Last year Ubisoft released what was seen as the definitive first person shooter and one of the most anticipated games in years in Far Cry. Far Cry basically gave you one huge island to explore which, paired with fantastic AI and a long engrossing storyline, made Far Cry the game PC gamers had waited so long for. The game is now on the Xbox and has had some significant changes made to it, changes that made the game better. Despite the fact we had to wait, there is no doubt the Xbox version is far superior to the PC version in many ways, and even the most hardcore PC fan will have to acknowledge the quality of this game.
Far Cry Instincts somewhat exists in a parallel world to the original game. There are some parts of the storyline which are the same, and some which are not. For instance, the main premise of the game remains the same but the secondary character does not. Jack Carver in FCI is returning to the island with a CIA operative who wants to do some photographic research. In the PC game, Jack came with a general photographer, it nothing to do with the CIA, so they have spiced it up a bit and made it slightly more realistic. Of course, Miss CIA gets herself lost and captured, and it's up to Jack to rescue her.
Right from the get go, the action is fast and furious. One thing we really like about this game is the seamless transition between cut scenes and gameplay. The cut scenes are not buffed up CG sequences, rather recorded scripted videos of the actual game engine, which is impressive enough as it is. For those who do not know much about the game, it's played from a first person perspective but features far more activity than your common FPS. Basically, this is very much a hunter/hunted situation. Sometimes you will have the firepower to be the hunter, while other times you will be the hunted, hiding in bush, trying to surprise enemies. It is this that makes FCI such an excellent game.
The game is also very easy to play. We found it easier than the PC version. In terms of the difficulty, it is quite a difficult game but navigating the island is no longer a problem. On the Xbox version, Ubisoft have included a little blue marker to show generally where to go. It doesn't hold your hand but considering the size of the island in the game, it makes it a lot easier to guess where you should be. Another change is that you can dual wield weapons, obviously being influenced by Halo 2. In fact, you could call this Halo on a gigantic island with human opponents, and that is not meant to be a negative comment.
The one thing about Far Cry's gameplay is that, in terms of the storyline, you don't really know the whole big picture until the end. Sure, you know what the goal is, but other than that, only small tidbits of information are given to you. As well as this, you won't be able to predict what happens next. In one area we ran up a hill to discover a hang glider to use to traverse a large ravine. The developers have put a lot of thought into the design of the island, and coming across new vehicles and ways to play keeps the game fresh and keeps you wanting to play.
The big change from the console version is the Robinson Crusoe like animal powers that Jack develops as he spends more and more time in the jungle, becoming more like a native than civilised man. These allow you to develop strong hand to hand skills, jump long distances and pick up thermal images to help when outnumbered. This really makes FC a better game and is a natural evolution of what is sure to become an ongoing franchise.
This game is also HUGE. Not only is there a massive island to explore with some stunning scenery, there is around twenty levels to get through. These aren't short levels either with each containing around four or five save points. You can't save anywhere in Far Cry but that just adds to the tension you feel when low on health. At any time you can be driving a quad bike, flying a hang glider, or jacking a humvee as FC features a ton of vehicles to use. The missions you will take on feature both in vehicle and on foot sequences however most of the time you won't actually know why you're heading a particular direction, which creates tension and enhances the atmosphere of the game.
As well as the strong single player side of the game, there is also an in depth multiplayer section which even allows you to create your own maps and host them on Live for people to download. The thing is, you don't have to be online for people to download your maps you have, and this game should have a strong community for some time yet.
The visuals of the game are nothing short of stunning. We don't think we're being overly optimistic in saying this game is one of the best looking games you will ever play. The draw distance is nothing short of mind blowing with the distance comparable to that of the PC. You can stand at the top of a mountain, whip the binoculars out and see the other side, including what people are doing over there. The game also doesn't suffer from frame rate fluctuations either which makes it even more amazing. The Xbox may be coming to the end of its lifecycle, but it's hard to see 360 getting far ahead of this quickly.
Far Cry instincts pretty much is a must own game for Xbox owners. The lengthy storyline will keep you going for some time and the comparisons to Halo in terms of quality are deserved.
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