Far Cry ReviewsWe haven't played this game yet.
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It took me a long time to get on board with Far Cry. In fact, I wasn't even sure I was there when I started writing this review. It's a game that caters to the hardcore FPS gamer, and will likely frustrate casual players as early as the very first level. Technically, it's a sight to behold, but it's also one of the most technically demanding PC games released to date, which may send an entire segment of gamers scrambling to upgrade.
And yet ... I can't help but be amazed at what first-time developer CryTek has achieved with their rookie release. Far Cry doesn't just boast cutting-edge technology and a surplus of breathtaking visuals, but also pulls off the amazing triple play of open-ended gameplay far beyond the standard A-to-B-to-C of most shooters. Each of Far Cry's twenty levels is a little world unto itself, and you could spend days exploring each one. It may not be perfect, but it's the rare shooter that's actually interesting to play more than once, and that's something well worth talking about.
Islands in the Digital Stream
Far Cry is a "tactical" first-person shooter set among a series of tropical islands in the South Pacific. The game relies on real-world weapons and physics, and you can't take more than a few bullets without dying, so a strategic approach is encouraged. Odds are you'll enjoy the slick intro movie (which runs in reverse, Memento-style), but unless you've read the game's manual, you won't understand a lick of what's going on, since you're thrown into the game without much explanation. Thankfully, we can remedy that here.
You play Jack Carver, a former member of the "Ocean Patrol" who's since left for reasons unexplained. Now, Jack has set up shop ferrying passengers and cargo around the islands on his boat. However, when a job escorting a journalist to an uncharted island ends with the boat being blown out of the water, Jack uncovers some most disturbing proceedings and soon finds himself fighting for his life on the islands.
There aren't many cutscenes in Far Cry, as most of the plot is driven by your two-way video link, with a mysterious ally named Doyle on the other end constantly feeding you information and objectives. And that, really, is all you need. Part of the joy is being told, "Go there," and discovering there might be a dozen different ways of doing it. The islands / levels are designed almost like a theme park: there might be a few choke points here and there, but for the most part, there are multiple routes from one point to another, and it's often possible to bypass entire groups of enemies. This makes levels worth playing multiple times, just to see what you might have missed, or if there's a better way through.
You could easily get lost in these areas, but a compass continually points you towards your next objective, and a "stealth-o-meter" helps you track if you're about to be spotted. There's a nifty set of binoculars that highlights enemies and even lets you listen on their conversations to boot. It's all cool stuff, and contributes to the concept that you've really been turned loose on these islands and are free to plot your own course of action.
This kind of freedom, however, is often a double-edged sword. If you're not being led by the nose, who knows what kind of trouble you'll find? You might be able to scope out the safest path through the level by using the binoculars, but more often than not, you'll find yourself inadvertently walking into an ambush and getting shot down or blown up with next-to-little warning. With some trial-and-error, you'll figure out where all the enemies are, but expect a lot of reloading along the way.