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Jonzor's Video Game Reviews (41)

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Batman: Arkham Knight 4.5/5
Magicka 4/5
Bravely Default 4/5
Awesomenauts 4/5
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon 4/5
Far Cry 3 4/5
Halo: Combat Evolved An... 4/5
Crysis Warhead 4.5/5
Crysis 4.5/5
Final Fantasy: The 4 He... 1.5/5
The Legend of Zelda: A ... 4.5/5
Borderlands 2 4/5
Final Fight 3/5
Command & Conquer 4: Ti... 1.5/5
Resident Evil: Revelati... 3.5/5
Bastion 4/5
Defense Grid: The Awake... 4.5/5
Borderlands 4/5
Mass Effect 3 4.5/5
Mass Effect 2 4.5/5
Mass Effect 4/5
Batman: Arkham Asylum 4.5/5
Ikaruga 4/5
The Legend of Zelda: Oc... 5/5
Mario Kart: Double Dash... 4.5/5

Next 16
 

Far Cry 3   PC 

I'll admit, he DID cry for a long ways...    4/5 stars

Far Cry 3 seems to have mastered the fun of the open-world game...and simultaneously missed the boat. When it’s really, truly open, the game sings. This makes it confusing when the game takes away the openness, like asking a kid what his favorite candy is, giving him a bag of it, and then taking it away when he eats one piece.

You’ll play as Jason Brody, a 20-something with two first names on vacation with a collection of other 20-somethings celebrating in the South Pacific. After a skydiving adventure leaves the lot of you on the only island worse for vacationing than Isla Nublar, you’re all kidnapped and prepared for selling into slavery. Naturally, you escape and so begins your quest to free your friends and (naturally) exact a little revenge.

Now, the cushy life of a white yuppie hasn’t exactly prepared you to take on a gang of pirates, so it’s fortunate that you meet up with the resident island tribe (the Rakyat) not long after barely escaping with your life. They’re just as interested in fighting the pirates as you are, so they start you on the road to becoming a warrior.

The successful elements of the game aren’t limited to just the sandbox parts. The game opens by introducing you to a really good villain (the pirate Vaas), which plays well to my vindictive nature and served to invest me in the story early on. Jason’s early trepidation towards his first couple story missions do a good job of emphasizing that you’re little more than some random kid who parachuted onto the wrong island. I had a little bit of honest tension for Jason heading into my first gunfight.

Buuuuut… just as your favorite sandbox elements in the game can be snatched from you, so can your favorite non-sandbox elements. I loved the feeling that Jason was awkward and unqualified for what he was doing, a story element that lasted right up to my first gunfight when the Rakyat told me they’d follow MY lead into the fight. My lead?! This is my first gunfight, fellas, maybe I should follow YOUR lead. And as much as I loved the pirate Vaas, he’s not around forever, and his end was one of many… odd… warped-reality scenes in the game that I found more than a little confusing. It’s difficult to describe. Drug-induced hallucinations are occasionally woven into the story, which can make sense if you’re at least shown the drugs supposedly warping your reality. Sometimes though, it feels like the game designers just liked making those scenes, and decided that this or that story moment should play out AS IF you’re on drugs? Don’t ask me.

The trip to become a warrior plays out visually in the growing tattoo on your arm representing the skill trees in the game. As you complete missions or randomly kill komodo dragons you’ll gain XP you can spend in the skill tree to give you more health or new stealth kill maneuvers (for example - the ability to sneak up behind someone, stab them with a machete and then take THEIR knife and throw it at a nearby enemy… very Rambo…). There are three different groups of skill trees, but by the end of the game I’d stopped spending skill points. Partially because I’d easily collected enough points to acquire every skill, and partially because… the skill tree just wasn’t that enticing to me. Aside from health and stealth kill moves I really wasn’t excited to unlock many of those skills. Which… I don’t know… maybe that’s okay. FPS games don’t need to rely on character progression, so a skill tree that offers really only minor tweaks to your gameplay sort of fits within the genre.

So, let’s get to the meat and potatoes… the sandbox. You can freely roam the entire island basically right from the start of the game. The game steers you along the story by making parts of the island seem more inviting than others. Aside from story missions, your highest priorities are usually raiding enemy camps and climbing radio towers. Successful attacks of pirate camps will switch control of them to the Rakyat. Doing this all but eliminates the presence of enemies in the surrounding area, making it easier and safer to travel. Climbing a radio tower to deactivate it will reveal the terrain surrounding it on your map, showing you where to hunt animals, where roads are, and where to find supplies. While the camps are obviously exercises in combat, the radio towers are the closest thing you can reasonably get to “good” FPS platforming, which is an enjoyable change of pace in the game.

Things happen in Far Cry 3 that seem unthinkable to people who grew up on video games in their early days. Numerous times I’d stumble across a group of men who’d be set upon by a handful of komodo dragons because the game had randomly led these two next to each other and a fight broke out. While scouting a camp I heard a rustling in the bushes only to look over and see a tiger about to pounce that I had to dispatch QUIETLY now lest I ruin my element of surprise. Once I was in a gunfight with a man the mission required I kill with my machete, and while formulating a plan to close the distance between myself and him safely a random carload of my Rakyat friends, just driving around, showed up and started shooting to provide me with just the distraction I needed. I’ve hunted deer only to have my prey taken away from me by a jaguar flying out of the bushes. These unscripted, random anomalies serve as a welcome counterpoint to people who somehow STILL fail to realize that all the migs and megs packed into today’s modern game machines can serve a purpose other than more photorealistic graphics. Walking around a jungle where literally anything could happen conveys a real sense of being “in the wild” that sets an atmosphere for the game that would be unimaginable even 10 years ago.

Liberating camps was (for me) the best part of the game. Welcome to sandbox FPS combat! The camps are usually a cluster of buildings with some busted-up fences and around a half-dozen guards, but they each have their own fun features, and will gradually get more complicated the farther into the jungle you have to venture to find them. Camps will also feature varied terrain, varying amounts of cover, and varying elements within the camp you can use to your advantage. Some camps feature an assortment of explosive barrels for general mayhem, while other camps might feature a CAGED TIGER you can set loose with a well-placed bullet and then use the ensuing carnage to your advantage. You earn more experience for a fully liberated camp if you say, never let the enemies set off an alarm or go completely undetected. This is meant to entice you to explore the variety in gameplay, but for me the biggest incentive was that hiding in the hills and just shooting those guys was just too darn easy. I was frustrated by an alarm getting tripped and calling in reinforcements more because I was disappointed with myself for being sloppy rather than the fact that these chumps were going to present an actual problem for me.

I could easily spend 10-15 minutes scouting a camp, looking for holes in the patrol to start quietly taking out guard or getting into position without it ever feeling boring. After I’d gotten the hang of the guns-blazing approach and the quiet, knife-everyone approach I finally settled on my preferred method, which was a hybrid of the two. Take out the guards on the edges quietly, sneak into position, and then take out the rest of them VERYLOUDLYANDVERYQUICKLY. My favorite memories were:

- I spent probably 10 minutes getting into position on a roof in the middle of the camp, and after realizing that picking off a couple guards quietly would be nearly impossible I instead ended the lot of them in about 15 seconds with a hail of grenades and a flamethrower.

- After knifing two guys out of a crow's nest next to the camp, I planted a mine and lured a guard towards it. When I was assured he was about to walk over the mine I snuck around to another part of the camp and when I heard the mine detonate, shot an explosive barrel next to another guard and quickly cleaned up the rest.

The open layout of the island and camps, and the variety of guns and explosives create any number of ways you can approach cleaning out these camps. However - as is this game’s way - nothing gold can stay, and once you’ve liberated all of the camps on the island the sandbox combat that shines so brightly vanishes when you realize there is literally NO ONE LEFT to fight. After completing the game it asked me if I wanted to return to the island to explore to which I audibly replied “To do what?” The greatest benefit of a sandbox game is it’s ability to always have something to do… but this game found a way to fail at that task. Ubisoft took a cue from the modding community and provided an option in a patch to reset all the camps once you’ve liberated them all… but the fact that the community had to beg for Ubisoft to keep the sandbox open is still telling of the conflicting gameplay philosophies at work. I didn’t even know about this feature until I started Googling the game trying to figure out if they really could have been so short-sighted.

There’s plenty of other tasks to do, so the good news is that you’ll have a good 40+ hours of gameplay before the sandbox closes up shop. There is hunting animals to craft ammo pouches or a larger backpack (or just sell the hides), looking for all manner of collectibles, pirate assassination missions, side quests for the locals... or maybe you just like blowing up bears with C4.

The visuals in the game are fantastic. A tropical island is a great place to set a game like this as there’s plenty of excuses for a vibrant and colorful island full of cliffs and hidden lagoons and wildlife. Everything on the island was designed in a manner that seems to “fit” appropriately. Run down rustbuckets of cars; old, mossed-over ruins; shanty towns using whatever they can find as a fence or roof… there’s a real natural art design to the whole game that I thought worked pretty well. The game was a year old when I played it on a computer I’d bought in the last 6 months, so how “well” it runs is hard to say, because I had a pretty good computer. That being said, I had no performance issues.

The audio was also well done. Using left and right stereo to keep animals from sneaking up on me came in handy more than once, and I really dug the music selected for the game. Getting into a car and hearing a funky island tune come on the radio was a fun touch, and the song “Make it Bun Dem” by Skrillex coming on during the mission where I burned down the pirates’ marijuana farm and all the crops with a flamethrower was a pretty solid piece of comic relief considering the (awfully dark) tone of some of the other moments in the game. Voice acting was well done for the most part, and I’d even say a lot of the game’s characters were pretty good (aside from your pretty bland collection of friends you have to rescue).

Other areas I’d take issue with the game are the fact that the industry is still trying to nail down “stealth” gameplay in some ways. You’re able to throw rocks in this game to distract enemies, but even if it whizzes right over their shoulder they can’t calculate that someone behind them threw it. However, if you shoot someone with a silenced rifle from 100 yards away they’ll somehow manage to trace the source and run immediately towards your general location in the hills (despite the game never giving you the notification that you’ve been “spotted”... they just are really good guessers, apparently).

I’ve never played a Far Cry game until now, so I can’t speak as to how this game compares as a member of the series, but this felt like a pretty solid game that has me willing to give Far Cry 4 a try when it is released. By “sandbox” terms, this game may have been a little limited, but by general FPS standards I have to say I really enjoyed my first Far Cry game.

 

 


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