Platform(s): Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Far Cry 3 wants to mess with your mind. Setting the hallucinogenic drugs aside, this game is looking to tell an intertwining story all stemming from a psychopathic pirate. One question that pre-released footage of Far Cry 3 raises is will this be a serious game or not? The story definitely comes from a solemn idea, but the gameplay looks like it will feel right at home with the more ridiculous open world games.
The third Far Cry game is returning to a similar setting of the first game in the series: a South Pacific island. It isn’t a chain of islands like in the original Far Cry, so only time will tell if the terrain is going to be as diverse. Far Cry 3 begins with our protagonist Jason Brody, his girlfriend, and his friend being stranded on an uncharted island. After a night of heavy drinking, Vaas, the previously mentioned psychopathic pirate, kills Jason’s friend and kidnaps his girlfriend. From what has been shown so far, there does not appear to be a reason behind this, aside from a deranged warlord keeping outsiders off of his island. The goal of the game is for Jason to rescue his girlfriend and leave the island, though along the way he gets caught up in a civil war and routinely steps on Vaas’ toes.
That’s a pretty standard video game plot there. Rescuing a girlfriend (every Mario game) and getting caught up in a civil war (Skyrim, Fallout: New Vegas) are both things we’ve seen before. In a gameplay demo from E3 2011, Jason discovers men we assume work for Vaas executing people, presumably innocent civilians: this is done to get the player rooting against Vaas and his pirates, though it has also been done before (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare). What is Ubisoft doing to have this generic plot stand out? Vaas. Vaas is an original and intriguing character. Yes, he is a warlord intent on keeping the citizens of his land under his boot, but that’s the only clichéd part of this character. He is a near sociopath with a penchant for lecturing on insanity, which he explains is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Vaas will be gripping enough to keep players plugging away through a plot driven by tropes, if only to see where his seemingly endless stash of old televisions comes from.
While the plot and setting have been done before, Far Cry 3 does have a compelling back bone; however, the ways the player can make their way through it all are not nearly as serious. In this situation, seriousness would be boring and depressing just as a tourist trying to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend would probably try and talk to some sort of official and get killed. In Far Cry 3, Jason Brody pretty much kills everyone. This is a video game, so it’s perfectly acceptable for an average Joe to be able to do this. The unrealistic and non-stringent approaches stem from the open world aspects of the game. Far Cry 3’s island is teeming with animals: confirmed so far are sharks, tigers, boars, birds, buffalo, and Komodo dragons. Players have the ability to shoot any of these animals with explosive arrows, set them on fire, or set them loose in an enemy base. Aside from upsetting PETA and the more sensitive internet communities, this definitely sets the gameplay in a more ridiculous light. Having a pair of tigers kill all of the enemies in an area is fun and will make for some great YouTube videos, but it isn’t nearly as sober as the plot would lead us to expect; however, there’s no problem with that. Games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Just Cause 2 managed to be almost stupidly ridiculous and still manage to be fantastic games.
The difference between Just Cause 2 and Far Cry 3 is the plot. In Just Cause 2 a poorly voice acted man with infinite parachutes overthrows a corrupt dictator for...reasons, I guess; no one played that game for the story. Far Cry 3 is banking on the player getting emotionally involved in the struggle between Jason and Vaas and is looking to tell a story with lots of depth. At this point, it’s looking like this goal will be met. So, how will over the top gameplay work with a reflective and personal story? Will the ability to go from feeling up a naked native girl to throwing grenades at tigers clash against the character driven plot?
That brings up another question: if Jason Brody is rescuing his kidnapped girlfriend, why is he feeling up a naked native girl? A big part of open world games is exploration. Most gamers have played through an extensive, sandbox environment only to have the game end and not be allowed to free roam anymore (I will never forgive you, Mass Effect). If Jason manages to kill Vaas and rescue his girlfriend, he should tell her that he had a naked native girl grinding on top of him and he definitely didn’t say no. If he were to do this while still on the island, she could slap him, leave him behind, and abandon him, allowing him to free roam forever. Ubisoft, this is a gold idea and I am looking to get paid for it.Far Cry 3 is being released in a little over two months. It won’t be until then that we will know whether or not this will be the perfect balance of over the top and serious or an overzealous idea. Gamers responded well to Spec Ops: The Line’s Heart of Darkness inspired story, so there is definitely an audience for contemplative story lines in this medium. I can only hope that Far Cry 3 balances the ludicrous and the grounded well so that the trend of austere, well written stories keeps going. If not, at the very least, this will be a thoroughly enjoyable game.
Preview by Chris Lohr
Chris Lohr is a freelance writer currently in film school. If you’re looking for him to write for your website, manifesto, or Russian bride catalogue, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put today’s date as the subject line and include a picture of yourself. Must be DDD free and willing to host. All Articles by Chris.