If you're considering buying Far Cry 3, then the opening of Civilization V's Gods and Kings intro trailer is for you: "Be wary, my son."
Far Cry 3 is not a bad or unplayable game; it offers hours of entertaining combat and exploration of a huge, albeit samey, open world. The problem with the game is that everything else in it works against it's core strengths -- including frequently annoying cut-scenes, tightly scripted and restrictive missions, goofy mechanics and disjointed side quests with no genuine relationship to the story. It's a game that tries to be too many things to too many people and therefore fails as a game, although there is plenty of entertainment along the way.
To add insult to injury, the main writer, Jeffrey Yohalem, has asserted in interviews that Far Cry 3 is essentially a parody of shooters, a story deliberately crafted to make us self conscious about why we play shooters and to make us all realize how bad most FPS games are. I kid you not, read all about it here: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012...re-and-satire/
A key problem with Far Cry 3 is how it treats the open world, i.e. in a less than open way. A good example of this is seen during one of the early missions, where the player must eliminate several radio operators on an abandoned ship and get to a control room to gather intel. The game requires stealth to kill each radio operator; if you are detected you must start over. You cannot decide how to approach the mission yourself. Nor are you able to choose the best vantage to scout or begin the mission, because getting around to those vantage points require you to leave the "mission area," which is prohibited.
Worst of all, after finally getting the intel, enemy reinforcements arrive. Your natural instinct of course is to flee the area immediately. During my first playthrough I dove off the ship, swimming underwater to make my getaway, when suddenly I was greeted by a popup alert, warning me that I was leaving the mission area! As it turns out, the "mission" required me to stay on board and kill all the arriving reinforcements. Who knows why, perhaps Yohalem wanted to make sure I question my relationship to FPS games?
There are numerous other heavy-handed sequences in Far Cry 3 -- five or six -- which require the player to follow extremely specific instructions to complete, such as mashing certain keys repeatedly or in a directed sequence in order to "beat" the game. This is not really my idea of fun, or of what an open world shooter should be.
The player is also required to endure several turret gunner sequences straight out of Bad Company 2 (if you managed to get through that title's single player campaign, you'll know what I'm talking about). Instead of bickering with the boys as in BFBC2, Far Cry 3 has you bickering with your girlfriend. Another turret gunner escape scene features interaction with your stereotypical stoner friend (remember the heli pilot in BFBC2?) who says after a murderous rampage, "wow dude, this is serious."
Anyway, you get the idea. The author of Far Cry 3 wants players to recognize all these video game "tropes," as a engaging parody he believes is worthy of modern art, whereas all I wanted to do was lose myself in a richly detailed, hostile open world.
That's another regret I have about Far Cry 3. The hostile world isn't really all that hostile. Enemies fall quickly as long as you shoot --as Monty Python's Frenchman farted -- "in their general direction." You also enjoy in-game perks such as "tagging" enemies and animals by using a camera to photograph them, which allows you to see them through walls and behind trees and such. So yes Far Cry 3 has X-ray vision.
When you capture enemy outposts they revert to the friendly forces, and the entire area becomes permanently free of enemies. Take enough outposts and you will literally have nothing opposing you on the island except an occasional dangerous animal (usually an endangered species that you must shoot, for ironic effect I suppose).
Remember how hard it was to come up with the cash (i.e. diamonds) in Far Cry 2 in order to upgrade your loadout? Not in Far Cry 3 -- all you need to do is climb a bunch of radio towers clearly marked on your map and you will be able to upgrade weapons to your heart's content.
And speaking of maps, Far Cry 3 features an omnipresent mini-map cluttering your screen, which reveals the precise location of all the special plants you need to craft potions that provide extra health and other abilities. At the same time, you are bombarded with popups are constantly reminding him what mission you're supposed to be on. Many players, including this one, find this hand-holding excessive. Fortunately Ubisoft has promised a forthcoming patch that will enable players to eliminate the popups and have control over the mini-map.
For all these immersion-killing negatives, there are plenty of delicious moments to be had in Far Cry 3. They usually involve random encounters with enemies -- both human and animal -- in unexpected convergences and pileups. These moments help the player appreciate the excellent feel of the weapons in the game. While the shooting may be too easy in this game overall, it is fun.
Vaas, the leader of the pirates, is also a wel-drawn villian and entertaining. It's just a pity that more respect wasn't accorded to the other characters or the overall story in Far Cry 3 to draw the player in, instead of pushing him away.