Straight out of the gate: Far Cry 5 looks good, but it will not be as good as Far Cry 3. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say no Far Cry game will ever beat Far Cry 3. Why? Because I’m a raving lunatic sitting in my underpants hammering out a thought piece on my laptop, that’s why.
Before I get into why Far Cry 3 is (and always will be) the best Far Cry game (ever), I want you all to cast your minds back to its release and that first time you played it. Remember that tight-as-a-drum intro? Here comes the music: dum dum dum dum dum.
“Down here, you hit the ground.”
The unmistakable sound of MIA’s great song ‘Paper Planes’ bursts through your speakers as Jason Brody – your player character – is shown on vacation with a group of friends and celebrating his younger brother Riley getting a pilot license. They’re enjoying some white-knuckle sports, laughing, joking, having fun, and then they’re skydiving, blowing kisses to each other in the clouds, soaring through the skies, then boom.
You realise they are films on a smartphone, and it’s revealed that Jason and his brother Grant are being held captive in a bamboo cage. They’re not alone. The game’s major antagonist, Vaas – an unhinged, psychopathic pirate lord – is taunting them with their own videos.
“You see, the thing is, up there, you thought you had a chance. Way up in the fucking skies you thought you had your finger on the pussy trigger. But down here? Down here, you hit the ground.”
Vaas’s plans are simple: hold you hostage, extort ransom money from your parents, and then sell you into slavery anyway. What a nice guy.
“Run, Forrest, RUN!”
But all is not lost. Your brother Grant is a former soldier, and he has some skills. With his help, you both break out of the cage and stealthily make your way out of the camp. And the things you witness along the way set you on your path for revenge. The main sight is Vaas and his pirates executing some poor people whose parents declined to pay the ransoms and are unfit for slavery. Point-blank bullets to the head. The pirates don’t even seem to notice – an everyday occurrence, it would seem.
You and Grant make your way to the edge of the camp, and you start to feel a bit cocky, like this is all part of the plan to start waging tropical island war. You and your brother – he’s the badass, you’re his student. It’s going to be great, you’ll b–bang.
Grant drops to the floor clutching his throat, gasping his blood-choked last breaths. And as Jason realises his brother will not be coming with him, he stands to face Vaas – who is still holding the smoking gun – and screams at you:
“I’m gonna give you thirty seconds, and if the jungle doesn’t eat you up alive, I will. Are you FUCKING DEAF? I SAID GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE, YOU CHICKEN FUCK! RUN, FORREST! RUN!”
“Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?”
That’s how your epic journey of revenge and mayhem begins. Running flat out through the jungle as bullets and explosions impact around you. It also perfectly sets up your enemy in Vaas, he’s your ultimate objective. The intro does a great job of making you angry, upset and truly up for the fight.
And the game makes good on its opening. What follows is an epic battle across two tropical islands with military hardware and scores of pirates to fight through. Vaas captures you more than once before your inevitable ‘final battle’ – and he grows more and more angry (perhaps slightly respectful) of the fact that you somehow keep surviving.
At one point in the game he delivers the now-famous “Definition of insanity” speech in which he laments the fact that your continued survival is proving his insanity. He says:
“Insanity is doing the exact same fucking thing over and over again expecting shit to change. That. Is. Crazy.” Except, he’s been doing it himself, trying to kill you, thinking he has, only for you to pop back up in his face like a swarm of bees.
“The world is on a diagonal. I am the balancing point.”
Far Cry 3 feels like a personal duel, just one that takes place in a war between two armies you literally fell into. That’s why it succeeds. Far Cry was your character on an island full of soldiers and monsters, no personal fight. Far Cry 2 was you against an arms dealer, with literally no characters of any substance.
Personality was the missing ingredient – Far Cry 3 understood that better that any previous and subsequent game in the series. Vaas is that personality. You are driven to hate him, and your fight is to beat him into the ground. He even admits that he feels the same about you, calling himself “the balancing point” of a world that’s gone, at least to him, diagonal. You are a threat to the world he sees, he wants you out the way because your presence is intolerable.
After Far Cry 3, number four missed the point by making a great villain but not using him, and plonking you in a war you didn’t really give a shit about. Far Cry 5 will have to pull out some stops to match 3 and beat 4, that’s all I’m saying.
So, if you decide to replay one of the Far Cry games in the gap between now and number 5’s release, make it 3. Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity? It’s not taking my advice.