Whereas most single-player first-person-shooters are tightly-scripted, linear crawls from A to B, Far Cry 3 gives players the run of two massive islands that can be explored and conquered as the player sees fit. Sure, shooting seedy human traffickers is mighty fun, but there's so much more you can do. One of Far Cry 3's most compelling sub-systems gives players the opportunity to hunt specific prey, the skins of which allow the crafting of bigger pouches, holsters, and the like.
Far Cry 3 also features some of this year's most compelling villains--chiefly, the amoral powderkeg, Vaas. There's few that deny that Vaas is one of the most compelling antagonists to grace video games in quite a while. He makes Far Cry 3 so compelling to journey through, even if it is a bit tough to identify with rich kid Jason Brody and his clique of spoiled Santa Monican friends.
The game's vast, unlockable arsenal and ability trees allow players to tailor their player to fit their personal style, whether it's stealthy, or a more guns-blazing approach. Vehicles, boats, hangliders, and even a wingsuit further empower the players island traversal. And the sense of progress one gets from clearing encampments (and therefore, the surrounding area) of enemies can't be overstated. Climbing rickety radio towers to make the surrounding area visible on your map handily trumps the satisfaction of tower-climbing in the Assassin's Creed series. Perhaps this was the open-world Ubisoft murder-simulator we should've been keeping our eyes on all along?
The Shacknews Best of 2012 Awards were determined by ballot voting across the entire Shacknews staff. Andrew, Garnett, John, Steve, and Tyler voted for Far Cry 3, with Jeff choosing it as his personal Game of the Year, earning it 300 points and the 5th place position on our list. Stay tuned all week as we reveal all our winners.