Feel like you’ve been overworked? Have no time to relax? No time to stop and smell the fresh air? Need to just get away? FarCry 3 just might be the vacation you’ve been waiting for. On this tropical paradise, we have leopards, tigers, bears, and oh my do we have some gorgeous views. Need to let off a little steam? Go hunting! Need to just let loose? Go hang gliding or ride an ATV across one of our many beautiful coastal beaches! Take in all the beauty and shear wonder the world of FarCry 3 has to offer.
The FarCry franchise isn’t one of consistent story telling. It’s more or less a name that is thrown onto a game with shiny graphics and a gun on the screen. FarCry 3 goes back to it’s origin on a tropical island littered with mercenaries but this time, many of the elements introduced in FarCry 2, are brought to the scene. FarCry 3 is back in its natural habitat.
You play as Jason Brody, the average trust-fund kid who just got his pilot license and went out to celebrate with his best friends. They let loose, but get careless and fall into the middle of a civil war. You wake up caged next to your brother and are introduced to Vaas, a very mentally disturbed madman with a lot of power. As you and your brother go to make a daring escape, and your sibling is caught in the crossfire. Vaas lets you live and as you escape, you are then found by some rebels that want to bring the fight back to Vaas and take back the island.
It’s very rare that a game offers the kind of animated characters that FarCry 3 does. From Vaas’ psychopathic behavior, to Dr. Earnhardt’s doped out analysis situations, each character holds their own. While the crew you went on vacation with aren’t anything special, it’s the people you meet along the way that make FarCry 3′s characters something different. Vaas is the star of the show here, his performance is one of the most well done characters in video game history. There is always a feeling of discomfort around him, and just his presence brings an insecurity I haven’t felt since Heath Ledger’s Joker. There is also an attempt to humanize Jason Brody, promoting the idea he isn’t a natural-born killer. As much as they tried, he is just a really modest Rambo.
When I say “a lot has changed about FarCry,” I mean A LOT. Many of the issues people had with FarCry 2 have been addressed, fixed, and even eliminated. No longer are you constantly checking your weapon’s condition, and no longer are you having to kill the same enemies at the same checkpoint you cleared out 20 minutes earlier. FarCry 3 has taken a lot of the more conventional approaches to their open world formula, side-missions, mini-games, etc, but there is also an underlying depth to the gameplay that you wouldn’t expect from a first-person shooter.
If compared to other open-world games, FarCry 3 feels a lot like Skyrim. While traversing the tropics of FarCry, it was rare that I was going in the direction the game was telling me to go. There were so many things that could be, or had to be done (in my mind) before I wanted to progress. I almost genuinely thought I had ADHD. There aren’t dragons flying overhead of course, but the amount of content in this game is overwhelming. From clearing outposts to hunting sharks for another weapon holster, boredom is almost impossible.
Unlike previous installments, FarCry 3 has a skill point system. You earn experience points to earn skill points, to then spend on different stat boosts and abilities. This is a really interesting approach and keeps the gameplay fresh and interesting. Any inconveniences you have with the game is fixed somewhere down the road. Tired of waiting for that enemy to leave the dock so you can climb up and sneak up on him? Well now you can grab him while he’s standing by the ledge. What’s also nice about this system, is that you don’t focus on one skill tree, in fact, it forces you to branch out (no pun intended) and try a little of everything. Now, not all skills are blocked off because you aren’t far enough in the game. Some need you to perform certain tasks, like punch a shark, or kill a certain number of enemies a certain way. So there is always something to work towards.
The way the game’s economy works is a little confusing at first, but is really interesting. It’s not hard to understand, it’s just not very upfront about how it works. One of the more crucial things that isn’t explained, is how you unlock weapons. You can unlock weapons one of two ways, buying with cash or by clearing enemy outposts and activating radio towers. So, even if you don’t have the wallet to pay for that sniper rifle, you can take out 3 more enemy outposts and get it completely free. It’s a nice system that allows you to pay ahead of time to get what you want, but it would have saved me a lot of money knowing I could have work towards it instead.
In FarCry 2, you had to really go out of your way to get diamonds to buy new weapons around the world. Same remains in FarCry 3, but now we’re using cash. Typically, when you find a crate or box with money in it, there is usually an item or two attached. You can then sell in the store for more money. The fun thing about these caches, is that some of them require a bit of exploring. I’m not big on going out of my way to collect things, but FarCry 3 made me feel like Indiana Jones when I found a hidden ruin and it was littered with crates and the occasional relic.
Probably one of the bigger things that you will have to do in FarCry 3 is hunt. Sure, you can get by with a single gun and whatever you start out with for a while, but you’ll soon get that itch to improve your weapon, ammo, and wallet capacities. To do so, you’re going to need to retrieve animal hides and other parts to upgrade. On your map, there are labelled areas of where certain animals inhabit the most. Sometimes I would find myself unable to find these animals. If you come back later or hang out for a while, they’ll show up. The fun part is that these areas are not exclusive to each species, sometimes there is a pack of wild dogs, or a tiger in the mix. You may want to go in for the kill, but if a leopard is nearby, you’re better off letting nature take its course. This also applies when taking out some enemy outposts in certain instances. Patience is key.
Despite these interesting and new ideas, there are some “less creative” ones. With every vehicle used, character met, item used, there is a journal entry with snarky descriptions of who is who, what each item does, and what guns you’ve used. This could have been cut out completely and it wouldn’t have been missed. This detail is something most players will either overlook, view to get rid of the exclamation marks in the start menu, or straight up ignore.
Multiplayer is a thing in FarCry 3 that is a tad tacked on. The competitive mode could have just been eliminated. It offers very little, and does very little to differentiate itself to be a real competitor in the online multiplayer market. Co-op however, clearly had more attention and focus put into it. This is where future downloadable content will play its largest role. Up to four players can team up and compete with each other as the fight alongside one another. Players earn experience points and a winner is chosen at the end of each level by how much they earned. These points contribute to a leveling system that unlocks new weapons, perks, and abilities like most other multiplayer modes in modern games. Overall, multiplayer could have been left out, and the game would have been strong enough on its own, but of course, that just isn’t how the industry does things today.
FarCry 3 knows how to keep players constantly motivated and how to keep them engaged. I have yet to feel like I have nothing to work towards or accomplish. Everything about singleplayer comes together so well, it’s impossible not to recommend. FarCry 3 is one of the best AAA singleplayer experiences to come out this year and you'd be crazy not to pick it up.