|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360*|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal|
|Release: December 4, 2012|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs|
by Josh Engen
A few hours into the Far Cry 3 campaign, we're introduced to a side character named Agent Huntley, an ex-CIA operative who is secretly investigating the illegal activities on Rook Island. Huntley is holed up inside of a secret room underneath his tropical hut, and refuses to do any investigation on his own, relying instead on external operatives to report back. But even though Huntley's miserly disposition characterizes him as a bit of a screwball, his fears are irrefutable. "This Island will change you," he warns, and he's right on the money.
See, Far Cry 3 isn't just another first-person shooter; it's an investigation into the process of natural selection and a study on psychological transformation. As grandiose as this may sound for a video game, it's the truth. Ubisoft has managed to create a game that forces players to evaluate their own ethical boundaries, and then break them.
The campaign starts like so many terrible teenage horror movies: with a group of young, attractive coeds on an extravagant vacation to some tropical island. Predictably, the picturesque location soon becomes a backdrop for something far more sinister, and one of the coeds is tasked with leading the group out.
But that's where the similarities end. The movie version would quickly descend into a mindless horror-porn slasher-fest, but Far Cry 3 becomes something much more terrifying.
When we're introduced to our protagonist, Jason Brody, he is trapped inside of a bamboo cell with his brother Grant. The two, along with the rest of their group, have been taken captive by a gang of privateers who plan to ransom them back to their families.
Grant is an all-American pretty boy, whose military training quickly comes in handy. He's the type of character that you'd expect to see in the starring role of any first-person shooter. Jason, on the other hand, winces when Grant makes the first kill of the game and becomes queasy at the thought of any more killing. In fact, as I was playing through the opening sequence, I turned to my wife, who likes to eat giant salads and watch me play video games, and said "Why can't I play as Grant?"
But that's the beauty of Far Cry 3. Jason Brody is the perfect protagonist, and it's because he's a weakling.
As the story unfolds, Jason is forced to make a series of difficult decisions that fundamentally change his psychology. After you've known Jason for a few short hours, he's already become something much more deranged than he was in that bamboo cell. And it all crescendos to a scene where Jason must decide who he wants to be: the person he was, or the person he has become.
Like I said, grandiose.
Now, I've already heard people referring to Far Cry 3 an "FPS Role Playing Game." And even though it does have some RPG elements, Far Cry 3 is a shooter at heart. Sure, there's a crafting tree, and a skill tree, and the campaign often feels like a quest line, but it has a linearity to it that no open-world RPG could ever dream of. The campaign is articulate and compelling, and contains very few unrelated side quests.
However, even with its linear feel, Far Cry 3 still plays like an open world shooter. The single-player campaign itself contains about 35 hours of gameplay, depending on how many times you fail a quest or run off in search of a wild animal to turn into a wallet. There are a handful of side quests and minigames, but you'll get your money’s worth even if you stay on the main path.
The crafting tree is pretty self-explanatory if you've ever played an RPG. Hunting animals and gathering plants nets you the resources to craft bags, holsters, syringes and a number of other things. The syringes deliver a potion-like effect that wears off after a short time.
Skills are gained by spending the experience points that you've acquired throughout your various travels/battles. As you learn each skill, a new tattoo is etched into your left arm—a physical representation of the psychological transformation that Jason Brody is undergoing.
But, and it pains me to say this, Far Cry 3 is not without its drawbacks. The controls, for instance, have a natural, responsive feel, but the built-in auto-aim function, like most auto-aims, is often handicapping. On occasion, like when trying to hit a long-distance shot, auto-aim is just what the doctor ordered. But in a massive firefight, it's best to put that Call of Duty skill set to good use.