I’ve been playing Far Cry 3 (FC3) from Ubisoft since it was released and I’m very impressed. I mean really, it’s rare for a game to come along and take some of the best ideas from other titles and successfully meld them into a cohesive story. While Far Cry3 isn’t perfect (almost), it sets the bar for what a developers should strive for when creating a gaming experience. This is also a long adventure with a ton of replay value to keep you coming back for more.
Unlike the unnamed African country in Far Cry 2, Far Cry 3 takes place on the Rook Islands. It a set of tropical islands in a far off place where people go to get away from civilization, explore, and (unfortunately for our protagonist Jason Brody and friends) get kidnapped by the craziest pirate I’ve seen in a game in a while. What starts as a vacation with a group of friends clubbing, diving, and skydiving quickly turns into a nightmare of pain, blood, and revenge.
Pirates want to extort money from the parents of the groups’ survivors and then sell them again into slavery once they have the money. Jason and his brother escape the pirates and make for the jungle. Along the way Jason becomes injured and wakes up under the care of Dennis Rogers, a friend of the local Rakyat tribe. He acts as your guide through Rook Island.
Far Cry 3 is an open world adventure and it’s hugely open. It reminds me of Skyrim as far as the sheer scope of the terrain. See the mountain in the distance? You can walk there, drive, swim, boat, and even zip line from the top of one of the many radio towers you need to activate to get there. If walking the lush jungle isn’t your idea of fun you can also fast travel to any outposts you have liberated.
To broaden the map and make things more accessible there are outposts and radio towers to clear/activate. When activated, radio towers will highlight the surrounding areas so you can see terrain, objectives, and even improves items in the shop at cleared outposts. Outposts are scattered throughout the islands and are controlled my enemy factions. To clear an outpost you simply have to eliminate the enemy presence within. Once eliminated the outpost becomes populated with friendlies so you can use it as a fast travel location and resupply depot. In terms of clearing hostiles FC3 gives you lots of options for combat. You can run into an outpost guns blazing or revert to stealth tactics. You can take guards out with a silenced weapon (sniper or bow) from ¼ of mile away, use foliage for cover, lure guards to brutal takedown kills, or use my personal favorite… animals.
That’s right; Rook Island is full of wildlife. They took a page from Red Dead Redemption and Assassin’s Creed 3 and implemented a hunting scheme to level up and make money. Not only can you take the skins from the animals you’ve downed and trade for money, but also the skins themselves are requirements for crafting new equipment belts. You can equip up to 4 weapons and 2 different explosive types but to be able to do so you need to craft holsters to carry additional weapons. The further along the progression the more rare the animal hides needed to improve your holsters, weapons pouches, and syringe packs. The animals vary from chickens all the way to bull sharks. The animals are no push overs either, and will sometimes turn the tables on you when you least expect it.
I was trying to take down an outpost and was hiding in the bushes about 30 meters away from a target when I started hearing a hissing noise. Thinking it was just amazing audio from the surrounding jungle I continued to stalk my prey. After a second it started getting louder, and I wondered what was going on? Right about then is when 4 komodo dragons ambushed me. Dead. Respawn. That’s when I started thinking. I restarted and began looking for my dragon friends. I was about to give up when a rather large leopard caught my attention. I loosed an arrow in his direction and turned tail for my target outpost. I’m not sure what surprised the NPC’s more; me sprinting headfirst into a bunch of guys, or the REALLY mad cat that laid waste to the guards and their dogs. Outpost cleared.
On top of the crafting gear you can also make syringes, which are constructed from the various colored plants all over the island (think Resident Evil herbs). As you progress you unlocking recipes to help with exploration, combat, and even wildlife.
All of this part of a very lengthy single player campaign. With that in mind, there is also a co-op campaign, AND a multi-player aspect. The co-op is pretty well done and tells a separate story with different characters. You can join with up to three friends or three strangers. The multi-player is rough if you’re coming in as a level 1, but I noticed if you play co-op with your friends the XP carries over to your multi-player session. That way you can level up your perks and get unlocks prior to joining up with live folks online. The multi-player is your typical Call of Duty style maps and game modes. That being said the multi-player is a bit laggy and the audio reminds me of the issues from BattleField 2, lots of microphone crackling and popping and if a person quits it will reset the match. One nice thing about multi-player is the kill cam, instead of watching whoever killed you again; you get to see a 3rd person representation of your character (frame by frame) getting struck by the rounds that killed you and the trajectory they entered and exited.
I could go on and on. Far Cry 3 is one of my nominees for Game Of The Year and is technically a pretty impressive achievement. The audio is authentic, the visuals on the island are breathtaking, and the open world freedom to just go and do what you want is refreshing. With all the linear, stale, First Person Shooter adventures out there you should take a vacation… and this gamer knows of a good island.