Ahhh, the bliss of an island vacation. Warm, sun-kissed beaches. Crashing surf. Lush tropical greenery.
Scarred snarls of psychotic pirates.
Far Cry 3 features a gaggle of extreme sports-loving guys and gals who are partying and boozing it up on the beach … right before they're set upon by gun-toting goons. Said slugs just so happen to believe they rule the two Rook Islands these American rich kids have wandered onto. They believe they rule them because, well, they do. No neighborhood watch, police force and houses with white picket fences here. This is a place of meager native villages and hostile pirate camps surrounded by barbed wire. It's a virtual exotic paradise populated by drug runners, slave traders and man-devouring beasts.
The game's 25-year-old protagonist, Jason Brody, is a party-loving photographer who starts things out without a violent bone in his body. But upon watching his older brother die in his arms—after being shot in the neck by a Mohawk-sporting maniac named Vaas Montenegro—you know Jason's attitudes are likely going to change. Sure enough, upon escaping the pirate camp and falling in with a group of island natives, Jason starts putting time into learning about knives, guns and killing. He quickly realizes that if he hopes to rescue the rest of his friends before they're sold into slavery or murdered, he'll have to learn quickly.
Come for the Tan, Leave With the Tat
Far Cry 3 takes gamers, playing as Jason, through a series of rescue quests that blanket the two beautiful but deadly islands. You rout pirate camps, sneak-kill your way through stealthy missions, skin everything from wild boars to sharks (to craft useful weapon belts and wallets), navigate caves for plunder, battle Komodo dragons and tigers, and eventually fight for the cause of a crazed island warrior goddess.
If that sounds like a wild, exotic adventure, well, you're only seeing part of the picture. Jason's is a dark, twisted and at times gruesome tale. He not only learns the ways of bloodletting, but also ventures off on a drug-fueled, voodoo-ish spiritual quest to become the island natives' new warrior leader.
Much of that spiritual twist is centered around a tattoo (or tatau, as the natives call it) that has a magical ability to expand and grant Jason improved skills as he progresses through his quests. The more tats he has, the more deadly his abilities in three different player-chosen skill sets (improved health, more stylish chained-together kills, etc.). Those enhanced skills, in turn, earn him more respect from the island's Rakyat tribe warriors.
Once Jason comes across a warrior goddess named Citra, things take on an even nastier, Temple of Doom-like heart-snatching feel. She weaves her sexual web and blows vegetation-based drugs in Jason's face. And the newfound killing machine starts "expanding his mind" in a variety of gory and imaginary god/monster-battling ways.
The disturbing culmination? A ritualistic human sacrifice.
The Sacrifice of Island Life
It's safe to say, then, that Far Cry 3 has packed its vacation suitcase pretty full of foul soul-sucking food. The bloody kills are many. That rancid Montenegro guy is a frightful character who murders scores and adds a tangible sense of threat and dread to the game. (And he isn't the only baddie.) People are shot point-blank, and we watch as they bleed out. Captives are tortured and set on fire.
Even Jason gets into the real sickening side of things, torturing his own younger brother by purposely jamming a thumb into a blood-spurting bullet wound and listening to him scream. When using a sniper rifle we see victims' heads explode from the bullets' impact. Knife fights, stealthy machete-through-the-back murders, run-and-gun splatterings, grenade explosions, flamethrower crispings, blood-gushing throat slashes, ceremonial knife-to-the-chest impalings … the list of manically malevolent mayhem goes on and on. A complete lexicon of foul language is a constant as well—with and without an island accent. The f-word, for instance, is a conversation staple that's spit out far too many times to count. Drugs and alcohol are a regular part of things, with the game's opening moments showing the vacationing buds in boisterous, obviously intoxicated states. We see the pirates' stashes of marijuana and cocaine. And once Jason runs into Dr. Earnhardt and his array of handmade mind-altering concoctions, well, everything from reeling visuals to outright hallucinations begin to blur the action.
Aggressively verbal prostitutes, thong-clad pole dancers, physically violent pimps, the sale of young men into sexual slavery and the disease-inflicting aftermath of all of the above are ugly fare to be sure. Then add the alluring Citra to the messy mix. After a drug-addled vision, our "hero" comes out of his haze to find the now bare-breasted and very realistically detailed priestess straddling him and consummating their "interaction" in exceedingly graphic ways. As our point of view expands we realize that the two have been copulating on a stone altar … in front of Citra's native followers.
While traveling through Far Cry 3's Rook Islands, gamers encounter a fairly regular warning posted outside the many pirate camps: It's the bodies of dead men strung up and left to rot. They're decomposing DO NOT ENTER! signs … that Jason rarely heeds. Hopefully a few of you will.