Far Cry 3's Intro Embodies Its Best And Worst Writing

As a game, Far Cry 3 shines quite brightly. As a story, it's a little bit more of a mixed bag. It has some excellent moments, some fantastic characters, and some really funny writing. It's also dumb when it doesn't need to be, and misses some opportunities to tell a more interesting and subversive story.

Rather than keep on talking about it, I thought I'd show you. The video above is the first 10 or so minutes of the game, and they capture the things that make it great as well as the things that make it dumber than it needed to be.

Obvs, spoilers for the beginning of the game follow. If you want to go in fresh, don't watch or read past here!

So the beginning monologue by Vaas is just out of sight. Great stuff. As I mentioned in my review, Michael Mando gives a magnetic performance, and he's a blast to watch. Here, he's just so menacing and intense -- the timing and expressiveness are beyond any games I've played short of Uncharted.

Then, Jason and his brother Grant break out of the prison, which leads to something of a tutorial about the basics of stealth and movement. It's fine, and has some good writing, establishing Jason as a weaker younger brother who doesn't think he has what it takes to survive this. The scene where you watch Vaas dealing with the people who couldn't be ransomed is chilling and intense, and a little bit darkly funny, if you stick around for the whole thing.

And then, after miraculously escaping captivity and death, Grant decides to spread out the map and make a plan. He stops whispering and speaks in his full voice. And then… it's revealed that you're like two feet from the pirates' guard post. What? Then Vaas is standing there, and shoots Grant, and lets you run away. Such a dumb ending to such a great sequence!

As he runs, Jason quickly starts spouting exposition to himself about how he needs to rescue his friends, as if we weren't there twenty seconds ago when he and Grant talked about how Jason wants to rescue their friends.

So: Electric performances, sharp writing, a real sense of dread, killer atmosphere. And then characters do something stupid for no reason other than because the story dictated that one of them needed killing. The good and the bad of Far Cry 3's writing, all in the first 10 minutes of the game.


    How I wish Jason weren't such a snivelling wretch...

      I couldn't agree more, though I think this is a plot device to take Jason from an unlikable weakling to a relatable badarse later in the game.

      I found the breakout sequence to be immersive and intense, and was pleasantly surprised when it was handled mechanically well. I've not seen stealth gameplay in a FPS this good since the Thief series. The escape sequence, while spouting a bit too much drivel, Vaas' reason - to make it a game - really helps to establish his insanity (you know, outside of his opening speech).

      All things considered, a brilliantly staged story and well established characters. Looking forward to the rest of the game!

    Great post :) I really enjoy these discussions on how game writing gets it right and wrong and how important it is.

    You've only got that extreme change in Jason's attitude because of the restrictions of it being a game. If it were a film they'd get away with it, we'd see him transform as a character, but because its a game, you have to get into the action and killing ASAP.

      Not necessarily. The game has quite a few mechanics and elements that would allow you to start off much slower. When I started playing yesterday my first gun was an SMG which I very quickly put a silencer on, and my second gun was an AK.

      There is hunting, and quite a focus on it.

      There is a bow, and a machete (and with DLC I believe, a second knife).

      Put these together and you can have a much more survivalistic beginning, in which Jason would have to (possibly craft) or obtain his own set of truely tribal weapons, a knife made out of vines and wood and a sharpened rock, a bow made of wood, etc etc being forced to hunt to survive, before finally finding safety in the tribe and civilian population. Guns, even as simple as a pistol could have been 2 hours or more into the game; instead, Jason gets rescued, and given an arsenal of weapons right from the beginning.

      It's why I really like the beginning of the first couple of STALKER games. Your first few weapons consist of weak, inaccurate pistols and a sawn off shotgun - hell, getting the MP5 is quite an achievment. You spend the first couple of hours with terrible weapons, learning how to use them, before you finally get an AK. And though it is the staple of the series, you still have better weapons to look forward to later on. And then once you have them... because of the way stalker is... even a guy with the starting pistol (Makarov) or sawn off can take you out if you're not careful.

      Far Cry 3 takes the typical "super soldier" route that most games these days take, which is a shame considering the setting and some of the themes being quite forceibly pushed on the player. But anyway, I'll shut up and get back to it now because it's still great. :p

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