Far Cry 3 could easily be described as an open-world first person shooter with RPG elements. It could also be described as a madness filled plunge down the rabbit hole in video game form. Both would be fairly accurate.
The game itself puts you in the shoes of Jason Brody, a man who finds his sunny island vacation interrupted by ruthless drug traffickers. Forced to flee for his life, Jason’s quest to recover his friends involves everything from battling pirates to exploring ancient ruins.
The first missions you’ll get teach the basics, hunting animals and using their hides to craft yourself better holsters, backpacks, and so on. Different objects require different animal hides, which usually sets the player up for a fun romp to hunt down a specific type of wildlife.
As you move through the world trying to recover your friends from Vaas, the delightfully unhinged enforcer of the local drug operations, you’ll encounter strongholds held by Vaas’s pirates. Taking them out will grant you a hand fast travel and resupply point as well as make the area much safer to travel in.
Attacking these locations is excellent fun, especially if you choose to go the stealth route, which grants an experience bonus. Silent arrows, sneaky takedowns, and even the local wildlife can be used to eliminate your targets all without them ever knowing what hit them.
The game has a feel a lot like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, just with guns, rocket launchers, compound bows, and other modern weaponry. The game makes customizing these toys fairly easy, rewarding your quests with cold hard cash you can use to purchase fancy optical sights, silencers, and pain jobs among other things.
Exploring the island is also cleverly designed. Radio towers scattered across the islands can be climbed and turned to your benefit, unveiling large sections of land for you discover. They also reward you by randomly making guns at stores permanently free, making trekking off the beaten path doubly rewarding.
The game makes ample use of both land and aquatic vehicles, which are nicely done. Unlike many games where driving is a rather dull affair Far Cry 3 lets you feel every bump in the road, making you feel like you’re living something from an action movie.
Skills are earned with each rank in typical RPG style. Some of the skills are rather mundane and rarely useful, such as firing your gun while using a zip line, while others, like jumping on top of a guy and taking him out with a knife come in handy all the time.
Perhaps the most intriguing and wonderful part of Far Cry 3 is that your character actually develops. Jason Brody starts off as a frightened man out of his element. As he is forced to kill his character freaks out, and slowly as the game progresses his dialogue hints at the madness developing within him.
Most games rely on cinematic sequences to convey development, leaving little time for it at all, yet Jason’s quest to recover his friends unfolds with each passing event, giving it much more substance.
Despite the narrative being great at evoking this nearly unseen dynamic in the protagonist there are certain elements that detract from it as well. As Jason searches for his friends he makes quick allies of the native Rakyat tribe, the local resistance to speak, and from this tribe Jason's experience becomes much more odd.
The tribal influence is designed to act like as competition for Jason’s old life, however Jason’s reactions to them don’t seem to fit with his normally hyper-realistic responses to the death and mayhem around him.
Your liaison to the Rakyat, Dennis, decides to tattoo you while you’re sleeping after you initially escape from Vaas. Instead of freaking out, Jason rather mindlessly accepts that a random man has tattooed his body while he’s been passed out.
As you buy new skills the tattoos you have been given will magically receive new additions, a dynamic which would work fine in a fantasy game but serves only to pull you out of the experience in a game like this.
Several times throughout the game Jason is dosed with drugs by the Rakyat, which usually leads to him battle some spectral boss while he’s tripping out of his mind. If this happened to a normal guy, like what Jason is supposed to be, there would be no way he’d put up with it, yet Jason unrealistically accepts these things and somehow only becomes more engrossed in their warrior culture. The tribal aspect of the game just yanks you out of your suspension of disbelief constantly.
When you're done with the campaign players can always tackle four player co-op, or multiplayer, however these modes are far more singular and seem tacked on simply because shooters are expected to have them these days. They're not altogether bad, but they simply don't compare to the engrossing nature of the campaign.
Thankfully though Far Cry 3 remains loads of fun and will give FPS and RPG fans alike something to toy with for hours on end. It’s frantic storyline, satisfying gameplay, and the slowly creeping madness of your character is more than enough to outweigh its faults.
Far Cry 3 is developed by Ubisoft, and can be purchased for the PC, Xbox360, and PlayStation 3 in Tucson stores. PC users may download it using their Steam clients.