Far Cry 3 is a first person shooter. It is going to take every bit of willpower not to just repeat this over and over Jack Torrance-style.
You can crouch, you can sprint, you can hold multiple guns, you can throw grenades, you can climb when prompted, you can use vehicles, you can do pretty much all the things you’d expect from a first person shooter. And so in my professional opinion Far Cry 3 is exactly that, a first person shooter.
Your character, Jason, must shoot and stab his way through an army of pirates spread all over the Rook Islands (a tiny archipelago somewhere in the South East Asian part of the South Pacific) in order to save his gang of plucky young adventure tourist friends.
Jason must do this fairly silently because he is heavily outnumbered. He sneaks around stabbing pirates in the neck and dragging their bodies where they won’t be found. To help him out he can craft things. His crafting handbook tells him the ingredients he’ll need to make these things. This means collecting plants and animals skins from different parts of the islands. He can also go on hunting excursions or assassination missions for more XP. Oh and he can do side missions that involve, among other things, sharpshooting and poker.
This means that as a game (and I suppose I should note that I have not played Far Crys one and two) FC3 seems to sit somewhere inside the triangle made up by Hitman, Minecraft, and Red Dead Redemption. But it is not as good as any of these.
Which is not to call FC3 a bad game, as such. It’s just I constantly felt like I had played a better version of each part.
As I said, you play Jason, hard-nosed, gun-toting, animal-skinning, Rambo-esque, stone cold killer. Except he’s not. When we first meet him Jason is a crying wreck and his brother Grant is the ninja who frees them both from the clutches of evil, and crazy, pirate leader Vaas. Grant, not Jason, is the stone cold killer.
After offing a soldier Grant turns to Jason, currently whimpering, and says “that’s what they train you in the army”. I can only assume the army also taught him how to instantly kill a man by throwing a small pocket knife at him, or that Grant was actually in the super ninja army.
And then (not actually much of a spoiler, it happens in the first level and is totally foreshadowed) Grant dies. And this is where the game’s story went downhill at a great rate of knots. A story the game developers tout as “a deep and emotional story of survival, written by a Writers Guild Award winner”. Right then.
First Vaas. Vaas is unhinged. We get that from the opening scene of the game. He’s a psychotic killer who enjoys torture and the sort of evil things that bad guys are known for. He is also stupid and contradictory. After saying how important his two new captives (Jason and Grant) are because they are rich white kids from America, he then happily and unnecessarily shoots Grant before letting Jason run off into the jungle for sport.
When Jason next encounters Vaas, the pirate goes back on his idea to ransom Jason and his friends and instead ties him up and tries to burn him alive. Yes, that is exactly the type of thing a bad guy would do. I suppose. If he didn’t actually want to make any money in order to buy more weapons and stuff. Vaas is exactly the type of leader who would be quickly removed by a forward thinking follower. Oh course he’s not the big boss, but he doesn’t fill any purpose that any other of the minions couldn’t fill. And they wouldn’t suddenly decide that having a bit of a laugh with the prisoner was a good idea.
Jason on the other hand goes from strength to strength. He finds that in death, Grant has passed all of his “army” knowledge on to his younger brother. Jason can now throw knives with deadly accuracy, kill a man with his bare hands, and even skin a wild boar. Crying Jason is gone.
Jason is aided in his mission by the island’s local tribe the Rakyats. While the Rook Islands are clearly asiatic, the Rakyat are Maori. It was quite pleasant hearing a New Zealand accent and the occasional “kia ora” or “kei te pai”. One member of the tribe, Dennis, who oddly isn’t actually a Rakyat but has been adopted in, saves Jason from drowning and nurses him back to health. Jason is adopted by the tribe as well and given a traditional Rakyat tatau (tattoo). The tatau grows with the more skills Jason learns. Apparently the Rakyat’s tatau are the sort you find on people who drink Woody and Coke from the can.
But that’s exactly the type of person Jason is. We are shown him and friends before they are kidnapped: a group of privileged rich white Dudebros. I find it hard to play a game where I have to save people that I find horrible in real life. Even Jason seems uninterested in helping the Rakyat and endangering others just to save his small group of friends. At one point, one of the Dudebras (a female Dudebro) says how each night she dreams that she was back in Hollywood... sigh, don’t we all.
Story grumbling aside the game is fairly fun. Running, jumping, shooting, sneaking about; it’s all very fun. Rook Island itself is incredibly beautiful and the flora and fauna do set it apart. While taking time out to explore the island, I relaxed by swimming with a group of sea turtles. It was actually very serene, until the shark came of nowhere and attacked me, which caused me to yell and leap from my seat.
Exploring all of the caves and hunting down collectables is fun and a great way to pass the time. I got a bit bored with hanggliding, but it’s a great amount of fun dropping from the sky into the ocean. But not as much fun as I had driving cars and ATVs off cliffs.
Quick note: my game did suffer a lot of visual glitches including disappearing plants, places in the distance coming in and out out of focus at odd times, and sometimes whole sections would go black for a split second.
The stealth raids on pirate camps are also a huge amount of fun. Scouting first with your camera gives you special tracking vision, though make sure you get track everyone, including the dogs, before starting. Nothing worse than having your cover blown by having a pitbull attached to your arm.
Far Cry 3 really wants you to complete it’s story too. You can tell this because it is constantly prompting you to do missions via pop-ups on the screen. Pop-ups that cover up bits of the scenery you might need to see, like the bits of scenery that have tigers in them. Not only are the pop-ups unnecessary screen clutter, they are very passive aggressive. At one point a message told me I could either do the next mission or explore the island, I picked the latter, but the pop-up kept coming back.
So overall Far Cry 3 is a first person shooter, but it’s a fun first person shooter. One with story issues and awful characters, but also with hunting and manta rays and hang gliding over beautiful scenery.