We need to talk about this game. Seriously. Grab a chair. Listen. Yes, it is a colonialist apology story, racist and misogynistic, an adolescent power fantasy that’s truly trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. But all of that is a problem with the game’s content. For me, the game started being unbearable even before we got into the depth of the white supremacist bullshit and the magical negroes roaming the land.
Far Cry 3 is a game marred by horrible design decisions. You might think it is actually a very good game, it sure looks the part. There is even some good old grenade rolling downhill fun to be had. ‘Emergent’ gameplay, fooling around with the AI and all that jazz. But that is not the achievement of the people who made this particular game. That’s the achievement of Far Cry 2. And those parts? They were better five years ago. Purer. Simpler. More fun. Admitted, it seems Far Cry 3 has upped the AI a notch. But that’s about it.
Every aspect that is new to Far Cry 3 makes it a worse game than its predecessor. Let’s start with the most glaringly obvious parts. The interface. It has one my personal pet peeves. It has a minimap. And the game uses the minimap to the extent that the game world itself becomes just a mere illustration of what’s on display on the map. Harvestable plants, treasure caches, enemies, waypoints, secrets, it’s all there. Almost no need to play the game itself, eyes glued to the minimap, and you’ll miss just very little.
Then there is crafting. Which is introduced with a kill two boars and find three red leaves fetch quest. Yes, crafting can be a fun element, but… Essentially it’s an MMO element invading my single player space, artificially lengthening the campaign. And there’s not even a lot of actual effort to be put into it, since most important ingredients you might want to have pop up on the minimap to begin with. Go there. Pick that. Then mix a cocktail.
Then there are the missions. This is when the game world boxes you in and has you dying by failure when you leave the mission area. Really. Stray from the path, dead you are. No silly, you’re supposed to go straight to the objective. No detours. Hustle or die! The game employs an insultingly high amount of punitive handholding that just has no place in an open world environment. Plus, whenever you’re supposed to find something, it is clearly marked on the minimap. This way “finding” something is transformed into “go where we tell you and do it now!”.
There is a lot to do in the game. Hunting, exploring, playing minigames, killing things. None of it, except maybe killing things, feels very satisfactory. Liberating checkpoints is probably the highest point of the game. Accepting a new side mission only to find that there is no way out of the chore like fetch quest than to fully commit to it or die due to leaving the mission area feels like slap in the player’s face. Instant fail stealth missions do the same. The missions constantly keep changing the rules, which in my book is an unforgivable offense. Especially in a game that wants to be the successor to Far Cry 2.
And then there are the contents. Has there ever been a less likeable douchebag dudebro idiot protagonist, a more polished, focus tested turd than Jason Brody? Who goes from bored rich kid to man killing murder machine and white savior ubermensch of the inferior nonwhite peoples of the island in a matter of hours? Have there ever been more hateable characters to be saved? The girlfriends? Really? And there is not enough evidence that these are supposed to be parodies, ironic renderings of cliche rich kid characters. Far Cry 3 seems to try being a hyper violent, adult Narnia tale by the way of Lost. Only with less style and a total absence of likability. So apparently the indigenous population, despite being more experienced, better armed and more numerous than white dude uberbro Jason, never got around liberating the numerous outposts on the archipelago. Now all it takes is one angry rich kid from California to show those guys how to really fight, and everything goes well.
Far Cry 3 really is made into a horrible game that buries the good ideas the formula had under piles of garbage. It’s a problematic game. A huge, huge bag of missed opportunities and close calls that went in the entirely wrong direction. For those who liked Far Cry 2, stick to it and stay away. For those who didn’t, yeah you might stay away as well. It’s a game that employs a ton of bells and whistles, but doesn’t deliver on anything where it actually counts and is, at the end of the day, one heck of a disappointment. Avoid.