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SummaryJust a little touch of paradise...
The GoodWay back in 2001, nVIDIA was shown a technology demo called X-Isle: Dinosaur Island by a small development company known as CryTek, to showcase the capabilities of nVIDIA's new third-generation GPU. nVIDIA was impressed and realized that it had potential, that CryTek was happy to turn it into a complete game, just without the dinosaurs.
Players control Jack Carver, a former special-forces soldier now in the boat charter business, is hired by a woman named Valerie Constantine to take her to an uncharted island in Micronesia. Val knows that something is about to happen so she takes off in a jet ski. Jack's boat is blown up by mercenaries for some reason we don't know. Perhaps the mercs have a bad history dealing with people in Hawaiian shirts. He is left stranded on one of the islands where he uncovers a more sinister plot.
Early on in the game, players pick up a communications device in which Carver uses to make contact with Doyle, who helps him accomplish missions such as stealing a vehicle from a camp and cutting off communication between the islands. Preventing him from doing this will be mercs and creatures that were developed in a lab you eventually infiltrate at the end of the game. You can deal with these situations through stealth or going out with guns blazing.
The artificial intelligence of the mercs is brilliant. They are able to detect noise and go investigate where that noise is coming from – as indicated on Carver's radar - so it is important to get down on the ground and crawl like a snake. When they do spot Carver, they will open fire and move about in a specific pattern, making it difficult to get a clear shot. One thing I find amusing is the way they hide behind trees or rocks and demand where you are.
You can take down enemies with a variety of weapons such as handguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers, with each weapon more effective in certain situations. The rocket launchers, for example, is ideal for blowing up enemies from a long distance. You can only carry four weapons at a time, but can drop one of yours for something a bit better.
Another thing that Carver carries around with him is a pair of binoculars. Not only can these be used to locate any enemies in a distance, but its built-in sound enhancer allows him to eavesdrop on conversations. I found that most of these conversations interesting, since they usually give you a hint on what you need to do later.
As I just mentioned, you have to steal a vehicle from one of the camps, but you also have a chance to commandeer trucks and patrol boats and jeeps. It may be fun to drive around and mow down enemies that get in your way, but these transport is prone to damage, possibly by mercs aiming their rockets at it. My personal favorite are the hang gliders that give you a bird's-eye views of the island, and it is easy to control them once you get used to it.
I normally avoided going out too far into the horizon, for fear it would send unwanted choppers to my location. I also liked driving the jeeps as it allows you to mow down any merc that happens to get in your way. The highlight of this game is using the binoculars that you pick up earlier to not only look at distant areas close-up but to eavesdrop on the enemy's conversations. The conversations are interesting, with some talking about Carver. You can also haul a grenade in their direction, and they become alerted, actually trying to hone in on your location.
Far Cry was the first game that utilized the CryEngine, which was quite new at the time. The engine provided humongous indoor and outdoor areas, as well as the ability to see long distances. There were times that I really wanted to wander off the main island and go exploring an island that is completely isolated, but I risked summoning an attack helicopter that cannot be shot down, even if you hurl a few rockets at it. Also, I like the shadows that get reflected on whatever weapon you are carrying as you pass by palm trees. By the way, I like how they just sprout out from the ground as you approach the island.
Far Cry uses a checkpoint system, in which the game is automatically saved when you cover a certain distance. I quite like this system, because you are not limited to a certain amount of save slots and it allows you to go back and play each chapter again if you like the missions that occur in that chapter.
The game comes with its own sandbox editor that allow players to create their own levels, and there are plenty of mods out there for other players to have a go at. In my opinion, the best mod out there is “First Contact”, a mission that has you exploring the planet Hestia evaluating its possible risk/benefit to humanity. It features a beautiful alien world and contains a story well worth diving into. There are even total conversions that upgrade the game to today's standards.
The BadThe action turns to dark red when the mercs are shooting at you from all directions. This, combined with the flashes their bullets produce, is enough to hurt your eyes. Also, when you attempt to take out an enemy using the sniper rifle, the crosshair jumps around even if you don't move the mouse, making it difficult to get a clear shot.
I talked about how the artificial intelligence of the mercs is brilliant: the way they move and shoot, making it difficult for you to get a clear shot. But some of their actions are questionable. I've seen one merc stand behind another while opening fire, resulting in the merc in front go down. Then, there's the situation where you throw a grenade at a merc just standing in the same spot. In this case, he will stand there waiting to be blown up.
I didn't like how Val kept Carver company near the end of the game. The annoying thing about her is the way that she gets ahead of you and risk being shot at. She can get killed, and when she does, you get killed as well and you have to go back to the last checkpoint, even if you are not low on health.
Also, I found the ending to be rather weak.
The Bottom LineIn conclusion, Far Cry is so much better than any first-person shooters before its time. It basically has you walking through breathtaking locations, shooting down mercs that get in your way and completing a set of mission objectives given to you. You can use binoculars to spy on enemies and overhear their conversation, and throw grenades at them occasionally and watch them hunt you down. You can use any weapon you like to take them out, with the basic weapons ideal for taking out enemies earlier in the game. (Too bad about the sniper rifle.) The more heavier weapons are effective against enemy vehicles.
As I mentioned before, users can create their own maps and distribute them freely on the Internet. To be fair, Far Cry isn't the first game to be shipped with a sandbox editor of its kind. Half-Life came out a lot earlier and shipped with the WorldCraft editor.
For their first game, Crytek did an excellent job on making Far Cry reflect real-life situations and introducing features that were unusual for a first-person shooter before its time. The graphics and sound are great, and any FPS gamer should purchase this.