These sandbox games, where everything is thrown at you as you chart your own adventure while occasionally dipping into the main campaign just to keep the narrative churning along, are fabulous showcases of creativity and technical execution. You may revel in the freedom and beauty of hang-gliding around the game's island settings, but beware the howl of a rocket-propelled grenade screaming by you.
You play as Jason Brody, as he and a group of friends on vacation get scooped up into a war among pirates, drug runners and tribal factions. While survival and rescuing your friends remain your primary focus, Far Cry 3 features a rich and expansive open world. No, really, it's huge. Thank goodness for fast-travel locations, because the islands are littered with side missions and activities ranging from shootouts with gangs to hunting rare animals. The main villain, Vaas, rarely disappoints in his quasi-insanity.
Some multiplayer modes exist, and though they may initially appear shallow, start playing Firestorm or messing around with the multiplayer map editor and you'll discover that more treasures await.
Far Cry 3 is a vast, ambitious improvement from the previous version, with broad scope and teeming with diversions. It's a must-own as we start closing out 2012.
Walking Dead fans expecting a thrilling shootout a la the TV show's midseason finale at the O.K. Woodbury will discover disappointment in this final chapter of the video-game series.
After the first three episodes full of tension, deep character development and compelling stories, the final two episodes (and this last episode even more so) get the "dud" label.
That you can finish the final episode in around an hour speaks to the game losing steam after a strong start. That hour or so of game time doesn't drag. You have less room to roam and interact as the story and undead hem you into a tighter environment. The conclusion of this episode and the fate of Lee (whom you've been guiding along through every episode) and Clementine doesn't lack for heart-wrenching drama, and everything sets up perfectly for a second season of this game.
Yet The Walking Dead video-game series introduced gamers to not only a well-crafted franchise, but also took video games to new places with a unique distribution model and gameplay style. Episode 5 doesn't close as strongly as Episodes 1-3 opened, but those who stuck with the franchise this long would be fools not to see how it ends.