First Impressions:  When Far Cry 3 opened up to me,  the first thing that immediately jumped to the front of my mind was “This is one of the best looking games this generation bar none”.  There’s no lag or slowdown in this game,  a solid frame rate,  no screen tearing.  The lighting is marvelous and the ocean is a wonder all in its own.  The trees,  grass,  dirt, and the mountains all look very realistic.  The main NPCs that appear in the story look fantastic,  while some of the extra filler NPCs around the world look less than polished than the story based ones.  Everything about this game is above stellar and definitely deserves your attention.  Read on as I take you through this adventure.

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At first glance,  some people may see Far Cry 3 as just another shooter,  with just the same old guns we’ve seen time and time again,  and a couple more “BOOMS”  here and there.  If you have not followed this game closely,  let me be the first to tell you that is clearly not the case with this game.  As the December 4th release date drew closer and closer,  I decided to look up some details on this game roughly 3 weeks before launch to see what all the hype was about.  I had my pre-order for the game fully paid off the next day.  I started up Far Cry 3 once I got it and thought “This game looks BEAUTIFUL!”.  The first 10 minutes of the game quickly throws you into the vacation party of a lifetime.  Drinking,  gorgeous women,  clubbing,  paragliding,  wave racing,  then…  skydiving.  Your main character,  Jason Brody,  gets separated from his friends as they plummet to the earth.  Grant,  Riley,  Liza,  Oliver,  Daisy,  and Keith.  As you start feel a small twinge of connection with these characters,  the camera zooms out,  you realize what you’re watching is only a recording.  These vacation events have already happened,  they’ve already been on the island for who knows how long.  Minutes?  Hours? A few days?  You are tied up in a cage as you begin to look up at your menacing captive, Vaas Montenegro.  Jason looks in front of him,  only to see his older brother Grant also tied up with him in the cage.  It’s at this very moment you realize, “I’m in danger, I need to get out of here, NOW.”  This is now a matter of life and death.

What comes next as Grant rips his bindings, then kills a guard, is panic.  “Shit! Holy fuck he’s dead!”.  You both break out of your animal like cage successfully and the game begins.  The opening section of the game serves as a tutorial of sorts to teach you the mechanics and controls of the game.  A moment more into the tutorial with Grant pulling off another stealthy kill,  “Oh god, holy shit! I can’t do this Grant!”.   After a hair raising and daring escape with your brother, you make a quick plan to rescue your loved ones and get the hell off this crazy island.  As things at that moment seem to turn up,  you hear a scream & gunshot.  It was Vaas. He found you.  “RUN FOREST, RUN!”  Vaas yells,  your only chance for survival is to do just that,  run!  Bullets zoom passed your head,  savage dogs chasing you,  guards on your tail.  One guard manages to capture you for a moment, and out of instinct to fight for your life,  you turn his own blade on him and pierce his neck killing him instantly. “Shit! Shit! Shit! Oh god! Oh god!”.  You’ve just killed a man, little do you know, that’s the first of many to come.

Your friends having the time of their lives on a paradise island….or is it?

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Single Player: As Far Cry 3 opens up after your shocking and near death experience,  you meet Dennis,  the first person who will be your aid in rescuing your friends.  Dennis is a member of the native tribe called the Rakyat that lives on this insane and murderous island and begins to show you the power of the “Tatau” (or tattoo) that unlocks your full potential as a Rakyat warrior.  The Rakyat take you in as one of their own and become your new found family of sorts as you keep completing missions.  They teach you how to hunt animals and enemies alike to kill them with ease and stealth.  You learn to gather materials from the earth and how to skin animals for their hides to craft new items help you along your journey.  You will be able to craft a larger rucksack to carry more items,  craft bigger ammo pouches,  grenade holsters,  syringes to recover health and increase various stats that enhance gameplay (to name a few).  As you become one with the tribe and begin to see the bigger picture of the task ahead, the world completely opens up to you. Let me tell you, Far Cry 3‘s map is HUGE, a certain Just Cause 2 feel comes to mind as you explore and a tad bit of Assassin’s Creed thrown into the mix (hey it’s an Ubisoft game too!).

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While exploring this massive world,  you will travel to key points on the map.  Radio Towers open up your map more,  much akin to Assassin’s Creed,  and the more Radio Towers you activate,  the more weapons you unlock across all shops in the world.  Enemy outposts scattered across the land are also key points to the game,  for every outpost you liberate,  a new fast travel location is added to your map making travel across the island much easier.  You have Trials of the Rakyat challenges all over,  which are timed challenges to compete with all your friends in a meta game of sorts,  and net you some nice chunks of XP in the process.  WANTED Dead quests are fairly simple,  find a marked pirate target and kill him using your knife.  Takedowns are perfect here.  Supply Drop missions are races on the island to deliver,  well,  supplies in a timed race.  Path of the Hunter quests give you an animal to hunt with a specific weapon,  doing these quests will also get you rare animal skins to craft to get the best equipment possible in the game.

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Killing enemies,  completing side missions,  hunting animals,  all these activities will gain you some hefty XP which in turn can be used to upgrade your abilities.  Want more health?  Check.  Want to reload faster?  Double-check.  Sprint and swim faster? Check, check and check.  These abilities will be vital to your survival as you make your way through out Far Cry 3.  The power of the Tatau begins to take over you, and Jason is no longer the thrill seeking party-goer he once one.  He is a stealthy, cunning and brave warrior,  just as swift and deadly like the jungle that has taken him in.  His mission becomes much more clear as you progress,  this island is bigger than you or your friends.  It’s about the people of the island,  the pirates that terrorize them,  your role that walks the line of doing something to put end end to all this,  saving your friends and all around.

The Heron skill tree specializes in with long range takedowns and your mobility.

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The Shark skill tree will help you with assault takedowns and healing.

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The Spider skill tree deals with stealth takedowns and survival.

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Aside from all the missions and side quests and everything else that melts your brain on the Rook Islands,  there are also a few mini-games and a metric crap ton of collectibles to find. You can play poker,  collect treasure chests,  memory cards,  letters, and relics as well.  You will get absolutely sucked into the single player mode. The characters are amazing,  the voice acting is stupendous,  and you care about the friends you have to save.  Far Cry 3’s campaign is nothing short of fantastic.  There’s SO much to do in Far Cry 3 that it almost feels impossible to list them all in writing.  This is something that you must truly experience for yourself in order to have a greater understanding, but that’s a good thing!

Your protagonist Jason Brody

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Multiplayer Modes:  I’ll be very blunt here while getting into the co-op and multiplayer aspects of Far Cry 3.  While I did not play hours upon hours of multiplayer,  what I did play was very,  very fun.  A cool addition that is across all modes is a revive feature that anyone can use when you get knocked down in co-op or in multiplayer.  Very handy in those crazy fire fights and at least one of your team members survives and gets you all back up. My main gripe was that at the time I did play these modes the voice chat was completely broken and I could not chat with friends (or foes) at all, so I feel like I must dock it slightly for that.  All my matches ran very smooth across all multiplayer modes,  but I did have a few moments of lag and frame rate drops during the co-op,  but nothing that was game breaking or made me drop a connection to a match.  I’ll try to be brief on each mode they have to offer.

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Co-Op: The co-op portion of the game takes place six months prior to the events of our main character Jason in the single player.  The co-op is presented as a six-mission mini campaign.  The story of four unlikely “anti-heroes”  team up for one ultimate goal.  Revenge.  We find our four heroes (pictured above)  on a cruise ship that has been over run with pirates and nearly all its passengers killed in the process.  The captain of the ship has fled,  taking all of the money they were owed for working on the ship,  and they want their payday back,  killing anyone who gets in their way.  Two nice additions that encourage cooperative play are the Battle Cries and Boosters. Battle Cries are temporary buffs that improve movement speed,  health regeneration,  etc.  These are applied to every teammate in range.  Boosters are even better buffs you can offer another player,  at the cost of syringes you find in the environment as you play.  Another favorite addition that Far Cry 3‘s co-op mode brought to the table was a bit of friendly competition.  There are parts in each chapter where you will compete against one another for XP (and some nice bragging rights!). You’ll race ATV’s carrying explosives to a certain point on the map,  you’ll have kill challenges with sniper rifles and mounted guns as well.  Another thing the co-op mode does completely right is the manner of unlocks that you get.  All of your unlocks carry over between competitive multiplayer and your unlocked weapons in co-op,  as does your current level in multiplayer.

Although the co-op was fun as hell with friends, albeit broken voice chat,  I feel that making the co-op completely separate and very linear as opposed to the main island in single player was a misstep that could’ve been rectified by having a complete open world co-op mode. I also got a very Left 4 Dead and Borderlands feel from this mode.  Aside from the co-op mode being rather short,  it’s definitely a fun mode to explore with four other people and may add another 5- 8 hours depending on your difficulty.  Far Cry 3‘s co-op mode is the reason I love gaming with friends and testing our skills against one another.

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Domination:  In multiplayer mode for Far Cry 3,  this mode is your standard run-of-the-mill,  capture objectives based mode.  You have 3 Command Points highlighted by colored Flares (Red or Blue depending on which team you’re on) around the map which you must attack,  capture,  and defend for your team.  These Flares will be ‘white’ if no one controls the point.  In order to win a match of Domination,  you must either capture points to increase your score or have the timer run out.  At the top of your screen is a Red & Blue bar that tracks the score of the match.  The match starts off with the bar evenly split down the middle and as you capture nodes, the bar will either move to the left or right depending on which team is winning. A sort of tug-of-war element comes to mind while you see the bar constantly moving as the match plays out, and a feeling comes over you that makes you want to win. Competitiveness is at its finest in this mode and really gives you the feeling that you want to win instead of lose. I found this mode to be the best, seeing as I like working as a team and absolutely destroying other teams.

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Team Deathmatch:  There really isn’t much I can say on Far Cry 3’s Team Deathmatch mode that hasn’t been said about nearly every multiplayer game out there already.  It’s pretty straight forward in the terms of: “You’re on Team 1 vs. Team 2,  and the most kills in ‘x amount of time’ wins”.

Firestorm: With Firestorm, your main objective is to set fire to two of your opponents nodes at the same time.  It’s got a sort of Capture the Flag feel to it,  but with two “flags”, in this case barrels,  to capture.  Once your team has done this,  you have to defend ‘point a’ from the other team while your team  also captures ‘point b’ at the same time within seconds of each other.  As you defend both points,  the fire will begin to grow out of control. The longer you take, the fire begins to cut off access points to your next objective of reaching the radar dish to call in an airplane to dump fuel over your enemies base,  thus burning their camp and sealing in your victory.

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Transmission: In this mode, Transmission combines a sort of king-of-the hill element with timed element as well.  Each team attempts to obtain and control propaganda transmitters located all across the map.  In order for your team to win,  your team must race to each transmitter as it starts to become active and hold it as long as possible.

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Final Thoughts:  As someone who had little to no interest,  or knew anything about this game,  or even had it on my radar.  I can sit here as I type this with quite possibly one of the strongest senses of certainty that Far Cry 3 is a definitive must buy for everyone.  It’s definitely one of 2012’s most spectacular games to have been released out of the entire year (and it came out in December too!)  bar none.  The amazing story line I experienced of a regular man tossing aside everything he knew about living a normal life,  becoming a deadly & cunning member of a tribe,  rescuing his loved ones,  and fighting for what’s right.  The character’s I met along the way,  the things I had to do to survive,  and the wonders of the island I saw with my very eyes will be with me for years to come.  So as I come to the end of this review of a genre defining game,  I want everyone to run out and play this game and have as much fun as I did.  Thank You Ubisoft for ending 2012 with an amazing “BANG!” with Far Cry 3. This was truly a journey to remember.

The Verdict: An amazing 9.5/10

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Overview

Publisher:  Ubisoft,  Developer:  Ubisoft Motreal
Release Date:  December 4, 2012 US, November 30, 2012 EU
Platforms:  PlayStation 3,  PC,  Xbox 360

Price:  $59.99 US,  £49.99/€59.99 EU

Players:  1- 4
Online:  2 – 4 Co-Op,  2 – 14 Competitive
Online Pass: Yes ($9.99 US,  £7.99,  If purchased used)

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Vaas says to leave your comments below…or he’ll cut your head off.