Far Cry 3: Vaas Isn’t That Great

Internet Lore states that after the reception Vaas’ opening conversation received in a preview, Ubisoft redesigned the game to feature him more heavily. I don’t know if this is true at all and I haven’t even heard rumors about exactly what alterations were made, but certainly this would explain why Vaas wears his welcome so extremely thin in this game.

I get why people were hyped for Vaas after the opening conversation, it is indeed pretty great. He comes across as menacing, unstable, and yet like he probably does have some genuine insight mixed in there. He doesn’t really come across like he’s in charge, though. He fucks with one of the other pirates on his way out of the opening cut scene, and the way the pirate reacts suggests that Vaas is a sufficiently senior coworker that open retaliation is off the table but not so senior that Pirate Mook #6 can’t be open about how much he dislikes Vaas’ antics.

Then in the rest of the game, not only is Vaas now the boss of the pirates (there’s someone higher up the chain than him, but he runs a mercenary outfit completely separate from Vaas’ pirate army) and the main villain of the north island, he also captures the player no less than three times over the rest of the game. That’s three times not counting the capture that happens before the game begins, where he takes Jason and his friends hostage for ransom. One of these captures is particularly egregious because you have to kill like six guys on the way into a location where one of your friends is allegedly being held, discover it’s actually just a recording, and one random mook smacks you from hiding. What made that guy special, that he could capture me when the other six guys were so much fodder for my assault rifle? And it doesn’t speak well to the sequence that I can’t remember a single thing Vaas says. I remember he sets a house on fire and you have to escape, but not what he says about any of it.

The part where he captures you again and tries to drown you is better, although (as Vaas himself points out!) it’s pretty badly diluted by the fact that this is the second time Vaas has put you in a budget hillbilly version of a Bond villain death trap and for some reason he still expects it to work. Sure, the whole “definition of insanity” rant is good, but then he does the same thing anyway, which kind of defangs him as a threat. Capture number three is where he finally just shoots you. You get better. It really feels like the hand of the author shoving you back into Vaas’ clutches over and over to show off their favorite character.

And then when you sneak into his compound at the end of the north island, he ambushes you, because even at the point where the time has come to actually kill Vaas, the game is too enamored with him to let you have the advantage at any point up until you actually kill him, which, y’know, at that point it’s unavoidable, seeing as he’s dead and there’s still half of the game to go. It’s not even the same compound where you started the game (that location never appears again and is apparently northwest of the playable map – people hacking the game have found it).

The final fight with Vaas also sucks. You have to shoot a bunch of Vaas ghosts as part of a trippy drug sequence, and you’re forcibly equipped with a puny SMG without nearly enough ammo in its magazine to do it, which makes the fight difficult on console because I can’t do what I do for the rest of the game and stock up on so many bullets and syringes that I can power through the inadequate controls. This meant I heard Vaas and Jason have the same hallucinatory conversation like fifteen times before I finally killed him. At least the conversation happened during gameplay, unlike the similarly atrocious fight with big villain Hoyt at the end of the game. You’re supposed to assassinate Hoyt with an ally, he turns the tables and kills your ally, and now two of his goons have you at gunpoint while the two of you play a menacing game of poker. He cuts one of your fingers off for losing a hand, and then…you’re having a knife fight with him somehow? It’s not explained where the guards went, and the fight is a quicktime event with fairly narrow windows to input the commands, and the fight-y bits are interspersed with monologue that you get to hear again if you fail the quicktime event. Quicktime events were such a terrible idea and they’re a significant chunk of every boss fight in this game (they’re all of two out of the three boss fights).

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