Far Cry 3 is a rare breed, the thoughtful first person shooter. When you’re first introduced to protagonist Jason Brody, he strikes you as nothing more than a rich kid out of his depth, but your view of Brody will soon change as you break out of psychotic pirate Vaas’ prison camp.
It’s a rare FPS that has the lead character recoil in horror at his first kill and delivers a truly emotional moment when he has to apply pressure to stop his brother bleeding from the neck, all before you’re even given a gun.
Jason Brody is a reluctant hero, a man who at first refuses a gun, yet as time passes, he begins to feel at home in the role. He starts to enjoy the violence, comfortably burning down villages with his flamethrower and setting loose wild animals on his enemies.
His character arc is reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman’s in Straw Dogs; he goes from being repulsed by violence to eventually embracing it as a fundamental part of him.
At times it is a little hard to suspend your disbelief; for a man who’s never used a gun Brody has an incredible aptitude for killing trained pirates armed to their teeth.
Once you escape the prison camp, you spend a good hour getting acquainted with the key-mechanics of the game. Gathering herbs in order to create drugs that can heal you and enhance your combat abilities, and learning to hunt pigs, goats and leopards to make equipment from their hides. It is important to pay attention at this point, as you won’t get far with the bog standard gear.
You also get access to the game’s levelling system, where you can develop new skills such as, stealth kills or being able to reload while sprinting. In a nice touch, the new skills that you purchase appear on your characters left arm as tattoos.
What sets the gameplay of Far Cry 3 apart from the other big titles on the market is the freedom it gives you in approaching each mission. You get to decide whether you run in guns blazing or attach C4 to a vehicle and create a makeshift car bomb or sneak in taking each guard out with your knife. You can also use the environment as a weapon setting fire to crops in order to block off your enemies paths or lure wild animals like leopards and even water buffalo to the enemies for backup.
The freedom isn’t just limited to how you approach the missions, you have free reign over the massive map, which spans two islands. You can go hunting, try some off-roading in one of the game’s many vehicles and even explore the island from above with the help of Far Cry series staple the hang-glider.
The freedom extends to your weapons giving you a vast choice, from handguns and machine-guns to flamethrowers, rocket launchers and my personal favourite the bow and arrow. All of these weapons are customisable superficially with different paint jobs and functionally with scopes and magazines.
The graphics are strong. The islands are nice to look at, with realistic water effects, lush foliage and sharp textures. The character animation is strong as well, which alongside quality voice acting helps the story draw you in. The distressing healing animations from Far Cry 2 remain, popping Brody’s bones back into place and picking out bullets with your knife, will cause even the most-hardened gamer to cringe.
As well as the main story, the game also offers a co-op mode separate from the main plot where you play as one of four misfits drawn together when pirates attack their ship. The free roaming is traded for more linear gameplay here, although the levels are still vast. The levels are designed for four players and it can become frustratingly difficult playing with just two.
The multiplayer isn’t much cop either, compared to Black Ops 2 and Halo 4; it’s likely to get ignored. The levels lack the scope of the main game, and force you into closed quarters. Thankfully, the game has provided players with a map editor allowing you to create your own levels.
Far Cry 3 is a great shooter that excels with open-ended gameplay, a strong story and a huge map to explore. While the multi-player doesn’t live up to the single player, it’s a must buy on the quality of the single player alone.
9 out of 10
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