As a game, Far Cry 3 shines quite brightly. As a story, it's a little bit more of a mixed bag. It has some excellent moments, some fantastic characters, and some really funny writing. It's also dumb when it doesn't need to be, and misses some opportunities to tell a more interesting and subversive story.
Rather than keep on talking about it, I thought I'd show you. The video above is the first 10 or so minutes of the game, and they capture the things that make it great as well as the things that make it dumber than it needed to be.
Obvs, spoilers for the beginning of the game follow. If you want to go in fresh, don't watch or read past here!
So the beginning monologue by Vaas is just out of sight. Great stuff. As I mentioned in my review, Michael Mando gives a magnetic performance, and he's a blast to watch. Here, he's just so menacing and intense -- the timing and expressiveness are beyond any games I've played short of Uncharted.
Then, Jason and his brother Grant break out of the prison, which leads to something of a tutorial about the basics of stealth and movement. It's fine, and has some good writing, establishing Jason as a weaker younger brother who doesn't think he has what it takes to survive this. The scene where you watch Vaas dealing with the people who couldn't be ransomed is chilling and intense, and a little bit darkly funny, if you stick around for the whole thing.
And then, after miraculously escaping captivity and death, Grant decides to spread out the map and make a plan. He stops whispering and speaks in his full voice. And then… it's revealed that you're like two feet from the pirates' guard post. What? Then Vaas is standing there, and shoots Grant, and lets you run away. Such a dumb ending to such a great sequence!
As he runs, Jason quickly starts spouting exposition to himself about how he needs to rescue his friends, as if we weren't there twenty seconds ago when he and Grant talked about how Jason wants to rescue their friends.
So: Electric performances, sharp writing, a real sense of dread, killer atmosphere. And then characters do something stupid for no reason other than because the story dictated that one of them needed killing. The good and the bad of Far Cry 3's writing, all in the first 10 minutes of the game.