Far Cry (Windows)

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Written by  :  Matt Neuteboom (989)
Written on  :  Dec 20, 2008
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.86 Stars3.86 Stars3.86 Stars3.86 Stars3.86 Stars

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Fun is Inversely Proportional to Difficulty

The Good

Well its finals week for college kids living it up in pollution-bathed North Jersey, and like all good college kids I find myself wanting to procrastinate from studying. FarCry gave me good enough reason to do this, as I assumed it would be a quick play and it would be something fun and mindless to do with all of my free time now that classes were over. I turned out being wrong on both parts, and having had enough of a drawn out experience with FarCry, I feel that it warrants some kind of review as a follow-through ordeal.

I really had no idea what to expect going into FarCry except that it was an FPS in the jungle and there was something special about the open environments. About 10 minutes into the game I knew just about the same amount. The opening intro is a collage of explosions and a dude swimming somewhere. What I got is that you and your wife/girlfriend/next rape victim were sailing in the Pacific Ocean for no reason at all, the girl drives off on a jet ski for no reason at all, people come and destroy your boat for no reason at all, you find your way onto an island, and ultimately having nothing else available to have sex with, grab a gun and go looking for the girl for no reason at all. About five minutes in a random black scientist appears on a PDA type thing and decides to help you, and despite the fact that you have no idea who he is or why he wants to help, you decide to follow all of his advice to the letter, most of which is "Go here, kill people, and blow this thing up."

Even then it became apparent that FarCry's plot was going to be as ridiculous as a James Bond movie. Add on top of this an evil corporation trying to take over the world, a mad scientist genetically mutating an army, and a completely obvious plot twist about a third of the way through and you've got one hell of a thin plot line. Despite this, I was pretty giddy over FarCry at first because it was fun and challenging. The general appeal of the game is the open environments the game provides. Now, don’t be stupid, the game is not GTA. There is obviously a linear progression from village to village and point to point. But each village is always assailable from every angle, and there are always multiple ways through the jungle. This makes it kind of fun planning out your route and your attack method. I remember sitting in a little rubber boat off shore for the first time and using my binoculars to spy out each guard on shore, planning out which guards I kill first before alerting the others.

Thanks to the abrupt introduction and the generally unpolished impression the game gave me, I was actually surprised but the stunning graphics the game has to offer, or rather, the stunning settings in the game. The jungle levels are lush with vegetation; and you can see every faraway building as it stretches onto the horizon. Even as you zoom in on faraway locations through the scope, you can still see (and shoot) guards, people having conversations, etc. over a kilometer away. Indoor levels are equally as nice, with fairly detailed environments and crisp graphics. What's truly nice about playing an old game later is that I was able to turn the graphics up to very high without a single hit to my FPS rate. Not even a single stutter. Even more so, this game has some amazing AI. Enemies genuinely react to how you act, forming up in teams and moving depending on how you move. You can hear them shouting things like "You take care of him while I go get help," and unless you kill the guy running for help he will call out to his buddies to join him. Another thing I was shocked about is that they also shoot up flares to signal helicopters and boat patrols. Helicopters also interact with ground troops as they pick them up and drop the down behind your position to flank you.

Because of this, FarCry is different every time you play it. There's so many ways to go and new places to explore that you, and the game adapts to how you play so that it always feel like a new experience. For some this is where the strength of FarCry lies. You can always go back and do something different, and even dying sometimes gives you a new chance to try a situation from a different angle.

FarCry cashes in on its fun factor. It's got a stupid plotline, so here's a gun and shoot some people. It's always a blast trying to decide whether to assail a camp and steal their jeep, or to trek to the top of a mountain and use a hang-glider to float overtop of the level. Had they stuck with this, FarCry would have been a fun game for me all the way through

The Bad

Unfortunately, FarCry suffers from something I call "Half-Life Syndrome," which is when a genuinely good FPS becomes long, frustrating, repetitive and tedious about half-way through due to stupid, arbitrary tasks popping up along the way. You see, it's natural in any FPS to continually up the difficulty as the game goes on until it plateaus somewhere between "Impossible" and "Anal rape." Despite its razor thin and ridiculous plot, I was having an absolute blast frolicking in the jungle until the appearance of these skinless ape things that looked eerily similar to those monsters from Doom 3. Whoever thought up these things clearly thought the game was not hard enough because these "trigen" as they call them will seriously FUCK YOU UP. On the second easiest mode they will kill you in one hit. That's right, ONE HIT. The only time that mechanic has worked in a video game is when the monster is a one-time-boss, and you're actually meant to run away than actually fight it. But no, once these guys appear they never go away. And what's more is that they're never alone. It's always two or three at a time. The most I've ever fought is seven at a time, after which I needed a fresh application of deodorant. But the true kick in the balls is their twenty foot rape reach of death. So even when you've got your gun trained on them, they can still bridge the distance in under a half a second. I quickly figured out that if they'd already locked eyes with yours then it was already too late and you should just wait for death.

In order to survive the rest of the game I realized needed to bind my left mouse button to quick save and my right mouse button to quick load. That is, of course, if there was saving. It's shocking to see no save feature in a modern computer game. Rather, the game has a checkpoint system which will save for you after it's arbitrarily decided you've done enough tedious shit. This honestly isn't too bad after a while because it gives you a chance to rethink certain situations and how you tackled them and you honestly don’t die enough for it to become an annoyance. Unfortunately, after previously said arrival of trigens, just killing a room full of them becomes a heroic accomplishment in itself, yet you won’t be able to save the game until you blast through the next three rooms full of them. This turns the game into a mad rush to the next checkpoint and makes the game an utter chore. Imagine doing ten minutes worth of frustrating tedious work only to be sent back by a pissant little ape thing with a bad attitude.

After about half way through the game you start to have problems with the crap Doyle gives you. As soon as you're done the three hour monstrous task of getting from point A to point B to take care of arbitrary task C, Val and Doyle arrive to whisk you away for your next ten mile trek of death. I originally assumed Jack must have had balls the size of oranges due the sheer audacity of wearing a bright red Hawaiian shirt during jungle combat. However, after ten hours of taking orders from two people sitting in a quiet bunker shoveling snacks from the nearby vending machine into their mouths, one does begin to wonder who the man in Jack and Val's relationship is.

After the trigen, the game lost its charm. It became more about surviving until the next checkpoint rather than finding fun ways to sneak up on people and lobotomizing them with a rifle. It became less about freedom and more about getting from point A to point B. All in all the game became a total chore. I found myself wanting to have the game be over with so I could uninstall it to free up some space on my hard drive for a new game.

The Bottom Line

However, for a game that came out in 2004, FarCry is rather spectacular for its adaptive AI and open environments. If you can get past the frustration of dying a lot (and there are tons of people out there that can do this much better than I can), then FarCry is game you shouldn't miss. All around, it’s an FPS gem, one which I'm glad I decided to finally try out. FarCry will certainly keep you entertained and is worth shelling out $20 for.