Dear editors:  Is it too late to change all of my votes that apply to Far Cry 3?

Up until about a week ago if any of you asked what my game of the year pick was I would have said XCOM: Enemy Unknown.  It's a fantastic strategy title that I wish more people had picked up when it came out.  It literally swallowed two whole months of my life's spare time.  I had an absolute blast playing it and am still wading through the classic hardcore mode to trophy hunt.  Aside from a momentary diversion with Borderlands 2, XCOM was by far my most played and liked game that released all year.

Then, after seeing it recommended on Twitter by those who's opinions I respect, I picked up Far Cry 3 about a week ago.  It's like an explosion of color compared to other shooters I've played.  While not quite on the pretty level of say Uncharted's jungles, the world of Far Cry 3 is gorgeous to a degree I rarely expect in my open-world games.  When during the first real mission of the game the sun slowly rises while you climb a jungle covered hill to reach your first radio tower the beauty of the world Ubisoft created becomes evident.  It's hard sometimes to even pick your targets out of the background it's so detailed, but that's hardly a gripe.

Methods of exploring the island, which is very large, are varied and control better than some third-person racers so that's saying a lot.  Driving in first-person view is a tricky thing and while the cars float a bit around tight turns they control well enough for the purposes of this many-layered shooter.  A nice addition is the ability to pop into the mounted weapon (assuming the vehicle has one) with the press of a button for a simple and fun way of clearing out abrupt roadblocks.

Later on you gain access to a glider which is a nice addition to the jungle setting you're exploring.  While the background scenery can get a little smudged due to draw-distance issues because of the level of close-up detail, it's really only noticeable while flying or standing atop some of the more magnificent views.  Between the zip-lines, glider, and plethora of cars and trucks, there's always a quick and easy way to get to new locations.  As a bonus fast travel between areas of interest exists as well once you've discovered somewhere new.

While the story's nothing to brag about, they did manage to create one of the more memorable villains of the year in Vaas.  The pirate psychopath cusses more in two sentances than most people do in a day and manages to come across as focused and crazy at the same time.  The actor did a particularly good job with him, bringing pauses and audible ticks like his whistle into the performance making it seem all the more real.  While the idea of a spoiled party-boy turning into a jungle master assassin seems a bit far-fetched, at least the group of baddies chasing after you are led by a well-written antagonist.


During your search of the island for the rest of your kidnapped group, all sorts of side-activities open up to make it an even more compelling place to explore.  Between the 'mission' missions, the hunting/crafting mini-game, and all the available side-content you can think of I'm going to be sinking a lot more time into this shooter in the coming weeks.  I've only logged about seven hours into the game at this point, but have only finished three main story missions.  Between getting lost hunting and clearing out pirate outposts I keep wandering off the main path only to realize I'm halfway across the map with a full rucksack and no idea what I'm supposed to be doing story-wise.  That my friends is a good thing when it comes to an open-world game!

I'd be remiss in writing this blog if I didn't at least mention the shooting aspects of the game as this is an open-world shooter.  Put simply they're a lot of fun.  While there's an option to turn on a snap-aim assist similar to the way Call of Duty's aiming is handled I've kept it a bit more loose with the regular aiming.  It's a bit tougher to track moving enemies, (and they move around a lot) but it feels more realistic than being able to continually re-focus your aim with the press of a trigger.  Head-shots (when registered) give you a real sense of accomplishment and the experience system that allows you to unlock skills from three trees will be familiar to anyone who has played the Borderlands games or Arkham City.

Overall I'm just having almost too much fun with this game.  I suppose it could always stumble ten hours in and end up being a terrible experience, but from what I've encountered so far that outcome seems terribly un-likely.  This game now rests in my PS3 and with the exception of occasional trophy tries on XCOM and Skyrim I imagine it'll stay that way for a while.

Sorry XCOM, your reign as king of my collection may have been short-lived but it sure was glorious.  All hail Far Cry 3, the new king!

Who else is crushing on this gem of a shooter?

I play on PSN as Ashaman7791, look me up!

Also follow me on Twitter @Ashaman3000 for unedited clips of  Vaas's dialogue... It's offensive, nasty, and fun!

Thanks for reading GIO!