As was the case with the last game, this isn't a direct, story or character-oriented sequel so much as a spiritual one – though it has more in common with its predecessor than Far Cry 2 did with its prequels. You're once again thrown into a massive open world map and left to go forth and do as you please. 'What you please', of course, will probably be killing lots and lots of pirates.
You're Jason Brody, a thrill seeker who finds himself in a bad place. After a holiday sky dive goes wrong for Jason and his mates they find themselves captives of pirates on a wild, dark tropical island. The opening is incredibly tense stuff. Ubisoft has done a very good job of scripting a sequence that will set your teeth on edge and make you really want to stick something rough and pointy into your antagonist's belly.
For the first 10 minutes or so you're right. A very tight escape in which Jason mewls a lot and probably does a little wee in his combat pants follows and there's a very present sense that you're horribly outmatched.
Alas, by the time you reach the half hour mark Ubisoft has ditched this vulnerability and you're shooting up pirates in a bid to rescue your friends with the best of the first-person shooters. If Sly Stallone and his expendable mates turned up, they'd have you signed up and oiling your muscles in no time.
Similarly, numerous elements of the presentation chuck realism right out of the window. There's the disappearance of the 'physical' map and GPS featured in FC2 in favour of the usual full-screen menu-based map (activated by the rather arbitrary capture of those key drivers of 21st century mapping, radio masts).
Still, this somewhat failed bid for realism isn't something that stops Far Cry 3 from being a great experience. There's a wealth of content here and a level of depth that really enables you to immerse yourself in the game.
RPG elements are foregrounded, with a complex skill tree and a crafting system encouraging you to really get up to your elbows in the islands. Skill points become available as you build XP and can be used to emphasise your ability in different areas. You might learn new skills that improve your stealthiness, for example, or boost your resistance to different types of damage if you prefer to pile in.
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