Also helping in this regard is the experience system, where accomplishing tasks earns points that can be spent on skills. Brody can choose from new abilities, such as holding his breath longer to chaining knife kills together, all of which are manifested in an expanding tattoo on his left forearm. The advanced skills and gear reflect his growing ability as a hunter, as well as his growing penchant for revenge and violence.
Even some of the hidden collectibles strewn about the islands feed back into this evolution. As a former Japanese base during the Second World War, the Rook Islands are littered with the skeletons of long-dead Axis soldiers. By finding letters to loved ones on these bodies, Brody also unlocks new combat items.
All together, almost everything you do links back to the central theme of the game, which is the evolution of the protagonist into a warrior that is every bit as fierce – and perhaps crazed – as his two nemeses. While other open-world games such as Assassin’s Creed offer plenty of side quests and distractions, few have made such seemingly unimportant options so integral to their main narratives.
Far Cry 3 culminates with several choices for Brody. Does he embrace his newfound wild side or does he try to go back to his old, innocent life? The story and characters are engaging enough to make you want to go back and replay it all over again, just to find out where the other path leads.
But wait, that’s not all. If the engrossing story of Jason Brody weren’t enough, Ubisoft Montreal also throws a fully-baked local and online co-operative mode in for good measure. In a completely separate story, up to four individuals can band together on the islands to pursue the captain of a ship who sold them out to pirates.
The mode is great fun that involves a variety of play modes. There are simple run-and-gun parts, while other sequences require one player to guard another while he or she places bombs on a bridge. There are also vehicle sections, including one where players race against each other on ATVs in a quest to clear their path of rubble.
With an enticing storyline of revenge at its heart, it’s a co-op mode you’ll want to see through to the end, which adds to the already deep and lengthy play time provided in the single-player campaign (I didn’t count, but I must have spent 40 hours on it).
Far Cry 3 wouldn’t be a proper first-person shooter without an online multiplayer option, so it’s got that too. While not as fluidly-paced or well-polished as Call of Duty or Halo, the effort is serviceable, with players taking each other on in standard modes such as team death match and domination. It would have been nice to see the single-player campaign’s vehicles incorporated here, but that’s perhaps something to hope for in Far Cry 4.
Last but not least, the multiplayer mode also has a Halo-like editor, which lets players create and share their own maps. It’s a very cool addition where you can easily create forests, lakes and other terrain within which to shoot it out. It’s a safe bet that such editors will become standard features in first-person shooters going forward.
Far Cry 3 packs in an incredible amount of game. The excellently realized and incredibly deep single-player story will keep you occupied for a long time, with the co-op mode adding on to that considerably. If you’re ever done with that, there’s the endless tinkering possibilities of multiplayer and its map editor.
Not only is it the total package as far as shooters are concerned, it’s also an excellent template for all such games going forward. Let’s hope future games of the genre are this good.