Video games, ultimately, are judged on their gameplay. Sure, their story, graphics, or sound also impact the overall score but if a game doesn't play well, then it can have a story worthy of the Song of Ice and Fire books or the most realistic graphics ever devised, but it still wouldn't matter.
2012 has been filled with games that played great but, among them, Far Cry 3 stood out not just by delivering a top-notch first-person shooter experience, but also by combining it with plenty of role-playing game elements as well as with stealth mechanics worthy of Hitman: Absolution or Dishonored.
Previous Far Cry games focused mainly on shooting and great graphics, while trying to do novel things with their stories that either focused on genetic engineering or the life of a mercenary.
Far Cry 3, however, amps up basically every aspect, from the story that now deals with how far someone is willing to go to save his friends, to the graphics that are extremely impressive, especially on the PC.
However, the best area where Far Cry 3 shows its strengths is the one reserved for gameplay.
It's a first-person shooter first and basically every weapon, from a lowly pistol to a shotgun, SMG, rifle, rocket launcher, flame thrower, or even a bow, feels great and handles well from its first-person perspective.
Don't forget about the very impressive RPG mechanics, as you not only get to develop your character in all sorts of ways by unlocking different skills, but you also get to loot resources and craft them into upgrades for your gear.
Last but not least, there are the stealth mechanics that work very well and can even make Far Cry 3 stand on equal ground with other games that focused only on stealth.
Throw in the open world and the pretty decent driving system and Far Cry 3 is one of the best games of the year.