Far Crying out loud, just buy it! (yep, another lame gag)
Wed, 14 December 2005
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Whether you wanted to be or not, I'm sure you're well aware that Christmas is only a matter of days away. Since you are reading this, you're probably a gamer and therefore will be hoping to find at least one videogame under the tree on Chrissie morn.
If you happen to own an Xbox and enjoy some First Person Shooting action, there are numerous titles you might be interested in. Take old Sammy's advice here folks; Doom is fine, and there are at least a half dozen other recent high quality FPS games worthy of attention, but the pick of the bunch is this one right here. Get that jolly fatty boombatty Saint Nick to stuff a copy of Far Cry Instincts into your Xmas stocking and you'll be set for a great time. Then you can happily ignore your drunken relatives (and those shithouse Christmas crackers) while you guide Jack Carver through what I consider the single best game of its kind on Bill Gates' hefty black box of fun. In fact, Instincts even betters its fantastic PC predecessor which, at least to me, makes it one of the best FPS titles ever. For any format. Some people may scoff at that claim, but those people would be what I'd describe as "wrong".
In order to optimize the game for the Xbox hardware, those crazy Canucks over at Ubisoft Montreal built the whole thing from scratch. You still play as Jack Carver and it shares its setting and some of the other characters with the Crytek developed PC title, but Instincts really is a whole new (and, like I said, even better) game of Far Cry.
Just like the original Far Cry on PC, the first thing to really spring out about Instincts is how beautiful it is to look at. To this day, Far Cry is one of the most attractive PC games available. It just didn't seem likely it could look anywhere near as good on one of the current generation of consoles. Amazingly though, it does.
|Wave Race Instincts |
The water is especially stunning, but the graphics are incredible all around. The jungles are lush, the enemies detailed (and, later, impressively freaky). There's an abundance of special graphical touches (with lighting & smoke effects and so on) that induced a constant dropping of my jaw. You can see why the planned PS2 version got cancelled, because this game is pushing the Xbox's capabilities as far as they can go (at least, I'd assume that was the reason for it, but maybe Gatesy just threw them some huge sacks of money to keep it exclusive). If there's a better looking Xbox game than Far Cry Instincts, I haven't seen it. Ah, hell, I might as well just say it: graphically this is the very best game on Xbox.
The game is no slouch in the sound department either. The music is great and the sound effects work a treat. There are always a multitude of little touches to add to the atmosphere- birds chirping in the trees and that sort of thing, echoing footsteps, water flowing in a nearby area, faint chattering of distant enemies etc. Your ears shall be kept almost as happy as your eyes whilst playing this one.
Even the game's plot is above average. It seems to take its cue from numerous movies and does more justice to some of them than it does to others. But the gist of it works well enough. You can tell that plenty of time and effort has gone into creating some detail for the game's characters and "world".
So, that's all fine and dandy, but the sucka still has to be fun to play. No worries here; Far Cry Instincts is indeed a great deal of fun. What I love about the gameplay is the variety it offers. You can try running around Rambo-style, or go sneaking about like a (Solid) snake in the grass. Newly added skills (not featured in the PC title) include being able to set booby traps (which are kick-arse funny) and, later on, various mutant abilities that arise from Jack receiving an injection (not the "hot beef" kind, thankfully) whilst captured. From there on he begins to develop super strength and speed, night vision and other skills. These are awesome to mess around with and add even more depth to the game.
There are also assorted vehicles (boats, jeeps etc.) to hoon around in. Controlling them takes a while to get the hang of and never feels quite as good as in some games- like, say, Halo. But they're enjoyable enough once you get used to them and provide a cool way to traverse large spaces in minimum time. You can use any weapons that are attached to the vehicles too, which is a handy way of taking out large numbers of foes in the more wide open areas.
Then there are the weapons themselves. Far Cry Instinct's array of guns and other killing devices are utterly superb and, once again, add variety and depth to the game.
You can hang back, hidden from the enemy and cap dudes in the head with the sniper rifle. Or, sneak up slowly behind your opponent and waste him with a well placed knife in the back, or a shot from your silenced pistol. Or, perhaps you'll prefer to charge in with bullets blazing from the two machine guns you're packing in each hand. There are a good amount of weapon types and each of them is interesting and satisfying to use in its own individual way.
|Those Americans, they can never have too many guns can they? |
The thing that some will love and others may hate (or dislike at least) about this game is the epic scale of the levels themselves. They are absolutely massnormgantic (this is the new word I just made up which means "really f*cking big"). Some will find them too large and consider their size a detriment that drags the game out for too long, thus reducing the level of fun. I think that is a reasonable argument, because the length of the levels does indeed result in the gameplay becoming repetitive. No matter how varied a game might be, if you play it for long enough the freshness and novelty is going to lessen eventually.
Personally though, I love these huge levels. It makes it feel like a marathon kind of challenge and adds to the over the top nature of the game. I never got bored playing, because any time I got tired of playing a certain way I just changed my tactics for a while and it all remained entertaining. Besides that, there is usually more than one way to go through things, so exploring different routes can be quite rewarding. I wouldn't want all games to have levels this big (for one thing I'd be able to review far less of them if they did!) but the context of the setting here makes it fitting, so I believe the size suits Instincts well.
Another thing Far Cry Instincts has going for it is the impressive computer AI. If you play the game on of the harder difficulty settings the enemies can be very clever. They'll retreat when they're in trouble, run for backup, try to flank you from behind and numerous other tactics. It works exceptionally well and means that the combat is much less predictable than it is with many other titles of this ilk.
On top of all of that, the game has some sweet multi-player support. I only checked this out very briefly (as usual for me really) but I was suitably impressed.
I know this is something of a rave review, but there's no catch. I honestly just think Far Cry Instincts is that damn good of a game. While most first person shooters have one or two outstanding elements, this beauty features pretty much all of them. The only thing that'll put some off is the huge levels, so that just comes down to a matter of personal taste. Otherwise, this one should not be missed.
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The levels may be too long for some, but otherwise Far Cry Instincts has something for everyone. The best graphics on Xbox, great fun and varied gameplay. I sincerely consider it to be one of the best FPS games ever made.