For sequels to be accepted and loved they need to do two things. Firstly, they need to keep the features that made the original game so popular and most importantly they have to fix all the problems that were flagged previously. Far Cry 3 ticks both these boxes with aplomb and it is refreshing to see just how much effort has been put into this game to respond to the feedback from the consumer. Not only have main gameplay mechanics been completely overhauled but every new feature that has been added seems to have been implemented to near perfection so that nothing could be construed negatively.
The story kicks off with a brief montage of a group of friends on holiday on a tropical island having the time of their lives. This enjoyment soon takes a turn for the worst as it cuts back to the present time and we see a few of the friends being held prisoner by pirates. This opening sequence along with the whole opening mission, which acts as a tutorial, is one of the best seen in gaming for a long time and the potential is outstanding. Unfortunately, by the end the story becomes slightly stale and does not live up to what could have been. Sadly, this is one of very few flaws within this game and it is definitely a factor which could have been improved upon.
Fortunately, as in most open world games, the story is not the be all and end all and for Far Cry 3 that is definitely a saving grace. The gameplay is pretty much perfect in nearly all aspects.
The side missions, which include, overriding radio towers, overtaking enemy outposts and various hunting quests, are extremely enjoyable and a major improvement over Far Cry 2 with the ability to actually own the outpost once you have defeated any enemies. This is a relief after the endless waves of enemies that the previous game threw at you. The shooting and melee aspects are also very tight which is key as there is a lot of shooting to be done in this game.
There is also the added addition of crafting syringes and upgrades for wallets and rucksacks. This is done well as it gives a clear indication of what is needed for each upgrade without having to guess what item is needed like many other games do. Crafting syringes is a particularly handy feature which allows the player to heal, become fireproof, enhance vision plus many more and all are easy to craft which is very important as the player would ignore it is if it was too complicated. Along with crafting there is a plentiful supply of wild animals roaming around the world which can be skinned, that is if they do not kill you first. These animals are almost more dangerous than any pirates encountered and it is necessary to always be on guard in case any of these beasts ambush you. This can also work in favour as these animals attack any pirates that may be in the wrong place as a tiger or leopard at that given moment and this provides an added thrill to the experience.
There is also a perk system which allows various skills to be unlocked as more missions are completed. The skills include various ways to take down enemies, the ability to collect more plants and skins when hunting, improved stability for guns, more health… the list is almost endless and there is very rarely a moment when looking through the options there will not be one that takes your fancy.
If any criticism could be given it would be the slight lapses of A.I. that is present in some situations but, for the most part, even this holds up particularly well.
Far Cry 3 also has a full co-operative campaign which has a group of players running from area to area fighting off pirates or given certain tasks to complete, while this is fun in itself, it is disappointing in that it does not really allow the full freedom that the single player gives. Far Cry 3 also includes a full multiplayer mode where players can battle against each other with an extremely competent upgrade system which all adds to the whole package. As with Far Cry 2, the game comes packaged with an excellent map editor which allows near enough anything to be made and can provide hours of extra entertainment.
Far Cry 3 is a truly excellent game that is a must-have for anyone who is a fan of open world shooters. There is so much to do besides the main story that it will keep players going for a good length of time. Even the fact the story is weak at times does not dampen the experience too much as the rest of the game is so strong in nearly every aspect. While the multiplayer is weak in comparison, the single-player adventure does help in add to the fun of the game than detract from it. Far Cry 3 is definitely a contender for Game of the Year and it would be definitely worthy of that title.