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Five Things I Learned From "Far Cry 3's" Vaas Montenegro

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Jennifer has been a gamer chick for over a decade, but particularly enjoys the "Mass Effect," "Red Dead Redemption," and "Far Cry" series.


I Hate to Admit It....

.....but I miss Vaas. I killed him last night and I miss him terribly today. I even printed out the picture above so that I can tape it to my wall.

For those of us who are not as familiar with the second antagonist of Far Cry 3, Ubisoft's latest installment in their open-world franchise, here is a brief summation.

Vaas Montenegro was once what appeared to be a "good guy". He was the local hero for the native tribe that calls Rook Island (where Far Cry 3's story takes place) home and generally walked the straight and narrow. Enter his lovely but incredibly manipulative sister Citra, who through whatever power she seemed to possess, gradually seized power of the island and of the native Rakyat, who revere her as a warrior goddess. Vaas eventually fell out of favor and sought love and acceptance from a growing band of pirates that were moving in on Citra's land. Through the ministrations of his new mentor, Hoyt, Vaas became a terrifying, psychotic, drug-addicted menace hellbent on destroying the island, rock by rock.

I have to admit that during the beginning of Far Cry 3, I was so scared of Vaas and his crew that I almost stopped playing the game. Thinking that he was all around me, watching me being eaten alive by the local wildlife through the palm fronds was enough to make me more nervous than not, and I came close to calling it quits after saving my second friend.

But this is where learning from Vaas, lord of the under-jungle, came into play.

Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is? Insanity is doing the exact same [sic] thing, over and over again, expecting [sic] to change. That is crazy; but the first time somebody told me that...I don't know. I thought they were [sic] me, so boom — I shot him.

— Vaas Montenegro, "Far Cry 3"


Don't Know the Jungle: BE the Jungle

I am convinced that this entire game was about how the stuff inside of all of us either makes or breaks us. Vaas embraced this more than even the main protagonist, Jason, who started out as kind of a wimp and then just stayed a wimp. But Vaas was thrown to the jungle, and therefore he became the jungle.

The jungle with its wild, vast, mostly undiscovered thickness and danger was most likely a brilliant learning ground for a terrorist in the making. Vaas probably already had a lot of instruction under his belt before the fall of his hero status, but only when he went bad did he truly begin embracing what the jungle is all about- survival.

Vaas was clearly a survivor. From the scars on his face and head to the way he commands his men, it is obvious that the road through the jungle has not been easy for him. Yet at some point, he mastered it and bent it to his will. Enough to scare the crap out of a pretty seasoned gamer chick.

I admired this about him; he really was a part of the jungle. Whenever I would set on the path towards my next inevitable run-in with him, I would make Jason jog a little bit and then stop. Look around. Keep going. Stop again. Learn the ways of the animals who stalk me unseen. Blend into the surroundings in order to stay alive. There are things that Jason and even Vaas had to learn before making it a day in the wilderness.

It sounds cliché, but the savage nature of a person who was once the opposite of a savage makes one wonder about the transformation. What exactly was in the jungle that turned Vaas into Vaas? In order to survive in your environment, you must be your environment. Simple enough.

Not one of his finer moments.

Not one of his finer moments.

Be Crazier Than the Crazy Around You

Vaas was highly prone to nonsensical rants that scared the pants off of everyone around him as they scrambled to figure out just what the heck he was talking about. The insanity quote from above was one of his favorites, and he recited it several times throughout the game.

Yes, Vaas was crazy. Legitimately insane, psychotic, whatever-you-want-to-call-it crazy. But the degree of his insanity still puzzles me. Was he just simply nuts? Or was he on to something that the rest of us—and the people in his quote—struggle every day to see?

In the expanded quote, Vaas condemns the tediousness of daily activity. He references having to watch people, day by day, perform the same tasks while expecting different results. This has nothing to do with trying to accomplish a goal; rather, Vaas is flabbergasted by the reality that people actually live like that. Walking the same path today as you did yesterday and all that jazz.

Whereas the quotation is inherently insane, it provides insight into Vaas's mentality. And whereas everything he does is crazy and people literally quake in fear when they see him, there is purpose behind what he does. After falling out of favor and being cast into the jungle, Vaas found a way to contribute to what he considers a higher cause, and discovered his purpose in doing it.

So, in other words. No matter if everyone around you thinks that what you're doing is crazy, find purpose in it. Thanks, Vaas buddy.

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

Vaas tried four times to kill Jason in the game. Four separate times. He shot him in the chest, tied a cinder block to his feet and kicked him off a cliff, stabbed him in the stomach, and set him and his two friends on fire.

Yet, during the incident with the cinder block, Vaas seemed so calm while he explained to me yet again about the definition of insanity. It didn't appear to bother him much that Jason had survived all of his previous attempts to murder him (minus the stabbing, which happened later). In fact, he almost seemed genuinely happy to see him!

There was one thing about Vaas that never changed—that little guy was persistent. He never shied away from an opportunity to kill me and he did it in style. The cinder block was pretty terrifying as I watched an unfortunate Rakyat warrior meet the same fate that I was supposed to only seconds prior. And then, at the bottom of the lake where we were both sent to die, I saw his lifeless body chained to the cinder block that wasn't going anywhere.

The last time that Vaas tried to kill me was minutes before I killed him. He said some pretty nasty things to me during this interlude and I tried hard not to take it personally. But what he said seemed true at the time, and it almost seemed as if he was trying to do me a favor for refusing to die. He alluded to the manipulative nature of his sister, and then offered to shoot me.


Take What You Want, When You Want It

As I stated above, Jason was a wimp when the game began. He and his friends were too preoccupied with drinking and getting high to realize that hey! maybe skydiving over an unknown island isn't such a great idea, guys!

Jason was pretty worthless in the beginning, coming from a background with no weapons or combat training. But as the game went on, his experiences began to shape him into a warrior worthy of Vaas's attention, which he eventually got a lot of.

At first, I didn't really know what to do in order to survive the harrowing ordeals presented by Rook Island. I had a terrible gun, no medicine, zero transportation, and an almost innate ability to attract every carnivorous animal walking around in my personal space. So I started thinking like Jason was endangered, and I began by taking things.

The thing about Far Cry 3 is that there is only one rule—no killing of the civilians that populate the area. It would be terrible to murder them since their propensity to die is almost higher than Jason's is anyway. But everything else is on-limits. So you need a car? Take that guy's as he's trying to skin dinner for his family. Need medicine? Chop down all of the plants in your immediate area so that no one else can make any after you!

Of course, you can't really apply this rule in its full meaning in real life. The reality of it is better left in the video game world. However, the theory of taking what you need when you need it can be applied to some situations that we might experience on a daily basis. Most of us- like Jason- are hesitant to take what we need lest we be viewed by others as greedy, or selfish. But the more successful people—like Vaas—are able to build an empire off of things that don't belong to them. Which pair of shoes would you rather fill?

Oh, I'm just kidding about this one. Please don't steal anything, but do stand up for yourself to a degree.

We Are All Vaas

Perhaps the most important lesson of all: we are all Vaas.

Here is a character who began as the hero before falling down the slippery slope of immorality and spiritual decline. Here is someone who stopped fostering his good side and started feeding his dark side.

I don't mean to sound drab or dreary, but Vaas existed to prove one thing- each of us could very easily become him. A person hellbent on the destruction of all those around him, someone who uses people and takes their things, someone who doesn't care about the consequences of his behavior. Someone who had just about enough he could take of being ignored, forgotten, mistreated, and laughed at. Someone who kills just to do it.

Vaas represented the primitive nature that all of us possessed before law and morality phased it out. Our former selves that could survive in the jungle and take what was needed without fear of consequence. He simply reverted back to this time in order to survive on his own, and he succeeded in doing this so well that he was able to command others to do his bidding- murdering, stealing, scaring, stalking. There is no law on Rook Island, and the first to die are usually those who still try to follow the law. And so Vaas represents the lawlessness, the corruption, and the evil that rests quietly in all of us (except his is essentially bursting out of him, screaming for attention).

Yes, we all possess a darker, less attractive side. And whereas it might not be a psychotic, vicious, homicidal maniac like Vaas Montenegro, I can promise you that it's there.

So which side will you feed?

Just for fun!

Just for fun!

© 2013 Jennifer


Jess on April 10, 2018:

I didn’t see him the way you did. But I like the way you think it opened me to new thoughts about Vaas.

Jennifer (author) from Pennsylvania on October 03, 2017:

Thank you, TheLateGamer! I couldn't agree with you more, especially regarding the duplicity in feelings towards Vaas. He truly terrified me but I found myself missing him long after he was gone. Thanks, now I want to play FC3 again!

TheLateGamer on September 21, 2017:

I honestly rate Vaas as one of the greatest video game villains of all time, nothing has really come close other than to say The Joker from Arkham, but he has over 50 years of lore to rely on, Vaas on the otherhand, just came along one day and blew this fucking game up. I was both scared and enamoured for this guy and was absolutely devastated when he was killed half way through the game. Bad decision on Ubisoft's side. I really wish he would somehow just make a comeback in a future Far Cry game, I was actually hoping he was going to have Min's position in 4, I'm sure most of Min's character and backstory could have still applied to Vaas.

As for his actor, the guy's great. The web series he did for Far Cry 3 was fantastic, absolutely believable and though I didn't watch Orphan Black, this guy has been carrying Better Call Saul inbetween Kim Wexler making me want to kill myself.

Again, the one of the greatest video game villains to have existed and I generally believe he deserves a reward, I can think of no one worthier who's just so fucked up.

Fantastic article, you did a great job of articulating his character and how this made the player respond.

asdasd on November 17, 2016:

this was so edgy

Jay on February 13, 2015:

Yeah, I thought he was pretty hot too.

Jennifer (author) from Pennsylvania on September 19, 2014:

Thank you again! Vaas is so far one of my favorite video game characters of all time. I'm happy that you liked this! :)

Daniel Joseph Bringhurst from Buffalo, New York on September 18, 2014:

Vaas was such a crazy cool character. Your take on him and the atmosphere of Far Cry 3 is great. Nice work.

Jennifer (author) from Pennsylvania on September 14, 2014:

Now that is a brilliant idea! I will definitely Google that guy, he sounds like a badass.

Out here there be monsters. on September 13, 2014:

Haha "Vaas's : The Apprentice" lol. I would watch that show. There is a dude named Bruce Lee who is the leader of this group of people that live in the sewers in Romania, Looks like something out of a comic book. I would love to go up against this dude. He seems like a beast. he wears locks and chains on his wrists like the guy in god of war lol. Real guy. Closet thing to an over the top lunatic they make. Google him lol

Jennifer (author) from Pennsylvania on September 09, 2014:

Thank you, sir. Although you would have to battle me to the death for the honor of learning under Vaas's tutelage!

fomanchoo25 on July 15, 2014:

EPIC article!!

I need to find someone like VAAS to make me realise my ultimate and utmost full potential!!

I feel him, your article explained his situation quite well and in great detail!

put on them boots and go all out!! fuck the modern world where all are just following the mediocre!!

If ever I met a man like Vaas, I would become his greatest student!

Jennifer (author) from Pennsylvania on July 07, 2014:

I just finished my second playthrough, and I have to say that I enjoyed it so much better this time than last. I think a healthy appreciation of my enemies- and that includes Hoyt- did it for me. Michael Mando is an amazing actor and I've considered following "Orphan Black" just for him. The funny thing is, he wasn't what the developers were looking for in Vaas originally. It was only because of his personality that they decided to change their entire concept of his character to suit Michael. You have to be pretty amazing to pull something like that off!

Max Huntington on July 02, 2014:

Very much a fan of Far Cry 3. I'm really looking forward to 4. I actually started another save file after I read this. It reminds me a lot of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I love coming across games that surprise me they are so good. If They ever remake Scarface, Michael Mando has my vote for the role.

Jennifer (author) from Pennsylvania on July 02, 2014:

Thanks for your comment, Max. I too share your wish to meet someone who forces you to think on your feet like that. Are you a fan of Far Cry 3?

Max Huntington on July 01, 2014:

Good stuff. I really enjoyed your article. All 100% correct. Id give anything to square off with a guy like that. I travel around a lot dangerous countries sort of secretly wishing lol. It takes a guy like that to unlock your true potential. We live in the smartest generation ever apparently....till the electricity goes out. Then what lol.