Jason Brody is a regular party boy, daredevil and on the lookout for his next adventure. Traveling abroad with a group of friends, they set out on a vacation that would quickly exceed all their expectations. At least that was the case until they were tempted with a detour to an uncharted tropical island, with the promise they could do anything they wanted. Jason wanted to take it to the next level, and despite objections from his girlfriend, he could not refuse a chance go skydiving.
Of course, the jump does not go as planned. The group become stranded on a pirate infested island, and it isn’t long before they are taken captive by a Pirate Lord named Vaas. Jason awakes to find himself tied up and trapped in a cage with his brother Grant. He doesn’t know the first thing about survival, but with Grant’s assistance he is able to make a narrow escape.
Whilst running from Vaas and his men, Jason is rescued by a man named Dennis, who is a member of the Rakyat, a tribe local to the island and also suffering from the oppression of the pirates. Jason is not a hero, but it was now up to him to save his friends before they are ransomed and sold into slavery.
This is where the game world will open up to the player, giving you the complete freedom to pursue the main questline at your own accord or venture into the wilderness. However, if you are to have any hope of saving your friends, you will need to embrace your Tatau and earn the respect of the people.
Weapons and ammunition can be purchased from the local village vendors, or at the self-service lockers located in all of the safe-houses positioned across the island. It doesn’t actually matter which one you go to, but from here you will be able purchase new weapons, customise the attachments and appearance of your favourite weapons and sell any looted goods you’ve pick up during your travels.
There are a few mechanics you might recognise from the Assassins Creed franchise, such as the radio towers scattered across the Island. If you are able to climb your way to the top of one, you can break a jamming signal, revealing a new section of your map and also unlocking weapons you may not have purchased yet. This can be particularly useful in the beginning when you have not got a lot of cash behind you.
There are also pirate camps located in various positions across the map. These camps can be taken by the player for the Rakyat and used to unlock safe-houses & fast travel points on the world map. The player is able to approach a camp anytime during the game and is free to use the tactics of their choosing. Clearing a camp may not be incredibly difficult, but it can be a lot of fun for stealth players looking to improve their sharp shooting. Although, it is worth noting that you can quickly become overwhelmed if you run in all guns blazing without disabling any of the alarms.
The series also takes another step closer towards becoming an RPG by introducing The Skill Tree & Crafting. You will receive XP for completing missions, killing pirates, going out on hunts and various other tasks. As you accumulate experience, you will earn skill points that will be used to unlock new abilities and improvements for your character. The skills you choose will improve your ability to traverse the island and fight pirates, but the growth is subtle and only a few abilities will have a substantial impact on the way you play the game.
The Island feels genuinely alive and is filled with its own unique plant life and animal population. You can collect various plants to craft syringes that can then be used to heal, improve hunting and add perks whilst in combat. You will also be able to hunt and skin a large variety of animals which can then be used to upgrade your equipment, such as the rucksack and weapon holsters. The unusual variety of animals might seem a little farfetched, but the way they are all bought to life is one aspect of the game that is designed exceptionally well.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the general populous of the island. Whilst the villages look the part and are well designed, I often felt my interaction with the Rakyat to be quite awkward and limited. The game pushes so many new boundaries for the series that it’s easy to forget what your playing. It feels as if you should be able to enter houses and talk with the tribes people, but all they do is walk along their scripted paths speaking in what I feel is a horribly mismatched Mauri accent.
A few minor design quirks put aside, it’s easy to focus in on the gameplay of Far Cry 3 which is easily it’s greatest strength. Simply put, the game is fun to play. The controls are comprehensive, the character movement is balanced, and the weapons feel unique and powerful. The game won’t often restrict the way you can play, which helps to emphasize the feeling of being in control.
The driving mechanics have also been vastly improved, so whether you’re joy riding in a jeep, taking off in a boat or jumping from a mountain with a hang glider, it feels incredible. That’s not to say the game is absent of frustrating moments, but it’s easy to overlook some questionable design choices when you feel so grounded in the world and in control.
Visually, Far Cry 3 is impressive look at. The setting borders on cliche, but everything around you looks and feels alive. It’s clear that the experience suffers a little due to the limitations of the current generation hardware, as evident with an inconsistent draw distance. However, it doesn’t ever become too distracting and with so much to see and do, it still all comes together nicely.
The soundtrack can feel a little out of place sometimes, but it would appear this was a deliberate design choice, letting the characters personalities inspire the music, not the setting. If you keep that in mind, it generally feels appropriate, and you can appreciate the subtle changes to the music that tie in with Jason’s progression as a character.
It is also quite fascinating how other characters are visually portrayed when addressing Jason. The manor used to achieve this is unique, and not something I’ve seen in other games, but it does help to draw the player deeper into the experience and feel as if someone were actually standing in front of you.
The narrative of Far Cry 3 takes a group of potentially uninteresting characters and drags them into a scenario that they were not conditioned to survive. This terrible turn of events will flesh out the true personalities of each member of the group, but this is something we have all seen before. However, it is Jason’s evolution throughout the story that will draw you into the experience. He is a man who has never quite felt complete and slowly comes to find purpose through this tragedy. How far will he go to save the people he loves, and if he succeeds, can he ever come back from the choices he’s made?
This may not be the most original story ever told, but it is filled with memorable moments and an unexpected depth that could easily be missed by some players. A recurring theme noted throughout the game is Insanity as brilliantly portrayed through the antagonist Vaas and displayed in many subtle ways within the experience. There are definitive layers to the narrative, but I could not help but feel that the writers ideas could have been more fully realized if the players had been given a greater influence in Jason’s personal development.
Far Cry 3 successfully introduces so many new elements into the series that it’s difficult not expect more from the experience. If anything, this indicates how much unrealized potential is still left to be explored. However, it still remains a shining example of how solid gameplay mechanics can make a game so fantastic. It is unquestionably worth your time.