Far Cry 3 will find you questioning your sanity, your loyalty, and your will to survive. This tropical adventure gone violent provides the perfect distraction for you to whittle away your winter nights with – and days, too. It offers an exhilarating journey that you'll struggle to put down, and will linger long in the memory once you eventually do.
Indeed, the game pulls you into its world with its intense and intriguing narrative. Having spent the past few days partying and having fun, protagonist Jason Brody finds himself, his two brothers, and his friends captured, and held by a group of pirates with a taste for human trafficking. After escaping, and agreeing to aid the local islanders in their rebellion against the buccaneers, you set off on a quest to rescue your brothers and friends, departing on an expedition filled with death, drugs, bloody violence, and survival.
It's a truly fascinating journey, and one that fits the mechanics marvellously. As you adapt to your surroundings through completing quests, you'll earn experience points that allow you to enhance three different disciplines. While this RPG-esque system isn't uncommon, it serves as a good indication of your progression, which is represented by a tattoo that gradually fills out on your arm.
Solving quests puts you in contact with a variety of different characters, each of which are imbued with entertaining personalities. There's a real sense of believability to everyone you meet, immersing you further into the experience. You'll certainly want to press on with the story missions to uncover more of the narrative, but multiple distractions are likely to capture your gaze.
Far Cry 3 takes place in a huge, open island, filled with jungles, rivers, villages, and ancient Chinese ruins. Large chunks of it look familiar – a side effect of its size – but the missions do a great job of directing you to the most interesting locations, allowing you to explore the variety hidden beneath the vegetation.
Radio towers can be climbed and shut down in order to compromise the pirate's communications. These also give you an indication of the surrounding points of interest, much like in Assassin's Creed. Additionally, outposts can be attacked and placed under islander control to reduce the number of patrolling pirates in the area.
These outpost raids can be approached in any manner you fancy. You can stealthily dispatch enemies with silent melee and weapon kills, or release any caged wildlife that's onsite to cause mayhem and reduce the opposing numbers before you engage them. Of course, noisier options are just as fun. Chucking grenades around, firing off automatic weapons, or dousing your folly with the furnace of your flamethrower offer adrenaline fuelled buckets of fun. It's even better if you've already disabled their alarm system, as you can really relish in their panic.
The island's fauna and flora allow you to craft weapon holsters and bags to increase the size of your inventory, and provide the ingredients for a selection of healing items and temporary stat boosts. Gathering and skinning animals becomes a quest in itself, as you unwittingly get dragged into other activities and missions.
Unfortunately, if you're interested in heading somewhere specific, the waypoint system disappoints, indicating the destination rather than the best route. But with a selection of vehicles – including a hang-glider – to traverse the environment, at least it's an enjoyable trip.
All in all, the single-player campaign will take you a good 20 hours to complete, but there's still a multiplayer component to draw your attention if you're looking for something else to fill your time.
The competitive mode serves up a selection of team-based multiplayer staples, such as deathmatch and capture and hold objectives. Call of Duty-esque perks and a comprehensive unlock system round out the package. Meanwhile, the co-operative mode allows up to four-players to play a selection of six missions set outside of the single-player campaign. Here you'll engage waves of enemies in an enclosed area of operation, with competitive objectives adding to the action. It's an enjoyable co-op experience, but mighty challenging with less than four players. Enemies have a habit of spawning behind you, and the difficulty tends to spike when you're most vulnerable. As such, it feels a teensy bit unfair.
Once you've exhausted the game's pre-packaged maps, you can always build your own or download more from the online community. The included editing tools are intuitive and detailed, allowing you to create some great arenas. You can even add wildlife to your design to keep things dynamic on the battlefield.
Far Cry 3 delivers a delightfully compelling narrative in a beautiful open world environment. The single-player is captivating from start to finish, and while the multiplayer lacks inspiration, it offers a decent distraction if you're looking for some fun in the sun with friends.