Far Cry is one of the best, most visually pleasing and fun-to-play first person shooters to grace any gaming platform.
First of all, some of Far Cry's most obvious and eye-catching positives are its visuals. This game runs on CryEngine, a very powerful game engine that was built by Crytek just for Far Cry. It is one of the earlier games of that time to utilize HDR lightning in its engine and it also has one of the most impressive draw distances ever seen in a game. However, although all of this technical stuff may mean nothing to you - it should make you happy as thanks to the highly advanced technology that Far Cry runs on, it is also one of those games that were revolutionary steps in graphics back in their time, but still impress when played today. The environments are beautiful, filled with vegetation and other lush details. Character models are great, the weapons look awesome and the vehicles are good too. Simply everything in this game looks fantastic, whilst keeping the gameplay at a steady and fast frame-rate.
Speaking of which, the gameplay of Far Cry is surprisingly just as amazing (if not more than) its graphics. Far cry isn't one of those games that look extremely realistic but don't offer much in terms of fun factor and addictiveness. This game is an FPS, but it isn't your ordinary "run 'n' gun" shoot 'em up. There's some tactics and strategy involved; even more so if the game is played on higher levels of difficulty. There are twenty missions to complete in Far Cry. Although they get more linear towards the end, this is understandable so the game can come to a close in a more scripted way. However most of the game is set outdoors, in the jungles of an uncharted island, and the majority of the missions are very sandbox/free roam. In each of those, you are given straightforward objectives that progress further through the story and the game itself as a whole. But there will always be some hostiles. Whether you're going to sneak up on your enemies and take them out quietly one-by-one, or go running around and gunning everyone down is completely up to you and the fact that Far Cry gives you such freedom of choice when it comes to gameplay and combat is one of its greatest pros.
Here's a good example: there is an outpost of hostile mercenaries ahead. You are informed that they have a jeep there that will assist you in travelling further and faster. You are also warned of the number of armed veterans at this outpost and that they have snipers set up on the towers. There are many ways to approach such a situation. You may want to play the predator and stalk each one of the mercenaries. Sneak near them whilst staying in the jungle's vast vegetation to conceal your presence, waiting for the perfect moment to slash them on the back of the head with your machete. You may find a nice spot on a nearby hill, use a sniper rifle to take out each of the hostiles before any of them spots you. You may go running in with the heaviest machinegun and pack every single one of the enemies with bullets. Or you might even want to try sprinting to the jeep, getting in and driving away as fast as you can, hoping you don't die in the process.
While the stealthiest ways to approach hostilities in Far Cry usually turn out to be the most effective and come at the smallest price of health (if performed well), they also require the most skill & patience, and can sometimes take much more of your time. Still, no matter in what way you approach the enemies in this game, you won't be disappointed with the experience whilst doing it, nor will you be dissatisfied the result. All of Far Cry's gameplay mechanics work astonishingly well. The shooting is solid and weapons feel like they pack a punch. The enemy AI is so good and realistic that it offers a challenge to the player even on the second easiest level of difficulty (out of a total of five). Even the driving, which isn't the main part of the game, is very well-designed and fun.
In terms of atmosphere and how immersive the game is, Far Cry is very good. There certainly is an atmosphere of the jungle here; though this isn't as atmospheric as you'd see in newer titles like BioShock and STALKER, or older ones like Aliens versus Predator 2. Perhaps this is due to the fact that this game isn't designed to be centred and focused around terror but more on the action. This is also the exact reason why Far Cry doesn't need the strongest atmosphere possible. Thankfully, there's enough of it to make you feel like you're on this island, playing as this Jack Carver, shooting your way through hostile environments (and the music does a good job of keeping you immersed, especially during combat when it gets more energetic).
Crytek did include an online multiplayer option for those who want to test their skills & reflexes against other players. What's in the multiplayer package is fun and well-designed, but unfortunately not very innovative or original at all. It features only three game modes: deathmatch (also known as 'free for all', where all players fight against each other), team deathmatch (essentially the same as deathamtch, but the players are divided into two groups that fight against each other) and 'Assault' (where one team guards three bases and the other must capture them). Each mode can be plenty of fun - especially given the fact that the official servers are still populated even so many years after release - but the modes offer little variety.
Now it is time to go over the strongest and weakest points of Far Cry's good and bad sections.
+ Visuals are some of the best, most realistic and impressive I have ever seen in a single video game
+ Good estimate of 20 hours to complete one action-packed playthrough
+ Sandbox maps for singleplayer levels offer lots of freedom
+ Total of 17 available weapons (each unique and powerful in its own way)
+ Gameplay is immensely fun; shooting is amazing, driving works very well
+ Using different tactics to dispose of enemies in sandbox environments is great
+ Nice atmosphere and a fantastic, energetic soundtrack
+ Far Cry runs on some very impressive technology for 2004
+ Surprisingly vast amount of attention to visual detail
+ An advanced map editor tool and an established online modder community
+ The story and narrative is good for an action-packed shooter
+ Smart, realistic and human-like enemy AI
- Although fun, the multiplayer options are nothing special or original
- Level design takes a more linear approach to exploration near the end of the game
- The plot could use some improvement, same goes for voice acting
- Amount of challenge may be too much for some gamers to handle
- Occasional and random, but minor, graphical glitches and audio hiccups
- No quicksave function (and only checkpoints) can increase difficulty and put some players off
When all is said and done, Far Cry is definitely worthy of your time and money. It's very replayable for an FPS; lasting a minimum of around 20 hours to complete one playthrough; a maximum of around 40 hours spanning multiple playthroughs on varying levels of difficulty, online multiplayer matches and player-created singleplayer campaigns. It also offers explosive, action-packed gameplay that requires you to use tactics and some strategy when dealing with large numbers of armed enemies. It looks extremely realistic for a game released in 2004 and utilizes some amazing technology to make it all happen. Sure, it isn't a perfect game; there are some annoying (but thankfully occasional) audio bugs, a few graphical glitches, the multiplayer is unoriginal and some of the voice acting is quite mediocre. The story also leaves much to be desired. But in the end, the pros outweigh and outnumber the cons greatly. If you're interested in shooters, even if only a little, then Far Cry is one of those video games that should already be in your collection.