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Verhille: Far Cry 3 makes statement against violence

BY DAN VERHILLE | JANUARY 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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“Everthing’s got a moral, if only you can find it.”
— Lewis Carroll

In a world where the NRA blames video games for violent crimes against society rather than the gargantuan clip sizes on military-grade assault weapons, it’s become increasingly difficult to tactfully and appropriately praise pieces of art that promote a culture of violence.

However, I’m not one of the subscribers to the belief that violent films, videogames, or music are contributors to what’s been called our gun-violence epidemic, and I’m still willing to praise Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3 as one of the best first-person shooters to drop in the past couple years. The game, which progresses as how I’d imagine a “Heart of Darkness” game would, comes as close to any I’ve ever played in condemning the violence the player perpetrates.

If people hadn’t have been told that Far Cry 3 was a first-person shooter, the introductory scenes to the story may have led them to believe that they were playing the first videogame edition of MTV’s “Real World.” Each of the characters introduced are college kids who fit the definition of spoiled “first-world children,” including the protagonist, Jason Brody, and his older and younger brothers.

As the characters jump from a plane on a sky-diving expedition in the Malay Archipelago, the scene is full of joy and laughter, until they catch a strong gust of wind that blows them away from their designated landing zone. When the player lands, the scene is one of absolute chaos and panic; all that can be heard is the sound of gunfire and screaming.

The group of skydivers is ambushed and rounded up by meth-crazed pirates. Jason watches from a cage as those whose parents do not have money for an expensive ransom are executed one by one.

Jason’s older brother, Grant, manages to open the cages so the two of them might escape, but Grant is killed in the final moments of the escape, leaving Jason to flee into the jungle alone. Charged with the task of saving his younger brother and friends, Jason must embrace the potential darkness within him and follow the traditions of the local warrior tribe to save his friends from monsters.

This entails harvesting plants to make home-made medicines, mastering several classes of firearms, liberating the island from pirate influence, getting warrior tattoos, and hunting the plethora of dangerous, big-game animals that roam the tropical islands. The island itself is a visually spectacular paradise, and exploring it on jet skis, four-wheelers, and hang-gliders never gets boring.

The same goes for the random animal attacks, which nearly gave me a heart attack on several occasions because I would be just minding my own business exploring the jungle when “BAM” — a massive tiger would pounce on me, and that was all she wrote. I don’t know if jaguars, tigers, komodo dragons, sharks, and dingos all actually reside in this area in real life, but it was done so well that I don’t care if Ubisoft fudged the natural habitats a little bit.

Personally, I found slaughtering thousands of drug-abusing pirates to save 20 white kids difficult to justify and instead enjoyed channeling my inner “Tomb Raider” to collect the hidden relics scattered about the island.

Although I don’t want to spoil some of the best plot points, I will mention that the remainder of the plot will not fail to impress players; they include some drug-induced hallucinations, the conception of a child with a local priestess, some CIA operatives, and finding yourself alive at the bottom of a mass grave.

Ubisoft has done a brilliant job of showing the effect of violence on the protagonist’s psyche, and it becomes clear rather quickly that there is no coming back from the amount of killing he’s done. In order to help the transition to “too-far-gone,” the game includes a series of quotations from Lewis Carroll that are wonderfully eerie:

“I like the Walrus best,” said Alice. “Because you see he was a LITTLE sorry for the poor oysters.”
“He ate more than the Carpenter, though,” said Tweedledee.

While violent per se, Far Cry 3 is fantastic game that’s actually used its graphic nature to make a statement against the potential for violence that exists in every single one of us. Unfortunately, as Jack London learned all too well when he wrote a story in which Western nations’ genocide against the growing Asian nations, society often has a knack for missing the point — and condemning art for causing the exact problem it makes a statement against.


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