Genre: First Person Shooter
Year: 2012
Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal
Published by: Ubisoft
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One
Feeling Like: Open Minded

Far Cry 3 should have begun, and ended, with Vaas. The Alpha, but not the Omega.

He’s not exactly a deep character, but you have to remember this is a video game blog, not a ranking of classic literature. I doubt Santiago or Willy Loman or Nurse Ratched swore this much, or did nearly the amount of cocaine.

Michael Mando, a splendid Canadian actor who isn’t in enough, is more than enough here. He’s a terrifying presence. The concept of tropical heat and lethal bug bites is already unsettling to a pasty ginger like myself, but Vaas is precisely the nightmare you tell yourself you’ll never meet as you shift along an alley in a city you don’t live in.

Okay, the above picture is goofy, but the point stands – he’s an unforgivable, unforgettable villain. If Far Cry 3 is a power fantasy, and it is, the profanity-laced, smooth talking, hostile big bad is its catalyst. Vaas Montenegro, pirate, human trafficker, scenery chewer may not last the entire story, but there’s a reason Ubisoft used this character for all the promotional material, and for the game’s box art.

It’s not as if the development team had to make a massive shift in this regard, but I really liked how they embraced the first person aspect, particularly during cut-scenes. I didn’t feel like a passive observer, it was very easy to feel like it was me running from bullets, or scampering away from Vaas’ screams of maniacal glee. He’s just murdered my brother. He has my friends captive. He has an army. He tells you this. What are you gonna do?

There were a few other high points alongside Vaas that led me to really enjoy my time with Far Cry 3. The captured outposts quickly became welcomed sanctuaries of respite. By slowly making these camps my own, it gave me a feeling of ownership in the storyline. I wasn’t just trying to take Vaas (and others) down, I was making the island safer. And far less populated.

The mission shown above is the only one I remember eight years later. Burning marijuana crops with a flamethrower while listening to Skrillex elicited a laugh, a shaking head and a thrill that only video games can give me. A high, if you will.

It’s a bit strange that, as of the current entry, this is my favorite game I’ve written about so far on the 500. That’s the case with every post, true, but it feels particularly odd here. Far Cry 3 may be a victim of its own success. It borrowed a lot of ideas from other games, and future games borrowed a lot from it. It was enormously successful to the point where we saw a new Far Cry game, or some iteration of a DLC, every year. I can’t say that I felt the need to go beyond a few of them.

It might have something to do with the open world nature. If I had to lean to one side, I’m definitely more of a linear type player. The concept of freedom and exploration is intriguing, but I find a well paced, shorter experience usually yields more enjoyment for me. What I found in Far Cry 3 was done well, but didn’t quite go as far as I’d hoped.

Jason’s progression from a vapid, party dude to blood-thirsty killer who begins to lose himself didn’t feel realistic to me. The jump was too abrupt. How can one guy literally gun down a legion of hired goons? I know this dissonance exists in a slew of video games, but when you dip your toe in these kinds of waters, you invite more criticism as a game. I hardly cared about all that at the time, and props to Ubisoft for trying something new. But this is hardly Spec Ops: The Line in terms of challenging the protagonist’s motivations. And your own.

I’m rambling. Far Cry 3 occupies a very strange, small part of my gaming library. It’s good enough to be # 286, just. But not good enough to be any higher.

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