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SummaryInsanity is doing the same thing over and over again.
The GoodI remember playing the original Far Cry back in my high school days on my first rig. I remember being impressed by the open-ish level design and the lavish (at the time) graphical effects. Far Cry 2 was a bit of a disappointment, which didn’t surprise me considering it was done by a different developer. Far Cry 3 is a return to the jungle setting of the first game, though it’s easy to predict that it likely won’t include super-mutants with rocket launchers for arms.
Far Cry 3 tells the story of Jason Brody, a guy who I doubt I’d get along with in reality. He and his friends are vacationing on a pirate infested island when they’re captured by pirates. Who’d have thought? Jason escapes and then must save his friends, but not before going feral and answering the call of the wild. You’re basically let off the leash early on and are free to build yourself up or follow the storyline, which is packed with a decently well-rounded cast of characters.
The various upgrades you can acquire do a lot to add a little of the spice of character building. Hunting animals allows you to craft consumables and equipment to allow you to carry more guns and ammunition. Experience from various activities unlocks new perks such as additional health bars. It’s very standard stuff in this era of gaming, but it does help ease the monotony and give you something to shoot for.
While the graphics are decent, the character design is where it really shines. Most are given distinct personalities that fit well in the world the game is trying to convey, and their appearances do a lot to compliment this. From your motley crew of friends to the psychopaths you fight, each one has a design that tells you a lot about them at a glance. It’s therefore very unfortunate that very few play much of a role in the story outside of a cutscene, and none of them do much outside the confines of scripted events.
A lack of decent characters was major shortcoming Far Cry 2, and it’s not the only issue that has been addressed for its follow-up. Gone are those annoying guard outposts that constantly spawn enemies if you so much as step outside the perimeter. In its place is a territory system that actually allows you to clean up the island and make it relatively safer. Unfortunately, some of the things that Far Cry 2 did well have been taken away, such as the in game map, replaced by a typical full screen map. On the whole, it’s still an improvement.
The BadFor all the variety that Far Cry 3 has, its problem is that it’s just kind of dull. Not tremendously dull, it’s perfectly entertaining at times, but not very stimulating. I think the biggest reason for this is that there’s no real challenge to it. From the start, if you take the time to climb some radio towers to extend your map, take over a few outposts, and hunt some animals, you’ll be set for life. You can craft most of the gear from the get go and once you unlock an LMG, a sniper rifle, and maybe something that explodes, nothing can stand in your way.
This is playing on hard, even. For most of the game I sat in bushes sniping off guards one by one. Even the armored heavies were no match for a rocket or a well-placed tiger. Considering that in the original Far Cry the guards could spot you in the bushes from 2 kilometers away, it’s surprising to see that these ones will give up the hunt after a minute or so. I guess the alternative might have been to have the regenerating guards of Far Cry 2, which would have been far worse, but more capable adversaries would have been nice.
Maybe the point was to make you feel like a badass, but I don’t buy that. You’re put in the role of some spoiled man-boy who must answer the call of the wild, but as a gamer who’s probably played a jillion shooters in their life, you’re more likely to be king of the jungle in seconds. You’re rarely made to feel vulnerable and the game never asks you to take your time. Even when you do die, the consequences aren’t that harsh since you’re merely taken back to one of the game’s frequent checkpoints.
It begins to feel like housework. Drive here, climb this tower. Drive there, clear out this base. Run here, hunt this animal. Hang glide there, advance the story. It’s hard to feel absorbed in the world, especially when it feels as preposterous as this one. The island is both densely packed and completely empty at the same time. The landscapes are pretty, but they’re repetitive and there’s something unconvincing about them. The random inhabitants who are on the island are all bland, copy-pasted set dressings. There’s nothing to draw you in. It all feels like being on safari in a zoo.