A Far Cry from your typical FPS
Taking a shapely photojournalist to an archipelago in the Pacific sounds like easy money to charter boat captain Jack Carver, but as Val’s Jet Ski disappears behind an island, Jack spots a rocket homing in on him. Thrown clear from the explosion, Jack finds himself floating amongst the wreckage of his boat. Alone and unarmed, Jack swims toward the nearest island. How can he find Val and get the hell out of here?
Since Far Cry is a first-person shooter, Jack isn’t unarmed for long. A tutorial level puts a gun in Jack’s hand, as well as a handheld communication device and a pair of binoculars. The communication device connects him to a man named Doyle. Doyle can help Jack find Val and get away, but he needs Jack to do something for him first. The device also has a compass which points Jack towards his objectives. The binoculars include a microphone set up, so Jack can spot enemies from a distance and overhear their conversations. Once Jack has spotted an enemy with the binoculars, they show up on the handheld device as a blip.
Jack’s first objective is to steal a jeep from a mercenary camp and drive it to a dock on the other side of the island. Here’s where Far Cry shines. Jack can use stealth to sneak around the back of the camp or he can go in guns blazing. He can blow-up gas canisters to thin the ranks or he can climb a sniper tower and take the mercs down that way. He can stay concealed and make it to the jeep unnoticed or he can announce his presence with a few well placed grenades.
Far Cry places very few constraints on the player. While Jack isn’t going to be able to talk his way out of any situation, usually there are multiple ways to do what needs to be done. Far Cry encourages exploration. A path might be the fastest way to your objective, but flanking around an area helps avoid patrols and shows how lush and detailed Far Cry’s levels are.
When it comes to beautiful islands, Far Cry outdoes Myst
. The islands are rich with detail. The jungles hide crashed Japanese Zeroes and vine-strewn ruins. Wild boars run through the trees and parrots fly overhead. Even at the minimum specs, Far Cry looks great, but kick the graphics up and the sense of realism explodes. The archipelago would be a great vacation getaway if it weren’t for vicious bands of mercenaries and the secrets they protect.
You know a game is challenging when the medium difficulty setting is the second option out of five. Far Cry has smart, tough opponents. Mercs follow intelligent patrol paths. They are quick to spot you and are able to hear you. They work in packs, drawing your fire while flanking you. They are quick to use grenades and aren’t afraid to call in for reinforcements or helicopter support. Luckily Jack has some tricks up his sleeve.
Calling on his military background, Jack is capable of using any weapon he gets his hands on: from lowly machete to the sophisticated OICW Advanced Assault Rifle. Jack can carry four weapons and a few grenades at a time. He can replenish his armor (which conceals his orange shirt making him harder to spot) and his health, but he can’t carry power ups. He also takes full advantage of the turrets scattered around and the variety of vehicles available. Far Cry lets you off-road in Hummers, cruise in patrol boats, hang-glide and more.
Out of the box, Far Cry has a check point save system which can be player unfriendly. Patching the game adds a quick save function, but this is handled awkwardly through the console and isn’t something you’d want to attempt during combat. Frankly, the lack of a save anywhere function is usually a game killer for me, but here I wasn’t as bothered. It almost hearkened back to Fallout
for me, in that if one battle plan fell to pieces, I was eager to try a different approach.
The thing that bothered me more was the rocket launcher. First up, I’m never sure why villains are given rocket launchers. Invariably, they blow themselves up or cause massive collateral damage. Rocket launchers versus vehicles, okay, against people, that’s different. Anyway, Far Cry has its share of henchmen who use rocket launchers more against themselves than Jack, but conversely, Far Cry also has the slowest rockets I’ve ever seen. Of course this is purely the result of a balancing issue: if the rockets traveled at a respectable clip Jack wouldn’t stand a chance, but you shouldn’t be able to mosey away from a rocket.
The Bottom Line
In terms of gameplay, Far Cry isn’t wildly different from other first-person shooters, but it comes across as more polished. There’s much more attention to level design and much more attention to story. . Reluctant hero Jack Carver tackles a storyline that feels pulled from a Bond flick (to a point). Almost half the game passes before Far Cry reveals its secrets, but until then game play is so enjoyable you almost don’t expect more. Far Cry doesn’t define what a first-person shooter is, but it does illustrate what a first-person shooter can be. I eagerly await the next entry.
That Uwe Boll has his hands on this franchise kills me.