Skydiving. Clubbing. Ah, the life of spoiled trust-funds kids, where money means nothing, and laws don’t apply. From the outside, the Rook Islands look to be the perfect vacation spot in the Pacific for Jason Brody and his friends, but after a skydiving adventure goes awry, the group is scattered across pirate controlled islands and taken prisoner with the goal of selling them into slavery.
As Jason Brody, you know nothing about killing or being a warrior, but if you are to rescue your friends, you must unleash the warrior hidden deep within him. With 20 hours of gameplay – if you avoid any side missions – and over 40 hours if you focus on completing every side mission in the game, it’s safe to say, you may be on Rook Island for quite some time.
Tactics are the only advantage going for Jason Brody and the only thing keeping him alive on the island. While you can go guns blazing through each enemy encounter, you might get more out of the game by planning, before acting. Why go head first into an enemy controlled village, when you can crash a jeep into a hut, set it ablaze and watch as the entire area becomes engulfed with flames. Or if you desire, the subtle approach of shooting the lock off a bear cage from afar, and watching what happens when Yogi searches for his picnic basket. Here’s a hint, it’s going to be really bloody and satisfying.
These set pieces are what makes Far Cry 3 an amazing open-world experience. Take for example the following set of events. Hopping into a jeep and driving across Rook Island, less than a minute later I ended up hitting a deer, which put the jeep into a deadspin straight off a cliff head first into a river. Hopping out, I found the protruding tongue of a komodo dragon heading straight for a group of pirates. Trying to become the world’s greatest thief, I unsuccessfully tried to steal the vehicle of said pirates, only to get t-boned as soon as I got into the vehicle by another group of pirates in another jeep. A couple of perfectly placed grenades later, and I sat back in my office chair watching the world burn with a subtle smile across my face.
Tracing enemy movements by marking them with the camera allows Jason to get close to them without being seen for a very graphic stealth knife kill. On the other side of the spectrum, marking foes allows for easy visibility when using a Sniper Rifle to complete missions without getting your hands dirty. While undertaking a mission however, you will be unable to save, and with checkpoints few and far between, it’s quite frustrating to have to set over due to a simple mistake.
Earning experience for everything you do in the game, allows you to unlock new skills for Jason, such as new stealth takedowns or improving stats such as given him more health. Cash can be used to purchase and upgrade new weapons to make Jason into an even tougher killing machine.
One the way to rescue his friends, Jason must take back outposts that unlock fast-travel points, new stores and side missions, besides giving you safe passage. Radio towers once climbed and activated provide locations on your map, giving you a birds eye view of the Island, much like the bird nests due in the Assassin’s Creed series. Of course, the pirates aren’t the only thing you must contend with on the island, boars, sharks, tigers, bears and the scariest thing to find at night komodo dragons fill the island allowing you to hunt and skin them to craft bigger backpacks and more.
How you approach missions is left entirely up to the player, be it driving a jeep right into an enemy base, using a sniper rifle from afar or even hang gliding into an enemy stronghold to take them by surprise. By the end of the game, Jason will be completely transformed from a wimpy over privileged kid, into a fully functional fighting machine, able to take out even the Predator all by himself – someone make this mod immediately.
One would think the cooperative gameplay would certainly add to the replayability of the game with an open world for you to explore with your friends, but there is one problem, the co-op included funnels players into objective based missions set against waves of impossibly strong bullet sponge enemies regardless of how many players are playing. Making it even worse, the game doesn’t scale down the experience depending on the amount of players. Having anything less than a full four-person team leads to a frustrating experience. The competitive multiplayer allows you to slaughter your friends while controlling various control points or capturing flags. There are plenty of unlockable weapons and skills, giving players a reason to keep playing.
While the lacking multiplayer portions of Far Cry 3, hurt the overall experience, the game truly shines when playing through the single-player campaign. Exploring the open-world of Rook Island is one of the top experiences of 2012, whether you are hang gliding over the Island or driving a jeep across the hills. The narrative contains some really unique and colorful characters and by the end of the game, you will want to help Jason rescue his friends.
Note: The Far Cry 3 review was written based on the PC version of the game.