Developers: Ubisoft Montreal
Plot: When partying on an isolated island, a group of twenty-somethings, including three brothers, are kidnapped by pirates. Things begin to spiral out of control, when the middle brother, Jason, is seduced by the island’s warrior instinct.
The first thing you begin to realise about Farcry 3 is that it seems to cherry-pick the best ideas from a lot of successful games and throws them all into one pot. For example, it is pretty hard not to think of Farcry 3 as Dead Island without the zombies. Similar location, almost identical driving controls and the gameplay style feels very familiar. At the same time, we have the side-missions where you liberate enemy camps and climb radio towers to unlock more sights on the map, just like Assassin’s Creed. It has the Skyrim fast travel system. All that on top of your traditional first person shooter, complete with weapons that wouldn’t look odd when put into a Call of Duty or Battlefield game.
The bizarre thing about Farcry 3 is that you will probably start off this game, hating it. To begin with, your character, Jason, is pretty useless. You are thrown onto an island surrounded by pirates and when exploring the island, progress can be all too suddenly snuffed out, the moment a randomly spawning convey of pirates passes by and decides to execute you. Farcry 3 can be frustrating experience at times. However, stick with it, because once you have clocked in a certain amount of time with this game, and got the necessary upgrades, you suddenly begin to turn the tide on your enemies. Outposts that used to mean certain death for you are now little more trouble that strolling into their base, silently taking out one or two of their men and picking off the rest with some quick bursts from your rifle. Every outpost you free means less spawning bad guys, so the island slowly becomes a safer place to explore. Yes, it starts out as the toughest FPS I have played in a while, but it makes conquering the game that much more satisfying.
The limited health bar also becomes a good thing, as it means you have to become that little bit smarter. Launching assaults on heavily-guarded outposts becomes a pleasing little riddle. You could rush in and try to shoot down everyone, before someone lucks out and gets to an alarm, calling a second wave of foes. Or you could go that hill to the left and figure out the layout of the base? Every now and then you will see a trapped animal (Leopard, Komodo Dragon), in a cage and the trick is to simply shoot the lock and let the animal half the amount of people you have to kill. Sometimes, you see a clever little route, weaving through buildings, to get through the snipers and to the alarms, which you can disable. When you complete a particularly tricky outpost, without anyone even realising you were there, it can be one of the best feelings in the world.
The storyline has been praised for being one of the best things about Farcry 3 and I partially agree. Yes, the actual story is actually quite an engaging one, once you get past the idea that it is basically white people being better at the local culture than the actual natives (think Tom Cruise movie). It starts off with you being the one person in your group of friends to luck out and slip away from the pirates. You meet up with a warrior of the Rakyat, a tribe on the island, who see something in you and try to help you save your friends. However, soon the adventure gets personal and you want revenge on the pirates, slowly turning into a warrior of the Rakyat yourself. Several interesting characters are thrown into the mix, like the seductive Rakyat leader, Citra, the mentally unhinged pirate lieutenant Vaas and the suspicious government agent, Wilson. The climax throws some interesting twists at you and before you realise it, you are hooked into the story.
However, then there are major storyline issues that stop this game from being as great as people make out. For one, Jason, the person you are playing, is an utter douche-bucket. He treats his friends and girlfriend like utter shit and his corruption to the island was a little bit fast for me. There were times I couldn’t relate to his character. I preferred spending time away from the story, because when I was alone on the island, killing the hell out of pirates, I forgot that I was actually meant to be this annoying character. My other problem was the fact that a lot of the characters were over-acting. Small pieces of exposition turned into monologues, as though the voice actors decided they could somehow weasel themselves an OSCAR. Vaas had the potential to be one of the creepiest, interesting gaming villains of 2013, but there were certain lines that felt too ‘insane’. I know he was meant to be mad, but there needs to be some control to that, otherwise we get scenes that feel forced.
However, the truth is, despite being a very flawed game, Farcry 3 is some of the most fun I have had in a long time. I started off rushing through it, just to get a review out for this blog, but ended up spending longer than planned on it, intent on savouring every last battle of this game. Throw yourself into Farcry 3 and you will have the time of your life.
Final Verdict: There are easy fixes to too many problems, but the action is so high-octane and a genuine attempt is made for an immersive story, so Farcry 3 ends up being more enjoyable than it has any right to be.