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Far Cry (PC) artwork

Far Cry (PC) review


"On this tropical paradise of a Caribbean island, the jungle is both your greatest weapon and your biggest liability. With only a handful of markers on your radar to guide you in the right direction, youíll have to carve your own path through the nearly limitless foliage, and itís a sure bet youíll run into more than a few enemy soldiers on your way. How you go about dispatching them is a question of your gamer instincts, but the cold reality is that it only takes a few bullets to bring Jack Carver down. Going balls-to-the-walls is, as you might imagine, not always the most effective tactic."



The first time an enemy spotted me in Far Cry, he shouted, ďIím gonna shoot you in the face!Ē Itís hard to take someone like that seriously, let alone be intimidated by him. My opposition in Far Cry managed that anyway.

Through a sequence of events too stupid to recall vividly (this is the kind of plot where you wonder if the dialog was made intentionally lame just to compliment the dumbness of the events unfolding), a vacationing man named Jack Carver finds himself running for his life on an unnamed island in the Caribbean (I guess) where a host of fully armed military thugs are guarding something too secret, and perhaps too dangerous, to be exposed to anyone Ė certainly not some nobody in a red Hawaiian shirt. They pack the kind of firepower that could level a small town, so surely this lone stranger would be no match for them, right?

Well, thatís up to you. On this tropical paradise of a Caribbean island, the jungle is both your greatest weapon and your biggest liability. With only a handful of markers on your radar to guide you in the right direction, youíll have to carve your own path through the nearly limitless foliage, and itís a sure bet youíll run into more than a few enemy soldiers on your way. How you go about dispatching them is a question of your gamer instincts, but the cold reality is that it only takes a few bullets to bring Jack Carver down. Going balls-to-the-walls is, as you might imagine, not always the most effective tactic.

Using the thick jungles to your advantage is the obvious course of action, and the open-ended level design of Far Cry means that you can theoretically approach any situation from nearly any angle and come out on top. A sweet pair of binoculars you acquire early on (with aural sensory capabilities, meaning you can listen to conversations from a distance) allow you to scope out the surrounding area before you make your move and determine the best strategy. You could, for example, charge into an enemy base and overpower your opposition with a few well placed grenades and the strategic use of cover, but you could also stick to the coast and take out a soldier stationed in a guard tower a few hundred meters off from the camp. From there, you could snipe the other watchmen and any other guards you happen to see, then raid the camp for supplies while taking out any military men lucky enough to survive the wrath of your sniper rifle. That kind of strategy, it goes without saying, is far more rewarding.

As you delve deeper into the heart of this mysterious island, the foliage grows thicker still. Soon the trees and ferns that govern this place will provide natural cover themselves. So when a gunfight erupts in the jungle, itís often the best idea to get down on the ground, surround yourself in shrubbery, and hope that your opponents arenít doing the same. Unfortunately, they often are. In Far Cry, itís one versus many, and those many are smart enough to split up, outflank, move from cover to cover, and generally do any of the other things that intelligent FPS enemies do. Itís important to remember, as well, that these men arenít wearing red Hawaiian shirts that make them instantly identifiable against the green backdrop of this beautiful island. Iím just sayiní.

Your choices in Far Cry are often dictated by the options given to you, and which of these options would realistically lead to having a good time. Should you hoof it through the jungle and keep a low profile, or stick to the main path behind the wheel of an armed SUV, playing the risk of drawing the attention of the many rocket launcher-wielding army grunts keeping guard? Well, that oneís easy. Advancing on foot may keep you safer, but vehicles, by the very nature of gaming, are just fun. Hereís another easy choice: You emerge from a bunker and find yourself on the edge of a cliff. There are several soldiers stationed here, and a gunboat patrolling the river below. You could realistically bypass the guards and leap into the water, then quietly sneak out on shore and continue. But thatís not nearly as enjoyable as, say, riddling the guards with bullets, taking to the skies with a hang glider, landing right on top of the boat, dismantling its passengers with your machete, and manning the gun to take out the helicopter that came at precisely the wrong time. You can see how Far Cry provides the entertainment, but then encourages the player to go seek it out.

Crytek encourages choices with its open-ended levels, and donít think youíre the victim of the many age-old tricks of FPS design. There are no invisible barriers keeping you in place; these environments really are that big, that open to exploration. The amazing thing is that I always got to where I needed to go anyway Ė a feat I doubt had much to do with my radar. Instead, itís the mastery of this type of level design Ė nonlinear yet still straightforward and objective-based Ė that kept me moving in the right direction. Unsurprisingly, itís during the handful of indoor shootouts (implemented, I assume, to keep the game from getting old) where Far Cry loses steam. The AI remains on top of things, but the choices present by level structure are far more limited, and the game feels more like ďjust anotherĒ FPS, which in most cases is exactly what Far Cry is not.

I commented to myself during the first level that this is the kind of island where one would expect to find genetically engineered dinosaurs, or perhaps King Kong. I did not expect a correlation of the two, but soon enough, I was greeted with the presence of genetically enhanced mutant monkeys. Hereís something I never thought Iíd say, but these mutated monkeys Ė ďtrigens,Ē as theyíre called Ė come dangerously close to ruining an otherwise great game. These monsters are mindless and chaotic, the polar opposite of the highly intelligent military thugs who hunt you. They are the Flood to Far Cryís Halo, another case of an FPS being hamstrung by straying from the very thing that strengthens it. Fighting the trigens offers the kind of visceral thrill that punctuates many games, but that itís happening in this particular game, where so much value is placed on the AI, is punishing.

When Far Cry isnít punishing, when itís allowed to sit back and do its thing, itís a delightfully entertaining, challenging, and constantly varied adventure, the kind of thing that makes you glad the FPS genre was created. Iíll tell you what: The next time I go on vacation in my yacht, Iíll be sure to wear something green.

Rating: 8/10

Suskie's avatar
Staff review by Mike Suskie (August 31, 2008)

Mike Suskie is a freelance writer who has contributed to GamesRadar and has a blog. He can usually be found on Twitter at @MikeSuskie.

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Lewis posted September 01, 2008:

On release, Far Cry seemed like a masterstroke of first-person shooting to me. In the years since, HL2 and BioShock have rendered everything else in the genre absolutely irrelevant, but I still enjoy blasting through the first few hours of Far Cry more than most other shooters. An eight seemed harsh initially, but in retrospect it's probably about right, if only for the ridiculous Trigens. On a good day, though, I'd suggest it deserves the extra mark for being just like LOST. ;)
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Halon posted September 01, 2008:

I've always wanted to review this game but never did (and probably never will) because I love so much and hate so much about the game that I don't know where to begin. It would probably turn out to be 20k.
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Suskie posted September 01, 2008:

Uh... except Lost actually has a good plot?
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wolfqueen001 posted September 01, 2008:

I want to play this game now. Haha

This was a great review. From the very start, you catch my interest; with the numerous sarcastic and witty bts, you keep me entertained. And when you move into the description of the game itself, your transitions and explanations are well-written and engaging. The only part I didn't like about this review was the second-to-last paragraph, where you talk about the Trigens or whatever. It sort of felt like you lost your steam there - the transition was weak, that sort of thing. But the way you inevitably concluded the review worked well... Overall, though, great read.

One thing, though:

Using the think jungles to your advantage is the obvious course of action, and the open-ended level design ofFar Cry

Typos
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EmP posted September 01, 2008:

Lost has a plot at all? I thought the entire plot was that crazy people were crazy. Go figure.

I'd bought the 360 version of this last night off Ebay for pennies before this review went up. I'll have to see how the console version stacks.
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Suskie posted September 01, 2008:

Thanks for your comments, Wolfqueen, and for spotting those typos. This was the first review I wrote on my new laptop, and I made a number of mistakes while adjusting to the smaller keyboard. I thought I'd caught them all, but obviously I was mistaken.

Also, EmP: Is the 360 version even the same game? I haven't played it yet so I have no idea how it compares.
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bluberry posted September 01, 2008:

I'd have been much more harsh, I loved the first 1/3 of Far Cry but just had to stop playing two or three chapters into the monkey part.
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darketernal posted September 01, 2008:

To be honest I expected a bash review. It was a good read, but from the first moment I started reading, I remembered how much I hate Farcry with it's AI. You see, they can shoot you from a mile away, through the sodding forest, straight in your bloody face each and every time. I swear, I think all of those mercenaries, every single one has the potential for being the best marksman on the face of the planet.
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Suskie posted September 01, 2008:

That's an interesting comment, DE, because I definitely didn't have that problem. I agree that those mercenaries had no trouble finding me, but even once I was spotted, very few of their shots (at least from a distance) landed. That was actually my reassurance that even if I was spotted, I wasn't dead yet. So as I said, interesting.
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Halon posted September 01, 2008:

The 360 version is a better version of the Xbox game I think. You get a few neat abilities (called feral powers or something, you can mutate into monsters) but the game is much smaller since the original Xbox couldn't handle the giant levels. I think it's also easier.

Anyways apart from the Trigens there were a bunch of little things that annoyed me, such as:

-Horrible hitscan, would headshot non-armored mercs with a sniper and not kill them and sometimes shoot them in the leg and take them out
-The problem DE mentioned. Sometimes I could jump up and down behind the mercs and they wouldn't notice and other times I would be spotted from miles away and blasted with an unaccurate machine gun.
-Horrible quicksave system! For the most part it was good but there were some instances where you fight a boss and it doesn't save until a few gameplay minutes later.
-Too much memorization towards the end. Perfection is needed to make it past some heavily Trigen-covered areas.
-Can't shoot even a pistol in water. I believe this was fixed in the console games.

However when it was good it was really good. Still probably a 6 or 7 but could've been really great if soem of the flaws were gone and the Trigen's appearances were greatly reduced.

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