Gameplay is the most important aspect on any game. A game with poor graphics, sound and lack of story can still be an awesome game if it have fun gameplay. That is how many indie games and some old games become famous. Tetris
need no story, no fancy graphics to be fun. If its addicting gameplay is there, you enjoy it. The same goes for the first Mario games, that are still famous for its great gameplay.
Far Cry 3 have great gameplay. And fancy graphics. And it is a lot of fun to play it. Except its story sucks. It is one of the biggest disappointments I had with the game. the problem, you see, is that the story drags in some points and move too fast in others. And that really hurt this game to me, since I love a good story.
See, you are parachuting with your friends and land in a island full of pirates, slave traders and a local tribe fighting each other. How the guy flying the plane didn't warn the group of 20-somethings about it is a mystery never solved in the game. Anyway, you land, pirates capture you and your friends and after killing your military trained brother, you are rescued by the local tribe, who helps you train to rescue your other brother and friends.
Training, unfortunately, resumes to giving you a tattoo, that automatically train you in hunting and shooting with a varied arsenal of weapons. If they spent a bit more time making sure you felt an untrained guy turning into a warrior would have helped. Nope, you just magically become a hardened veteran better than most pirates and privateers in the island.
As you rescue your friends, you spend zero time with them, knowing them, discovering why you should care about them. They are just generic 20-somethings, with generic personalities. You have no reason to care about their fate, because the game didn't made you care. They don't help you, they rarely call, they make their presence as forgettable as they could. And they should being the driving force of the story. They just aren't.
The other group of friends are the natives trying to get their island back to themselves. But the only two natives with major roles aren't likable at all. Dennis, the guy who should being your mentor, pass too much time being 'wise' and 'mysterious' that you feel no connection with him. The other one, Citra, the leader of the tribe, is another character you spend little time with and while she is beautiful and all, she is empty of real character. She is as much of an eye candy than your girlfriend, and is as must as useful as her.
Of course, all this would be excused if the villains of the game were memorable. They really aren't. While Vaas, the pirate leader and local psycho is well portrayed, he is just another obstacle, and after passing half the game trying to kill the guy, he dies in a very anti-climatic way. He is crazy, yes, and he overflow with craziness, but you, as what is common with the game, spent too little time interacting with him to care. It is something that happens with all the other two main villains. you hate them more because they annoy you to no end than anything else. They are all obstacles in you having fun with the game.
FUCK YOU! Stop bothering me! I have Komodo dragons to skin!
By the end, you are presented with the only choice of the game story. The locals kidnap that bunch of 20 somethings you are supposed to care about and make you choose between saving them and leave the island or kill them and become the king of the tribe. That tribe you don't really care about. Because the only person who showed concern with the main character well being is his girlfriend, I choose to save them.
But in reality, the game made nothing to make your decision hard. You don't find yourself torn between Citra and your friends. You don't care about both. Your decisions is more out of curiosity to see how it ends than because you develop any special connection with the characters. and that is a shame.
She is just pretty. That is all.
And all the story missions do something I hate. They take away all the freedom you have during the game and lashes you to do what they want you to. Forcing you to go stealth in missions you could otherwise do different, or making you doing menial jobs for the sake of its weak story frustrated me to no end. And while most missions taking away your freedom is justified story wise, I hate it, because this game is a game made with freedom to do lots of things your way in mind.
Gameplay wise, Far Cry 3 was one of the best games this year. All you do is fun and you can do a lot of things. But that is outside the main story, which is a shame. This is one case of weak story making a game worse than it is. Of getting in the way of the great game. and that is why while Far Cry 3 is incredibly fun, it is not one of my favorites this year.