It’s a dream holiday, all sun-kissed beaches, jet skis and rum. Or at least it was until Vaas, a mohawked loon who makes Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz seem like a pretty balanced kind of guy, locked you and your mates up in bamboo cages. In true gaming tradition that’s the cue for Far Cry 3’s beach bum hero to start an action-packed, friend-rescuing adventure set in a vast open-world and for Ubisoft to take the ideas of the fabulous Far Cry 2 to the next level.
Far Cry 3 – views and vehicles
Far Cry 3 offers a vast, varied and beautiful world. Initially most of the map is hidden, but as you explore and take control of the vertigo-inducing, map-revealing radio towers dotted around the islands the game unveils a world packed with jungles, settlements, outposts, caves, sea and mountains. There are plenty of fun ways to get around, too, from cars and quad bikes to speedboats and ziplines. You can even take to the skies and get a bird’s eye view that shows off the island’s scale in fantastic detail.
Far Cry 3 review – wildlife and missions
It’s a big, big world but there’s always something to do. Alongside the campaign missions Far Cry 3 has numerous side quests, including against-the-clock supply drops, sneaky raids on enemy encampments, and assassination jobs. There are also some plant gathering and wildlife hunts to do to get the stuff you need to craft extra weapon holsters and other handy items. The varied and often dangerous wildlife also adds some unpredictable spice to the action: at one point we accidently slipped down a mountain and landed on a bear. The bear was not impressed.
Far Cry 3 – guns and stealth
As well as items to craft, Far Cry 3 includes an arsenal of customisable weapons that could put a smile on the face of even the most sour-faced survivalist. While the early weapons lack punch, the shooting improves remarkably as things progress and you collect better guns. There are explosives, too, including remotely detonated bombs that are perfect for laying traps. The game also dishes out skill points to spend on new abilities such as takedowns from above or snazzy slide-and-run moves, although a few of these techniques are trickier to execute than they should be.
Far Cry 3 review – unpredictable fun
What really makes Far Cry 3 utterly special is how all these elements knit together to create an adventure in which anything can, and often does, happen. In one instance our car careered off a wooden bridge into the river below while we were being chased by sub-machine gun wielding thugs. Having escaped drowning and successfully swum away from the enemies we reached the river bank feeling very pleased with ourselves, only to get mauled by a passing leopard. It is moments like this, combined with the game’s heart-pumping audio, that make Far Cry 3 both memorable and magical.
Far Cry 3 review – multiplayer and more
With so much on offer in the solo campaign mode it’s hard to get excited about the multiplayer mode’s more run-of-the-mill selection of capture-the-flag and death match variants, decent though they are. More interesting is the separate online or offline co-op campaign, which caters for four players. And, if that’s not quite enough, Far Cry 3 even chucks in a multiplayer map editor. Ubisoft, you really are spoiling us.
Tested on PlayStation 3
Latest Apps and Games reviews
We take a nerve-jangling ride on the irradiated Moscow underground with Metro: Last Light
A glorious, ass-kickingly unashamed celebration of 80s action movie tropes – and a pretty brilliant game to boot
Holy smoke, Batman! DC Comics and Mortal Kombat have had a baby and called it Injustice: Gods Among Us
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 ups its game – but is it an eagle or a bogey?
The brainiest shooter series around goes beyond the sea and heads for heavens with Bioshock Infinite.
Apps and Games news
With fifteen games due out this year – we take a look at those revealed so far
With hours to go until the big Xbox reveal, we take a look at the games we expect to see strutting their stuff on Microsoft's big green stage
From gazing at the stars to gazing into a glass of gin, this week's pick of the best iOS apps cover every eventuality
The Dark Knight takes on Deathstroke in a five-minute smackdown
With no big press conference at this year’s E3, Nintendo announces a collection of new titles via video
Think Google I/O is all about swanky hardware launches? Think again. Swiftkey's Joe Braidwood takes a look at the event from the developer's point of view