Saturday, February 22, 2014

Far Cry 3 review

I'm aware that this game came out in late 2012, so I'm extremely late in playing it. Well what can I say? I just get whatever Steam sales can get me at a super low price. I heard good things about "Far Cry 3" back when it came out, but at $60 a pop, games are a bit pricey. Of course, that's where Steam sales come into play. If you happen to be a PC gamer, all you have to do is wait a couple months, even weeks, then you might get a game for sometimes around 90% off its original MSRP. And oftentimes, those games will be a hell of a steal. So yeah, that's how I felt when I purchased "Far Cry 3" a year after release but for a mere $7.

It has been one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had thanks to the open world. The only other comparable free-roam games I've played that can come close are "Sleeping Dogs" and "Batman: Arkham City." The fact that I got it for the incredibly jacked up price of $7 made it even sweeter. And now I get to explain why.

Storywise, "Far Cry 3" is actually pretty original. Well, as far as gaming goes. It starts out when a group of roughly college-age kids go somewhere in the South Pacific for a vacation. And then it all goes to hell. Ok, so maybe it's not all that original after all since that sounds exactly like the kind of B-movie cliche-ridden rubbish that you'd expect in an MTV movie or reality show. That's where I'm partly wrong. Yes, it starts out that way, but then the main character, someone who in my opinion is not all that hard to relate to, out of necessity becomes ... something else. He gets forced to become a killer to save his friends from being sold off as sex slaves or die. In that sense, he's kind of like Oliver Queen from "Arrow." Well, maybe it's not that original, anyway. It's entertaining, though. And unlike Oliver Queen, it becomes clear that although he may embrace his dark side, Jason Brody is never 100% comfortable with it. The villains he goes up against are fairly memorable, too. Especially the batshit-insane first villain Vaas, who may just go down as one of the top villains from the past console generation. Hoyt is a little more one-dimensional, but that doesn't make him any less awful of a person. As for Buck, well ... just play the game. It's definitely a hard R-rated story, without saying too much.

The gameplay is like any first-person shooter, but it feels more realistic than say "Call of Duty." While "Far Cry 3" follows a narrative structure, it's an open-world game. And boy is the world big. Imagine if "Skyrim" was set in a tropical paradise. Well, maybe it's not that big, but still. Both islands in the Rook Island chain easily feel like they're about the size of Boracay (a popular tourist destination in the Philippines that is comparable to the tropical setting of this game). Oh and even when you're not playing any of the story missions, everything on Rook Island wants to kill you. Even the animals. I remember fairly early on in the game, I was still reeling from the shock of being captured by pirates. I decided to take one of the available cars randomly parked on the island for a drive when a jeep full of pirates drove past me. They then started cursing at me and although it took a few seconds to register, my next thought went something like this: "Holy f**k they're actually shooting at me!" That's what "Far Cry 3" is like. You don't start off as a hardened killer, and the game makes that very apparent. Of course, by the end of the game, I was able to take out entire strongholds of enemies with relative ease thanks to the abilities (which you unlock through the campaign and manifest themselves physically in the form of a sick tattoo) and the weapons (unlocked by activating radio towers a la "Batman: Arkham Origins"). If that's not character development, I don't know what is. Those pirates and privateers you face are also genuinely bad people, so there's something of a sick satisfaction when you pick off a lone group just for being there.

That last paragraph was getting too long. There's also the hunting and gathering aspect. As I previously said, even the animals want to kill you. And Rook Island is home to a wide variety of nasty predators ranging from bears to packs of rabid dogs. And the cassowaries. Those things are just evil. Fortunately, you can hunt them and skin them, as you'd be able to in real life. The skins can then be used to craft objects like holsters, bigger rucksacks, ammo pouches, etc. Plants can also be harvested for medicinal purposes. This sort of interaction with the world is what puts "Far Cry 3" heads and shoulders above its competitors.

Graphically, "Far Cry 3" is spectacular. Maybe not getting it on PS3 was a blessing in disguise because I've heard it's far superior on PC if you have a machine advanced enough to run it at max settings (I clearly do). Rook Island is the gorgeous landscape you'd expect it to be, and it would be paradise if it weren't for the drug organization that took over. In a blog post, I noted that it reminded me of a few islands in the Philippines I've been to, namely Boracay and Palawan. Although anyone should be able to appreciate the scenery. The character models are top notch as well, with some of the best textures I've seen yet. Of course, the magic of PC gaming enables us to squeeze that extra little bit that the Xbox 360 and PS3 weren't able to quite produce.

And there we have it. One of the best gaming experiences I've ever had.


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