It's been over a year since my original Far Cry 3 playthrough. I wasn't very interested in the game and considered it to be nihilistic, racist, and exploitative. I had the nagging question in the back of my head whether I was missing something, though. Ubisoft was not a developer known for making racist or stupid games. They also weren't a developer known for putting out garbage and while I didn't enjoy playing Far Cry 3 the first time around, I had the nagging sensation I was missing something.
The second time around, I attempted to take the story at a slower pace. While the premise of the game was that my friends were in danger and I needed to rescue them, I decided to take time exploring the island and dealing with the many myriad problems facing it. This allowed the story's speed to slow down to a more reasonable pace than my original playthrough. I also realized I'd been doing stealth wrong and correcting this made missions significantly easier.
|The action is excellent. Violent but excellent.|
When I originally reviewed this game, I was uncomfortable with what I perceived to be an insensitive portrayal of Pacific islanders as savages with Jason Brody being a "Mighty Whitey" who learns their ways before saving them from an outside threat. It's an overused Hollywood cliche which has been seen in everything from Avatar to Dances with Wolves.
I may owe the writers an apology because exploration of the island indicates the 'savage' elements of the islanders have been long abandoned. Jason's adoption of their warrior ways is specifically an anachronism in modern times, brought about by the encouragement of a semi-sane NPC. Likewise, Jason's role as the "White Savior" is actually questionable as it's clear the islanders never really warm up to him all that well. He's an outsider and his attempts to integrate himself fail miserably.
|Rook Island is gorgeous.|
Far Cry 3's NPCs, however, are very memorable. There's not many of them, at least with speaking roles, but they're a delightfully despicable bunch of rogues with the occasional decent one mixed in. This makes sense, since the game is another variant on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Unlike Spec Ops: The Line, however, the game has a semi-satirical take on the story which prevents it from being completely depressing. I will say, however, the ending doesn't feel entirely earned and could have been better done.
The story isn't where the chief appeal of Far Cry 3 lies, however. No, the best part is the gameplay. While the kill animations are a bit too violent for my tastes, the actual mechanics are quite fun. Far Cry 3 manages to combine animal hunting, gun play, stealth, and exploration to create a multilayered gaming experience. With 34 pirate outposts to liberate and miles of jungle to explore, I had an excellent time just wandering around. Indeed, Far Cry 3 reminds me strongly of Fallout 3.
|Slowly, Jason Brody transforms from a scared kid to a man who can kill without remorse.|
Really, you could play Far Cry 3 over and over again without ever really dealing with the main plot. I argue, in fact, that might actually be a more fun way to play it. It's not the story is bad but it's inferior to the gameplay. I feel bad about this because I know Ubisoft can do so much better. A little more attention to detail would have made things much better.
In conclusion, Far Cry 3 is a much better game the second time around but it's still not perfect. Play it for the exploration and shooting, rather than the story.