The last thing vacationing friends expect is to be captured and tortured, but this is precisely what happens in Ubisoft's Far Cry 3, a thrilling first-person shooter that takes places on a remote tropical island.
As the young Jason Brody, you vow to find and rescue your friends (and brother), kidnapped by a vicious pirate named Vaas who plans on extorting money from their parents and selling them into slavery.
With the help of an indigenous tribe, you prepare yourself for a battle against Vaas and his henchmen by acquiring weapons, learning to use plants for their healing powers and navigating the lush island by hopping into land, sea and air vehicles. The world is huge and open-ended, allowing you to go where you want and however you like, but it's also possible to quickly jump between key areas via the map, if desired.
Your objectives are varied and interesting, whether it's to infiltrate a beachfront base, retrieve or deliver items, loot chests for items, help out the Rakyat tribe, locate another island, hack transmitters or disable outpost alarms and massive communication towers. More so than in past Far Cry games, you can choose to tackle each mission with cunning and stealth - that is, by sneaking up against unsuspecting enemies or perhaps throwing stones to create a distraction - or you can "run and gun" through areas with sheer brute force. Truly, it's entirely up to you to play the game however you like.
Far Cry 3 seems influenced by other action games, such as the Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell, both of which were also developed by Ubisoft's Montreal studio.
Jason undergoes a spiritual journey while also working toward taking down Vaas and his crew. There are also role-playing game (RPG)-like upgrades that teach you new skills, island creatures to ward off (from snakes and sharks to tigers and wild boars) and some platforming elements as Jason must safely leap around obstacles. All of this keeps the excitement at full tilt the entire time.
Visually speaking the game is spectacular, with realistic-looking people and environments, Hollywood-like special effects and smooth animation. Once in a while there are some graphical glitches - such as a dead body slightly hovering above the ground or someone stepping into a blazing fire pit instead of walking around it - but these oddities don't happen often, nor do they detract from the game's overall immersion factor.
Along with the lengthy single-player game - which could take you more than 30 hours to complete - Far Cry 3 also offers competitive and cooperative multiplayer support, which adds to the game's longevity. That, and there's also a map editor to create your very own multiplayer playgrounds.
One of the last games of the year is also one of the best: Far Cry 3 fuses and interesting story and high production values with intense action and a huge and interactive tropical paradise. Even if you've never played a previous Far Cry game, mature gamers will no doubt find this ambitious adventure difficult to put down.
Far Cry 3
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Web site: farcry3.com
Score: 4 stars (out of 4)
- by Marc Saltzman, USA TODAY