Far Cry 3 is brilliant at making you feel like whatever you want to be. While you play the role of rich-kid and kind-of-a-jerk Jason Brody it is easy to mistake yourself for the best hit and run warriors of the Viet Cong or Sam Fisher at the height of his stealthiness. The game gives you the tools to inflict grievous bodily harm and lets you go and discover your inner soldier – whether it be a close combat silent-type, a long-ranged sniper or a run and gun killer – the game doesn’t tell you how to go about massacring its ill-willed inhabitants. You are trapped on an island trying to save your friends from raging psychopathic murderers on a holiday gone wrong and you’re fighting for survival. And you will grow into these role quickly and efficiently, becoming more and more of a hunter with every passing minute until you feel like you are the ultimate predator. Killing will become instinct and you will be sitting at the very top of the food chain. If Far Cry 3 were to be judged on the merits of tapping that primal urge to hunt we all intrinsically have it would pass the exam with full-mark Honours.
Which is why the fact that the start to the game’s narrative setup doesn’t live up to its promise is so disappointing. Immediately the game draws you in with themes of insanity and exploitation only to leave most of those threads hanging to become nothing more than a summer blockbuster story line about saving yours and your friends’ and families’ skin. It is constantly teasing with imagery and words, hinting at twists and turns and that all you see may not be as it seems only to leave you you the straightest possible path through a truly intriguing and engrossing world, delivering little more than a vanilla narrative. It hits some high notes toward the end with some adrenaline pumping moments but the story never feels like it really hits its stride. Equally most of its characters while delivering some interesting dialogue never live up to their potential. The American spy, the German private soldier and the crazy recluse drug dealer all could’ve been used to deliver memorable storylines and interesting missions, but end up feeling like stepping stones along a rather benign story path. The result is that the game’s pacing and progress through its story feel like meandering aimlessly between mission givers rather than a real organic and cohesive story. On the flipside the game’s villains are memorably heinous and interesting and worth discovering for yourself, even if the early glints of promise aren’t ever fully realised. All in all Far Cry 3’s yarn is decent if, sadly against its promising opening, uninspired.
Of course this really is by-the-by because Far Cry 3 is simply a pleasure to play. Whether it be liberating outposts to gain territory, hunting wildlife to craft new gear, performing hits, or moving the game’s narrative along, you won’t notice the hours pass for all the fun you’re having. Far Cry 3’s idyllic isolated island certainly isn’t a relaxing holiday, but it’s still a nice thing to come home to after a hard day’s real world work. You’d simply have to be mad not to play this game.