Firstly, in case you're wondering, each of the games in the Far Cry series is entirely independent and it makes no difference in which order you play them. They all involve different characters and different stories.
This game is about a group of young people on vacation in Bangkok who go skydiving and land on a tropical island for a day of celebration. However, their carefree festivities soon turn into a nightmare when they are kidnapped, separated from each other, and held for ransom by pirates who have overrun the island. The character you play is Jason Brody, the middle of three brothers. Although you and your elder brother, Grant, manage to escape confinement, Grant is killed as the pirates give chase. During this frantic flight, Jason manages to evade his pursuers with the help of a rival group called the Rakyat, native islanders who are trying to retake their territory from these pirates. Your main mission is to locate and rescue the remainder of your friends and your younger brother.
The theme of the story is about Jason's evolution from a fairly innocent boy into a vengeful killing machine. His actions eventually make him a primary target for elimination by the mentally unstable pirate leader, Vaas, and his volatile boss, Hoyt. Each mission pushes Jason further to the dark side and success is marked by receiving various Rakyat tattoos.
If you've played Assassin's Creed, you will immediately recognize some similar gameplay themes. Radio towers must be climbed and the scramblers deactivated to open new areas of the map. Once done, roads and landmarks become visible in this segment as well as a supply run quest. Then you must also take the enemy outpost in the region for the store, treasure chests, and side missions to appear. Once an area is taken, it is mostly populated by friendlies. Also similar to AC, these side quests are virtually all the same and very repetitive. In addition to these, there are mini games such as racing, poker, Rakyat contests and sniper contests as well as a variety of collectibles. Some collectibles require finding hidden paths to get to them. The island is very mountainous and direct routes are often not possible.
In typical Far Cry fashion, combat is not particularly easy. Taking outposts requires some strategic planning and once again the binoculars that tag enemy locations are your best friend. If you go in shooting, you will likely die, so stealth can play a big role in the success of the mission. Each outpost has an alarm that if triggered will bring in enemy re-enforcements and soon you will be vastly outnumbered. While scouting an area, you can also be attacked by any nearby wild animals. However, you can collect ingredients which allows you to craft various syringes to protect yourself from these.
Far Cry 3 is a completely open world and you can chose to explore it or do missions and at some point fast travel will become available. The areas are very large and you need vehicles get around, which are readily available in the form of different types of cars, boats, jet skis, mountain bikes and flying machines. You can also swim, but the waters are dangerously populated by crocs, sharks and preying mantis. Wild animals roam the island such as tigers, rabid dogs, bears, leopards, wild boar, buffalo and many others. Part of the game involves hunting and skinning these in order to upgrade a variety of carrying pouches.
Which brings me to crafting. Various things can be crafted from items you collect. These will require specific ingredients, which may be animal or plant based. Initially, the requirements are readily available, but higher upgrades will involve a specific mission with specific requirements. For instance, you must use a shotgun or you must use a bow. The required weapon will be provided at the designated mission spot on your map. In my opinion, the hunting missions eventually become offensive as after you've maxed your upgrades, the killing is done indiscriminately with no real purpose or challenge.
Far Cry 3 has checkpoint saving in addition to one manual save spot accessible while not in missions and one autosave spot. If you die, you will be reloaded to a checkpoint area such as a store or a radio tower. Be sure to manually save often so that you retain the items you've collected.
As happens with many games, there is a lack of proper explanations about basic mechanics such as how the skill tree works. Even though skills appear unlocked, you can only choose them if other skills have been chosen first. This is indicated by faint lines joining one skill to another. Mouse controls can also be somewhat buggy in some menus and in fast travel.
Far Cry 3 has a couple of rather irritating mechanics. You have to pause the game to change weapon and syringe slots. Also, you cannot sell plants, animal pelts or weapons and will soon find your rucksack full of useless stuff that needs to be discarded. But the most irritating is the continual pop-ups telling you what to do even after you've done it a hundred times before. There seems to be a misconception with Ubisoft developers that gamers couldn't find their way out of a wet paper bag and need constant leading about by the nose and neon signs above enemy heads.
Although the game is not groundbreaking, nor will it go down in the annals of greatness, typical of Far Cry games, the scenery is lush and tropical islands are certainly good fodder for some impressive graphics.
Each of the Far Cry games are enjoyable in their own different ways and this one is no exception, offering hours of fun.