FAR CRY 3 (Xbox 360)

Review by Derrick Carter

The marketing for FAR CRY 3 sold it as “SKYRIM with guns.” Though this comparison drew skeptical ire from many gamers, it’s an accurate description of how this open-world first-person shooter functions both in gameplay and plot. Much like other first-person shooters, FAR CRY 3 allows the player to upgrade certain skills/weapons to cater towards their preferred gameplay approach. FAR CRY 3 essentially lets the player do whatever the hell they want to…only to eventually come back to the story when it best suits their needs. Whatever your approach might be, FAR CRY 3 is an awesome achievement in the world of video games and an energetic lunacy-filled ride to boot.

Jason Brody and his rich young friends were skydiving over the tropical Rook islands. However, things went wrong when they accidentally wandered into pirate-infested territory. Jason and his naive pals were taken prisoner by the psychotic pirate leader Vaas…and it’s up to the newly escape Jason to rescue his friends. Of course, to do this, Jason will need to use lots of weapons and open many cans of whoop-ass. Also, Jason isn’t exactly in the best mental state either…so expect hallucinations to follow him throughout this bullet-filled, blood-soaked adventure.

FAR CRY 3 ventures into seriously dark territory and the sheer amount of insane characters might throw certain players who just want a light-hearted shooter for a loop. The game gets the player emotionally involved in Jason’s mental and physical struggles. The opening minutes of gameplay showcase executions and a sickening human trafficking ring as you escape into the jungle. It’s intense and things don’t necessarily let up much from that point onward as other crazed characters make their way into the mix…and you stack up a body count that goes well into the triple-digits.

Besides functioning as a first-person shooter that allows you to dish out merciless violence onto people who definitely deserve it, FAR CRY 3 also requires the player to take advantage of its open world by hunting animals in order to craft upgraded gear. While this may sound like it’s merely a side option, you pretty much have to upgrade your gear as the game moves forward. Eventually you’ll get sick of only being able to carry 2,000 dollars in your wallet and be more than willing to dive into the shark-infested ocean so you can carry 6,000 dollars. Hunting becomes quite the intense ordeal too as tigers, leopards, boars, dingos, and (the aforementioned) sharks can easily take you down if you’re not careful.

In keeping with the open world environment, there are tons of side quests that involve rescuing hostages, killing specific pirates, and hunting animals that are causing a ruckus on certain parts of the island. There’s also a definite satisfaction that comes with scaling every radio tower (the game’s equivalent of puzzles where you can fall to a most painful death) to reveal new pieces of the huge map. That same satisfaction comes with liberating outposts to conquer hostile territory. Each outpost can be taken by the players own approach, meaning that you can quietly kill everybody out without even firing a bullet or you can blow everything (and many reinforcements) to kingdom come. No two outposts are alike either, which requires you to carefully plan your strategy beforehand.

As for the campaign missions, FAR CRY 3 ensures that you’re never doing the same thing twice. Some critics have complained that the game goes into first-person shooter clichés by including: stealth missions, hostage rescues, recovery missions, battles, etc. I found all of this to be terrifically exciting though and each mission naturally furthers the plot along. I wanted to keep playing this game to find out where things would go and to get the satisfaction of taking down an island full of vicious pirates. It also helps that the story has a distinct character arc for Jason as you watch him transform from wussy rich kid into hardened killer (who begins to love his newfound status as a murder-happy warrior). There are loads of nasty plot twists that put the viewer into uncomfortable situations, especially during the campaign’s final third. I’ll say it again. This is a dark game.

Of course, the action wouldn’t be worth much without some colorful villains that you love to hate. FAR CRY 3 dominates in that area too. Originally, Vaas (the main pirate baddie) wasn’t even supposed to be a character in the game, but the developers were blown away by actor Michael Mando’s audition. Vaas is easily the best villain in the game and has the most memorable scenes as he dives into insane monologues. You never know what this guy will do next and Mando knocks it out of the park in his performance. FAR CRY 3 doesn’t falter in its other big bads though. My personal favorite FAR CRY 3 villain is Australian hitman Buck. He puts Jason through bloody TOMB RAIDER-esque missions and has lots of disturbing implications hidden throughout his cut scenes. Meanwhile, crime lord Hoyt comes off as a cocky action movie villain.

My only complaints with FAR CRY 3 lie in the plot losing a bit of its energetic insanity after a certain character disappears from the mix, but it makes sense in the game’s overall plot. Tension moves from one area to another and Jason’s unstable mental state becomes a huge factor in the storyline. Boss fights take place in neon-lit hallucination landscapes, leaving the bloody aftermath as a glimpse of your actions…after you’ve taken down a bad guy. The campaign’s ending also has two distinct possibilities, both of them dark in their own ways. However, the bad ending is significantly worse than the “good” ending. It feels like the developers were deliberately punishing players who made a certain choice.

Overall, FAR CRY 3 is a damn near flawless open world first-person shooter. It allows you to craft much of your own story through the order you complete quests, taking the campaign at your own pace, and choosing different approaches in action. The thick tension, adrenaline-pumping action, beautiful landscapes, and colorful characters make this game a near masterpiece. FAR CRY 3 is a must-play for fans of open world gaming and first-person shooters.

Grade: A

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