of the extremes humans are capable of doing for their loved ones. It’s not just another run-of-the-mill action filler, it’s a story of a man forced to rely on his most primal, predatory instincts to survive and save the lives of his friends and family in this island where kill-or-be-killed is a way of life.

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I spent most of the game wanting to make Vaas pay in painful, brutal ways.

One of the key components to Far Cry 3’s success is that the island (all 20 sq. km. of it) never gets boring. In addition to the insane 14-mission campaign, there are hundreds of collectibles, side-missions, and combat missions that promotes exploration. Unlike Far Cry 2 where you could drive for long stretches without any events, Far Cry 3 has something to do at almost every part of the island.

There’s a real sense of progression from everything you do; every story mission, side-mission, hunting, and collectibles have an overall effect on your progression as a warrior be it through skills unlocked, weapons upgraded, even to the number of enemies encountered on the island. Like Ubisoft’s own Assassin’s Creed franchise, there’s a big focus on liberating enemy strongholds and antennas (synchronization in AC), as well as exploration. The more stronghold and antennas you liberate, the stronger your influence becomes. That means less enemies, more weapons unlocked, and more collectible/hunting locations revealed.

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There’s a variety of weapons to choose from; some great for firefights, others for stealth.

Combat has also been much improved since over Far Cry 2. Weapons have heft and feel powerful; with each firearm having its own characteristics, attachments, and cutsom paint jobs. AK-47’s have more stopping power (espeically with the Heavy Barrel attachment) but it’s got a strong kickback that diminishes it’s accuracy. On the other hand, the recurve bow is quiet and deadly, but a pain to reload. It then becomes key to plan on which weapons to bring before each mission. For example, strongholds that have heavy-armored personnel can’t be taken down using the recurve bow, so it’s best to carry a light machine-gun like the U100 or the MKG. When surrounded by squads of pirates (who work together to flank you) choosing the right weapon for each situation can keep you alive.

Another subtle addition to the series is the ability to fire behind cover, behind low boxes, sandbags and more. It’s fluid, works well without being slow and annoying (like in Killzone) and almost never clunky. This is especially helpful for players who prefer using stealth tactics over using firearms. And speaking of stealth, Jason can take out his opponents from the shadows, from behind bushes, from a hang-glider, from ziplines and more. The more you take out opponents in silent and vicious manners, the more experience you get for brutal takedowns. For example, Jason can sneak up behind someone, stab him, and then take his machete and throw it between another one’s eyes.

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You’ll relish each hunt, and every kill. It helps that the takedowns are satisfyingly brutal.

Again, the game gives you the choice on how to go about each mission, you can use stealth and quietly take out everyone or you could go in guns blazing. A number of times, I snuck up on a sentry manning a DsHK emplacement and quietly stabbed him in the back. Then I grabbed his knife and threw it against the guy closest to him. Once they were both out, I grabbed the DsHK emplacement and eliminated everyone before they could turn on the alarm and call for reinforcements.

They were all dead before they knew I was there.

The thing was, like Jason, I had started loving the hunt and relished every kill. It was a shock to me, seeing the extreme violent imagery and the pirates’ viciousness as the game began. Yet the more of them I killed, the more I became like them. Like I said earlier in the review, Jason’s journey is a great case study about discovering one’s darkness and how far one can go to protect himself and the people he loves.

One tiny issue I had with stealth wasn’t with the mechanics themselves, it was more how some missions force you to use stealth without using takedowns to avoid detection. This becomes difficult because either there’s too many enemy units that have unstable patterns, or the distraction mechanics are hit or miss. Once the enemy sees you, it’s back to the last checkpoint.

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Coop eschews the open-world for linear, action-packed missions.

Finally, there are the Coop and competitive online modes. Both are great features that add more bang to your buck. But they’re not as good as the single-player campaign. In Coop, groups of up to four players can work together on a number of linear missions, with ever-increasing enemies and difficulty. It’s a fun romp, especially when you’re playing with friends, but anything less than three players make missions incredibly difficult since the game asks you and your team for too much while throwing waves of opponents at you.

Competitive multiplayer includes features like the perks that players have been accustomed to in other shooters, unlocks, tattoo creator, and a good number of modes. The most interesting feature that Far Cry 3 does have over other shooters is it’s incredibly deep Map Editor. So far I’ve played original maps as well as ones modeled after popular maps from Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, and even D-Day from Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.

TECHNICAL PRESENTATION

AUDIO – Audio presentation was interesting to say the least. Sound effects felt right, guns were loud and powerful, and the island’s various sounds helped immerse me in it’s world. However, music (especially dubstep) felt really out of place and annoyed me to no end. It was so annoying in fact that I just turned off the music in the options menu to save myself from more punishment. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some dubstep, but it’s so out of place in Far Cry 3. And don’t get me started on annoying humming sound in the map and pause menu. I dare you to try wearing Pro-gaming headsets with that. UGH.

GRAPHICS – Far Cry 3’s graphics is top-notch. Gone are the drab and uninteresting color palette from Far Cry 2, replaced with  an abundance of greenery, white sands, and beautiful clear bodies of water that really drives the island’s vacation-destination look. Draw distance is quite far, even on consoles. I did have a small issue with rain and storm effects; looking up at the sky doesn’t blur Jason’s eyesight like it does when travelling on water. A weird oversight seeing as Far Cry 3 is a game that prides itself with an eye for incredible detail.

PROS:

+Excellent story and memorable characters
+ Satisfying combat
+ Amazing graphics/immersive location
+ Great number of choices on tackling firefights and missions
+ Unpredictable world and enemies

CONS:

– Annoying dubstep
– Coop can be annoyingly difficult with less than 3 people

FINAL THOUGHTS

Behind the idyllic paradise, the island’s reality was a lawless land that was the perfect background for an adventure as insane as its residents. During my extended stay on Rook Island, I never got bored, never ran out of things to do and enemies to kill. And as much as I dislike myself for it, I enjoyed playing and experiencing Jason’s journey from a good person to a deadly animal. One that has no qualms with the massacre of hundreds to protect himself and his friends.

Far Cry 3 is the best game I’ve played all year. It’s also one of the best looking games on console and on PC. Highly recommended!

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About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming. http://jtmgames.com/

Posted on December 29, 2012, in Game Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. i think one of my favorite parts of the far cry franchise is how creative you can get with your kills. one of my favorite tricks in FC3 is to plant some mines on the road just outside a camp, strap some c4 to the jeep I’m driving, drive at top speed and jump out of the moving vehicle before it gets into the camp then blow the jeep up taking out a few of the armed guards, then i start running down the road avoiding the mines and watch as they either run or drive over them….of course they always sound the alarm but i created a good deal of havoc that feels amazing!

  2. also….just a little fun fact….the flare gun is the most powerfull gun in the game….takes down any animal with one shot and can take down waves of enemies like nothing!!

  1. Pingback: Best of 2012: Canadian Edition – Best Overall Shooter « JTM GAMES

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