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Far Cry 3 review

AT A GLANCE
  • Far Cry 3's theme of insanity
  • Exploring the huge, tropical island setting
  • The organic gameplay
  • Feeling torn between making story progress and taking on side content
  • The god-awful cast of good guy bros
  • Getting bored with the lackluster multiplayer offerings

It's entirely possible an allied patrol of locals will roll up in a machine gun-mounted Humvee as you approach an enemy encampment. You might pause as they open fire on the goons you'd intended to kill. Then, just as you think it safe to proceed, two angry tigers might just randomly erupt from the jungle and maul everyone in sight. And when panicked pirates fell the beasts with a barrage of molotov cocktails, consequently setting the camp ablaze in a glorious display of conflagration, you'll marvel at the spontaneity of the events that unraveled before your eyes. This, in essence, is Far Cry 3. 

Ubisoft's series of open world first-person shooters has always been at its best when stories arise organically from the chaos. While stranded on a tropical island inhabited by murderous pirates and equally murderous animals, you'll experience things that no one else will ever see. You might choose to hang glide off a cliff right into an enemy compound. You might go hunting to craft better equipment. You might complete challenge missions for experience points so you can turn Jason into a more efficient killing machine. Most importantly, you'll never feel too lost or overwhelmed thanks to an intriguing plot that, while sometimes nonsensical and goofy, succeeds in lending a bit of cohesiveness to a series that traditionally hands players a gun, plops them in a hostile setting, and pushes them out the door with a "good luck" shove.

Far Cry 3 still leaves you to your own devices for the most part, but you'll have a sense of purpose this time around. Gone are Far Cry 2's generic mercenary heroes and their ambiguous quest, replaced by a cast of rich kids that find themselves captured and sold into slavery by pirates after a skydiving trip gone wrong. To describe these spoiled Jersey Shore doppelgangers as unrelatable and annoying is a massive understatement, and their cringe-worthy personalities would be a bigger detriment to the game if not for the fact that encounters with them are few and far between.

But they still serve an important purpose, as Jason (who is thankfully bearable) sets off to save his buds and lady bros after escaping imprisonment. Though he's supposed to be an average guy with no military experience, you wouldn't know it based on his ability to put down enemies with ease. The real interesting thing about his character, though, is his transformation from an inexperienced, sane dude to a psychotic killer who shouts out in excitement while stabbing pirates with a machete.

Jason's transformation fits perfectly into the theme of insanity that envelops the story. That motif is hard to ignore, especially when loading screens are rife with quotes from Alice in Wonderland and some missions comprise pretty bizarre events. One will have you hunting mushrooms in an underwater cave while Jason is high out of his mind and hallucinating; another tasks you with setting fields of marijuana plants (and the pirates in said fields) ablaze with a flamethrower. Some missions even include extensive first-person platforming, which is surprisingly awesome. Leaping for long distance ledges will make your heart pound, especially thanks to the finely-tuned animations that lend a sense of weight and gravity to your slides and jumps. There are some truly memorable missions in store--the most terrific of which usually involve encounters with the mohawked madman Vaas--and the sheer variety of objectives means you won't always just be gunning down bad guys in a jungle.

When you're not busy playing through the story missions, you'll undoubtedly get distracted by the bevy of great side content. The island is vast, and it's one of the prettiest virtual environments you've likely ever seen. It's also far more enjoyable to traverse compared to Far Cry 2's savannah setting, mostly thanks to less frequent run-ins with enemy patrols and more generous placement of fast travel points, which are unlocked as enemy-controlled outposts are liberated. There are radio towers to unscramble (which act sort of like synchronization points in Assassin's Creed), side quests to take on, leaderboard-driven challenge missions to complete, and tons of collectibles to find. 

Some of these feel out of place, though. Racing competitions and time-based "kill as many guys as you can with unlimited grenades" challenges don't exactly benefit immersion when you're supposed to be a guy stranded in a hostile jungle. But driving vehicles is so fun, and the combat so frantic and engaging, that you'll be hard-pressed to pass these opportunities up. Plus, all of these provide worthwhile rewards, usually in the form of cash for buying new weapons and equipment, or experience points for unlocking a variety of useful abilities, such as increased health or flashier takedown techniques.  

Rarely do side quest opportunities feel like filler content. Even hunting is worthwhile, as skinning animals affords the opportunity to manufacture additional weapon holsters or a bigger backpack for storing loot. The crafting here avoids the annoyances you might face in other open world games: There are no special crafting workbenches, as everything is done from within your inventory--and because the items you'll make are useful and don't often require a ton of materials, you'll never feel like you're wasting your time. 

Far Cry 3's multiplayer offering is where the experience comes up short. While some modes present fresh spins on traditional game types, the map design feels like an afterthought as most are variations of the same ruins-filled jungle. The competitive multiplayer is serviceable, albeit a bit on the buggy side, but it won't hold your attention for long when so many other shooters do multiplayer better. There's also a co-op mode that thrusts up to four players into uninspired objective-based missions, which are often unbalanced to favor enemy AI. The map editor is easily Far Cry 3's greatest multiplayer feature, though, and building custom maps to share with your friends might keep you playing for a while.

The thing is, Far Cry 3 doesn't need a strong multiplayer component because its single-player campaign will keep you invested for dozens of hours. You'll be eager to explore every bit of the tropical setting, to drive along the beach or hang glide over the ocean. You'll want to find lost treasures in the sunken ships that line the island's periphery and stab sharks to death for their valuable skins. You'll be compelled to save Jason's friends--even if they're super annoying--because attempting to do so means experiencing some of the most interesting missions you've likely seen in a shooter. And when tigers, bears, or other distractions randomly interrupt those missions, you'll have some pretty awesome stories to tell. That's just how Far Cry 3 rolls.

Single-player content reviewed on PS3, multiplayer on PC.

More Info

Release date: Dec 04 2012 - Xbox 360, PC, PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, PS3
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal
Franchise: Far Cry
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Sexual Content

45 comments

  • joshin69 - December 20, 2012 11:17 a.m.

    Game of the year for me, "Awesome Dude!"
  • Odogx44x - December 7, 2012 7:44 a.m.

    With all these great games coming out in the next few months why play TF2?
  • MidianGTX - November 27, 2012 10:20 a.m.

    I love how one of the "You'll hate" comments basically translates to "Having a choice from a variety of things to do".
  • darron13 - November 25, 2012 5:39 a.m.

    Is it possible to just...let his stupid dude-bro friends die?
  • Nettacki - November 24, 2012 10:05 p.m.

    Far Cry, no matter who developed it, was never really about the multiplayer anyway. It was always about the singleplayer. Which means I'll probably get this some time down the road on sale because I already bought one major full priced AAA game on PC (Sleeping Dogs) and I don't really feel like getting another one without some discounts.
  • e1337prodigy - November 22, 2012 12:38 p.m.

    Sounds like my sort of game, can't stand multiplayer. Great graphics, great sound, characters, story, shooting. = my game.
  • ObliqueZombie - November 22, 2012 7:53 a.m.

    Saw a hipster hat in the club. I'm not "saving" his ass. -5/10
  • Rhymenocerous - November 22, 2012 7:27 a.m.

    General gameplay sounds fun and refreshing, but the dudebro characters are so annoying as to actually put me off buying. Also, the challenges sound so, so rediculous and out of place. Farcry 2 may have been a little boring / repetitive, but at least it wasn't flat-out annoying.
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - November 22, 2012 9:53 p.m.

    Don't let them spoil the game for you -- there are very few interactions w/ them overall, and it's DEFINITELY worth playing. Some challenges do feel out of place at times, but they're all super fun at least :D
  • Rhymenocerous - November 23, 2012 2:57 a.m.

    Hmm... Maybe I'll wait for the January sales then. Still got X-Com to get through, after all.
  • MidianGTX - November 27, 2012 10:16 a.m.

    You've got to be kidding me. Limited fuel, breaking weapons and malaria are among the most annoying mechanics I've ever witnessed in my entire life. I'd rather put up with a few jerks (who you're probably supposed to dislike anyway) on occassion than work my way through a fundamentally flawed game like FC2 again.
  • Rhymenocerous - December 13, 2012 7:39 a.m.

    Limited fuel? Was that just in the pc version or something because I never experienced that.
  • AuthorityFigure - November 22, 2012 12:49 a.m.

    I never understood what this game was trying to do.
  • Stellar91 - November 21, 2012 11:34 p.m.

    Wish I could just play "Just Cause3" because Just Cause 2 was a better open world game in my opinion than GTA4, if this has that kind of ridiculous fun, I may have to pick it up
  • Vincent Wolf - November 21, 2012 11:03 p.m.

    Wanna say just one thing: FUCK MULTIPLAYER. Sick and tired of sites lowering game's score because there's no multiplayer, or it's lacking or w/e. Single player compaign is all that matters. If they add multiplayer they already waste resources on what coulda been spend on a longer or higher quality main single player compaign.
  • ObliqueZombie - November 22, 2012 7:51 a.m.

    The point is, is that objectively speaking you HAVE to review multiplayer and take it into account. Like you said, resources were spent on it, it's part of the game, so if it's there, then a review has to be made mentioning it. Besides, if the MP sucks, it SHOULD lower the score. The developers spent time and money on something that wasn't too good, and it hurt their final product, however little.
  • kickstone - November 22, 2012 2:11 p.m.

    I'm 38 years of age and have completed enough single player games to last a lifetime. Multiplayer is all I play now, each to their own.
  • MidianGTX - November 27, 2012 10:13 a.m.

    The irony here is when you've played one multiplayer game, you've more or less played them all. If there's anything that's consistently failing to evolve and innovate, it's multiplayer. Every attempt to deviate from the tried and tested formulas falls flat so the only reliably tactic is to shove out the same boring crap each time. Along comes a rare breed, a genuinely fantastic open-world FPS and you think you've done it all before.
  • winner2 - November 21, 2012 10:49 p.m.

    Happy to see this, it sounds great to me considering I never play fps multiplayer. Also really glad about more fast travel, although I think it'd be more tolerable here even without compared to fc2 due to the environment.

Showing 1-20 of 45 comments

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