Far Cry 3 is nominally a FPS title; but is so much more. With vivid, huge areas; tons of things to do and see; ways to keep the player busy for hours; FC3 is closer to being Skyrim with guns than another corridor shooter. It is truly a remarkable creation in every way.
Returning to an island setting after the African veld of FC2, Far Cry 3 takes place on Rook Island; where several young holiday-makers from America arrive unaware that the island is in the midst of a war between native soldiers and a criminal cartel. The group is captured by the smugglers, led by a psychopath named Vaas. Jason Brody, who the player controls, is helped to escape by his brother; who at the crucial escape point is shot and killed. From there, Jason escapes into the jungle, and must find his friends; but soon finds himself caught up in a quest for revenge that starts to change him in ways he does not fully realize. Themes of sanity and identity are formed throughout the game, and at crucial moments, quotes from Alice in Wonderland are used very well to highlight points that have just occurred in the game.
There is no magic as such in the game; but the tribal beliefs of the natives are invoked in ways that I suppose would be called magical realism if they appeared in a book. Abilities Jason gains appear symbolically on a tattoo on his arm that grows throughout the game; and at various points Jason is forced into psychologically disturbing situations through hallucinations. These add a touch of the supernatural to the game in ways that make it much more intriguing than similar titles in the genre.
Nevertheless, Jason is fighting against very real people; and must learn how to fight quickly. The island is full of wildlife ranging from pigs to tigers to komodo dragons; and part of the gameplay is hunting those animals and harvesting their parts to use for equipment and items. Jason can only hold one gun and about 10 bullets at the start of the game; but by the end, if you do the crafting and hunting, can hold a veritable arsenal. The animals also react in very realistic ways, and it is common to come across a leopard hunting for a deer just in passing.
The island is also absolutely beautiful; truly stunning for a video game. With depth of design and a range of areas, you could enjoy yourself just travelling around for hours at a time. The island is also huge. As you travel, you will uncover more of the map by climbing antenna masts, and make new safe houses by capturing enemy bases. This last action allows for an incredibly deep stealth mechanic, as the enemy AI is very natural, and the player can have a lot of fun trying to take down a base undetected. Other side missions include hunting, delivery and assassinations. There is also literally hundreds of collectables to obtain. FC3 will keep you busy for hours and you will enjoy your whole time there.
Far Cry 3 is remarkable, one of the best games of the year. Much more than just an FPS, it pushes the genre to the limit. It is an experience as much as a game. As an added bonus, for some reason Ubisoft love South Africans; the main villain is South African, and many of the random NPCs also are. So for those who enjoy hearing our accent in the oddest places, there’s that too.