Sometimes, a game will receive so much hype, that by the time it is released it couldn't possibly have lived up to the expectations. On the other hand, sometimes a game will go almost completely unnoticed until its release, and really shake up the gaming industry. Far Cry doesn't really fit into any of these descriptions, it is more of a hybrid between the two. It didn't really experience huge attention, just shortly before its release where movies, beta testing and demo's were introduced, however it most certainly didn't go completely unnoticed either. The best description for Far Cry would be "a game that received hype, but lived up to every last damn word of it".
Far Cry puts the player in a situation where all odds are against survival. Jack Carver, the main character and a freelance mariner, takes a female reporter to a beautiful set of secluded islands only to find his boat under attack from near by militia. After escaping this attack alive, Jack must make his way through what is an evolving conspiracy threatening the human race, fighting highly trained and sufficiently equipped mercenaries on his path to the truth and the abducted reporter. Just think of it as "Beat the baddies, save the world and get the girl", only with the always present urge to just kick up you feet and work on a tan.
One of the main attractions to Far Cry is its extremely powerful engine, featuring some very impressive physics. Often games which do implement rag doll physics seem to exaggerate movement, forcing body models into some very weird and often impossible positions. Far Cry seems to master the rag doll physics to the extent that even limbs and objects droop over edges. Often bodies will fall from these positions resulting in a cringing crunch to the surface below, and if an uneven surface or object happens to be in the falling body's way, it will react to this surface realistically. This outstanding property doesn't just apply to bodies however, every moveable object is the same, including barrels, cargo boxes, vehicles and even rope bridges to name a few. Something about killing five incoming enemies by cutting their bridge support and watching them plummet to their graves below is just too satisfying to resist, and the best thing is, these are not pre-determined animations, these are all calculated in real time.
Far Cry will challenge you on almost any difficulty setting. The game starts reasonably easy and then progresses into the traditional 'more enemies with bigger guns' type of situation, where some heated gun fights will rely primarily on luck to complete. The computer AI is generally pretty solid, although it seems to be the primary variable when changing between difficulties so that is subjective to what difficulty you play on. One thing is for sure however, they are great shots and work together intelligently, which is a refreshing change from some other FPS titles which rely more on pure numbers than A.I. brains. Although the entire game is practically played in the same sort of environment (the big difference is inside vs outside), the levels are designed so well visually and structurally that you never really get a negative sense of repetition.
One factor that contributes to the challenge is the absence of quick saves. Far Cry relies solely on check points to save your progress, so if you die abruptly, you will have to reload the last checkpoint. Whilst this is a legitimate way of increasing a game's difficulty, I feel it can often create more bad than good for the average gamer, so I have to imagine that checkpoints with a quick save option would have been far better. With this minor annoyance aside though, you have 20 missions, most of which are unique as far as tasks go, and challenging A.I, which produce one memorable single player gaming experience.
You can only carry four weapons at a time so it is important to choose them wisely. It isn't like the game will leave you stranded having to kill a helicopter without a rocket launcher, but somewhere along the line you'll want to drop the knife for good to make way for the serious hardware. Every gun included is a real world weapon, from the humble Jungle Falcon to the state of the art OICW with grenade launcher. All up there are 17 weapons in the game, although as stated before you can not carry all at once, nor would you want to seeing as the game introduces the new weapons in an 'upgrade' fashion, meaning new weapons introduced basically improve on every aspect of the previous weapons.
Far Cry is indeed visually a far cry from almost every other PC game available. DirectX 9 is the focal point here, and no game to date seems to capture its power quite like Far Cry does. Besides the gorgeous tropical environments which immerse you to the extent you could be forgiven for wearing sun cream whilst playing, everything from the player models to the weapon textures are top notch. Of course, such advanced visuals come with a penalty, as you will need a very powerful computer to play this game at the max. As an example, our Athlon 64 3000+, ATI 9800XT machine had some moments of framerate drop on the maximum settings throughout the game, so for most mid range systems, you'll certainly have to sacrifice some visual quality for playability. As for the future, Far Cry has support for the Pixel Shader 3.0 standard, seen in the next generation of video chips coming out shortly.
One thing can be said for certain - Far Cry will amaze and impress you, as we have not seen anything like it before. This is the future of PC gaming here today, and it would be almost criminal to miss out on it. Whilst games like Half Life 2 and Doom 3 reach new heights of anticipation with their unconfirmed release dates, Far Cry has humbly proven that the next generation of PC shooters are within our reach, providing you have the hardware to master it, of course. Prepare to be 'wowed', because it doesn't get much more impressive than Far Cry.