My first impression of the game were very negative. Later as I got used to the fact that you can't actually influence the story at all I started to enjoy it more.
If you follow one rule, that is you don't get off the path laid out by the developers, then the game's actually very good. Despite being an open world game it's very restrictive in regards of what you can do. Basically your only choice in it is how many side-missions you do in between the main story tasks. My opinion of the side-missions is not very good, I found most of them pointless and boring. Like the racing/transporting, hunting/assassination ones. There are actually two types of activities (I don't use the word mission on purpose) in the game that I actually liked.
The first one is the climbing of radio towers. The game is already very pretty, but looking down from these to the surrounding terrain really is awesome. And the game also emphasizes this by flying trough some notable locations in the range of each particular tower. I also like the idea that you reveal sections of the map by activating these towers, so it has a purpose as opposed to the previously mentioned side missions.
The other activity I liked is taking over bases in the game. It's really a rambo like experience, the AI is very life-like, the enemies act as real people would act in most situations. They call for backup, some of them attack, some of them retreat. I haven't found any glitch or AI problem that could've been exploited to easily kill enemies. Which is a good thing. Taking over bases also has purpose, because it makes the terrain safer to travel. Since in areas controlled by friendlies there are no enemy patrols, you can just go about your business without worrying about someone shooting you in the back.
In some reviews I've seen or read they compare the game to Skyrim solely because it has crafting in it. But there is a fundamental difference. In Skyrim you can craft special items. In FarCry 3 you're forced to craft even the most basic things. I mean the only way to increase the size of your inventory is to craft pouches from raw animal skins. That's just sick. There is absolutely no other way. You can't buy a backpack in the shop, you can't take equipment from enemy soldiers, all you can rely on is skinning animals. Even when you get the mercenary outfit later in the game, you're still limited by the size of your leopard ball-sack pouch. I'm sure you don't look stupid wearing your pigskin backpack over the expensive merc gear. Even the amount of money you can carry is limited to 1000 by default. And you can carry only one weapon regardless of its size, and only one magazine worth of spare ammo. I see what they were trying to achieve, but why can't I have a choice at least in this regard? Let me buy my equipment or loot it, or whatever. I never liked crafting in most games, and I was perfectly fine without it in Skyrim, or Fallout, because you can acquire every common tool and weapon in other ways as well. And I get bogged down by crafting in a game that's not even an RPG? It seems so. It's not that I haven't tried, but even after camping for half an hour at the marked rocky ridge I couldn't find one single mountain goat to increase my weapon carrying capacity. Because by some ill-founded logic you have to find a specific animal for each purpose. You can't use pigskin to make weapon harnesses, apparently the only skin good for that is goat. I had to finish the game using only one weapon. Which was quite difficult, but I just couldn't find the necessary materials to craft a weapon pouch. My only saving grace was that I crafted a spare ammo pouch as part of the tutorial so at least I could carry 2 magazines. Of course during the tutorial the game sent me to a place infested with hogs, but later I couldn't find those either. But I saw plenty of mountain lions. Which are useless as far as crafting goes, but they can appear out of nowhere when you least expect it, even on beaches. And they're way too strong, it's like a grizzly on steroids. Once I saw a lion single handedly wipe out an entire fortification of enemy soldiers, their backup included. That's at least a dozen heavily armed soldiers. It was hilarious. Talk about balance issues.
I already praised the graphics in the game, but the curious thing is that they don't achieve it by using more detail on objects or larger textures. No, the reason for the great graphics is lighting. Which is very well done, especially at dawn and dusk. The only downside is that the night is very poorly implemented. Basically it is not dark at all, it's like they only replaced the blue sky with a black one.
The game reminded me somewhat of Mercenaries II, I loved that game, you had to capture compounds the same way there, but it was much better, because your allies didn't just stroll in gloriously into the base cleared by you, they helped during the capture as well. And you could call for support, or supplies (even vehicles) at any time. Here you're completely on your own most of the time. If you drive into a ditch and can't get out, you're in for a long and boring walk.
The combat closely resembles FarCry 1, which is a good thing. The firefights are very realistic and enjoyable.
Another problem source in the game is the save system. They're using some sort of checkpoint based thing, but it's very poorly implemented. It stores almost nothing. I attack a base from the north, and when I load back the checkpoint it puts me on the south side of the base, where I've never been. Also collapsed buildings, right themselves when loading. Your vehicle disappears. The enemies reset to a preset popsition. I actually tried this in a mission: I ran through to the next checkpoint leaving all enemies alone. They of course eventually caught up with me and killed me. But when the checkpoint was reloaded, they miraculously disappeared. Probably because the level designer thought that you can only reach that checkpoint by eliminating all enemies . They really shouldn't assume anything in an open world game, but more to the point, they shouldn't use a checkpoint system in an open world game at all.
I couldn't really immerse myself in the story, firstly because of the reasons mentioned before (lack of choices), and because of Houdini himself. Sorry I mean Brody, who actually escapes from impossible situations half dozen times during the game. I know "suspension of disbelief", but I just can't suspend my disbelief that much. After he gets loose the third time anyone would just shoot him in the head when he's captured for the fourth time, but noo, they just time him up badly again, so he could get free again. The other problem I couldn't wrap my head around is the way he turns from spoiled brat into rambo in a matter of minutes at the beginning of the game. I don't know why were they forcing that mystic crap either, in the end it had no point at all.There was no big revelation or anything so why did we need it at all?
And I didn't like the bossfights either. You're dying, then suddenly appear in a dream-world, where you defeat the boss, and then magically reappear in reality, with the boss dead and you unscathed. This is truly a case where less would have actually been more. I'd really have liked a plain straight up fight a thousand times more.
- Visually stunning scenery
- Gameplay (at least the firefights)
- Vast open territory to explore
- Radio towers, and base capturing
- Forced crafting (and impossible to find animals)
- Lousy checkpoint based save system
- Lots of walking after loosing your vehicle.
- Completely unbelievable story
Graphics / Realization : 8/10
Story / Atmosphere : 3/10
Gameplay / Controls : 9/10
Overall : 7/10