Far Cry is an interesting dichotomy. Aged game play combined with a few game flaws can make for more tedium than enjoyment, but it is a damn good game to look at and listen to. While easily the most graphically gorgeous shooter game to date, this game is a Far Cry from perfect when it comes to content.
You are Jack Carver, running your own boat charter business in beautiful Micronesia. With a past best left behind you, you’ll be focusing on your present assignment: escorting an ambitious journalist named Valerie Cortez to the island of Cabatu. It seems like a piece of cake, but you’ll soon learn: paradise can be hell.
Windows 98SE/2000/XP (only)
AMD Athlon 2400-3000+ or Pentium 4 2-3 GHz
512-1024 MB RAM
128 MB GeForce 4 128 MB to GeForce FX 5950; ATI Radeon 9500-9800 XT
Sound Blaster® Audigy® series
DirectX 9.0b (included on disc)
8x-16x DVD or 32x CD-ROM
Broadband with 64 Kbps upstream to play (512 Kbps upstream to host 8 players)
nVIDIA GeForce FX 5950U
V1.1 of Software
Far Cry is a first person shooter type game mainly focusing on the single player campaign. The game does include multiplayer functionality and an editor, which I will cover later. Install is from multiple CDs, one being a play CD. A setup application is available for you to configure the game, and for auto-detecting your system abilities.
The main menu gives you options to start the single player campaign, a multiplayer game, options, user profiles, modifications, and the demo loop. The single and multiplayer aspects, Ill discuss below. The options are just like the ones in the setup application. However, I recommend running the setup application, because changing most graphic and sound settings in game will require you to restart the game. Annoying, but I assume necessary for this build of the game engine.
The controls and game interface is typical to most shooters. The same can be said about the screens format. Your health, armor, and stamina are displayed in the bottom-right corner. Stamina is used to determine things like how long you can hold your breath, how long you can sprint, and how long you can steady your sniper weapon. Weapons are in the bottom-middle. Map with sound and GPS indicator at the bottom-left.
The single player campaign starts out with a tutorial mission, allowing the user to become familiar with Far Crys game structure. From there, you move into your missions with the help of in-game companions. They provide you with mission objectives, which will hi-light on your GPS indicator. The storyline is really nothing to write home about. I mean, an ex-special forces captain gets his boat shot out from under him while cruising with a mysterious passenger. He ends up on an island looking to rescue her and get revenge, while taking on a mercenary army and mutants. Plus, you dont get all of it unless you happen to overhear bad guys talking. More on that later.
Many missions take place in the luscious outdoors, where you get to see the game shine. I like the open spaces more than the indoor levels. The ability to get to your objective by multiple means is a big plus in my book. The outdoor missions pretty much give you free reign on how you wish to accomplish your goal. Do you want to run-and-gun, or do you want to stealth it? Hell, do you want to just drive around the island without giving a care to the mission goals? You can do that in the outdoors, and enjoy the beauty that is Far Cry.
Indoor missions, on the other hand, usually only have a single path to the objective. Follow the doors until you reach the end, usually running into something behind the next door every time. This is where your sound detection and stealth abilities will be taxed. You need to stay low and slow in order to survive the human opponents in these environments.
The AI is sometimes bad, sometimes good, and sometimes too good. It is supposed to scale up and down with your abilities, but I found that it usually just scaled up. The AI has an uncanny instant awareness coupled with direction detection ability. They get almost perfect shots from long ranges. Later in the game, sniper rifles and rocket launchers will take you out too easily. These are from firmly positioned locations hundred of meters away. I wish that the AI didn’t have that “perfect” sight. I’ve been hit by the enemy from a long distance while crouched behind bushes too many times. I can’t make them out, but they sure can see me. Guess it must be the Hawaiian shirt.
Still, engaging the enemy at range is a hit or miss proposition. The weaponry has distinct range characteristics. The few scoped weapons help at distance, but you usually have to close in to engage. A touch of realism is added to the opponents by having shot placement count. It will take more center-mass shots to put a man in armor down, than a single head shot. Heaven forbid he’s carrying a shield. Better start lobbing grenades.
Speaking of opponents now is a good time to talk about the first thing that really irks me about Far Cry. Mutants. Far Cry would be a better game if they didnt include swarming, hulking, missile-launching mutants. The mutants gave this game a big dose of been here, done that feel. I fought mutated monkeys back in System Shock. The moment the mutants started to show up, the game started feeling old.
The save system is another gripe I have. The game saves at particular waypoints of the mission. So, you have to reach a certain spot in order for the game to auto-save your progress. Im sorry, but waypoint saves are for console games, not PC games. This is somewhat understandable for a console port like HALO. It is unforgivable for a ground-up PC game like Far Cry. However, the waypoint save system can be overcome by a command line entry. Saving on the fly should be an in-game feature, not something that has to be typed in by the user.
Far Cry contains an interesting physics system. Many objects on the map can be manipulated, mostly by running into them. Barrels and boxes, mostly, but bodies as well. The rag-doll effect, while quite good, isnt perfect. Many times, downed enemies will end up in some weirdly contorted pose. Falling enemies do look good, however. Sometimes, though, the physics of the environment is questionable. How can a box I filled full of holes still float? Why doesnt the glass beaker shatter, but the computer monitor does?
A nice addition to the game is the vehicles you can use on a few maps. Vehicles, such as boats and buggies, allow you to traverse the outdoor terrain with some added firepower. Usually, these vehicles sport a heavy caliber machine gun and rocket launcher. They also allow you to get to places on the map where you might not visit on foot. The controls of the land vehicles can get a bit skiddish, especially the lighter buggy. Another user vehicle is the hang glider. This one allows you to glide over the islands in style, while being able to engage targets as well. Plus, you get a wonderful view of the graphical majesty in this game.
The bad guys get vehicles too and more of them. While they do use buggies, hummers, and boats, they also get helicopters and Ospreys. Our government cant get them to work, but these guys can. Go figure. Anyways, those air vehicles usually come in as a part of a scripted event, allowing reinforcements to rappel down and join the action. You can shoot these vehicles down, given the right weapons. There is one instance that you cant, though. There are indestructible helicopters patrolling the waters around the islands. They come out of nowhere and cant be destroyed.
Speaking of weapons, you do get quite a few of them in Far Cry. The weapons are your typical shooter weaponry: pistols, shotguns, SMGs, carbines, machine guns, and rocket launchers. There are fragmentation and flash-bang grenades, that are thrown with a seperate key instead of taking up a weapon slot. You can even man weapon emplacements. However, unlike most other shooters, you can only carry four of them. Being that most of these weapons either have a small magazine or consume ammunition rapidly, you need to plan on what you carry. Weapon and ammo spawns are few and far between. If you do run out of ammo, though, you can pick up the weaponry that a downed opponent was carrying. Some weapons have an alternate fire mode, such as a zoom or grenade launcher.
You also get some nifty gadgets in the game as well. One of the first, and most used, will be the binoculars. They have a tremendous zoom range, plus a beacon locater and audio detector. Apparently all the bad guys have locator beacons implanted. You get to see this as a bracket around the target. Also, if you zoom in close enough, you can listen in to conversations or general area noise. You can also get a flashlight, for those manditory air-vent crawlings. You can get night vision/thermal goggles as well. They are miracle goggles, because their batteries actually recharge after usage.
Multiplayer consists of three main play modes: Assault, Free For All, and Team Death Match. FFA and TDM are your typical kill everyone modes, with smaller maps and weapon spawns placed in different areas. There are only five maps, the same for each mode. Assault, however, is a capture the flag type affair. The player chooses a class, and that determines his loadout. There are generic ammo spawns throughout the map. However, the maps are huge, some almost as big as the campaign mission maps. Internet play required a sign-in to UBI.COM, which I did not do.
Becoming a more frequent occurrence to encourage the game community, an editor is included with this version of the game. It is called the Cryengine Sandbox and runs as a separate executable. The editor has a 180+ page manual to go with it as a separate download. This should allow the mod community to really get behind the product and turn it into something better, much like Desert Combat did for Battlefield: 1942.
Far Cry has excellent audio content. The game comes alive, especially in the outdoor environment. There are ambient noises all over the place, from the rustling of leaves to the chirping of insects. The weapons sounds are very realistically created. Grenades are particularly nasty, especially flash-bangs. They will cause a momentary ringing in your ears, much like the artillery fire did in Call of Duty.
Sound plays a key roll in this game, because the enemy can hear you, and you can hear them. You can move slowly, and most of the time, they wont detect you. This doesnt help indoors, because doors tend to creak and the stepping on the metal floor grates echoes throughout the halls. There is an indicator near the map on the screen showing how much noise you are making. Monitor it constantly while indoors. You can throw rocks to distract enemies as well, but that is usually something for the outdoors. It isnt too much of a factor outdoors, but being able to hear a chopper coming from over a hill or troops crunching through the jungle are nice touches.
Music is present, usually in the form of instanced combat music. Much like a movie, it rises during the action, and falls off after combat is over. The player can use it as a signal that there are no more bad guys around.
As mentioned before, you can use the binoculars to listen in on conversations throughout the game. Much of it will fill in the missing content of the storyline. Should I have to overhear two guys talking while on patrol to get storyline content? Also, I did notice some synch issues with the audio during the engine-generated movies.
What this game will best be known for is its unparalleled, phenomenal, industry-leading graphics. It looks just that damn good. Granted, when I first started playing this game, I was using a GeForce Ti4600. That was a very sub-optimal card to be using for this game. However, I have since upgraded to an FX 5950U. The difference cannot be easily described in mere words. I have never seen a more beautifully crafted outdoor environment. The waves, the water, the reflections, the lighting, and the foliage are the best to date. This is not running it on the highest graphic setting levels either.
There is a good reason not to run it with everything turned on – performance. While the best looking game to date, it takes a considerable system to run it at a respectable rate. Check out our VisionTek X800 Pro review for some Far Cry benchmarks. Still, my current graphic settings blow away shooters not more than a year old running at maximum settings.
Water plays a huge part in this game, because you are on a set of islands. The waters look is spot-on. Even the way blood flows through it. At night, you can see the reflection of stars and the moon. Sunsets are just dazzling.
The human models look really good, but the mutants are so-so. The vehicles are very realistic, and so are the weapons. Damage models are quite good, with blood and bullet holes remaining for a long time. I do find it interesting that some of the background graphics have damage models, while others dont. Damage to yourself is handled in outstanding fashion. If you get grazed, youll see a red indicator showing the direction of the incoming fire. However, if you get nailed good, the screen will shudder and grey out, while you struggle to recover. Flash-bang grenades will not only blind you temporarily, but they will leave an imprint of the last thing you saw on the screen for a while.
The game performed very well on my machine, using the settings provided by the setup application. There were no slow downs or lags of note. The only load times are at the beginning of a new mission, where the entire mission map area is loaded at once. Only during the waypoint saves does the game pause at all.
Far Cry is an interesting dichotomy. Aged game play combined with a few game flaws can sometimes make for more tedium than enjoyment, but it is a damn good game to look at and listen to. While easily the most graphically gorgeous shooter game to date, this game is a Far Cry from perfect when it comes to content.
I rate Far Cry a 7 out of 10.