As 2012 winds down focus shifts from the this holiday’s big releases to next year. For good reason too. Quarter one of next year is already jam packed with games. However don’t shift your focus too soon. There’s still one big release to be played and that of course is Ubisoft’s Farcry 3.
Before I go any further I would like to rectify a false claim that has spread around the internet. Farcry 3 is not indeed Skyrim with guns. If that were so then it would be an RPG and it’s not. Farcry 3 is a beautiful open world FPS with some very minor RPG elements but that doesn’t make it “Skyrim with guns.” Now that I’ve cleared that up time to get down to the heart of the matter.
Farcry 3 sets players in the shoes of slacker Jason Brody, who has taken a vacation with his friends and family. After skydiving onto the tropical Rook Island, Jason and the gang are captured by some of it’s not so friendly locals. The game quickly opens up to you starring into the face of insanity, otherwise known as the militant leader Vaas. Thanks to the terrific dialogue that highlights all the intricate layers of Vaas’ mind, you really get a feel for how crazy this man truly is. Once your are able to escape, with the help of Jason’s older army brother Grant, the world opens up. Of course know it’s time to rescue the others. This won’t be possible unless you get some help from the friendlier locals known as the Rakayt. The gift of the Tatau, some sort of ancient magical tattoo, is given to Jason allowing him to have the power required to save his friends and family. The Tatau is broken down into 3 sections and each time you level up you get a skill point that can purchase a perk. Perks consist of simple things like more health and quicker reload times or the ability to takedown an enemy and proceed to use his knife on his pals. The perks give you a true sense of progression. Whether it’s the ability to chain together silent takedowns or simply reload faster I always felt that I was getting better. The RPG like skill progression gives you plenty of valuable skills, although it does favor a stealthy approach to combat. While stealthily dispatching your foes is the most viable of options, if all hell breaks lose you won’t be at a complete disadvantage. Gunplay is just as smooth and responsive as any other FPS out there.
The best way to approach things is to treat Rook Island has one big playground. When your not taking out gangs of Vaas’ thugs, hang gliding over the beautiful scenery or doing some off-road driving can be a real blast. When you get bored of that however you can always get to work on hunting the wildlife. Tigers, bears, sharks, alligators, and deer, can all be found among many others. Hunting these critters does serve a purpose though. Their pelts can be used in crafting a variety of gear such as more holsters or bigger ammo packs. While out on your hunting expeditions it’s a good idea to also pick any herbs that can be used in medicines or other concoctions. The point of these features is too give the game a real survival feel. Sadly the combat isn’t ever that challenging, so the survival aspects of the game fall by the wayside.
There are plenty of other small faults to be found. One of my biggest gripes is the unresponsive controls when trying to put out a fire. As any sane person would do after realizing they were ablaze, I attempted put out the fire. So I hold Y as fast as I can. No no no, says the game. You must wait until you are prompted to do so. Most of my deaths can be contributed to this vast oversight. I also have to point out the hum drum side-quests. None of them are all that worthwhile. An over abundance of fetch quests and races doesn’t exactly entice me. Even the process of clearing the island of Vaas’ men got tiresome. Much like Assassin’s Creed’s viewpoint system, you climb radio towers in order to reveal the map. Afterwards to free the area you’ll have to clear out any enemy camps. While I initially had a lot of fun sneaking around and silently eliminating the pirates, it got old fast. Throw in some random gun changing in the middle of combat, terrible checkpoints, and QTE boss sections and we have some very unpolished aspects.
Farcry 3 isn’t just about the gameplay though. I was surprised to find out how well done most of the characters were. Other than Jason’s friends and family who are rarely given much attention, many characters you meet along your journey are deep and interesting. Each one of them has succumbed to the island in their own way. Well written dialogue helps too flesh out their personalities and motives. Ubisoft insisted that despite being an open-world, the story would not suffer and boy were they right. Much like the other inhabitants of the island Jason slowly begins to succumb to the world around him. The subtle changes add up and by games end I had gone back and forth several times on what I thought would happen. It’s a shame Ubisoft couldn’t have done a better job in regards to Jason’s character. Despite the captivating way Jason changes overtime, not once did I feel like he was a likable character. Ubisoft’s attempt to make him the everyman that players could relate too back fired. His lack of personality made him unrelatable and his incessant whining quickly got on my nerves. It’s as shame considering if he didn’t have the personality of a dead fish this could of rivaled some of the other great stories we gotten this year.
Farcry 3 had the potential to be great. The basis for a morally complex story and deep characters were there along with excellent gameplay. However due to a lack of explanation at times of what the hell I was doing and unpolished gameplay it has to settle for being good. Don’t think I ‘m being ungrateful. I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed the game. Ubisoft took a big leap forward with Farcry 3 and I’ll will certainly pick up any and all sequels.
FarCry 3 gets an 85/100.