Honestly, after a mostly dismal experience with Far Cry 2 (the game was beautiful but I abandoned the game early on because of the lackluster story) I wasn't really tracking Far Cry 3 on my RADAR, until I got an insider tip that the game was awesome...and had tigers...and might just be one of the surprise hits and best shooters of the year; a bold statement in a year that witnessed a new Halo and Call of Duty game. So, when Far Cry 3 came out, I found myself leaving work at lunch to go pick it up. Well, that was about a month ago now, and in that time we have been inundated with blogs about how awesome (mostly) the game is. Whenever that happens, I try and take a unique approach with my own blog so it isn't viewed as more of the same. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I came up with this blog that takes a mostly humorous look at what I've learned while playing Far Cry 3.

Tropical Island paradises might always be tropic but aren't always paradise.

I was stationed in Hawaii for 9 years. Sounds great doesn't it? Well it isn't. Hawaii is a nice place to visit for three or four days...a week tops. But after that, you're very likely to see the shadier side of island life. Ask anybody who has visited Diamond Head or Hanuama Bay and didn't heed the "don't lock valuables" in your car" signs or visited downtown Waikiki after hours. Hmm, let's see...where does Far Cry 3 take place? A tropical island in the Pacific. It's truly a beautiful place that embodies the essence of tropic, but is anything but paradise, as Vaas, your tour guide, will quickly point out. Okay, Vaas isn't really your tour guide...but if you've played the game, then you already know that.

Where there's smoke, there's fire...and where there's gunfire, there's guns.

There are two lessons to learn here. One, if you're driving down the road and you hear gunfire, then chances are (at least for me so far) either there is a gun battle taking place OR you are being shot at. I haven't stumbled across any overzealous partiers firing celebratory gunfire into the air...yet. If you stop to engage in the battle, a few things are likely to occur. First, you will be shot at. You might even die. Second, progress towards your primary, secondary, tertiary goals...whatever you thought you were off to do, is going to be delayed and perhaps even replaced by you getting sidetracked after you loot the bodies and fast track it back to a camp to restock your ammo supplies.

Oh, and...the grass, trees and other materials in the game are combustible, so if you catch any of these on fire, it's usually a good idea to try and keep the smoke and fire between you and the bad guys instead of at your back, because not only do these items burn, so do you. Having to put yourself out is never a good strategy to combat the enemy.

If at first you don't succeed, hang gliding is not for you.

I've heard this expression and never really heeded its meaning until I discovered an unattended hang glider sitting at the top of a mountain and decided to give it a try.  Who wouldn't? The view was breathtaking and landscape below inviting. Well, I climbed aboard and took the plunge off an outcropping of rocks...and plunge I did. I looked like a lawn dart instead of a hang glider. And as my battered and bruised body slid down the remainder of the mountain, I was treated to a nice reload screen, erasing some of the progress I had made and returning me to a checkpoint nowhere near where I was at.

If at first you don't succeed, hang gliding is not for you. Truer words have never been spoken.

One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure.

One man's trash is another man's treasure OR...there are some sick and demented Non-Player Characters (NPC) residing in the land of Far Cry 3. I don't know whether to be more concerned with some of the loot I've recovered off of the bad guys, or the fact that I can turn around and sell it for any amount of money. In one hostile camp I liberated, three or four (out of what, ten maybe?) of the bodies had doll heads on them. Doll heads? Seriously? How sick do you have to be to cart around a doll head in your pocket...but even more than that, how crazy is it to gather them up and sell them? Don't even get me started on the meth pipes and used syringes. There is money to be made this way though, if your conscience allows you to do so.

The Road Less Travelled Is Less Travelled For A Reason.

I find that when I play large open world games I submit to the logic, the quickest way to my destination is straight there, "as the crow flies". But what I've discovered is the quickest way seldom is. I've destroyed so many vehicles launching them off of mountains or submarining them in large bodies of water while heading straight towards my waypoint. I find that I end up spending more time trying to commandeer another vehicle, walk around a mountain, swim across the ocean or reload to the last checkpoint because I died in transit, all for the sake of taking the quickest path, or what I thought was the quickest path...I should've listened to the age old adage, the road less travelled is less travelled for a reason. If there is a road or a path, take it. It might "seem" longer, but chances are it will get you there quicker.

Commandeer Is Just A Fancy Word For Grand Theft Auto.

Speaking of commandeer...consider the following:

Dictionary.com defines commandeer as, "to seize arbitrarily", and defines arbitrarily as, "subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion". Loosely translated, it means to take what you want, just because you want to.

Now, Grand Theft Auto (no, not the game, the concept) is defined by Wikipedia as, "motor vehicle theft (sometimes referred to as grand theft auto by the media and police departments in the US) is the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle (such as an automobile, truck, bus, coach, motorcycle, or snowmobile, trailer)."

In Far Cry 3, you can walk up to a vehicle being driven by friendly soldiers, and you will be prompted to commander the vehicle by pressing a button. (I recommend choosing a non-moving one, because they will run you over. I also don't recommend standing in the middle of the road to get them to stop).

Confucius says, "Man who run in front of car, get tired; man who run behind car, get exhausted."

Let's be honest...you're flat out stealing their vehicle. You can say you arbitrarily seized the vehicle, but it isn't yours...you don't have the title (or lien) for it, so you straight up car jacked it. And as you see the occupants standing in the middle of the road out in the middle of nowhere...milling about as you speed away, it has an unusually rewarding feel to it. Kind of like helping an old lady across the street, only better. Zoom Zoom.

Don't Feed (Or Pet) The Wild Animals.

As a society, we've been taught at a very young age ever since our first school field trip to the zoo, not to feed the wild animals. Oh sure, we hear it's because wild animals have a strict diet (of what exactly, I don't know) or we don't want them to become dependent upon humans feeding theem, but the truth is they don't want us feeding the animals because they don't want us to sue them when we lose fingers, toes and/or our lives when the animals decide to eat us instead.

Well, the same is true (or even more true) in Far Cry 3. I don't worry near as much about the bad guys as I do the wild life. People tend to mingle around their camps and the on the roads, but animals...you'll find them everywhere...especially in the middle of the woods you are traipsing through because you crashed your jeep in a ravine taking a short cut. With tigers, snakes, wild boar, Komodo dragons and all sorts of other beasts roaming about and hunting you down for their next meal, when I say don't feed the wild animals, I do so because chances are when you feed them it will cost you an arm and a leg.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of animals...Far Cry 3 also taught me a little bit about nature...

The Cassowary is a ratite, a very large flightless bird. They are native to the tropical (did somebody say tropic?) forests of New Guinea, nearby islands and north-eastern Australia. The most common of these, the Southern Cassowary, is the third tallest and second heaviest living bird, smaller only than the ostrich and emu. Cassowaries feed mainly on fruit, although all species are truly omnivorous and will take a range of other plant food including shoots, grass seeds, and fungi in addition to invertebrates and small vertebrates. Cassowaries are very shy, but when disturbed, they are capable of inflicting serious or even fatal injuries to dogs and people.

Okay, the only part of that you need to concern yourself with is...fatal injuries to people.

The Cassowary may look like a big pretty bird, but it will kill you...quickly. Stay away from it. Far away from it. Yes, you can shoot it and kill it...if it doesn't tear you to shreds first. It's kind of hard to aim when you're crying, and bleeding and fumbling to hold your cross hair steady on this bird that is coming after you like a spider monkey.

Following in the footsteps of don't feed the animals comes the next lesson I learned...

There's Always A Bigger Fish.

When you go shark fishing because you will; because you will want a big wallet to hold all the money you make selling doll heads and crack pipes, and because you will want a heavy duty holster that accommodates four weapons, one of which will be a rocket launcher to deal with the cassowaries, you will go shark fishing because you will need shark skin to craft these items. A word of advice...

When you kill a shark, it sinks. And you will jump out of your boat to retrieve your shark skin, after you spend the few seconds underwater gutting the animal of course. Please know there is a very high probability there are more sharks circling the area waiting to eat you. Don't let my misfortunates be for nothing. Learn from my mistakes, and don't swim in shark infested waters. Or at least, check the area before you dive in. You might just have to risk it and go for it, but at least if you're expecting it you can park your boat over the top of the dead shark instead of the length of an Olympic swimming pool away. You play as Jason Brody, not Michael Phelps. You won't outswim the sharks. They will bite you and it will hurt.

I Used To Be A Pirate On A Tropical Island Paradise, Until I Took An Arrow To The Knee.

There are all sorts of weapons in the game, from hand guns to assault rifles, but I haven't had near as much fun with any of them as I have had using the bow and arrow. It's silent and deadly, and you can usually recover your arrows, assuming you can find them. What makes the weapon even better is - it will kill your opponent with one shot regardless of where you hit them. I've had some remarkable shots from great distances, only to approach the body and discover I barely nicked the guy, yet he's laying there dead as a doornail. It's kind of funny when you think about it; a game as beautiful and "real" as Far Cry 3 with weather and a day/night schedule...but ridiculous damage models. I'm not saying I want the guy writhing around on the ground with an arrow protruding from his knee, but when I clip a guy's hand...yes, an arrow sticking out of his hand...and he's dead, I can't help but chuckle. Do yourself a favor...buy the bow early and use it often.

Well, I could go on, but I've already run on long enough. I was going to mention something about how you know you have road rage when you find yourself yelling at drivers in video games who hog the whole road and drive far too slow down the long windy roads, especially as you bump them out of the way and pass them in the grass, yelling expletives as you go by, but instead I'll close with...

Stop And Smell The Roses (Or At Least The Arrowroot and Screwpine).

Far Cry 3 is a beautiful game, and it's easy to lose yourself in the missions, all of the side quests and all of the challenges you can participate in, but I would encourage you to stop and breathe in the beauty of this make believe virtual world...with its magnificent waterfalls, beautiful beaches and captivating sunsets.

Maybe it really is a tropical island paradise...just beware of those cassowaries.