Far Cry 3 ReviewJoe Green
"Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?" These words of satire from Far Cry's villain, Vaas prove to be more ironic than intended. Vaas demonstrates to you in one of Far Cry 3's most powerful scenes that the definition is in fact doing the same thing over and over (and over) again. In doing so, he highlights Far Cry 3's greatest accomplishment and most glaring weakness. The game triumphs in its theme of insanity; portrayed through an island and its inhabitants having lost all measure of stability. It also falters, quite dramatically towards the end, due to the game's repetitive nature.
The good, the bad and the ugly. Let's start with the first of these: the characters. Far Cry 3 has some of the most memorable, iconic and well-acted characters of the generation. Vaas is the natural stand-out amongst them, as he epitomizes the inherent theme of insanity. His lines are as witty as they are dramatic and he easily steals the screen each time he is on it which unfortunately is infrequent. His manic taunts, provocations and violence make him believable as a baddy' and make sure you want to escape him, if only for nothing more than your player's safety.
Vaas is certainly not the only strong character in the game however, as highlight performances are seen by your island companion Dennis Rogers, his unrequited love and deity, Citra, and bad-guys' Buck and Hoyt. The playable character, Jason Brody is perhaps less memorable, not so due to voice talent but by his insufferable attitude and choices.
The good does not end there however, as the game shines in three other main areas: graphics, gameplay and its open-world location.
The graphics are easily some of the best this generation and stand proud on the consoles as well as the PC. The environments are lush, the forests dense with detailed vegetation and the effects such as water lighting are impressive. There are draw distance problems on the consoles at times, but this does little to taint the experience.
The gameplay could easily be described as the game's primary accomplishment together with the compelling theme and characterisation of insanity. Far Cry 3 is a fun first-person shooter, which in truth, is a hard goal to achieve these days. Many FPS titles find themselves mired by corridor gameplay and repetitive hoards of bullet defying enemies. Far Cry 3 presents the player with space and hiding places in bushes and cliff tops. It offers, not so much strategy (as the game is relatively easy on medium), but diversity in the way to clear out a group of enemies. The weapon customization is expansive and thrilling each time you acquire a new piece of death dealing machinery. The character customization, by way of new abilities and survival tricks, presents yet more ways to approach the inevitable death of your enemies.
Without the genuinely fun gameplay mechanics offered by Far Cry 3, its open-world would be of little consequence. As it is however, traversing the island's landscape is a joy in itself and represents
the opportunity for many hours to be spent completing side quests and other chicanery. In fact, the three highlights of Far Cry 3 outlined above, complement each other by providing an immersive world to travel as you soar on a glider, shoot down a group of mercenaries while up there and soak in the game's lush tropic visuals.
And so, for the bad. As pointed out at the beginning, Vaas' iconic line symbolized the worst aspect of the single-player game: repetition. The open world is indeed a joy to encounter, it's landmarks exciting to scale and it's enemies fun to kill. But the story has a tendency to nurture one of gaming's greatest flaws as it tells you to, "go here, shoot that, blow up that, meet him here, then meet him there". The game has length in spades and perhaps it could have benefited from a touch of the editing this article surely needs.
Worse still, the story leaves you lacking empathy for the characters you've grown to love, as you simply want it to end sooner rather than later.
The ugly, is thankfully of little bearing on the game's impact as a great one. It seems Ubisoft have gone a little overboard in providing value for money', as they not only dragged out a lengthy sole-player campaign, but also saw fit to include the next to worthless additions of multiplayer and co-op. Without wasting your time in embellishing why these features failed - miserably - as they did my own in playing them, let me state no more than they offer nothing positive to the game and alienate the unique aspects of the single-player in every way described above.
So we arrive at the conclusion; the natural end to any well rounded critique of this genuinely marvelous, if flawed, game. I'll do so with a line from Vaas. "What, is this not fun anymore have I failed to entertain you?" No Vaas, you have succeeded in entertaining, but the fun only lasted while you did.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.