FarCry Instincts Predator Hands-On: Welcome to the Jungle
Jack Carver's latest island foray won't be fun and games. We check out the new 360 version of the latest FarCry.
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Ubisoft may have taken the lead in the race to follow up a hit console game with a new and somewhat different installment. Just a few months after the release of FarCry Instincts on the Xbox, the company is already back with another entry in the franchise called FarCry Instincts Predator, this time on the Xbox 360. Well, sort of new. Instincts Predator actually includes the original single-player game from Instincts, as well as an all-new story campaign called Instincts Evolution that will include original levels and characters. If that's not confusing enough, FarCry Instincts Evolution will also hit the original Xbox containing just this new storyline. In simpler terms, let's just say all this amounts to a whole lot of FarCry for diehard fans of the series.
Evolution's storyline picks up sometime after the end of Instincts, when salty antihero Jack Carver finds himself in the unfortunate position of trying to be a boat captain for hire without actually possessing a boat. While drowning his sorrows in a tropical bar, he's approached by a seductive and dangerous woman named Kade who invites him back to her room for a little, uh, sales pitch. The bottom line is, Kade needs some illicit weapons moved, and she wants Carver to be her muscle--and since Carver didn't learn his lesson about shady underworld dealings last time around, he's only too eager to help out. When things inevitably go awry, Carver finds himself again on the run, plunging through thick jungles and navigating lush tropical waterways with a horde of angry, armed mercenaries hot on his heels.
The story in the first Instincts told how Jack Carver was imbued with a host of beastly, "feral" powers that made him a veritable killing machine by the end of the game (not a bad trade for one ruined boat). Luckily, and as you'd expect, you'll start out the campaign in Evolution with these powers already intact. All your favorites are back again, such as the enhanced vision mode that will let you see in the dark and track the scents of recently departed enemies, and the brutal feral melee attack that lets you charge at and one-hit-kill any enemy unlucky enough to be too close to you.
All the less beastly abilities you had in Instincts are back as well, so you'll be able to pursue a stealthy strategy rather than all-out feral madness if you choose. For instance, you can again string up a branch whip between trees that will send an unsuspecting merc flying when he wanders the wrong way. Of course, you'll find plenty of traditional armament as well during your island-hopping capers, including submachine guns, sniper rifles, molotov cocktails, and so on. One new weapon is the pipe bomb, which you can toss out several of before detonating all of them simultaneously with one press of the detonator.
Finally, you can expect the full run of multiplayer modes that were available with Instincts to make their return on the 360 version of Xbox Live, including team chaos, steal the sample, and predator. And of course, the fully featured map editor will be back as well, so if Instincts Predator plays as well on the 360 as the first Instincts did on the original Xbox, you'll be able to keep cranking out new deathmatch arenas indefinitely to keep things interesting.
If the gameplay is more or less the same as last time around, how about the graphics? You didn't think they'd bring FarCry to the 360 without any sort of visual enhancement, did you? The game certainly looks noticeably better than it did on the original Xbox simply by virtue of is 720p high-def support. However, the graphics seem to have been upgraded in a number of other areas as well, since character models and environments look to be more detailed than they were previously. The most immediately noticeable enhancement has to be the water system, which produces fully modeled waves every time you go flying across it on a jet ski (which you'll be doing quite often, from the looks of things). The prevailing aesthetic here is totally FarCry, with crystal-clear blue water and thick jungles, and while Predator doesn't seem to make a massive generational leap over its Xbox counterpart, it seems to do a good job of taking advantage of the 360's power.
FarCry Instincts Predator is looking like a solid offering in the FarCry series for Xbox 360 owners. Whether or not you should look for it will depend on how much you liked the first Instincts on the original Xbox--but if you didn't play that one at all, this ought to be the best version, since it contains that entire game plus a whole new chapter, and with presumably the best graphics available in the series' console iterations to date. Instincts Predator is due out at the end of the month, so keep your eyes peeled for a full review then.