Far Cry 3: Completed Playthrough Review
Far Cry 3 Review: No, it is not “Skyrim with Guns”
When I initially heard about Far Cry 3, to be honest, I had never actually heard of or played any of the previous Far Cry games and knew next to nothing about the series. Then I saw the tag “like Skyrim with guns” and after seeing a few videos and screen shots I decided to give it a shot and initially I was blown away. The story draws you in immediately, you are a captured by pirates after sky diving onto an island and you wake up in a cage with your brother. None of your friends are around and the only person to greet you is Vaas, the insane leader of the pirates who takes every chance he gets to degrade you. After breaking out the cage with the help of your brother, who was in the military, you narrowly escape the village with your life, but your brother does not, and you wake up in the village after being saved by a man named Dennis who applauds you for escaping Vaas's clutches and convinces you to help his people so he can help you. Thus you, Jason, vow to save your friends and get revenge on Vaas and this all happens within the first 10 minutes of the game.
After a few missions, this exploration FPS, really opens up and gives you fairly free reign over what you do. You can choose to continue on the main story line or instead go around liberating outposts, doing side quests, go hunting, or just generally explore the island. The island itself is a tropical paradise and the graphics are just beautiful. There gun variety to the game is massive while having fps staples like assault rifles and shotguns to some more peculiar weapons like a composite bow and a flamethrower. I found myself constantly switching which weapons I was carrying just for the sake of trying all the guns out.
The beauty of this game really is in the killing though. Pirates are all over the island and you have been asked to save the natives from them. There are bases all over the island which you can liberate by taking down all the pirates within them. You can go in guns a blazing or you can try to snipe from a distance, or even sneak around and silently take out each guard. Although the game rewards you for with more experience with a “undetected” take over, you'll quickly find that experience does not matter that much in the long run. There is also a game mechanic called “Take Down”. With this, if you approach an enemy who does not detect you, you hold down the F key and will quickly, and silently, dispatch them. Later on, you gain various skills which make your take downs more powerful. With such skills as “Death form above” where if you jump down on top of an enemy you will automatically perform a take down or “Knife Throw Take Down” where after using your initial take down, if another enemy is nearby, you can take the knife of the enemy you just killed and toss it into the neck of another. The Take down system is extremely satisfying and one of my favorite things to do in the game was to capture a base with only take downs.
Another great combat mechanic is the fire. Fire will spread in a fairly realistic manner, which enables you to either trap enemies with it, or if you aren't careful, trap yourself. It also serves as a beautiful distraction. In the video below I showcase and fire mechanics as well as the game play as a whole.
The slogan “Like Skyrim with guns” is what initially drew me in but I can assure you that Far Cry 3 is not Skyrim with guns at all. Although both games have oodles of exploration to them, the feeling is markedly different. In Skyrim, you explore the world for various dungeons to find treasure, complete quest lines, or the simple wonder of the changing scenery throughout the land. Many of the dungeons feel rewarding for searching them be it, loot, gold or perhaps just the satisfying nature of the cave or ruin you just explored. However, in Far Cry 3, the exploration is incredibly repetitive. The hidden chests or relics you can find in the various caves or WWII bunkers, are fairly meaningless. As you gain no actual items from the chests, just money and things to sell, and the relics just give experience, the incentive to find them is nil. Also there is no real variety to the secret areas and the process of finding them becomes tedious. Outside of radio towers to activate the map and bases to capture, there is not much in terms of exploring.
Money, is ironically, fairly worthless throughout the entire game. Never at any point are you in need of cash. By just doing the story line you get so much from looting the bodies of the pirates and the chests you constantly find on your way to places. Not to mention the side quests will give you a fair amount of cash as well. In fact, more often than not you are at the cash cap. As you activate radio towers, the guns in the store become free so you don't even need to spend money to buy most of your weapons. All you really use cash for is refilling your ammo, which is fairly cheap. About ¼ through the game I did everything possible to waste cash. I stopped looting bodies, as the canned animation you did every time you looted one got old, and I would buy the treasure maps I did not care about. I actually wished they would of taken the cash out of the game completely and made ammo a rarer commodity. That would not only make you approach enemies more cautiously, it would have added a bit more depth to the game play as a whole.
Experience is also pretty worthless due to the speed at which talents in the skill tree become available. Your progress through the main storyline unlocks more talents but as you liberate bases and do side quests you'll find yourself with a surplus of talent points. At one point I had 15 unspent points because there was nothing to put them into. By the time all the talents were available for purchase I was practically at level cap. The talent trees themselves are fairly plain with only a few worthwhile perks, like increased life, run speed, and reload speed. The most interesting things you gain from the skill trees are the various Take Downs.
Far Cry 3 also has a crafting system that feels a bit out of place. Jason has been plunged into a world of violence and is taught how to skin animals to use their hide to craft various containers and weapon holsters. It seems like there was a real intention of having a survival element in the game but the actual game play is nothing like that at all. You practically become Rambo as soon as you get your first gun and are an unstoppable killing machine. The crafting is also incredibly arbitrary. To craft your weapon holsters, quiver, ammo pouch, backpack, wallet and few other ammo carrying slings you need specific types of leather. Each container also has 4 levels to it, each requiring a different type of leather but why? If I needed dog leather for the first rank of a pouch why would I need Komodo dragon hide for the next level? It makes very little sense and all it does is force you to go out of your way to find a specific animal you need and waste your time. In fact after I had crafted everything, the game became much more enjoyable.
The real selling point of Far Cry is the story. It is what keeps you going, to find out what happens to Jason and his friends and more importantly, what happens to all the people you meet on the island, as they are much more interesting characters. Honestly Jason and his friends have no depth to them and are what you'd expect to find in captives from an action movie. The people you meet on the island, on the other hand, have a lot of character to them, even Vaas, the bad guy, is probably the most interesting character of them all. They also have Jason go on various out of body adventures through drugs which creates a very surreal atmosphere and allows for extraordinary happenings. The weirdest part about the story, without revealing any details, is that the most climatic part of the game happens half way through it. The ending is still fairly strong but the not nearly as incredible as the middle was.
Despite my various critiques of the game, Far Cry 3 was worth the $50 I paid for it. It was highly entertaining, if only mildly annoying at times. In the end it took me about 27 hours to beat the main story line while also liberating every base and completing all the side quests. The game also has a multiplayer I cannot speak to, for I never tried it, and a Left 4 Dead style, co-op campaign which was fairly fun. So if you are out for some single-player FPS fun, I highly recommend this game.