Far Cry 3 was originally released in 2012 across multiple platforms. It was created by Ubisoft, the company behind Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Beyond Good & Evil, the Assassin’s Creed series, and many other notable games. Despite being the third entry in the series, this game features a plot unconnected with its predecessors. Far Cry is a thematic series – that is, the installments feature reoccurring ideas rather than following a single story or group of characters. One of the themes prevalent throughout the series is the idea of an outside force invading a paradise and turning it into hell on Earth for its native inhabitants.
Playing the Game
Far Cry 3 is a first-person shooter. Weapons are standard fare for the genre, though it features an impressive array, allowing the player to choose between several pistols, SMGs, assault rifles, explosives, and so forth. Comparable to many Ubisoft titles from the 2010s, Far Cry 3 is also an open world experience. There are a large number of sidequests and collectables awaiting players should they decide to take a break from the story missions.
Furthermore, Far Cry 3 features a crafting system. Many different types of flora exist within this game’s setting, the leaves of which can be used to make medicines. These concoctions have different effects from restoring your character’s health to increasing his battle performance temporarily. The setting is also teeming with exotic wildlife, both hostile and non-hostile. Hunting these animals awards you with pelts, which you can use to upgrade your carrying capacity.
Finally, this game also features RPG elements. You get experience points for completing quests as well as prevailing in combat. Once you’ve filled the experience bar, you are allowed to pick an upgrade for your character. However, not all of them are available from the beginning. The further you progress in the game, the more upgrades will be available to you. Sometimes, abilities are unlocked by other means, usually through using other ones a certain number of times.
As a first-person shooter, Far Cry 3 is a fun game. The main missions have a good variety to them. Some involve the protagonist exploring ancient ruins by himself while others are wall-to-wall action sequences. The sidequests are usually interesting as well and many of the collectables give the setting a lot of interesting backstory while encouraging exploration. I really like the many modes of transportation the game gives you. While you can traverse the islands on foot, you are also given various vehicles such as cars, motorboats, and hang gliders to play around with.
Crafting systems are something of a point of contention among critics. Personally, I think that the system works in Far Cry 3 because it’s another aspect that spurs players into looking around. Luckily, once you’ve unlocked parts of the map, the locations of animal spawning points are revealed on them, making the search much less tedious. I think the key is that it accomplishes what it sets out to do, but it’s not overly complicated or intrusive once the player has all of the ammunition upgrades.
Though I have a lot of good things to say about the gameplay of Far Cry 3, it does have an Achilles heel: quick time events. There are a few points in the game, usually when confronting a major villain, when you have to push a button that corresponds to the one that flashes onscreen or else you are killed immediately and have to start over. It doesn’t matter how far you made it – you die, you go back. Quick time events have always baffled me in that developers insist on using them, and yet never in the history of the medium has anyone ever clamored for their inclusion. Indeed, an overwhelming majority of the time they’re brought up, it’s in a negative or disparaging light. The only reason I can think of is that developers aren’t sure how to weave story into gameplay, so they use quick time events as a cheap substitute for interactive and environmental storytelling.
While non-interactive cutscenes are certainly not the best way to tell stories in video games, they’re preferable to the developers forcing the player to play Simon Says at inopportune moments under penalty of instant death should they fail. It’s a trend in gaming that needs to be retired because I’ve never played a game that was enhanced with their presence. Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay in Far Cry 3 is solid, but it’s wholly in spite of the quick time events, not because of them.
Analyzing the Story
Riley Brody, along with his two older brothers, Grant and Jason, and their friends are on vacation in Bangkok to celebrate him receiving his pilot’s license. While skydiving, they land on an archipelago known as the Rook Islands. Unbeknownst to them, these islands are currently under the control of pirates led by one Vaas Montenegro. They are captured shortly thereafter with Grant and Jason being separated from the rest of the group. Grant is able to engineer a successful escape for Jason, but at the cost of his life. Jason then meets Dennis Rogers, an inhabitant of the island collaborating with the indigenous people to combat the pirates and seize control of the archipelago back from them. From there, Dennis encourages Jason to walk the path of the warrior, sensing his great potential. Jason accepts, realizing that this is his only chance to save his friends.
One of the most highly praised aspects of Far Cry 3 is its villain. Vaas is, to put it lightly, completely insane. His ramblings result in many memorable and haunting lines and his voice actor delivers them perfectly. To top it all off, he, not the main character, is featured on the box cover, cementing his importance to the game. I certainly agree that he adds to the experience. However, Vaas is not what made the game for me. My favorite character of Far Cry 3 is none other than its protagonist, Jason Brody. He may not have the same presence as Vaas, but I find him far more intriguing. In fact, this game demonstrates why I think heroes are more interesting than villains. Sure, villains usually get the cool lines and are generally flashier, but they also don’t transform – discounting the ones who switch sides, villains almost always end up exactly the same as when the story began and also dead.
Meanwhile, Jason Brody goes through a character arc, and a truly remarkable one at that. It’s established both at the beginning of the game and his in-game biography that he has no long-term ambitions, mostly working a series of odd jobs. He lived a completely ordinary civilian life, never having killed anyone prior to the events of this game. This works harmoniously with the game’s RPG elements, as Jason learns all of his combat skills on the job. The skills he obtains are represented with an elaborate tattoo on his forearms – the more techniques he obtains, the more of the pattern is revealed. This is highly analogous to his arc. |At the beginning of the game, Jason’s only goal is to save his friends. He slides further down the slippery slope as his body count rises into the hundreds. By the end of the game, he’s a hot-blooded warrior with an insatiable bloodlust who no longer relates to his friends or the peaceful lifestyle he left behind. Thus, the tattoo serves the gameplay by bestowing new abilities unto the player while simultaneously representing how much the dark road he walks down has consumed him. What I really like about this is how all of the skills are unlocked by the halfway point. In other words, the first half of the game has Jason training to become the ideal FPS protagonist while the latter half has him being just that. This is a welcome change from action games that start the protagonist off as a hardened warrior, as there’s really nowhere to go from there; giving up that trait is out of the question for the genre.|
Having said all of that, the story is not without its flaws. The biggest problem this game has in this regard is that the narrative and gameplay tell contradictory stories. In this case, it manifests itself in the fact that Jason is completely incompetent when you’re not directly controlling him. Often, Jason will get jumped by Vaas or one of his pirates for the sake of him getting captured so that he can make a great escape. The game wrestles control away from you to ensure that you won’t have the idea to throw a grenade where Vaas is hiding or any other solution that would expedite the task of killing him. This makes the first half of the game very tedious and it doesn’t mesh well with the story told by the gameplay. That is, it doesn’t matter if you’ve liberated the island single-handedly without taking damage; when the game wants you to fail, you’ll fail no questions asked. Much like the aforementioned quick time events, it’s the developers breaking their own rules for no other purpose than to make the player lose.
There is a silver lining though, as this flaw and another one perceived by this game’s fanbase ultimately end up negating each other. |A common criticism lodged toward Far Cry 3 is that Vaas is killed around the halfway mark. It’s to the point where some fans outright refuse to believe he’s dead, claiming that the circumstances surrounding his death are dubious at best. Considering that most scenes starring Vaas are the result the game metaphorically unplugging the controller when confronting him, I found this development to be a good thing. After the death of Vaas, the main missions became far less frustrating.|
Drawing a Conclusion
In spite of its weaknesses, Far Cry 3 is one of Ubisoft’s better titles. The gameplay is a lot of fun and packed with several amazing action sequences while the story is surprisingly good with a degree of self-awareness not usually exhibited by the average AAA effort. It’s not exactly an innovative title, but it manages to hit most of the right notes in regard to the storytelling tropes and gameplay mechanics it employs. If you are a fan of first-person shooters or sandbox games, this game is highly recommended. Every now and again, it’s nice to play an M-rated game that actually felt like it deserves that distinction as opposed to the ones that earned it by being overly bloody, yet sophomoric. To me, it demonstrates how viable games with mature themes and concepts have become over the years.
Final Score: 8/10