Earlier this evening I received an unexpected invitation via Twitter to join a few fellow Game Informer Online members in a friendly game of Far Cry 3 tonight, and since one of my New Year's resolutions was to play online more with members from the community (I think I said my goal was once a month), I decided to seize the opportunity and join in the fun. Truth be told, I've already played with someone else from the community this month, but I'm trying to expand past just playing Team Fortress 2 - no offense Harry. You know we always have fun playing Team Fortress 2.

Anyway, the invite game from Markus1142 (on Twitter @Ron_Perlman_DDS), who hosted the game...but DJH was there (@DavidHolloway13), as was Zachary Pligge (@PliggeTheFallen). The four of us teamed up to play through part of the co-op mode.

Playing with people you know for the first time (or at least know through the Internet) is kind of like going to a dance in high school. Even though you know everybody there, those first few minutes can be kind of awkward and you hope you don't do anything stupid that causes everybody to laugh and point (and regret having invited you). I admit...I was a bit nervous. I've played Far Cry 3 a ton, but never online, and certainly not with anybody from the community.

(The biggest threat in Far Cry 3 multiplayer)

So what's the first thing to happen?

I try to log on Xbox Live at 7:00 PM - the pre-determined time to play and the Xbox 360 won't connect to Live. Ah, easy fix...what is the router doing unplugged? I dunno, but that solves the problem, obviously.


Well, Markus is trying to start the game, and I discover since I've never played it online, I've never registered my code to be allowed to play online.  I scramble trying to find the case and type in that stupid long code to redeem my multiplayer content (you should see me type on the Xbox Live virtual keyboard - it's pathetic). Then it doesn't work so I have to reboot. Finally, I have to ask Markus to re-send the invitation (the third time, mind you)...and finally...I'm able to join.

Introductions weren't as uncomfortable as I feared. It's funny because you get so used to talking to people on the website and then when you talk with them online, it's like, "Uh, what do I call you. Markus1142, Ron Perlman, the Dentist, what?" I wasn't sure, but Markus said that Markus would be fine.

Okay...so by this time, since I joined a little late...the others are already engaged in combat and I get to watch them play for a few minutes until they reach a checkpoint where I will spawn. I'm going over the strategy in my mind.

Don't yell at the dogs with the mic unmuted.

Don't eat or drink (or burp) with the mic unmuted.

Don't say anything to the kids that might be perceived as abusive with the mic unmuted.

Don't say anything provocative to the wife with the mic unmuted.

How about just leave the mic muted and don't say anything.

Can you tell I worry about the mic, heh heh.

Don't ask if Friendly Fire is on. (I find people tend to stay away from you if you ask that).

Don't blow you or your team up with a poorly thrown grenade.

Don't catch your team on fire with a Molotov cocktail.

If you're teammate needs help, then help...even if you die trying (part of being a saint).

Don't lag behind, but don't lead the way - people in the middle are less likely to get shot anyway.

Don't do anything stupid.

I suppose about the most embarrassing thing I did (besides die a couple times) is we hopped on this little boat to taxi across the river and I started the motor before all the passengers were onboard and left DJH (at least I think it was DJH) behind forcing him to swim across the channel. Oops, my bad.

It was either that, or perhaps failing the mini-game that has you racing around on ATVs trying to acquire and place bombs for points. I failed miserably at this mini game...I looked like Evil Knievel trying to jump across the Grand Canyon in a hurricane...on a tricycle. Oh, it was bad. I think I had about a third of the points the other three guys had.

But...I did redeem myself on the next mini-game where you had to snipe bad guys on the ground below you. I led (I think) the scoreboard on that one, but did wonder if Markus sent a private message to DJH and Pligge telling them to let me win. Nah, he wouldn't do that, would he? Doesn't matter, I felt redeemed, and content I did okay on sniping rather than driving ATVs.

Anyway, I suppose we played from about 7:00'ish until nearly 9:00. It was a lot of fun and it showcased a completely different side of Far Cry 3 that I hadn't experienced before. The multiplayer mechanics and gameplay weren't the best I've ever played, but merely playing with friends from GIO made up for any reservations I might've had about the game. It was truly a load of fun playing with them. These guys are a great bunch to play with.

I don't know how well we did overall - I do know this wasn't Markus's first rodeo. I think Pligge and DJH would agree he was the Far Cry 3 combat hardened veteran of the bunch. He knew where to go and what to do...and risked his neck coming to my rescue on more than once occasion.

In closing, I'm reminded of a feature inherent to video games that most other Art & Entertainment mediums don't possess, and that is the social interaction aspect. You don't usually read a book with three or four of your friends...nor do you go to the movies and socialize with the people sitting next to you (and those of you who do - you annoy the rest of us and we don't like you very much). Playing Far Cry 3 is fun, but playing Far Cry 3 with friends is even more fun. It enhances the overall experience and extends the entertainment factor. Markus1142 , DJH and Zachary Pligge were perfect teammates and if you ever get the chance to play with them online you should; I'm willing to bet you'll have a great time.

Thanks guys - for the invite, for helping me keep my New Year's resolution and for a great night of Saturday Night Gaming (and for inspiring this blog). Looking forward to the next session.