By John Young
June 05, 2012 at 10:00 PM EDT

The Game: A first-person shooter about an ordinary tourist who’s stranded on a tropical island after a local gang of criminals kidnaps his buddies. It’s up to you to find your friends and confront the gang’s alpha male: a mentally unstable chap named Vaas. (Available on Sept. 4 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC)

What We Played: The single-player demo shown at Ubisoft’s press conference, where you infiltrate Vaas’ compound, plus an extended version of the four-player co-op mode revealed at Sony’s media briefing.

The Good: The game’s tropical paradise is gorgeous. At the Ubisoft conference, the demo was played at a breakneck speed, making it difficult to appreciate Far Cry 3‘s attention to detail. For instance, when our hero, Jason, is swimming underwater at the start of the demo, you can look all around you and notice the variety of fish, the marine vegetation, and a crashed airplane resting on the ocean floor.

The single-player gameplay is solid, too. The close-combat takedown attacks feel natural, and all the weapons from the bow and arrow to the flamethrower are a blast to use. And in spite of our minor misgivings with the story’s direction (see below), Vaas is a memorably gonzo villain.

The Not-So-Good: The demo’s conclusion hints at the fact that Jason may be going insane, and that Vaas and him could be more alike than we initially realize. I’m excited by the game’s willingness to go dark, but I’m equally concerned that the whole thing might come off feeling like Fight Club meets The Beach. Also, the game’s co-op mode was a moderately frustrating experience. Often my team was left fighting a never-ending stream of baddies while we struggled to figure out how to complete our objective.

Excitement Level: From 1 to 10, Far Cry 3 gets an 8. I’m ready to lose my social life to this massive open-world jungle.

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