"Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity" ?
Far Cry 2 was an ambitious game. It took a more realistic approach, taking away the Sci-fi creatures from the original and stepping us into the heart of Africa. It was a solid game by no means, but it did have it's flaws. Some annoyances were present. From no fast travel, enemies constantly respawning, weapons locking up, and not to mention the Malaria disease. These dragged most of us away from the fun exploration. Thankfully, Far Cry 3 scraps these this time around. There's no irritating disease, and you don't have to drive miles to get to your destination. FC3 is the true open world experience that the series was in need for.
Far Cry 3 takes place on a tropical Archipelago, called Rook Islands. You take the role of a young tourist, named Jason Brody. He's a rich kid who seems to have no care in the world. He has gone on vacation to the island with his two brothers and friends. After spending sometime sightseeing, Skydiving and clubbing, it seemed like the perfect holiday. Then next morning, however, Jason awakes, finding himself trapped in a cage. His girlfriend has been kidnapped, his friend, Doug, is quickly murdered, and the rest are missing. What began as a perfect vacation has turned into a holiday nightmare. The Island is swarming with Pirates and psychotic mentalists. This leaves Jason on a rescue mission, while trying to survive the treturous islands.
The leader of the Pirates is a man named Vaas. He is manipulative, violent, sadistic, and completely insane. He's one of the most memorable villains in gaming for years. Actually, all of the characters stand out in Far Cry 3. This is due to it's amazing characterization. Not only does it hold stellar voice acting, but the character models and personalities are excellent. You will come across a few unfriendly faces, aswell as some friendly ones. The story moves at a satisfying pace, and it's filled with emotion, thrills and scares. It's one of the most gripping narratives i've experienced in a video game for a long time.
Jason isn't your typical protagonist. He's just a regular guy, and doesn't seem the hero type. He soon stumbles across a man named Dennis. He helps Jason out and gradually leads him to a tribe, known as Rakiyat. The leader, Citra, teaches him how to become a powerful warrior. It takes some time, but it's not long before he changes from a young kid into the next Rambo. It's how the island changes him, that's what makes FC3 so compelling and unique.
The Skill Tree system represents this well. Throughout the game, you will earn XP for completing story missions, side quests, and killing. Earning enough will allow you to unlock a skill from three separate Skill Tree areas. Anyone who has played a role playing game, for example, Skyrim, will be familiar how it works. There's a nice selection to choose. From, increasing weapon accuracy, find more money when looting enemies, and many more. Not all are available to begin with, but there's enough to choose your own path. Each skill you acquire is also represented in a stylish tattoo that is placed on Jason's left arm.
Rook Islands is a huge place, and it's free to explore at your leisure. This is an open world game after all, so when you complete a story mission is entirely up to you. Exploration is one of the most engaging aspects to the game. It's wide open spaces are filled with sunny beache's, rivers, rocky mountains, caves and jungles. There's so much to see that you may spend hours just sightseeing. The space doesn't go to waste either. It's packed with tons of side-quests to keep you occupied between the story. There's supply drop missions, which are checkpoint races, to hunting quests, which require killing animals with a selected weapon.
There's also various Pirate campsites to take over. Each one can be approached in various ways. It all depends on your play style. Do you go in stealthy, taking them out one by one, or simply run in with a machine gun ? There's a nice range of weapons to help you accomplish your goal. From long ranged snipers, a bow and arrow, flamethrower, and more. For me, personally, I like to startle the Pirates with fire. It feels great to set fields alight. Just like in FC2, the fire mechanics are impressive. They move realistically and can change your enemies paths. Either way, taking over a camp is always a rush of adrenaline. It feels satisfying and makes great use of player choice.
Large radio towers stand tall throughout the island. Climbing to the top of them can be a challenge. It offers some great platforming, and rewards you for reaching the top. If you make it up, you are able to control it. This then makes part of the map in that area visible. It shows you plants, collectibles, missions, etc. It also gives you certain weapons for free, allowing you to save the extra cash on upgrades or other weaponry.
Something Ubisoft have nailed with the island is how lively it is. It feels like a real breathing place. It's surrounded by wildlife. From Goats, pigs, to dangerous predators, like tigers and pounding cheaters. They realistically move around the environment. Not only can they hunt you down if your spotted, but the also attack other animals. The wildlife also makes use of the new Crafting system. This allows you to hunt and kill animals, then use their skin to craft helpful items. For example, collecting Tapir hide allows you to create a larger rucksack for carrying more loot. Plants, on the other hand, allow you to produce herbal remedies. These can improve combat performance and heal you. It's a great addition to the series, and makes exploring fun and worth while.
The single-player campaign clocks in at lengthy 12-15 hours. If your wish to complete everything that the island offers, it can take up to 30 hours. There's also a separate online Co-op story that supports four players. It focuses on four new survivors and takes place before the main story. It's a great little filler, but it doesn't seem on par with the single-player missions. With that said, there's still competitive multiplayer. It's nothing new that we haven't seen before, but it's nice for those who want more after completing the campaign. There's team deathmatch and objective based modes that you wold expect, along with a leveling system and unlocks.
Far Cry 3 is the best in it's series. It's one of Ubisoft's biggest accomplishments and is a great contender for Game of the Year. With it's gripping and well written story, immersive open world, and impressive visuals, FC3 is one of the best games you'll ever play.
Review by Gareth Smith