If there's one thing Far Cry 3 does incredibly well, it's give you a very detailed, open-ended game world that's loaded up with so many optional objectives, collectibles and side missions that you'll probably put the game's main narrative on hold in favor of exploring. It's a fantastic-looking first person shooter with a great combat system, and while the main story isn't exactly Shakespeare, there's enough interesting stuff going on to more than make up for it.
Far Cry 3 takes players to the tropical paradise of Rook Island, where Jason, a young 20-something vacationing in the South Pacific with his friends, is captured by a notorious pirate gang led by the violently insane Vaas. After losing his brother in an escape attempt, Jason is rescued by a man named Dennis, who brands Jason with a mysterious tattoo. Apparently, Jason has the hidden potential to become the legendary warrior that the local tribe, the Rakyat, have been waiting for, so it's up to you to save your friends, free Rook Island from the pirates and most importantly, kill Vaas.
While Far Cry 3 may not have the same kind of gritty narrative that's chock full of grim moral ambiguity like its predecessor, Far Cry 2, the adrenaline-fueled, action-packed adventure that Far Cry 3 offers instead is still entertaining. Each story mission has a nice mix of open-ended game play and scripted sequences that can be a lot of fun to play through, but when you're crawling through ancient Chinese ruins trying to find a mythical artifact, hidden away centuries ago, or the leader of the Rakyat starts talking about how great a warrior you are, it can feel like Far Cry 3 is taking a few ideas from other popular action-adventures and trying to put a darker, edgier twist to them - and it can come across as a tad melodramatic as a result.
One of the most intriguing things about Rook Island is that it has a really complex ecosystem that feels active and alive. Throughout your travels, you'll encounter flora and fauna of all shapes and sizes, from wild boars and leopards to birds of paradise. You're just as likely to be killed by a tiger or a Komodo dragon as a gun-toting pirate or mercenary, and you'll occasionally run into skirmishes between the Rakyat and pirate forces. As you progress through the game, you'll get to see how your actions have an impact on this environment. The island starts out full of enemy-occupied outposts, and hacked radio towers make navigation difficult by shrouding large chunks of your in-game map. But as you liberate those towers and outposts, they'll reveal the surrounding area and reduce the pirates' influence in the region. It's fascinating how you can directly affect Rook Island's various warring factions, and there's a certain level of satisfaction in watching how a region will transform from being loaded with hostile patrols to being full of civilians going about their life in peace, all because of you.
Liberating Rook Island is where Far Cry 3's impressive combat comes into play. Almost every engagement offers flexibility as to how you want to take out your opponents, and you'll build up a large arsenal of customizable weapons provided you've spent some time unlocking radio towers and looting corpses and containers for cash. Every gun, such as shotguns, silenced pistols or flamethrowers, have their own uses in a firefight, depending on if you like fast-paced battles with lots of explosions and bullets or if you prefer something that lets you be more quiet and subtle. The game encourages stealth whenever possible, as you can get in over your head if you let your opponents call in reinforcements or if you don't notice that armored heavy machine gunner marching up behind you, but it's just as viable an option - and as much fun - to rush into a hostile outpost with a fully decked-out assault rifle and a rocket propelled grenade launcher and go nuts.