Far Cry 3 Review: The Island of Dr. More-Bro

 

There must have been people working on Far Cry 3 who planted virtual shrubs for a living, full time, for however many months it was in development. No digital biome has ever looked so lush, so real. As a technical accomplishment, the game surely ranks among the most impressive ever. Ubisoft Montreal expanded Far Cry 2′s land area by a factor of ten, summoning another island into the Southeast Asian archipelago like some kind of Quebecois volcano.

Far Cry 3
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), XBOX 360, Playstation 3
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: November 29th, 2012
MSRP: $59.99

A pity, then, that this godlike feat wasn’t performed in the service of a better game. While open-world developers have become exponentially better at creating massive, photorealistic environments for players to run around in, their ability to populate these worlds with variegated gameplay and compelling narrative has remained static. Each sublime improvement in the quality of the sandbox is undercut by the familiar plastic bucket sitting in the middle of the sand.

Gameplay just doesn’t benefit from the same economy of scale. Far Cry 3, like other recent open-world titles, simply settles on a limited handful of activities and repeats them, with only slight variation. Ten times more land area is great, but not when it comes at the expense of doing the same number of things ten times more often. Collecting 120 fetish statues is not twelves times more fun than finding ten of them.

The activities on offer are also disappointingly unoriginal, compounding the problem. In most cases — the racing leagues, the hunting challenges, Ubisoft’s beloved “scale the tower to reveal the map” challenge — you’ve played it all before. Same goes for the obligatory multiplayer and co-op modes that the developers insist on trumpeting, in the off chance that mass amnesia causes everyone to forget that Halo 4 and Black Ops 2 are less than a month old.

Far Cry 3′s publishers have made much of an early review that described their game as “Skyrim With Guns,” a comparison that is only partially apt. At its best moments — careening down a jungle road in a stolen jeep while listening to some obscure reggae song, or watching a leopard chase a deer from the majestic silence of your hang-glider — the game does evoke Bethesda’s fantasy blockbuster. Their achievements in open-world design are comparable; this is high praise indeed.

But while Skyrim’s unapologetically fantastical music deepened immersion, Far Cry 3′s obnoxious dubstep soundtrack constantly reminds you that you’re playing a video game. The game’s physical environs can also be as repetitive as its gameplay. In contrast to Skyrim’s varied regions and climates, it offers green, green, and more teeming green. Climbing an unconquered radio tower provides a sweeping camera shot of the local area, revealing the same rusted, corrugated huts, the same overgrown Japanese bunkers, the same elaborately mysterious caverns, over and over again.

Nor is there much to find in these places. No swords of unspeakable power here. Instead, Ubisoft offers loot that seems almost symbolic: empty icons to be hawked for cash. Imagine my excitement when I braved shark-infested waters to dive to the bottom of a sunken temple, only to surface with — literally — a “Half-crumpled Pack of Cigarettes.”

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23 Comments on Far Cry 3 Review: The Island of Dr. More-Bro

TheDefenestrator

On December 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Good review, especially in relation to other reviews that mostly avoided mentioning the story at all. If there’s one thing I wished other game journalists would recognize it’s that story matters and people who do it poorly should be called out. Just because the gameplay is smooth and the world they create is beautiful doesn’t mean they can slack off on the narrative.

SupremeAllah

On December 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I can basically agree with most of this.

Mainly, anyone with the name of “Brody” instantly deserves hate. Such a d ouchbag name, after all.

Second, yes his voice is god-awful, as is his voice-acting. Just an incredibly unlikable character.

Third, how is it that I’ve completely barely any of the game, yet I can go and craft virtually every craftable thing right at the start of the game? You could have every weapon and every accessory crafted/maxed before you even do anything.

doonerbandit

On December 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Far Cry themes and character choice + Far Cry 3 gameplay and mechanics + a dash of Skyrim = the best game EVER. Maybe next time.

pedro

On December 7, 2012 at 1:57 am

i usually prefer sites like gamefront, rps and destructoid to others because i have some intelectual respect for the people who write for them.

unfortunatly, when it comes to certain issues, you all degenerate to white midlle age people eager to positive-descriminate ( white man’s way of feeling good and still consescend other people), witch-hunt and over all litely acusing people of racism and sexism or anything that usually makes you feel smart and rightous not caring that the nature of this things is way more serious and prone to hurt people then your own hurges to feel intelectually and morally accute.

far cry’s pulpy nature deals with it’s subject the same way as any smart pulp production would do, if you saw the ending you would notice that ur “magical ” is exploring the white douche bag who in the game behaves exactly like a deranged mass murdering puppet. but you probably so busy enjoying the view from you high-horse and pointing fingers, that you didn’t notice this.
as for the npc’s, they behave like any other stupid npc, they are an excuse for quests, where they alien or mythical or white, no note of their part in the game would be taken, yet they happen to be of a race you feel is in dire need of your white help, you western white man have a moral duty to protect the “weak” races and you end up doing exactly what you complain jason brody does in the game.

non western people don’t need your condescending, they are proud people and you either like them or leave them alone.
if you want to fight for the universal rights of man you should do that, the battle is in international politics, not in a videogame, not in questioning the morals of a pulp production: SPOILERS it as none.

Ben Richardson

On December 7, 2012 at 2:40 am

@pedro

Writing game reviews is a subjective business, and whether it’s parody or pulp or simply a mediocre video game, Far Cry 3′s many cultural insensitivities offended my personal taste. It wasn’t my intention to condescend to anyone, nor to cause offense. On the other hand, I’m not going to apologize for calling them like I see them. Since I am not a lawyer or a diplomat, but instead a game critic, I have to content myself with defending the world from stupid NPC’s.

pedro

On December 7, 2012 at 3:21 am

@Ben Richardson

i look forward to see u defend the world of crap npc’s and i will gladly join you in that.

however, as subjective as a game review is, i would like to think that careful and well thought judgement is also part of the buisness and i’m pretty sure that the game is far more complex that u give it credit for.

and that when speaking for other races it shouldn’t be ur sensitivities that concern you but theirs

thanks.

Josh Mitchell

On December 7, 2012 at 5:15 am

I agree with Pedro. I want to see objective statements on the game’s quality, not ideological bias. I’m frankly not interested in whether a white male Western game reviewer feels the need to take offence on behalf of someone else in another part of the world. I just want to know whether the game’s any good or not, without the smug political point-scoring for a cause that isn’t yours to fight. The sad thing is that the review was actually really good, but undermined completely by a totally unnecessary reference to something that doesn’t affect the quality of the game on a practical or technical sense in any sense whatsoever. Learn from it.

codydjango

On December 7, 2012 at 10:21 am

An excellent and critically ethnographic review! So glad to have read this; stands in stark contrast to the average. I would have been so angry to have bought this dumb game, even if it is like ‘skyrim with guns’.

mrpdiddly

On December 7, 2012 at 10:55 am

codydjango said:
“An excellent and critically ethnographic review!”

Try not to use words you don’t know the meaning of in future, it doesn’t make you look intelligent.

Mark Burnham

On December 7, 2012 at 11:30 am

@Pedro So, what are game critics supposed to do, when they see a sloppily executed story full of cliches, negative stereotypes and a failed attempt to deconstruct both of those things? Just be silent about it? Is it only permissible to be offended by poorly executed art that deals with your own race?

I have to disagree. It’s perfectly valid to talk about how something failed to do what it intended, no matter what hemisphere the subject matter takes place in.

Havikk

On December 7, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Dude your review is completely idiotic. Far Cry 3 is an amazing game, every single bit of it. You have horrible taste in by what I can tell all aspects of life.

Ed

On December 8, 2012 at 5:23 am

@pedro “if you want to fight for the universal rights of man you should do that, the battle is in international politics, not in a videogame”

What a naive comment

JordanL

On December 9, 2012 at 3:23 am

“Obnoxious dubstep soundtrack” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YSluEH0TDA

@R.J.

On December 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

@Josh Mitchell

If you’re looking for “objective” statements about technical quality, then all you really want is a fact sheet, not a critical review. A critical review, at least one that is worth anything, is subjective by nature and lets you know what the reviewer thinks and why. You don’t need a reviewer to say, “The game looks pretty,” a list of bullet points could do that. If a reviewer didn’t have fun with a game, I want to know why, and then I will judge for myself if that is something I deem relevant. A game can be well-made on a technical level, but if the characters are unlikable, it makes it hard for someone like me, who cares about the story, to want to play the game.

Josh Mitchell

On December 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm

R.J. – you’ve missed the mark completely. I’m all for judging a game’s characters if it’s done in a balanced fashion. Ben Richardson essentially said that the only reason he disliked the characters was because he was “offended” by them due to his own sensibilities. I couldn’t give a toss about his political views. I want to know how the characters are actually written. If he’d complained that they were clichéd, unoriginal, had unintentionally inconsistent traits or appeared and disappeared at contrived moments etc, that would be a fair statement because these are TECHNICAL issues, issues of poor or flawed writing. Saying something’s bad purely because you don’t like how it represents its ideas on an ideological level isn’t constructive, it’s essentially judging the game on what you want it to be instead of what it is. And I reject entirely the ‘fact sheet’ thing – by that token, all seventh-gen games are better than all sixth-gen games because they’re less constrained. We both know full-well that’s not true, if it was then Black Ops Declassified would be better than Donkey Kong Country 2. And only ‘lol’ would ever consider that a possibility.

I find Ross Lincoln to be a pretty insufferable, sanctimonious bore when it comes to political issues, but at least he keeps them separate from his reviews. Same goes for Jim Sterling. Richardson has no reason to feel ashamed of having progressive leanings, but he DOES need to learn how to distance them from his reviews of a technical medium such as videogames.

Evan

On December 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm

There really should be two reviews here. This is incredibly misleading and irresponsible to your readers.

Is the game INCREDIBLY entertaining? YES. Is it a marvel of today’s video game technology (physics, mocap ect). A resounding YES. Is the story a little campy and hallow in some parts, well that is also a yes. I definitely would have preferred no tribal bull the whole way through.

Graphics 10/10
Sound 10/10
Gameplay 10/10
Story 7/10
Replayability 9/10

Is the story a little irresponsible with its writing? Yes. Should that drop the score 30 points? no. God and you praise skyrim’s openness in the process?

While I agree with certain points – this review is choking on its self righteousness. Time to google “criteria for reviewing video games”.

PS : The whole rape thing with Buck. Ya it’s an ode to Pulp Fiction. But I also think it is a little joke about the fact that the victim is a wall street guy. The mission is also called “Retake Wallstreet”.

I think this one is meant to be campy. It just went over your head.

paul075

On December 10, 2012 at 7:51 am

Best review I’ve read; it really hit the nail on the head with the comment about the game’s repetitiveness. “Skyrim with guns” it’s not.

Besides, wasn’t that Fallout?

Austin Hoover

On December 11, 2012 at 10:21 am

This is one of the best games I’ve ever played. I can agree with this review that the voice acting of the protagonist is pretty bad, but the rest of the cast is fantastic. I usually don’t care what happens with the story in games like these. I never had so much fun roaming the open world with a hand glider, numerous vehicles, and stealthily creeping the forests with my bow and arrow. I couldn’t recommend this game enough for people looking for a great time in an FPS.

RobThom

On December 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm

“The experience that ensues is like spending 25 hours on a killing spree with Shia LaBeouf. – When Brody commits mass-murder to save one buffoon from a lifetime of white slavery, all the friend can muster is a “hey dude, sweet tats!””

Oh wow!

Great review.

Not because I liked what I just heard, you’ve pretty much told me everything that I didn’t want to hear, but for your brutal honesty.

A stupidity clearing house like ign wouldn’t notice or mention things like that.

It sounds like they ruined this one the same way they trashed mercenaries 2 on the ps2.

Does catering to desperate hipsters with the minds of 13 year olds in the bodies of adults really expand a games market appeal that much?

Maybe it does,
but they lost one sale right here.

RobThom

On December 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm

“I’m frankly not interested in whether a white male Western game reviewer feels the need to take offence on behalf of someone else in another part of the world. ”

Yeah, me too.
Couldn’t care less.
But it sounds like this game is especially offensive to white males.

Now everybody is going to think that every white male is a perpetually annoying and racist spoiled brat with the maturity of a 13 year old.

Thanks canada.

MUDROCKET

On December 14, 2012 at 7:14 am

So sorry to hear you were so displeased with this game. I understand your whole reiteration and concept of “subjectivity” but felt obligated to profusely disagree with your findings. They did so many things right that I can’t believe you found so much wrong in it. I was completely “lost” on this island for over 30 hours and loved every minute of it. I was amazed by the story. I, too, noticed every stupid thing the NPC’s said but never did I let it come between me and the vengeance I was to deliver. I would hate to see the review if you Really didn’t like a game. Way to hard on these creators, it just seems ungrateful.

Pat

On January 4, 2013 at 5:47 am

Look at the end of the day there is only so much the consoles (pc’s can deal with much more) can be able to use in terms of computing power and the amount that they can store on a disc. Far cry 3 is an amazing game quit ing nitpicking with tiny like this because honestly if the game developers could make it better with the current tech they would. Honestly get a ing life and realize that they have to cater to a bunch of people who can’t afford to buy the best pc’s and would prefer to play the game on what is a very outdated computing system. Grow the up game front and realize that maybe developers are limited by consumer resources.