Far Cry 3 Review Publisher: Ubisoft
, Xbox 360, PS3
UK Price (as reviewed): £37.99 Incl. VAT
US Price (as reviewed): $49.99 Excl. Tax
Far Cry 3 is like the annoying uncle of videogames; the one you rarely see and who tries too hard to show how down with the kids he is. He talks about that tattoo he almost got, drops swearwords into the conversation for the sake of it and tells you stories about that one time he took 'shrooms back in college. Also, he kills lots and lots of tigers.
Like that 'wacky' uncle though, Far Cry 3 isn't really all that edgy or shocking - it just wants you to think it is. It wants to show off how that it's broaching the topics of drugs and human trafficking, but it doesn't actually want to explore those issues in an interesting way. In Far Cry 3 the girls sold into human trafficking don't have so much as their make-up smudged, while the drugs you take will only give you a few rote hallucinations.
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It's faux-edgy; the equivalent of a tattoo done in a language the wearer doesn't speak and actually that's fine for the most part - this is entertainment after all and I'm not demanding that every game explore the depth of human emotion. It's still worth saying for those who've been suckered in by the marketing hyperbole though; if you've come to Far Cry 3 expecting even a cursory exploration of it's content, you'll be disappointed. This is more True Lies than Taken.
It's still fun though. Once again Ubisoft has tried to hold on to the core appeal of the original Far Cry; those open environments and tactical options, then discarded everything else. This may technically be the third Far Cry in the main series, but it's an entirely standalone, distinct adventure - a tale of American tourists kidnapped by pirates, the escape of one and your quest to rescue the others.
There's more to it than that; your character has a name and there's backstory provided for each of the friends you set out to save, but really it's the psychotic pirate Vaas who dominates the plot. Vaas is the scarred, mohawk sporting antagonist of the piece, prone to mood swings and erratic insights and, thanks to both excellent voice acting and motion capture, he's splendid to watch.
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The other figure which dominates the landscape though are the islands themselves. Lush and tropical, they bear only superficial similarity to the setting for the first Far Cry and due to their scale and structure are actually closer to the depiction of Africa in the sequel. Familiar icons litter the place as combine trade and landmarks for the series; radio towers which must be climbed in order to reveal the map and enemy outposts which must be cleared to gain a tactical foothold.
This time the enemies don't respawn into the outposts as soon as you leave though, thank Thor.
There are differences too. Far Cry 3's islands are dotted with far more animals - aggressive and passive - than the forebear's deserts, for example. Hunting these is crucial too, as you can collect the skins along with various herbs and plants to craft new items and upgrades as you progress through the game.