Far Cry does more than entertain during it's 20 hour plus single player campaign, it delights the senses.
Far Cry is, without a doubt, the best looking game ever made. Developed by Crytek, a rather obscure German developer, they’ve utilized every ounce of the latest graphical technology to bring forth a game that looks so much better than its peers, it would be unfair to compare. Yet, Far Cry is not a technical demonstration for there lies a very, very good game underneath the visual splendour, and it’s not hard to find it.
Far Cry does more than entertain during it’s 20 hour plus single player campaign, it delights the senses. Playing as boat skipper, Jack Carver, it’s your job to escort the sexy Valerie around several islands in the pacific. However, Carver’s small ship, “The Medusa,” falls prey to a vicious attack and suddenly Carver is alienated from Val and on his own to deal with the vicious happenings on the island. Carver is embroiled in a sinister plot involving a mad scientist, Krieger, who’s using the islands for his genetic experimentation. Obviously the game is not over until you’ve saved Val and prevented Krieger from continuing his dangerous experiments.
It’s a strange combination, some vicious gung-ho action taking place on a series of exquisite looking islands. For the first few minutes you’ll prefer to hide in a corner and take in the scenery, opposed to actually fighting the vicious mercenaries who want you out the way. However, soon you’ll find the battles so enjoyable that you’ll merely appreciate the graphics and thank the developers for making Far Cry such a beautiful game. It’s actually very ea
sy to get carried away and enthuse about how good the game looks. After all, the game looks so good that it’s hard to fathom how a group of men sitting in an office in Germany could have created such beauty. Far Cry is a colourful game, certainly, so while it looks really nice, if you don’t like the idea of colourful tropical islands with sandy beaches, and only the occasional dark, dank cave, then this isn’t the game for you. If lush tropical jungles featuring dense foliage that consists of trees, plants and tall grasses appeals to you, read on. What’s really impressive is the immersiveness of it all. Yellow, sandy beaches blind you as the surf slowly laps ashore and the game’s character modelling really deserves a whole review by itself. Not only are these models richly detailed, but they feature fluid animation that’s literally jaw dropping. That game also incorporates real time-lighting and shading effects to an unprecedented degree, so when you traverse through the jungle undergrowth you actually see shadows from overhead trees flickering on your rifle. Or when an enemy passes a wall, especially one underground, the shadow accompanies him, larger than life and frighteningly realistic. Most impressive is when a rocket just misses you, and your vision blacks out for a moment and everything becomes eerily quiet, save for a distant ringing. Yes, the level of verisimilitude in Far Cry is one of the best things about the game, but it’s not the only reason Far Cry is the best first-person shooter since the original Half-Life.
Fire-fights are tough at first, but only get a lot more difficult as your enemies become more cunning, utilize more advanced weaponry and are outfitted in superior armour. Like in any recent FPS, you can filch items from dead carcasses, but even with full health and armour, the game still makes it difficult as a single shot can reduce your health a great deal. Depending on the difficulty you chose at the beginning there’s a scant number of health packs lying around during the game. Don’t expect Far Cry to be an easy experience then and if you’re a beginner to the genre, steer clear for the time being. Far Cry is definitely a game that would have benefited from allowing the player to change the difficulty on-the-fly. If you’re foolish enough to chose on of the more challenging difficulties at the beginning of the game, expecting Far Cry to be the usual FPS experience and subsequently can’t cope, there’s nothing for it but to start over again, choosing an easier mode and selecting AI auto balance. The latter varies the AI of your opponents depending on how well you’re doing, so if you’re struggling you won’t get finished off too mercilessly. It’s similar to what Max Payne did.
For the most part the AI in the game is excellent; there are very few occasions when an NPC does something unfathomable and it’s a testament to Crytek that they can get this aspect of a game right with their first title. People can criticise the enemies for being unnaturally alert; a slightest foot wrong can result in the guards being aware of your presence. However, looking at it logically, you can see them, so there’s no reason for them not being able to see you, and a lot of the mercenaries are equipped with binoculars. It just makes the game a whole lot more challenging than anything else on the market, and it makes for a refreshing change.
Progression is slow and rewarding, not only because of the difficulty, but because the game doesn’t allow you to save during the game and instead utilizes an auto save feature at various checkpoints. Getting from one checkpoint to another is sometimes very difficult, and it would be nice to see a patch come out to rectify this auto save feature, allowing the player instead to save when he feels the need. On the other hand this does ensure that the Far Cry experience is incredibly tense.
You can only hold four weapons at any one time, so, like Halo, you’ll need to juggle around with what’s on offer, bearing in mind what you’ll be facing in later missions. Far Cry’s missions are broken up by a chapter load and the occasional cutscene, but these are both very brief and for the most part, Far Cry is a seamless experience. You begin each mission, for the most part, with the same amount of health and armour that you had previously, and with the same weapons and ammo, so you can’t be too gung-ho. It’s definitely necessary that you make each shot count.
By the end of Far Cry you’re not only fighting mercenaries armed to the teeth, but also hideous, genetically engineered monsters named Tridgens. Tridgens are Krieger’s experiment and they’re a step up, a big step up, from anything you’ve faced previously. There are varying types of Tridgen, but they’re all deadly, even the smaller versions. It’s all very reminiscent of the 1998 game, SiN, yet the monsters are more convincing and animate a whole lot better. Doing battle with the tridgens is a hellish experience and if your weaponry didn’t get significantly better, you wouldn’t surviv
e a minute. Soon Carver is stumbling upon serious kit, such as a rocket launcher and a hefty machine gun which is useful for clearing a group of mercenaries at close range. The tridgens are far tougher and you really need to make headshots count. No weapon is more effective at this than the sniper rifle, and if you become a good marksman with this weapon the game becomes significantly easier. Far Cry has a lot to do with fighting from long range; you really can’t afford to get into too many close battles because the enemies are smart enough, and good enough to beat you. They’ll use clever tactics and generally it just never works. However, there are a couple of cases when you find yourself indoors and the shotgun becomes a very useful item. You can’t avoid close battles indoors so you’ll need to lean around corners often and adjust your tactics accordingly.
A lot of what makes Far Cry so excellent is the variety. As aforementioned, you’ll fight indoors quite a bit, but Carver also gets his hands on numerous vehicles that enhance the experience. There’s a simple inflatable speed boat which is used a lot in one of the missions, as well as a more powerful gun boat. You’ll fight on boats quite often too, and there’ll be numerous occasions when you need to set bombs onto objects. There’re hang gliders that are useful for gliding across the expansive scenery and there are buggy’s that obviously make your journey on foot a lot quicker. Make no mistake, Far Cry is not a massively non linear game despite the open ended appearance. One of the reasons for this is that a lot of your objectives are pin pointed on a map which leaves you in doubt as of where to proceed. On the rare occasion that this doesn’t happen, it’s not difficult to find where to go, meaning you’re never out of the action for long. Also commendable is the relatively short load times between chapters, and the fact that saved games load in seconds.
The game will take you more than 20 hours to finish and it never looks like the developers are recycling gameplay mechanics. There’s always something to awe you around the corner, and the plot, though nothing special, unfolds nicely via some outstanding cut scenes. The voice acting during the cutscenes and during actual gameplay is of a high standard. Carver and Crow, the latter being another bad ass, both sound terribly “B” grade, but this is undoubtedly on purpose. A suave sounding Carver would be even more out of place. Valerie, Krieger and the other main NPC in the game, Doyle, all speak some excellent lines and considering Crytek is German, there are no hiccups in the English. Aside from the voice acting which is up there with some of the best, the ambient sounds in the game really help
to promote the jungle atmosphere and give fire-fights a tactical edge. Because the jungle is so dense, you often can’t see enemies until you’re practically right on top of them. Sound plays an important part in these moments, as you can track your enemies by listening out to their footsteps, and they can do the same for you. You can throw a rock to cause a distraction and sneak on by, and while Far Cry is an action game at heart, you’ll survive a whole lot longer if you employ stealthy tactics once in a while.
As far as the sound effects go, there are some impressive insect noises and bird chirrups; when a helicopter approaches you can hear the thrum of the rotors getting even closer and it’s this kind of attention to detail that makes Far Cry the immersive experience it is. You can also eavesdrop on conversations by using the combination binocular-sound microphone featured in the game. These conversations tend to be enlightening because you can find out what the mercenaries are worried about or what's up ahead.
Expect to need a seriously hefty PC to get Far Cry looking the way it’s meant to be played. Even on a beefy 2GHZ system with a Direct X 9 compatible 3D card there’s sure to be a few slowdowns. This is especially the case when indoors and the seriously gorgeous bump mapping comes to the fore. There’s always the option to tone down everything, but sadly this means that you’ll miss out on a lot of the jungle foliage, and at the lowest settings Far Cry really loses out on its shine. If you’ve been putting off upgrading your computer Far Cry is the very reason to do so.
All the elements of the game work together to create one, superb single player package. The multiplayer side of things is far less competent and you’ll be buying Far Cry for it’s single player campaign. The multiplayer portion of Far Cry features three game modes, free-for-all, team Deathmatch and assault, as well as a limited number of maps for each mode. Moreover, the maps are large in size so if you only have a handful of players, you’ll spend a lot of time looking for someone to kill. Additionally, movement speed is also reduced by the specific weapon you’re carrying, and the weapons themselves are horribly unbalanced. The rocket launcher for instance can do a tremendous amount of splash damage and a sniper rifle can dominate a match. A few vehicles crop up during matches, but they’re not too useful during combat. For instance, the jeep has an open-air drivers’ compartment which means you’re not protected from gunfire.
On another negative note, Far Cry’s physics engine for both the single and multiplayer game is not quite as revolutionary as the rest of the visuals. Jeep’s and buggy’s feel horribly light and bounce around the terrain making them rather tiresome to commandeer.
Other than that there’s very little reason not to get Far Cry. If you’re a competent FPS player and are looking for a single player challenge, have an AAA computer and want a game that makes full use of your PC’s power, then don’t delay. Go buy Far Cry.