Far Cry 3 is easily one of the prettiest first-person shooters to date. Usually you expect dark, murky visuals, but the team at Ubisoft opted for making a lush, bright world that can easily be filled with the corpses of local inhabitants, and wild animals alike.
I started in Amanaki Town, one of many hub worlds scattered around the gigantic island. The Ubisoft rep at the booth wasn't able to give me an estimate, but the island to me appeared larger than the sandbox to something like Just Cause 2. You'll be able to upgrade your character, weapons, find activities, and save your progress through these hub areas. You'll also be able to fast travel to other areas of the island to other towns you've discovered on your journey.
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After leaving the hub town, I had complete freedom to do whatever I wanted, so I proceeded to turn on an antenna tower nearby that would reveal a certain amount of the world to me on my map. Once revealed, I could see all the different things I could go to, and in this case I went to an enemy encampment to takeover the spot. There are lots of enemy encampments, and locals in the area will be hostile to you while under enemy control.
The world of Far Cry 3 is as much alive as you are, and lots of random things can happen to you at any time. On my way to the enemy camp, a wild goat ran into me as it was running away from a pack of wolves. While in the middle of my firefight with the enemy camp, a buffalo charged at me as it was afraid of all the loud noises from the guns. A tiger even came in at one point and attacked some of bad guys.
Animals have a nice role in the game, and can be used to attack enemies if prompted properly. One strategy is to run towards a bunch of bad guys while getting chased by something like a bear. The enemy will then focus on the animal as it's a larger threat, thus causing the bear to focus on them too. You can even skin animals after killing them, and make some money by selling it to locals.
The last sidequest I tried saw me taking out a local gang leader as part of a challenge mission where I had to kill him with a knife. I used a hang glider to get to the area he was in, then snuck into his camp, and took out everyone with nothing but brutal stealth kills.
I was so absorbed with all the sidequests that I totally forgot there was a single-player story at all until I started writing this preview. Which is crazy considering how good the story stuff looks too! Simply put, Far Cry 3 offers you so much and I know I'm going to have a ton of fun just getting lost in the world when it's released later this year.