“Like Skyrim with guns”…But Not Really: Far Cry 3, A Review

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The marketing team at Ubisoft must be big fans of Bethesda, because I can’t see any logical reason why they would advertise Far Cry 3 as “Like Skyrim with guns.” Even Machinima’s Adam Kovic, who originally said the phrase in an interview at gamescom, admits that it makes little sense (youtube.com/watch?v=4Uir6O7cx5U). After playing through Far Cry 3 myself, I have to agree with him. Far Cry 3 doesn’t play anything like Skyrim with guns, but it’s completely deserving of the compliment. If Far Cry 3 is similar to any series, then it’s like Assassin’s Creed with guns. The influences of Ubisoft’s iconic assassin series are very obvious. Ultimately, no comparison will do Far Cry 3 justice. Far Cry 3 is an amazing game that every FPS fan should play.

One of Far Cry 3’s strongest elements is its story. The game takes place on Rook Island, a beautiful tropical island terrorized by drugs and slavery. You play as Jason Brody, a young, rich daredevil on a vacation with his friends and family. When you skydive onto the Rook Island, your group is taken prisoner by a band of pirates.

The bulk of the game is spent trying to save your friends, but you slowly get caught up in a story of revenge and honour. Along the way you meet various villains and heroes. The voice actors for these characters do an amazing job. My two favorite characters in the game are Vaas, the psychotic pirate leader, and Sam, the German-accented Navy Seal posing as an evil mercenary. As the story progresses, Jason Brody transforms into a powerful and dangerous force. Depending on the player’s choices, the ending reflects how Jason’s transformation has affected him. The ending I watched was excellent.

I could write a novel on the gameplay in Far Cry 3. The balance of action, exploration, RPG elements and story is unlike any other game released in 2012. The game encourages exploration by rewarding the player with experience points and new weapons. Climbing radio towers scattered around the island will unlock weapons for free at shops and reveal sections of the map. Clearing enemy outposts stealthily will reward large experience bonuses. Experience points unlock skill points at each level. These can be used to gain new skills in simple skill trees. The branches of the skill trees must first be unlocked by completing story missions. The game’s design naturally encourages the player to experience all aspects of the island. I found myself staying up late at night saying, “I’ll just capture one more outpost,” and “I’ll just do this one last mission.”

The mechanics behind Far Cry 3 are all solid. I only encountered two bugs during my playthrough. The first was an enemy that I killed with a sniper rifle at long range. The enemy must’ve been beyond the render distance for physics, because he was simply standing in place when I walked over to him. The second was a recurring glitch where aerial takedowns would not register near stairs. The shooting in Far Cry 3 feels very similar to Battlefield 3. Recoil is high and bullets are very deadly. The sights in Far Cry 3 are annoyingly bad and take up most of the screen, but this was obviously a design decision so I can’t really complain.

The majority of the combat is designed to be stealthy. The game features a “takedown” system which mirrors many of the assassination actions in the Assassin’s Creed series. I enjoyed the stealth gameplay and I feel that it functioned better than the stealth mechanics in Bethesda’s Dishonored. The movement and driving in Far Cry 3 is also great and feels very real. All the mechanics in the game are well implemented.

The graphics and sound in Far Cry 3 are excellent. I did run into a lot of graphical issues on the Xbox, but that can be expected with seven year old hardware. There were multiple moments where I wanted to take pictures of the scenery, but unfortunately the in-game camera doesn’t actually do anything. The graphics in the game are just as good as the ones in the trailer. They might even be better if you are playing on PC. The soundtrack features many great songs, but I didn’t like the timing for the music so I disabled it. When I finished the game, I listened to the entire soundtrack during the credits and was blown away. I may have to play the game again with the music enabled.

Far Cry 3 took me less than 16 hours to beat on the medium difficulty. The game now offers an increased difficulty level and the option to reset all of the enemy outposts. Unfortunately there is no way to replay the story missions other than to start a new campaign. The game could really benefit from a new game plus mode. The single player currently doesn’t offer much replay value, but it’s not the only part of Far Cry 3. There’s also a co-op campaign, online multiplayer and a map editor. Within the single player there are also challenges, side-quests, collectibles and leaderboards. Far Cry 3 easily delivers enough value for its $40 purchase price.

I recommend Far Cry 3 to anyone who enjoys FPS games. The open-world design is filled with content and keeps you progressing through the story even as you simply explore the island. The game offers more features than I could talk about in one short article. If I had played this game in 2012, it definitely would’ve been my game of the year.

For more game reviews and a detailed breakdown of Far Cry 3, head over to my YouTube channel at youtube.com/Vok250. For more gaming articles and reviews head to thebaron.ca.