Hot on the heels of Far Cry's critical and commercial success on the PC, Ubisoft announced Far Cry Instincts for the Xbox and PlayStation 2. Unlike the PC version of the game, which was developed by Crytek, Ubisoft's Montreal studio (responsible for the original Splinter Cell) is handling development duties on Far Cry Instincts, which will be shown at E3 2004. We recently got a chance to see an early build of Far Cry Instincts for the Xbox in action at a pre-E3 event.
Far Cry Instincts will not be a direct port of the PC game. Instincts will retain the same basic story arc of the original by following the exploits of mercenary Jack Carver as he uncovers a sinister plot while on a lush tropical archipelago. But instead of the 20 levels offered by the original game, there will be 14 in Far Cry Instincts. These levels will be set on four different islands, each with its own theme. So while the basic story will remain the same, some of the underlying details and objectives will be changed. As a result, you'll be exploring environments that aren't directly copied from the original Far Cry.
The game also retains the same wide-open feel of the PC game, with large, lush environments to explore and plenty of waterways to swim or boat across. While the incredible draw distances of the PC version of the game were not quite as pronounced in this early Xbox build, the level we saw certainly didn't seem cramped and offered plenty of area to roam around. Exploring the terrain and uncovering multiple approach angles from which to assault a small base will still figure prominently in Far Cry Instincts. We watched as Jeff Hattem from Ubisoft Montreal attacked a dock facility by performing a drive-by shooting on a Jet Ski. He also pointed out that approaching the dock from the hillside on the rear would have been another viable option.
Speaking of Jet Skis... Far Cry Instincts will introduce a few additional vehicles, including the aforementioned watercraft. During our time with the early build, we also saw a 4-wheel, all-terrain vehicle demonstrated, which proved to be light and nimble, even while off-road. Unfortunately, the other new vehicle, a hovercraft, was not available for demonstration. Instincts will also offer a couple of new weapons, including a harpoon gun for use underwater (the guns in the original game would not fire while submerged) and a stationary cluster bomb-launcher for indirect fire-use against entrenched enemies. You'll also be able to set environmental traps, like spike pits, branch whips, and swinging logs; these traps will figure greatly in multiplayer.
Far Cry Instincts will include standard split-screen multiplayer action, but for those with Xbox Live or a PlayStation 2 network adapter, you'll be able to get online to fight it out against 15 other players in a variety of multiplayer modes. These will include standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag. (Details on the other modes weren't finalized as of press time.)
Perhaps the most interesting feature of Far Cry Instincts is the planned inclusion of a level editor for the Xbox version of the game. Amateur designers will be able to both distribute and play their creations online over Xbox Live, a feature that Ubisoft is counting on to extend the life of the game. The interface is very streamlined and simple, allowing you to get a bird's-eye view of the level to adjust terrain, paint in water and vegetation, or drop in vehicles, buildings, and weapon spawns. You can even test out your creation on the fly by walking or driving around your level-in-progress.
From this early stage, Far Cry Instincts seems to be shaping up into a promising shooter for the Xbox and PS2--with online play planned on both platforms. New and exciting features, such as a reworked campaign and new vehicles, weapons, and multiplayer modes, should provide veterans of the PC version of Far Cry with new experiences. Xbox owners also have the exciting level editor to look forward to. Far Cry Instincts is scheduled to ship this fall, and we'll have more information on it as soon as it becomes available.