Far Cry 2 was one of my favourite games of 2008 and I honestly couldn’t wait for the next iteration of the franchise after the vast improvements between the original and its successor, so as you can imagine; the end of 2012 couldn’t come soon enough and oh boy, I’m not disappointed.

Vaas is one of the greatest evil nemeses that I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet in a game, terrifying yet hilarious at the same time

Okay, just imagine this; you’re on a lovely, adventurous holiday with your best friends and family, taking in all the sights and sounds of paradise when a sky dive goes horrifically wrong and you end up in the middle of pirate territory when you and your friends are captured and it then descends into true insanity after you meet the madness that is Vaas, the leader of the pirates. After breaking free, it’s your goal to free the rest of your friends and bring down that evil, bat shit insane bastard however it isn’t that simple, Jason (the protagonist) becomes mentally unstable as his world crumbles around him.

Oh and Vaas, the pirate leader; one of the greatest evil nemeses that I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet in a game, terrifying yet hilarious at the same time.

If you thought the area which you were able to explore in Far Cry 2 was huge, you haven’t seen anything yet. The area in which you can explore is truly mind-boggling and makes navigating by memory impossible and the map your best friend. This tropical paradise is home to every animal imaginable, plenty of mountain ranges with hidden caves and dense, overrun forests all of which can be quickly seen by handy radio towers scattered around the map.

The missions you’re set around the island take advantage of this vast environment as you try to take over pirate strongholds and run medical supplies to specific locations. All of which is great fun until you’re forced to sneak your way through enemy camps which is a massive pain in the arse due to the enemy having the greatest hearing and eye sight possible.

As you progress through the game, you’ll gradually earn XP for butchering enemies and completing missions. All this experience that you’ve earned will level Jason up and earn him one skill point which can be spent in one of three skill trees; each represents a different play style and will unlock different abilities whether it’s better accuracy with guns or super sneaky multi-men takedowns. Every time you spend a skill point, a new tattoo will appear on Jason’s body as he slowly becomes a true warrior.

Beauty is a thing called Far Cry 3

Thankfully, Far Cry 3 lets the player tackle the mission you’re set in any way you desire; whether you’d like to mow down pirates with heavy weapons or stealthily blow out their brains with a silenced sniper rifle from one hundred metres away; the skills which you pick will often make your life easier for your playstyle. Be warned, the enemy has eyes like an eagle and will make your life playing as a super-secret ninja incredibly difficult, even if you are hidden behind several trees on the other side of the mountain!

The island is home to many weird and wonderful animals, all of which you can hunt and skin for as long as you like (and as long as you can find them). Every animal reacts differently to how you approach it; wild pigs will often squeal and run for their lives while tigers and sharks won’t rest until they’ve taken a bite out of your tasty, tasty flesh and will happily stalk you until they find the perfect moment to strike.

After you’ve collected enough rare animal skins and precious leaves that are scattered around the island, you’ll be able to craft new items which will make Jason’s life significantly easier while hunting down pirates; everything from increasing the amount of plunder you can steal to carrying up to 4 different, fully upgraded weapons. The further down the crafting road you go, you’ll need even rarer animal skins which can only be collected on hunting-specific bulletin boards.

The herbs you collect will allow also give Jason some pretty damn interesting talents for a brief period of time. Each leaf that you collect represents a different category of drug ranging from green leaves healing you in some way to yellow leaves making you even better at stalking and killing your pray.

Could we have 2012’s best game on our hands?

When it comes to video game graphics on consoles, Far Cry 3 is up there with the best of them, the forest is truly immersive due to brilliant detail while the lush blue oceans make you wish you were there (minus the sharks). A game of this size does have a few problems though, most notable is how the textures of the world pop in occasionally as well as a fairly poor draw distance when looking over the islands making spotting enemies from afar fairly difficult.

One of my biggest complaints with Far Cry 2 was that there wasn’t enough ways to get around and that has thankfully been fixed as Far Cry 3 offers a range of different vehicles to meet your every requirement whether you’d like to travel by land, sea or air, they’ll always be something available (whether or not it’s heavily guarded is a completely different matter).

The roads are easily navigated in any of the many jeeps or run down cars scattered across the world and thankfully, the cars now control significantly smoother than they used too and driving through the forest is always a messy adventure. The surrounding sea which you’ll find yourself in regularly can be explored in either boats or Jet Ski’s while the sky is owned by the beloved gliders, often found at the top of mountains and show the world in its true beauty.

As you can imagine, an island of this size has plenty of precious treasure scattered around the map and there is enough here to keep you busy for months to come. Almost every location you visit will have a small diamond on the mini map, this precious gem notifies you that a lootable object is nearby while other symbols such as trophies mean extremely rare relics are close (and often underground). An option to disable these notifications and stumble across them naturally would be lovely and would stop the map looking so cluttered.

Far Cry 3 is jam packed full of content

What would a first person shooter be without a mighty arsenal of weapons that you can get your hands on and Far Cry 3 offers just that; as you progress through the game more weapons become available to you. Everything from handguns to grenade launchers can be bought and upgraded from the store, what you use is completely up to your playstyle and each weapon can have several attachments such as suppressors to paint jobs, so plenty to pick from.

The single player may be a major selling point with this game due to the incredible amount of content but the multiplayer is bloody fantastic, not only is there co-op specific missions where you and your buddies can take down the pirate strongpoints but there is also a full online versus mode which is incredibly addictive and I just can’t get enough of it.

Far Cry 3 is one of the best games to hit consoles this year. The unbelievable amount of single player top quality content in Far Cry 3 will give you countless hours of entertainment and when you eventually finish with that, the fantastic multiplayer is waiting for you with open arms.