Far Cry 3 is a first-person shooter that offers a compelling story and plenty of opportunities to explore a tropical open-world with lots of activities that will keep you entertained for hours on end.
Back when the original Far Cry came out in early 2004, I was intrigued by its tropical setting and sandbox gameplay, but the sheer scope of the game’s world was so intimidating that I never finished it. Far Cry 2 introduced some substantial (not to mention polarizing) changes to the formula and while I was fascinated by its mechanics like malaria or firearm jamming, I never got around to playing it. Far Cry 3 continues the lineage of the series while making some exciting changes and the result is a first-person shooter that offers a compelling storyline and plenty of opportunities to explore a tropical open-world with lots of activities that will keep you entertained for hours on end.
Far Cry 3 puts you in the shoes of Jason Brody, a young adventurer who’s traveling all over the world with his immature, twenty-something friends. As part of their trip, they skydive in a remote island set between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but soon they find out that this land is run by pirates involved in prostitution, drugs and slavery. The leader of the pirates is Vaas, an erratic and psychotic man who kidnaps Jason and your friends. By sheer luck, you manage to escape captivity and you need to find every resource at your disposal to rescue your buddies.
Soon, you become a one-man army who can wield several weapons and explosives and something that the game fails to explain (this was also an issue in the Tomb Raider reboot) is how a spoiled young man from California can go from thinking about alcohol, women and college, to become an unstoppable force who can kill trained pirates, hunt tigers and gather resources in an island filled with people and creatures that want you dead. To be clear, the story was my favorite part about Far Cry 3, but there are some aspects that feel contrived.
As you explore the island, you find both main and side missions. Although it’s tempting to follow a more linear path and complete the missions that are part of the story, there are a slew of diversions to complete, such as hunting animals, defeating waves of enemies in a limited time, poker games and plant gathering, among others. Gathering plants and hunting animals is useful for crafting, a mechanic that allows you to combine two items to create a new one. This is useful to create a bag to carry more ammunition or syringes or a potion that makes you resistant to fire for a few seconds, to name some examples. Of course, you can always ignore this part of the game, but your experience will be different if you do (you’ll have more weapon slots to combine guns, grenades, rocket launchers, molotov cocktails and so on which allows you to be more creative in combat and have more resources at your disposal.)
As you defeat enemies, you gain experience which unlocks skill points. These points can be spent on three skill trees that affect your movement and the combat. You can get extra health slots, you gain the ability to take down more than one enemy, you can hold your breath underwater for more time and different abilities that make you a one-man army. And you need all the help you can get because some encounters can be tough, especially when you face several enemies at the same time.
So there’s a lot to do as part of the main campaign, but Far Cry 3 also includes some beefy multiplayer modes. Most of these modes are generic if you’ve played a shooter in the past few years, but if you want an excuse to keep living in this tropical sandbox, Far Cry 3 offers a complete experience. On top of that, the game provides a cooperative mode that you can play either online or offline as a separate campaign. The possibility of playing offline is more than welcome, especially for those who have friends and want to play locally via split-screen.
Anyone who has played an open-world game made by Ubisoft in the past decade or so will be familiar with Far Cry 3’s structure. As you progress through the game, you encounter radio towers and when you climb them, you reveal a part of the map and every point of interest in that chunk, including local fauna, hidden items, side-quests, temples, outposts, relics, supply drops, wanted dead, memory cards, letters of the lost and relics in that area.
In the end, Far Cry 3 features the best parts about open-world gameplay while crafting a game that feels different enough. There’s an inviting world to explore, satisfying missions, a variety of weapons to unlock and use in creative ways and a compelling story that’s easy to get into and hard to get away from. Far Cry 3 has some problems (such as the unrealistic plot, unimpressive online mode and unlikeable characters,) but if you want to play a compelling open-world game, Far Cry 3 has you covered.