When people talk about what makes a good open-world game, they usually talk about the freedom to do whatever they want. Of course, you can't really
do whatever you want in even the most forgiving open-world game. Your actions are limited not just by what the designers say is or isn't possible, but by the virtual environment surrounding you'the world that's being opened up. While it's the 'open' part that gets the most attention when discussing these games, more often than not it's a strong, compelling world that separates the good open-world games from the bad ones.
Far Cry 3
is a case in point. The Rook Islands are probably the most enjoyable and richly detailed new video game environment since last year's Arkham City
. The islands are characters in themselves; a tropical paradise with everything from thick jungle and rolling hills to subterranean caves and undulating rivers. They feel like a place that has been around long before you got there, and one that will continue to grow and evolve long after you leave.
It's a bit of a shame the islands often seem much more real than the people that inhabit them. You play as Jason Brody, an unassuming kid whose thrill-seeking vacation with his friends gets a bit too thrilling when they're all captured by a group of pirates. Naturally, being pirates, they threaten to ransom you all before killing you or selling you into slavery. Through a mix of personal ingenuity and sheer craziness from the captors, Jason is the only one to escape the makeshift prison, quickly vowing to save his friends and get revenge on the pirates who put him in this position. He's soon aided by a trope-standard Magical Negro
character that gives him some mystical 'tatau' (read: tattoos) that grant Jason some relatively unimpressive powers (more on those later).
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