After a perfect vacation enjoying every activity possible on the fictionally beautiful tropical getaway of Rook Island, Jason Brody, the protagonist, and his friends find themselves captured by the ruthless and schizophrenically insane Vaas and his pirates. After being caged and prepared for ransom, Jason and his brother attempt an escape that leads to his brother's death and leaves Jason stranded in the dense jungles. Rescued by a nearby Samoan village, Jason must return for his friends to save them from their disgusting fates. The game begins with Jason's turmoils as he's forced to repair his recently shattered life, discover his strength to fight and rescue his friends. Jason knows he's powerless to help, but he must struggle past the harshest of human qualities with the motivation from a Samoan tribe to rescue his friends and escape. Its brutal, believable, and an entrenching idea that eludes a cohesive narrative. Unfortunately this breaks away since, throughout the game, lighthearted, half thought, or out-of-place content dilutes any sense of consistency.
Far Cry 3 tries to have strong suggestive themes, but barely spends any time delving on them, and instead spends its 15 to 20 hours forcing Jason to move from one twisted being to the next, never really spending enough time to explain their logic, brushing you along before any rationalization, leaving the sense that the content has no real precedent and only exists to offend and leave the world "griddy", "dark" and "real". With themes ranging from drug abuse to male on male rape, you'd think Far Cry 3 would spend more time explaining why these touches exists, rather than using tasteless content for the sake of being tasteless.
"Look at that face and tell me he's not a creep"
Far Cry 3's story is a cliched disappointment from what it could have been. I know the game's draw is the spontaneous gameplay, but they've made a big enough effort to suggest story is important. Instead of diving into them, subjects are glanced over to get to the set pieces and "cool parts". The more I played the story, the more I wanted to stop, not because I was offended, but because its not logically development, and later begins to fall apart, often choosing the easiest path to a conclusion. Instead of spending any real time exploring the twisted logic of its psychopathic antagonists and their slave and drug trades, the story mostly revolves around Jason's transition of shunning his former self to become the tribal society's sense of the "warrior", fulfill their uninspired prophecy, and exact revenge from the pirate leaders.
Story aside, this game is beautiful. Rays of sunlight cuts through the shadows of the forests in leafy silhouettes instead of inorganic light beams. The further into thickets you wander, the shadows become blinding, the deep shades hiding anything dangerous on its potential approach. The leaves and branches sway in the breeze, hiding enemy or animal movement. The salty waters sting your eyes causing your vision to blur while swimming. Put in comparative terms, Far Cry 3 is Skyrim meets Just Cause; Read: expansive, gorgeous, and hilariously spontaneous.
The idea of being inside of Jason's head is taken to heart. You're never seen Jason outside of his perspective. If Jason is hurt, as he heals he raises the injury into his view before treating the wound. His monologues as he travels paint his feelings during every action. They're simple as sighs, groans, or small expletives, but you'll get the exact feeling of being in the moment.
When your not ridding Rook Island of the pirate menace, there's plenty for Jason to enjoy during his island vacation. The more necessary side objectives involve liberating the island from its pirate captors by overthrowing the various outposts scattered thoughout the islands, or disabling radio towers to releasing their stranglehold on outside communications. Unless you want to eliminate all opposition and transform the game into pure Cabela's, though, I recommend leaving some outposts hostile, since once they're gone, they're gone. There are various ways to hunt, ranging from recreationally to permitted bounties - just like real hunting! There's also the typical suite of collectibles, races, and poker, which is...poker?
Speaking of, Far Cry 3 is the best Cabela's hunting game. Surprisingly most of the world's animal population resides on Rook Island. Since there are herbivores as well as predators populating the island, there's a breathing ecosystem where food chains are established rather than the popular predators spawning nearby only to throw a wrench in the gears. It's haunting and funny to chase a distant scream to find a large predator attacking a person and then watching vultures appear shortly after the assailant loses interest. That's not to say they don't throw wrenches, mind you; Kept as reluctant pets, its hilarious to unleash karma along with the caged animals upon pirate outposts to exact revenge and complete your bidding.
Torn from the familiarity of shopping centers, Jason must scrounge off the island, using the flora and fauna to create his equipment. Upgrading pouches and slings are easy at first, when the requirement is skinning a dog or pig(yeah, the game is pretty brutal), but you'll begin to laugh when you need to kill two sharks to get that fancy big wallet. And let's not speak of the legendary animals. Learning from the local tribesmen, Jason also learns the residential medicinal concoctions to maintain his health, or otherwise supplement his needs.
"Kali ma...Kali ma"
Shortly after escaping Vaas's camp, the Rakyat villagers that rescue Jason inscribe a tatau(or for the layman, the word 'tattoo' is derived from) upon his arm. Spiritually important to the Rakyat, and the symbol of a warrior in Samoan culture, Jason receives his tatau to show his strength. As you venture out, gain experience, and earn skills, the tattoo will mysterious expand up his arm. It didn't make too much sense to me, but its was a nice way of gauging level progress. My eyes rolled, though, after hearing the idea of the tatau or tattoo, because regardless of the symbolism of Jason's transformation from a tourist to Rakyat warrior, I saw it as an evolution of a douche. I mean, what's every white douche on a thrill seeking island vacation missing? A sweet tribal tattoo sleeve, right?
Taking appearances aside, the skills that nourish Jason's tattoo split into three aspect: The Shark, The Heron, and The Spider. They do have a cosmetic effect on the tattoo, but their purpose lies in gameplay. Encompassing endurance, accuracy, or stealth respectively, the different combative actions and effects are expansive but incremental. I found a lot of the passive skills superfluous, since Jason's stats felt adequate enough, especially with the flamboyant skills assuring a better purchase, although they get superfluous to a point as well; a dual takedown and a throwing knife dual takedown as separate skills seems unnecessary.
There are some technical issues. The save system is a bit clunky, relying a lackluster manual saves when roaming, but when on a mission, a unreliable checkpoint system takes over. More of archaic design issues than a technical flaws, but just about everything needs to load, and cutscenes almost always fade to black before resuming any action. I understand the game is expansive and beautiful, but we haven't gotten past fading out from cutscenes yet?
"Sea food...? See food."
Aside from Jason's adventures on Rook Island, there's a bevy of cooperative and competitive multiplayer experiences to otherwise supplement the experience. Competitive multiplayer doesn't contain much that separates it from its single player counterpart. There's the staple game of deathmatch, which is self explanatory. Domination is basically king of the hill, requiring you hold territories to maintain scores. Transmission is very similar to domination, being a king of the hill variant only on a smaller scale, unfortunately, I wasn't able to find enough players in the variant to competently test it out the action, due to player interest leaning towards its bigger brother. Firestorm is a unique twist in capture the flag, the objective is to two fires, which triggers a napalm strike. At this point a neutral radio point opens, where the defending team races to call in a cancelation order that resets the playing field, or the offensive side confirms the firestorm, igniting the whole field, winning the match. Well its easier than done, since firestorm is easily the toughest variant. There is a map editor, in which you create custom multiplayer maps(obviously) that can be voted on quality, with the better levels thrown into the regular map rotations.
Cooperative play resonated better with me than the competitive multiplayer since it seemed to ring better with the rest of the package. Taking its reigns from games like Left 4 Dead or Dead Island , taking a unlikely and conflicting bunch of misfits and forcing them together by a common goal. However like Far Cry's campaign counterpart, gameplay has a bigger priority than he story. Six months before Jason Brody adventures on Rook Island, a retired cop, a thug chef, a soldier suffering from PTSD, and an dishonored Russian mobster are a cruise ship near Rook Island before the ship's captain sells the vessel and its passengers to pirates, stealing its room vault's contents and escaping to the island. Betrayed and skilled enough to act, the four lash out in revenge to catch up the captain and steal his treasures. Designed for arcade style run throughs, the characters fight hordes of enemies across the island regularly stopping to unbar barriers halting their progress or stop for mini games that have no real context, but, at least, spur up the monotony. The story is quite hard to follow while online, however, since matchmaking is handled automatically, making it hard to play the level you're looking for. Offline coop fixes this issue, allowing you to choose level and difficulty, but downgrades to two players opposed to four.
I loved the game, but with its incoherent and brutal narrative, I was indifferent to its story. Luckily the story if far from everything in the game, so there's plenty of reasons to look past its fiction and enjoy the Far Cry 3 for what it is: a spontaneous, exciting and believably breathing island that's just waiting to be explored by any tourist unlucky enough to get tethered into its disaster ridden shores. Happy hunting and share your Far Cry 3 moments in the comments below!