Usually game publishers make a big effort to have their big AAA titles released before the Thanksgiving holiday break to catch the huge Black Friday sales. If they can’t make the date, then you’ll often see them push the game out a few months, usually to March. Ubisoft had confidence in their critically acclaimed Far Cry franchise and decided to release their highly anticipated Far Cry 3 game on December 4th. It turned out to be the last killer AAA game of 2012.
I’ve been a fan of the Far Cry games from the first title. As a console gamer, I remember at the time the first Far Cry game was released on PCs, making me wish I had a PC to play it. I waited until they eventually released it for the original XBOX and since then have played through each release on consoles. Each offer a fun campaign, and with the last two, a great sense of freedom and immersion unlike any other first person shooter.
For those who have never played a Far Cry game before, they are open world sandbox first person shooters, the original set in a tropical island environment, two was set in the African landscapes, and now the third returning to tropical islands. The first Far Cry and Far Cry Instincts, and Instincts Predator the main protagonist got special feral abilities that dramatically improved your strength and senses to give you the upper hand against the islands mercenaries and mutants. In Far Cry 2 and 3, the feral abilities are gone in exchange for a realistic approach of using syringes that not only heal you but provide various enhancements for a limited time.
You are given the freedom to do missions or simply go off and explore or cause mayhem.
Ubisoft heeded the complaints gamers had with the ambitious Far Cry 2, they made tweaks and adjustments to the gameplay to make Far Cry 3 a fantastic game. Gone are the respawning enemy camps, degrading weapons, and malaria illness. While I didn’t mind the weapons breaking down from rust and wear, or managing the malaria illness with pills, the respawning enemy camps were a pain. Now when you clear out a camp, it becomes a friendly camp and you can fast travel to it as well as stock up on ammunition and weapons.
The diverse tropical island setting provides a vast playground to explore and cause chaos. Environments include lush green jungles, mountain ranges with spectacular 360° views, swampy grasslands, deep dark caves, to rich sandy white beaches. All surrounded by crystal clear blue waters filled with sea life including predator sharks. The whole island is living and breathing, you could sit still at any location and simply observe life going by as locals go about their daily lives and the wildlife, including exotic animals passing by and look for food.
But don’t sit still for too long, as chances are you’ll get spotted by some of the wild animals that will look at you as their next meal. Many times I got completely caught off guard and surprised as I was getting attacked and bitten by snakes, rabid dogs, tigers, leopards, bears, and komodo dragons. If your swimming in the ocean, good chance you’ll get attacked by a huge shark, then if your swimming in the many rivers or lagoons, you could easily be attacked by crocodile. They will scare the crap out of you as your survival instincts feverishly kick in to kill the predators attacking you.
The natural wildlife added so much realism, it heightened your senses to always be aware of your surroundings.
Part of the gameplay requires you to hunt animals to craft things like bigger a back pack, wallet, gun holster, ammo pouch and others to allow you to carry more weapons, money, and items. You’ll find yourself hunting a lot early in the game to be able to maximize your characters items. In addition to hunting the animals, plants are harvested to craft syringes that can heal you and give you special enhanced abilities such as making you resistant to fire, improve your senses, and allow you to hold your breath underwater for longer periods of time. The latter of which is helpful when diving to loot chests from sunken ships on the ocean floor.
Peppered throughout the two big islands there are rebel camps, old war bunkers, caves, ruins, and towns to take over, discover, and explore. Most interconnected with pathways and roads. You can travel around on jeeps, ATVs, boats, jet skis, and hang gliders or on foot. Once you make it to the second island you get a wing suit and parachute which allows for some really fun opportunities to fly from the top of an island mountain to the bottom.
Story and Characters
Have I ever told you the definition of insanity? This is the foundation of the story and a few of the main characters in Far Cry 3. The game features an great story and unforgettable cast of characters with one of the best and most believable villains I’ve seen in a while in video game stories. The premise is that your on vacation with your family and friends when you get captured by the islands pirates and put into the slave trade. The story unfolds as you manage to escape and throughout the campaign try to free your friends and get back home. Your forced to take action and do things you would have never dreamed of doing in order to save your family and friends.
Alright, the thing is: I killed you once already… and it’s not like I am fucking crazy. – Vaas
From your first interaction with Vaas as you start this journey you are distraught by how insane he truly is, I only wish that there was more of him in the game. Every time you’d get caught by him and escape, you would be taunting his ego and making the next interaction with him all the more disturbing. You could see and feel the insanity building up in him as your uncanny ability to escape and survive while slow screwing up his operation. It made for one of the more memorable characters in a video game. The rest of games characters are equally unique and strong, especially Vaas‘s sister Citra, who seduces you.
Throughout the islands there are radio towers that you are required to climb up and remove a radio jamming device to expose new ares of the map, similar to Assassin’s Creed lookout points. There are tons of relics and chests to gather and loot which encourages exploring every nook and cranny of the islands. These combined with the islands caves, lagoons, and ruins, makes exploration and discovery a fun part of the gameplay.
I often found myself going off to discover more of the island instead of doing the missions.
The game leaves it up to you on how you want to tackle each situation. You can go in guns blazing, use explosives, you can start a small brush fire and let the fire burn and distract enemies while you take them out from behind, or you can snipe the enemies from a distance picking them off one-by-one as they helplessly wonder where your hiding. Sometimes a camp would have a wild animal caged, like a tiger, snipping the cage lets the tiger out causing it to attack and kill the enemies, sometimes clearing out an entire camp for you. This method was always fun watch. You’re given the freedom to do it how you want.
I tended to go more of the stealth route using a silenced sniper while hiding in bushes at a distance. However one of the fun new mechanics in Far Cry 3 is the gruesome takedowns. This is when you can sneak up on an enemy and drive your knife through them. As you leveled up you gained the ability to chain takedowns together making you feel super powerful. By the latter third of the game I had switched to going for a full chaos mode and I would sneak in and place mines or C4 explosives and watch patrols explode while the rest of the camp would panic in fear. Or I would use combo of rocket launcher and a bombardment of grenades to just blow them to pieces.
The story based missions were more linear and offered different locations and pace which helped to keep things fresh and new from the open islands. Most of the levels from the story missions were well designed and entertaining, often feeling like big action movie set pieces, including a few drug induced levels tossed in to keep with the insanity theme.
Far Cry 3 made for one hell of a fun ride. As usual, Ubisoft did not disappoint here. The massive game is well done and a blast to play. My only real complaint is that by the time you clear the island and story, your left with an all friendly island. I think it would have been nice if the pirate rebels would try to take back some of the camps, or something that would bring them back to keep.
Maybe adding in a new game plus mode because I’ve been thinking about starting the game over again, or maybe startup the massive Far Cry 2 game again. I suppose the idea is that one would transition into the games multiplayer mode to keep the action going. I did complete the co-op campaigns which are pretty fun, it offers a different yet parallel story, but I haven’t dived into the multiplayer or map extensive editor yet. The Far Cry games are known for having a killer map editor to create your own levels and share them with the gaming community. Never the less, this was a fun ride and I look forward to Far Cry 4 on the next generation consoles.
Wingsuit Ground Surfing
The one thing that I have been doing since completing the game is a lot of wingsuit ground surfing and flying. This is the first game to capture the feeling of flying with a wingsuit. You climb to the highest point on the islands jump off and fly down to the bottom, it’s a rush. The only thing I wish there was an option to turn off all the HUD and prompts to make it truly immersive. Check out this impressive video.
Video: Far Cry 3 Wingsuit Ground Surfing
Video: Far Cry 3 Launch Trailer
Far Cry 3 Resources
- Far Cry 3 on Amazon
- Official Far Cry 3 site
- IGN review (9.0)
- Game Trailers review (8.6)
- Game Informer review (9.0)
- My Top 10 Games of 2012
Thanks for reading my review of Far Cry 3, I probably rambled on a bit too much. What did you think of the game? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.