Fri, 1 October 2004
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Good God almighty is this one sweet looking game! That's definitely the first thing you'll notice about Crytek's (a developer from Germany I'd never heard of before) Far Cry - the graphics are incredible. But all gamers know that looks are not everything. If the game is no fun to play it doesn't really matter how pretty it is. Thankfully Far Cry plays extremely well and is almost as fun as it is attractive.
I'm not the biggest first person shooter fan in the world, I like 'em enough yet there are several other genres I tend to prefer, but this is one of the best ones I have played in a long time - perhaps ever. Why is that you ask? (At least I am going to pretend that you did.) Read on my friend and find out!
The fella the player controls goes by the name of Jack Carver- the typical wise cracking tough guy type that seems to feature in every second game. Jack was hired to escort (but no kinky stuff I assume) a lady around the pacific. Or something like that. To the shock of no one (this is a video game after all) things don't go smoothly. Their boat gets attacked and Jack wakes up to find himself on an island. He sets off to find the woman and soon discovers all kinds of trouble and evil doings are afoot. There are bad guy soldiers to deal with and, a bit further into the game, freaky genetically altered creatures. The story is a good mix of sci-fi and action movie type fare; it isn't exactly the deepest tale ever and it is all pretty clichéd, but that doesn't detract from the game in any way. The story and characters are just strong enough to make you care and want to find out what happens next and that's really all we can ask for. Fact of the matter is I found myself more concerned about finding different ways of killing things and blowing stuff up to care all that much about Jack and the rest.
The variety in the gameplay is what helps Far Cry to stand out from the bloated FPS pack. Here you get a little bit of everything- stealth and tactics, frantic action shoot outs, different vehicles to control and more. There are usually several ways to go through each level. The sense of exploration and experimentation is superb and makes it worth playing through the levels more than once just to see what happens when you go about them using alternate methods. There are all kinds of weapons and gadgets you get to use. Figuring out which works best in any situation you find yourself in is extremely enjoyable and satisfying.
As well as the variety of how you play each level, the levels themselves often change dramatically, ensuring a fairly fresh experience throughout. On one level you'll find yourself slowly crawling through the dense jungles hoping not to be detected, then coming across a hang glider and sailing off the side of a mountain while troops below battle the mutants which have now escaped capture. Then you'll get a level that takes place entirely indoors where you can crawl through the air ducts and get creeped out in the dimly lit rooms. You might even jump out of your seat when a pack of monsters comes up behind you. Other levels take place on board ships or in tree tops that resemble the Ewok village from Return of the Jedi. All of these levels are massive and some of the biggest I have seen ever in any game.
The controls are all smooth and responsive. You've surely played other FPS games on your pc and this one is really no different in terms of control set up. It'll take you all of thirty seconds to come to grips with it. The occasionally interactive environments all feel very natural. The vehicles take slightly longer to get familiar with, but soon become second nature and are a real blast to play around with. The enemy AI (artificial intelligence for any morons reading) is usually good. The soldiers, once aware of your presence, will come looking for you. You can make the monsters and soldiers battle each other by getting their attention and hiding out of the way. That tactic comes in real handy sometimes.
Ok, now let's get back to the real star of this show- the graphics. There's no denying this is one of the best looking games to date. Every detail is utterly stunning. The jungles look beautifully lush with thick trees casting shadows, tall grass that moves as you crawl through it, birds flying overhead and bright tropical flowers scattered here and there. The beaches have magnificent sands and some of the most realistic and breathtaking water in any game. The indoor environments are meticulously detailed and make great use of various lighting effects. All the character models are extraordinary and this becomes particularly apparent during the cut scenes where you view them up close. Overall it just looks insanely great and it would take one exceedingly jaded bastard to find a fault with the looks of this game.
Far Cry's audio is of a pretty spectacular standard as well. Birds chirping in the jungles, footsteps changing depending on the terrain, water making the appropriate splashing sounds, competent voice overs, mood setting music and realistic vehicle noises all help to round out a great package. You can eavesdrop on enemy's conversations and keep an ear out for the growls of nearby monsters too.
Now comes the time to talk about what is wrong with the game. I mean we can't just be happy that it is cool to play and leave it at that can we? Us game geeks have to get all picky and find faults; otherwise we just aren't doing our jobs. Rightio then, let me see…what sucks about this game? Well it must be said that it takes some serious hardware to run this baby. My PC is no slouch, hell it is a beast of a thing, and even so I encountered the occasional glitch and drop in the frame rate. So if you're using an older system be prepared to turn down a whole bunch of the features and details that make this game look so good.
Another complaint could be that there aren't enough save points. You will find yourself having to play through certain sections over and over and you will get frustrated. Frankly though it never really bugged me too much and if you ask me it is still better than the game being too damn easy. Hmm… what else? Some times the enemies seem to be friggin' superman, you could swear you got a head shot in, or even if you didn't you shot him about a million times and yet the bugger is still standing. That gets very annoying at times, but again it is not that big of a deal and is better than being too easy. I can't really think of anything else to bitch about, I'll leave that to others. There are plenty out there who are good at whining about stuff.
All in all Far Cry is a game that is well worth playing. Two or three times through even! As a single player FPS it ranks up with the very best ever and puts the one player mode of the likes of Unreal Tournament and other multi-player focused titles to shame. I haven't had the chance to check out the multi-player modes yet, but I imagine they'd work really well too. This isn't a very innovative game, it really just takes all the best aspects from a bunch of other successful titles, but it comes together extremely well and it works. There's probably nothing here that you haven't seen before, but it is unlikely you have seen it done with this much polish. It won't change your life, but it looks amazing, has an abundance of gameplay and it kept me constantly entertained.
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