Storyline & Gameplay
You play as Jason Brody whose post-collegiate achievements include wasting other people's money and being a hipster. According to the in-game Survivor Guide, Jason spent the last year going skydiving (6x), parasailing (2x), mountain climbing (4x), and snowboarding (7x) -- yet has held only odd jobs since college.
The game begins when you and a bunch of friends mistakenly skydive down to a pirate-infested island that's embroiled in a civil war. This is so contrived, it makes the Hostel movie entrapments seem like fine art. You're captured by an utterly insane, brilliantly acted pirate. Your capable killing machine of a brother breaks you out of pirate jail, helps you escape, and is promptly shot in the neck by Vaas, the aforementioned crazy.
Jason charges out into the jungle, is nearly killed by the pirates, and tumbles into a river. You're eventually rescued by Dennis.
The first part of the game is so kooky, I expected a cameo from John Locke from Lost. According to Dennis, you're deeply linked to the island, which has brought you here to fulfill a sacred destiny. The knowledge you need to rescue your friends and family can only be imparted through a series of mystic tataus (tattoos). Dennis gives you your first tatau, using techniques painstakingly learned from a recovering heroin addict with Parkinson's disease.
The problem with Far Cry 3 is that it's not much like the other games in the series. Far Cry was an FPS with lush tropical environments and a sci-fi plot. Far Cry 2 jettisoned the science fiction, moved to Africa, and went for a straight-up military story. Far Cry 3 takes a flying leap into mystical mumbo-jumbo and doesn't land very well at all.
One minute, you're terrified rich kid Jason Brody. Not long after, you're cold-blooded killer, Jason Brody. Your friends (as you rescue them) remark on the change, but you've got no control over the path your character takes. This is a problem that tends to plague video games; developers often confuse the observation of a transformation as essentially identical to guiding that transformation yourself. It isn't.
Somewhere around the thousandth pirate I ran over, I stopped caring. Unfortunately, Vaas, the amazingly great insane pirate that shows up in the game's introduction, isn't actually the main villain. Once he's gone, it's downhill from there.
Vaas isn't just crazy. Vaas is absolutely *insane.*
Which isn't to say that it's a bad game -- it's just got a weak plot. It's been called "Skyrim with guns," but there's rarely been a comparison less apt. Skyrim has a cast of hundreds (even if they share the same voices) and is built on moral choices that you do (or don't) make.
FC3's redemption is that it plays great on the small scale. Driving around ambushing enemies, taking on side missions, and sneaking through the foliage is a lot of fun. New vistas and areas are unlocked quickly, and the three skill trees give you customization options that favor your preferred method of attack.