Far Cry 3 Review: The Island of Dr. More-Bro
It could be that this and the game’s other excesses, banalities, and absurdities are purposeful. So says writer Jeffrey Yohalem, who in an interview with Game Front, claims that Far Cry 3 is an “allegory” that “challenges tropes used in other games and even in films.” Is it possible, as Yohalem claims, that his game bathes in stupidity to explode, parody, or deconstruct the stupidity endemic to other games? Certainly it is, but in that case his English-seminar parlor trick must be deemed a failure.
In the first place, it’s unlikely that most people even get the joke. Far Cry 3 lacks the winking good humor of a movie like Scream, wading too deeply into traditional video game self-seriousness. In fact, it’s hard to make any kind of sense of the game’s tone. How are you supposed to react when you hit the heal button, and Brody digs a bullet out of his forearm with a stick. Is that cool? Is it disgusting? Is it funny?
More importantly, Yohalem’s effort is a shameful waste. Having created a magnificent, life-like island in a fascinating corner of the globe, there’s no limit to the engrossing subjects the game could have tackled, underpinned by the history, environment, and modern realities of the region (which do include slavery, but not of vacationing Californians). Instead, all we get is a loud, crude, exploitative investigation into how much money Ubisoft is willing to spend in support of a game that is either an ill-considered thought experiment, or simply offensive.
Far Cry 3 represents the experience of being attacked by a crocodile in all its sudden terror, then uses a quick-time event to enable you to punch the crocodile in the face. It’s a game that includes authentic background dialogue in the esoteric Malay language, but allows its principal villain, a native of the island, to call Jason Brody “hermano” in Spanish. It’s a game that meticulously recreates a foreign place, and then reduces the people who live there into interchangeable nobodies who say things like “to continue on the Path of the Warrior, you should look at the bulletin board.” It’s a game that could have embraced its better instincts, but in the end, embraced its worst.
- Beautiful open world. It’ll make you want to save up for an actual tropical vacation; if you can’t afford it, this is the next best thing.
- Cutting-edge technology delivers remarkable results. Sets new standards in visual realism with all the settings cranked; console players will be missing out.
- Some good voice acting performances, particularly Michael Mando as Vaas.
- Many core gameplay features — sniping tigers, exploding pirates with C4, hang-gliding — are undeniably fun.
- Risible setting, loathsome protagonist, offensive worldview, awful plot. I wouldn’t want to have a beer with Jason Brody, let alone pay money to help him save an island full of natives too “backward” to save themselves.
- Gameplay provides too much repetition and not enough innovation. Much of the open-world content involves doing the same familiar activities over and over.
- A profusion of awkward, inscrutable design decisions, from the broken save system to the bizarre detour into Nathan Drake-style tomb raiding.
- Frustrating inconsistency. Viewed from the game’s occasional highs, its hideous lows look that much worse.
Final Score: 70/100