January 24, 2005

Far Cry – Review

Foliage is not something that usually concerns the gaming industry, but in Far Cry, the new first person shooter from Crytek Studios in conjunction with Ubisoft, it is most definitely your friend. If it’s green, you can hide in it. If it has a trunk, you can hide behind it. Occasionally you get boulders thrown in as well for good measure. As ex-special forces operative Jack Carver, you find yourself washed up on a tropical archipelago after an “accident” with your boat, only to discover that the islands are crawling with mercenaries and mutants called Trigents created by a renegade scientist. Any of this sound familiar? Well it should, as the plot is neither innovative, nor particularly interesting – consisting mainly of finding a way to escape the islands, whilst rescuing you token female accomplice and attempting to put a stop to the research taking place.

However Far Cry is not as run-of-the-mill as this would imply. Complementing the ordinary storyline and fairly standard choice of weapons are some stunning graphics, sarcastically humorous dialogue, and truly impressive artificial intelligence. While the Trigents tend to charge straight at you – as expected for creatures with larger biceps than brains – the mercenaries take a much more tactical approach. They work in teams, often with one firing on your position to keep you busy while the others attempt to sneak up on the flanks. The AI is unscripted, so the tactics used will change for different situations, but the mercenaries will not know your exact position unless you are spotted. This gives the opportunity to move locations and set up an ambush of your own, once the mercs appear at your previous hiding place.

The game differentiates itself from the competition in terms of difficulty. Far Cry is a tough game to begin with, with the last two levels being a little too hard in my opinion, and this is made more so by a carrying limit of only four weapons at any given time and, more importantly, a checkpoint system, robbing gamers of their usual tactics of quick-saving themselves into hospital with RSI.

With offerings like this it would seem that Crytek will be more at home with the mediocrity of their recent buyers, Electronic Arts, rather than the usually excellent standards set by Ubisoft. While Far Cry is an above average game in a market saturated by first person shooters, that is all it is. For those of you who enjoy mindless violence with a side order of pretty graphics, this is the game for you. For everyone else who requires games to be more thought provoking and intelligent, Far Cry is just something to stop you getting bored until something better comes along.


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