Let's set the scene: You are Jason Brody: A young well-off, upper-class guy who's partying around some beautiful tropical islands with your equally well-off brothers and close friends. Whooping and hollering on the beach is the first order of business, as you all celebrate your brother getting his pilot's licence. These kids are rich, spoilt and completely care free. For now. These celebrations are cut short when the group are kidnapped by ruthless pirates.
You manage to escape and make a run for it. At this point you are introduced to the island’s native tribe, the Rakyat. These people take you in as one of their own and help you to get to grips with your new, not so comfortable surroundings.
The island itself is a beautiful, absolutely enormous tropical wonderland that is entirely left at your disposal. You are dropped in the middle with some pointers on where to go to progress but whether or not you go there is up to you. Each friendly camp has various mini-missions available; these include hunting wanted men, performing some simple pest control and delivering medical supplies. Completing these will gain you some extra cash and also experience. Earn enough experience to level up and you will gain a skill point which you can use to boost your skills even further, slowly turning you from a whimpering little pretty boy into a warrior who can drop from a zip line and quickly chain various takedowns without being noticed.
The island is teeming with wildlife, which can aid you as you set out to seek revenge on the gun wielding maniacs who still have your friends captive. The plants can be harvested and then mixed into various different syringes. These can heal you, aid detection of enemies, help you hold breath for longer under water and even make you take less damage from fire. The various wild animals can be hunted for their skins which can be used to improve your item storage. From carrying more guns, grenades, to more loot and consumables, each stage requires a slightly more impressive kill than the last to increase your storage.
Radio masts are littered around the island. Scaling and disabling these disrupts the enemy whilst also revealing all nearby missions and enemy outposts. Doing this also increases your tribe’s availability of weapons and supplies, giving you even more to work with.
Littered across the island are many enemy outposts. These are heavily guarded areas which upon capture become safe houses and fast-travel points. Taking these gives your tribe control of the surrounding area. These can be approached however the player likes, but it’s at moments like this where it’s clear how effective the stealth approach really is. By tagging the enemies using your camera, you’re able to constantly keep an eye on enemies, even whilst they are out of your line of sight. Using this you can sneak into the compound and silently clear the enemies, or pick them off at a distance. A display details how close you are to being spotted and if they get suspicious, a quick shuffle though some foliage will break the enemies line of sight and keep you hidden. Being detected often means you get enemy reinforcements to deal with which ramps up the difficulty of the capture tenfold. Generous experience bonuses are awarded for completing these without being detected, with a smaller bonus for not raising any alarms.
As you progress through the story you'll come face to face with many brilliant characters, each of them as disturbed and unhinged as the next. None more-so than the games' antagonist poster-boy Vaas, the leader of the pirate group that took you and your friends hostage. Rarely is “crazy” portrayed as well as it is with Vaas. This is where the game’s visuals really show what they’ve got to offer. The game is absolutely stunning and the character animations in particular are superb, to a point where Vaas is genuinely unsettling and believably human. Everything about him will make you uneasy; his eye contact, his sudden movements, his sometimes rushed, waffling dialogue. This all leads to a fantastic, brutal and fascinating bad guy who is absolutely, one hundred percent the last person you’d ever want to run into, ever.
The story alone is a decent ten to fifteen hours of gameplay but the island has so many other things to offer and places explore. Completionists are likely to be entertained for close to thirty hours. There are various collectibles strewn across this tropical paradise with lost letters of the fallen painting a picture of the island's past, and the pirates’ drug operations explained on the various memory cards that are found throughout the enemy outposts.
With such a brilliant single player experience it’s it's a shame that the co-op missions on offer are such a disappointment. These missions follow a group of four people on the same island, seeking revenge on their traitor of a captain after he attempts to sell them to the pirates. Here begins around six hours of chasing the captain across the island, while performing the same repetitive tasks over and over again. You seem to be defending something or ‘holding out’ until something or someone arrives every couple hundred metres or so. The game play is interjected with friendly mandatory competitions, where players must kill the most enemies, or rave to bombs or blow up the most boats within the time limit. These serve absolutely no purpose. It’s a little annoying that this mode was even tacked onto the game, as it offers no resemblance to anything offered in the single player. Gone is the free-roaming. Gone is the detection meter, making this a simple, boring run-and-gun shooter experience. There’s no exploration, a minimal choice of weapon loadouts and the characters are a bunch of painfully cheesy clichés who talk like they’ve only just learned the ‘f’ word. It completely forgets everything that the single player manages to do brilliantly.
The multiplayer is also an underwhelming experience. It comes with the token Deathmatch and Domination options, as well as some slightly more unique ones such as Firestorm and Transmission. In a Firestorm game you must burn the enemy depots before capturing the radio to keep it going, while Transmission games require players to capture and hold the active transmitters around the map. While offering various abilities and weapons that unlock as you rank up, it still manages to feel unbalanced. The maps are cluttered and messy and while it's reasonably good fun in short bursts it doesn't seem to hold any longevity. Complete with far too many bugs such as unexploded hovering grenades and scenery loading issues, It feels like just another example of a multiplayer that's there for the sake of it.
The impressive map maker returns, once again giving people with the time and patience for it to create some truly epic, monumental worlds, both from scratch and using random environment generations. With thousands of items at your disposal, players can create their own battle grounds and share them online for the community to play.
As a single player game, Far Cry 3
is a beautiful, wonderful and immersive title with so much to offer but it’s a shame that the co-op and multiplayer additions leave an ugly mark on the game overall. If these weren’t included then this would be a game worthy of top marks but instead, it tarnishes the title ever so slightly. However, do not let the uglier area of the game distract from what’s really on offer, because it’s unexpectedly and insanely brilliant.