Far Cry 3 also introduces skill and crafting systems for improving your abilities and making equipment. Completing missions and killing enemies will grant you skill points to use on various perks that'll increase your health, damage resistance or allow you to pull off nifty action hero moves, like being able to fire a gun while riding down a zipline or using an enemy as an impromptu human shield as you gun down his buddies with his own sidearm. The crafting system is oriented around making items to support you in your adventure. Most of the island's animals can be killed and skinned to give you the materials to craft larger grenade or ammo pouches, and you'll also forage for plants to make syringes that either heal you or give temporary bonuses, like detecting enemies or animals through walls. It may sound like busywork at first, but it's actually fun to take a break from the main game to go hunting for deer or sharks so you can make a bigger backpack. Both the skill and crafting systems may not be as involved as other RPGs, and certain items and abilities will be locked depending on where you are in the story or what side quests you've completed, which is a good way of encouraging you to take time to explore the island if you want have the best stuff. It is possible to get through the game without having made every single item or picked up every skill, giving you some leeway in choosing the upgrades and abilities that you think will work best for you.
Far Cry 3 does have a few minor issues that could've used a bit more polish. Navigating the myriad of menus can be a pain for one, and occasionally the context-sensitive HUD has issues distinguishing whether you want to pick up a weapon or loot a corpse. Also, whatever behind the scenes mechanic controlling the random placement of NPCs can seem overeager to spawn enemies for you to encounter, leading to weird instances where you drive along an empty stretch of road only to watch as a truck-full of pirates materializes behind you. Thankfully, that happens so rarely that's it's more of a minor annoyance than anything else, but it can break the immersion slightly when it does.
If you need a break from the already content-heavy single player portion of the game, Far Cry 3 also has a robust multiplayer component with a Call of Duty-style style leveling system that'll unlock new weapons, equipment, and ally-boosting abilities as you play. There are a handful of game modes that are team-based and focused on capturing objectives or getting the most points for your side, and the frantic firefights can really get your blood pumping as you and your team rush to capture a control point or set fire to the opposing team's fuel depot.
Far Cry 3 also comes with a four player co-op mode, where you and a handful of friends can play through a side-narrative of four people seeking vengeance against a cruise liner captain that tried to sell them out to pirates. It's much more linear than the single player game, but there's a few nifty sequences encouraging friendly competition like racing around on 4-wheelers to see who can gather bomb parts the fastest. The multiplayer offerings aren't as detailed as the single player campaign, but you'll have as much fun fighting off waves of pirates with another person watching your back as you will playing solo.
Bottom Line: Far Cry 3's single player story may have its ups and downs, but it's still an incredibly in-depth action experience. Its combat and open-ended gameplay is engaging and well-designed, and there are plenty of incentives to explore the game world to see what you can find. The multiplayer modes, while not as detailed, are a nice extra feature that's just as enjoyable as the single player campaign.
Recommendation: Even if the story isn't particularly captivating, Far Cry 3's a must-have for any shooter fan.
This review is based on the PC version of the game.
The multiplayer experience was based on the version of the game available at the time of the review.