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Ubisoft is a developer that has become known for their open world games and Far Cry 3 was a winning formula and I believe it’s one of the reasons why a lot of their future titles are set in open worlds with a similar style. Games that throw you into big open worlds filled with a ton of icons that equate to activities and missions of varying quality. I also think the success of the Assassin’s Creed series played a role. Far Cry 3 was a very successful game for Ubisoft and is actually the first game in the series that I beat. I found the first game, the PC version that is, frustrating, and I struggled getting into Far Cry 2 due to its lack of variety among other things. Then Far Cry 3 came along and turned things around. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft, Far Cry 3 was released for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in December, 2012 and it was re-released as Far Cry 3 Classic Edition for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in June, 2018. For this review, I played the PC version. Far Cry 3 does come with a co-op mode and multiplayer component but I didn’t get the chance to check them out so this review will only focus on the single player.
The story follows Jason Brody after he and his friends are captured by pirates during their vacation in the fictional Rook Islands. After escaping captivity, Jason is aided by the island’s native Rakyat tribe and they recognize his potential as a warrior. As Jason searches the islands in an effort to rescue his friends, he helps the Rakyat retake the islands back from the pirates. In the end, I thought the story was decent. It does get a little strange but includes a very interesting cast of characters. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to Jason and his friends. They come across as stereotypical douchebags and I really found it hard to care about any of them. Jason is by far the most interesting in the group probably because he’s the protagonist so you spend of your time with him and get to see him transform into a warrior or killer.
One thing I really enjoy about the plot is the characters you interact with. They add a sense of mystery to the world. Everyone is conveyed as kind of strange in their own way. The standout character is easily Vaas and I wish he made more appearances because I think he’s the star of the show. He is one of multiple antagonists, is presented as a violent psychopath and the performance by Michael Mando is phenomenal. It’s only a shame his role in the plot comes to an end as soon as it does.
To me, Far Cry 3 is the game that encapsulates the idea of Far Cry. Running around an open tropical setting, shooting bad guys. That’s a very simplified description but that’s basically what I think of and always have thought of when I would hear the name “Far Cry”. Anyway, Far Cry 3 continues with the open world aspect first introduced to the series in Far Cry 2 and rectifies a lot of the issues that came with that game. I, personally, feel the story is better and contains more interesting characters. But more importantly, there’s more variety to the gameplay, it contains a more interesting world with more things to see and do, the world feels somewhat alive, animals play a much bigger role, and getting around is easier thanks primarily to more fast travel points. Funnily enough, when compared to Far Cry 2, I actually enjoyed driving, running and exploring the world in Far Cry 3 because more interesting things can happen during your travels.
Rook Islands or the world in Far Cry 3 feels somewhat alive due to many reasons. You can come across enemies walking and driving around, about to execute people, or engaging members of the Rakyat tribe who can be found at and around any outposts Jason liberates. The game features crafting and there’s resources to collect in the world. Plants are everywhere, you can find cash, and loot containers are around almost every corner and exploration can even lead you to collectibles like memory cards, lost letters and relics. Furthermore, animals roam around the world and it’s not uncommon to come across NPCs shooting at or being attacked by hostile animals like tigers and leopards among others. Needless to say, the world is a very hostile place and it does make for many exciting moments and situations.
There’s a lot of cool stuff in Far Cry 3 and I think most of it was refreshing for the time it released, maybe even innovative for the genre. You start the adventure with almost nothing. As you kill enemies, complete objectives and find collectibles, you earn experience. When you earn enough experience, you earn a skill point that can be spent to activate one of many skills that provide gameplay benefits. Now some skills need to be unlocked by progressing through the story or meeting certain requirements. Then there’s crafting. Jason can craft weapon holsters, syringe kits, pouches, quivers, rucksacks, wallets, and fuel slings, all of which are needed to store the various items he collects. The bigger the wallet, the more money he can carry. The bigger the grenade pouch, the more grenades he can carry. You get the idea. So at the start of the game, Jason can only carry one weapon, little ammo, and a small amount of resources but as he hunts animals and takes their skins, he’ll be able to craft more items and as a result, hold more stuff. This, along with the experience system and skills makes for a nice feeling of progression. It meshes well with the story and his transformation as a character.
Rook Islands is one big world split into two parts; North and South. You start in the North and the story will eventually take you to the South and unlock fast travel points there. Far Cry 3 is another entry in the series that gives you plenty of freedom albeit with some restrictions like locking certain skills, weapons and the South part of the islands behind story progression. But you can ignore the story at any time and explore, gather resources, hunt animals, liberate outposts, and complete side missions, challenges and trials. You’re free to do anything you want. I did play this once before at the time it released and remember spending much of my time in the endgame hunting animals to finish crafting everything. So I focused more on crafting in the beginning this time around and I think I was able to craft almost everything before even reaching the South part of the islands. Keep in mind some items can be only crafted with resources gained from certain side missions like the Path of the Hunter missions, many of which require you to hunt a specific rare animal.
The content on the map his hidden until you disable the scramblers atop the numerous the Radio Towers scattered around the world. Disabling a scrambler reveals a region of the map and important locations and unlocks free weapons. Enemies have outposts all over the world and by liberating them, you clear out the enemies in the surrounding area, unlock side missions, and every liberated outpost becomes a new fast travel point and you can fast travel to any fast travel point from the map screen which is convenient. Unlike Far Cry 2, when you liberate an outpost, enemies do not respawn and it can make navigating around the world easier. But at the time of release, this created another problem later on, although it does depend on the player’s actions. Without enemies, there’s nothing to shoot besides animals and it sucked for me because I remember liberating all the outposts before finishing the story so by the end of the game, I couldn’t really reap the benefits of all my hard work. I unlocked all the skills and crafted everything but there were no more enemies to shoot. Eventually, the developers patched the game with an option to reset outposts. Ultimately, I prefer this to the instant respawns of Far Cry 2.
One thing I think is a little strange is how the game handles weapons. There’s a lot of weapons in Far Cry 3 and they can be acquired from stores. You can visit stores in the world or access it from liberated outposts. This is where you can buy weapons and ammo among some other things and sell any unwanted loot. This is also where you can equip weapons and buy customizations for them including attachments and paint jobs or skins. For one thing, all weapons cost money until you disable the scramblers on the appropriate radio towers which results in weapons becoming free. They’re basically given to you so there’s really no reason to buy weapons, minus signature weapons which are special versions of existing weapons and are never made free.
I guess the idea of allowing the player to buy weapons is simply to provide the option but since all standard weapons become free, spending money on them seems unnecessary, a waste of money. I would save my money for signature weapons and customizations. Another thing I think is odd is how the game handles weapon attachments. There’s an arbitrary limit on the amount of attachments a gun can have. For example, you can buy a suppressor, extended mag, and better optics for a gun but only equip two of those which is dumb. Ultimately, the way the game handles weapons is somewhat bizarre. The game introduces you to the store early on but also tells you early on that disabling the scramblers on radio towers will unlock weapons for free. And you can go after the radio towers at any time and unlock all the available weapons before doing anything else. Same goes for the new weapons introduced when you reach the South part of the islands. It just seems like an odd design choice.
The actual missions in the game are quite linear. You typically run from A to B and kill everyone in between. Some missions will force stealth or in other words require you to remain undetected. You’ll have to kill people, plant explosives, infiltrate areas, and protect NPCs. It’s typical first-person shooter mission design. Since I played this directly after finishing Far Cry 2, I can say this game is paced better and I found the missions to be more enjoyable. There’s more set pieces, more exciting action, multiple defined enemy types, and stealth plays a much bigger role here. Many times, you’re given the choice to take the loud or quiet approach and sometimes the quiet approach is better and safer. This doesn’t just apply to missions, either. You always have the option to approach outposts any way you want but do earn more experience for liberating outposts undetected.
Stealth works like how you would expect. Stay quiet and out of sight. That means crouching to make less noise and stay hidden and using suppressed weapons and the bow for quiet kills. You can tag enemies to keep an eye on them and with the right skills activated, you can perform different types of takedowns. There’s a lot to work towards in the game and that’s one thing I really like about Far Cry 3. Trying to unlock everything can become addictive. It doesn’t matter if I was aiming for a new skill or animal needed to craft that next pouch. That’s the kind of stuff that really kept me going and by the end, I felt like a badass warrior adapted to the jungle, able to take down foes with ease and sometimes letting the wildlife do the work for me. Animals may appear seemingly out of nowhere and if they’re not attacking you, they’ll go after enemies which can be helpful and make for some exciting moments. It’s always a good idea to be mindful of your surroundings. You’ll often come across animals in cages, and they can be found at many outposts and if you free them, they can go on a rampage and kill all the enemies which is both satisfying and awesome.
Most of the story missions in the game are pretty straightforward and simple but also action-packed. There’s a couple significant fights in the game that consist of quick time events so that sucks but much of the gameplay will consist of lot of shooting and explosions. Much like Far Cry 2, fire is no joke and spreads and can slowly consume an area, burning through foliage and trees. It’s very cool to witness. Action is one thing Far Cry 3 does excel at. Despite the mission design being nothing super special, most of the missions are fun. You’ll run through caves and the jungle shooting bad guys, burn down a drug farm, and defend boats, vehicles, and a helicopter from pursuers in on-rails shooter sequences. Scattered throughout the world are Rakyat Trials which require you to blow away waves of enemies for a high score and liberating outposts unlocks Wanted Dead missions which require you to kill specific targets in a specific way. As fun as the action is, there’s more to do than just kill people and blow shit up. You can try for record times in checkpoint races, compete in knife throwing and shooting challenges, and even play poker.
The world, itself, is very well designed and I prefer it to the world in Far Cry 2. The different locales aside, I think it’s better crafted and allows for easier navigation. By that I mean, you don’t have to primarily stick to the roads to get anywhere easily. Roads are often surrounded by foliage and rock formations but I rarely found myself having to go some roundabout way to get anywhere and I could go drive off-road to get to my destination faster. All the fast travel points are also helpful. You can navigate around the world on foot or drive vehicles and boats, jet skis, and utilize a wingsuit and hang gliders. Best of all, enemies are easier to outrun, at least in my experience, and they don’t all drive vehicles with weapons mounted on them so I didn’t feel the need to constantly stop to repair my vehicle or defend myself.
Visually, I think Far Cry 3 still holds up rather well. The presentation is very colorful, the animations are great, and the visual effects look cool. From the beautiful blue waters to the greens of the jungle, Far Cry 3 is a very pleasing game on the eyes. However, there are some eyesores. Pop-in and things fading in is often noticeable and with everything maxed out, it’s hard not to notice a dark outline or shadow around a lot of things like characters for example. I did consult the game’s PCGamingWiki page and learned this is the result of the native ambient occlusion which cannot be disabled in-game under DirectX 11. But there are ways to resolve this problem. I also witnessed what I’m calling “rapidly jittering” NPCs quite frequently. The soundtrack is pretty good and the tunes compliment what’s happening on-screen nicely often helping to elevate tension. On the technical side, I can’t say I encountered any game breaking issues or serious bugs but I did notice the frame rate dip from time to time.
As of this review, I’ve come to associate modern open world Ubisoft games as fun, overall, but bloated with uninteresting shit. Just based on the games I’ve played, their worlds are filled with tons of activities and missions so I can’t say they lack things to see and do but a lot of it comes across as filler and/or lacks variety. Along with Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry 3 feels like it could have been the start of this trend but I think it was successful because it did all the right things at the time. A simple way to describe it would be the developers took the open world concept of Far Cry 2 but stripped out the bad shit and added more content and variety. They added more things to see and do, there’s more variety to the gameplay, they placed a bigger emphasis on stealth, and it’s much more accessible and welcoming. It does feature a lot of content and I can’t say I enjoy every single mission and activity but they don’t all feel the same and the game doesn’t feel bloated. None of the side stuff feels like lazy padding or filler. I don’t feel overwhelmed when I look at all the icons on the map.
I had a great time with Far Cry 3. The gameplay feels a lot smoother and more fluid than the previous entries and even with the few restrictions that are in place, you are still given plenty of freedom from the get-go and those restrictions are eventually lifted as you progress through the story. While many missions are linear, you are typically given the option to approach situations however you see fit whether that be loud or quietly, and this applies to encounters in the world as well. I feel Far Cry 3 is the game that truly defined the series and it’s not hard to see why it was such a success when it released, especially if you played the previous games.
I would absolutely recommend Far Cry 3. The gameplay is fun and action-packed, the action is exciting, and everything feels great. It’s not perfect. I find some design choices to be a little odd but, overall, it’s a phenomenal game and sequel. I would even go so far to say it’s one of the best shooters of its generation. If you’re looking for an action-packed and exciting shooter with plenty to see and do, definitely check out Far Cry 3.