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unt1tled

Far Cry 3 Review: The definition of (awesome) insanity

by unt1tled

posted December 24, 2012 @ 11:39AM
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filed under Games

farcry-3

Harsh and atypical, Far Cry 3's Rook Island is completely overrun by zealous pirates out on a mission as protagonist Jason Brody fights though rabid wildlife and drug runners to save his friends from captivity. The PC game is one that doesn't follow the standard first-person shooter formula, ignoring carefully scripted set pieces, instead opting for getting all of the information out at once before throwing the player into the thick of disaster.

The story is fairly simple to start: Jason Brody and friends went to a vacation island for good, young celebration until a pirate named Vaas orchestrates an attack with money on his mind. Vaas intends to ransom the group for money from their parents before selling them off to slavers for twice the profit. Jason manages to escape, gets a few words of solid advice from the local Rakyat tribe leader and sets off to find his friends as he becomes a true warrior in every sense of the word.

Rook Island, the warm but uninviting place it is, offers very few safe havens for Jason to earn any respite; if the drug runners and pirates don't notice his place, there is more than a fair share of wildlife nearby ready to charge at a moment's notice. Though the local pigs and deer may not fight back, the game quickly throws in boars, tigers, sharks and much more.

Unfortunately for Jason, it's not good enough to run away from the wildlife; he will need to hunt to survive. Jason can skin the animals he's hunted, and the skin is used for crafting wallets to hold more money, pouches to hold more syringes, holsters to hold more guns at one time and so on. Similarly, he'll need to gather plants he finds in the world to create syringes to regain health, temporarily boost stats or even better his ability to hunt. Players interested in really immersing themselves in the world will definitely enjoy this; the only immersive detail the game is missing is the need to monitor food and thirst monitors.

Far Cry 3 presents Jason Brody as a classic young adult enjoying life before he's really had a chance to figure out his place in the world, drinking and partying until the sun comes up. Over time, Jason's initial image deflates as he evolves into a hardened, calculated killer as he guns down anyone in the way between him and his friends; this becomes very imminent during a later escape scene. In retrospect, the change is somewhat chilling but refreshing to see a game tackle the “hero” in a new light.

Graphically, the PC presents Rook Island well, though it lacks a little in design. While it's understandable to think the island is much of the same given that it's lush with vegetation and trees among dirt roads, it has a tendency to repeat itself a little bit too much. Without the map, it would be impossible to figure out exactly where the player was and where he would need to go to return back home. For a true challenge, try finishing the game without using the map at all.

Aside from pinpointing where the player is, the map also shows the dominating wildlife in each of the unlocked areas. The player also has the ability to fast travel between outposts that he has unlocked through the map. Finally, along with wildlife, the map will show any nearby radio towers.

Radio towers are another essential form of survival on Rook Island. While the tribal merchants of nearby outposts are more than willing to accept money in exchange for weapons, they're a little bit more interested in communicating with each other across the island via radio towers. The problem is they're all broken, so for every one that Jason fixes, he'll gain access to new weapons for absolutely free—except for the cost of purchasing new ammunition once the freebies run out.

At first, Far Cry 3 is a mixed bag of forgiveness, only requiring Jason kill a small handful of pirates to take over his first outpost but only giving him a pistol to “prove himself” to the Rakyat tribe. The first couple of outposts are similarly simple, though later ones require a little more technique to avoid having to fight against backup.

This is where the alarm system comes in; pirates will trigger the alarm if they notice Jason sneaking around—or barreling in guns blazing, either way—the outpost. After a few short seconds, reinforcements arrive to exponentially increase the difficulty, so it's important to take that short window of opportunity to disable the system. Alternatively, sniping each alarm can also do the trick, but Jason would need to do this to every alarm as one doesn't stop when the other does.

Sometimes, the pirates house caged animals that are willing to briefly ally with Jason and chomp on its captors if he frees them with a single gunshot to the lock. While this loses any bonus for subtlety, it's still an effective way to get the job done. Like any good open-world game, however, the player isn't forced to engage enemies dramatically and with a total absence of subtlety; there is also a stealth aspect to Far Cry 3 that is enhanced as Jason earns new skill points, teaching him techniques like immediately dragging away a body after performing a stealth kill. No method is the right method, allowing the player to play the game how they want to, whether its a stealthy approach with the bow and arrow or guns (and grenades) blazing.

To further this concept, the Rakyat tribe introduces Jason to the path of the warrior, which is the collective term for the three branches of skills Jason can learn: the heron branch increases mobility and teaches long range attacks; the spider branch increases survival options and teaches stealth techniques; and the shark branch increases healing ability and teaches more direct assault techniques.

The story will take up the bulk of the player's time, clocking in at a little over ten to 12 hours itself. Completing side missions raises the time up to about double this, and completing the co-op and exploring every facet of Rook Island will bump this final number up to anywhere between 30 to 40 hours; Far Cry 3 definitely provides plenty of bang for its buck in a time where most FPS games clock in at under six hours.

The co-op mode precedes the single player story and plays rather similarly to Left 4 Dead. In this mode, four individuals seek out revenge as they fight against waves and waves of aggressive enemies while also participating in mini-games, such as racing quad bikes around the island. Given that it offers a brand new story and a new kind of gameplay experience, it's a worthy addition to the title.

Multiplayer doesn't offer quite the same ring of a refreshing experience as the co-op mode, however; while the rest of the game does its best to separate itself from the tropes of first-person shooter syndrome, multiplayer falls heavily into it, dispersing modes like Capture the Flag and similar objective types that do nothing for the imagination and immersion experience. If anything, it's safe to say that Far Cry 3 will not be remembered for its incredible online experience.

For a few extra bucks, Far Cry 3 can come via the Insane Edition, which includes plenty of items that makes the investment worth it. The additional items in the Insane Edition include a four-inch Wahine with Vaas bobble head, a foldout survival kit packaging, a survival guide with information to help players survive the terrors of Rook Island along with nice artwork, access to a new quest giver named Hurk who provides four missions for another hour of gameplay, two additional action missions for another 40 minutes of gameplay, as well as access to unlockable content: the Monkey Business Pack, the Lost Expeditions, the Warrior Pack and the Predator Pack. Collectively, the packs unlock a multiplayer tattoo editor earlier than other users, an exclusive dagger, an exclusive multiplayer shotgun flare gun, as well as the M-700 Predator Rifle for the single player story mode and the Predator Bow for the multiplayer mode.

Similarly, the Deluxe edition offers this unlockable content and access to the game's soundtrack along with the game itself. This is an excellent way to get the most out of the game without having to pay more for extra goods that one may be fine without—although it's hard to imagine not enjoying the game without Vaas' head bobbling along on the desk.

Unfortunately, the PC version is not without its fair share of problems: stuttering problems, slowness and a problem connecting to Ubisoft's Uplay service all mar the title. While these problems should not keep anyone from playing the game, it is important to note that this isn't Ubisoft's strongest PC title. However, the publisher mentions that patches are incoming so these problems will soon be a thing of the past.

At the end of the day, Far Cry 3 definitely offers enough activities to keep you entertained for many hours. In between suspenseful, action-packed missions and staring death right in the face, Jason Brody must traverse islands ripe with aggressive tigers and rabid dogs while climbing groaning radio towers buckling under its legs and avoiding enemy pirates and drug runners.

Far Cry 3 could be a possible contender for game of the year. The world truly feels alive and populated though somewhat marred by the repetitive vegetation, and the story is gripping as the player gets to watch Jason Brody change as his mission drags on over time. All in all, while it may not be absolutely perfect, Ubisoft hit a great stride with the development of Far Cry 3; it's worth both the financial and time investments.

tags ubisoftfarcryxbox-360PS3

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