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Far Cry Instincts

Score: 73%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Crytek
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4 (2 - 16 Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Far Cry Instincts would make a great movie. The landscape of the island you are on is a lush one, and when you take it all in from a distance, the view is breathtaking. It is so good, in fact, that it borderlines on real, and the only thing keeping the scales from tipping over to reality is the shiny coat everything seems to have. Itís as if the world was washed in a glossy, reflective finish. The scales start to tip back towards the video game side of things as you get a closer view. The flaws begin to appear as you start to examine things, and the sense of reality starts to slip away. The game doesnít look bad, it just has the normal rough edges of most FPS games these days, especially those on consoles. As a whole, the textures and models look great, but taken individually, they are only mediocre.

The music can only be described as, well, jungle music. As the game takes place on a tropical island and has a sort of Predator feel to it, the music has suited itself to complement the environment. Itís not a bad compilation and is executed rather well. As you sneak around in the brush, quiet drum beats sound in your ears, but as the action escalates, the tempo increases really drawing you into the violence. The sound effects are also done well; the explosive noises and ambient jungle sounds blend together to create a tense, action-packed experience.


Gameplay:

Though the look and sound of Far Cry Instincts is good, you will quickly realize that they are masking a lesser experience. From the time the game loads up, things turn sour. You are forced to watch the intro movie every time you start the game, a movie that is a few minutes in length. Even if you have started a previous game and wish to continue from your save point, you are still subjected to this lengthy preview. This disregard for user friendliness is nothing short of a sin, and while this particular instance doesnít affect the gameplay, it is still worthy of note.

The feeling that you are watching a movie carries over into the gameplay as well. Once you enter the action, you will feel like youíre in a Van Damme or Schwarzenegger movie. The plot is about as deep as one: as Jack Carver you begin your journey by taking a photographer to a distant island, only to be interrupted by armed militants who capture your client and blow up your boat. From there on out, it is kill or be killed.

Far Cry Instincts tries to blend action and stealth to create a seamless experience of being hunted in the jungle. What it actually achieves to create are two separate games: a poor stealth game and an average FPS. Each mission is pretty simple, as you go from point A to point B, killing everyone in between. The game begins by teaching you the intricacies of stealth, alluding to a more strategic approach to solving each challenge. What ends up happening is boredom from trying to crawl around the island, and most conflicts end up with you pumping hundreds of rounds into groups of enemies.

Later in the game, you will realize the purpose for the word Ďinstinctí in the title. Jack develops feral abilities that utilize his adrenaline, enabling him to perform super human feats in order to vanquish his foes. You will be able to single-handedly slaughter your enemies, leap great distances, and sense hidden militants using smell and heightened vision. While these abilities are interesting, they donít do enough to alleviate the boredom of the rest of the game. It is a case of too little, too late.

Aside from his animal instincts, Jack will usually have a large array of weapons and vehicles at his disposal. The standard array of firearms is included: machine guns, grenades, sniper rifles, etc. Some of these can be wielded Johnny Woo style with a gun in each hand, and some can be used while you are piloting one of the many vehicles the game offers. Boats, four-wheelers, and even hang gliders are available to use, but their abilities usually end up being used the same way every time, which is to escape from intense firefights.

Aside from a lengthy single player mode, Far Cry Instincts has some Multiplayer capabilities as well. Split screen mode is available, as well as Xbox Live capabilities. The online game types are what you would expect from a game like this: Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and a game type that pits one player against the rest, which is called Predator. The group of normal players is trying to cross the map and raise an alarm, while the predator, using the feral abilities mentioned earlier, is out to kill them all.

What is most alluring about the Multiplayer aspect is the ability to create your own maps. The robust editor included allows you to recreate anything you see in the single player game. Vehicles, buildings, and most importantly the terrain, can all be used to create some very unique and fun maps for Multiplayer. These maps can also be shared online, which not only allows you to show off your designs, but also lets you quickly hop online and play on, or alter, other peopleís maps.


Difficulty:

Far Cry Instincts is challenging at first, but the difficulty curve tapers off after you have mastered the controls early on. The violent action of the game is pretty straightforward and can be learned by almost anyone, but the stealth side takes some more effort. Trying to lure your enemies to their doom or sneak around them requires more thought and attention, but after a while of trying this, you will realize that spending too much time sneaking around is too difficult to merit the rewards given. You can more easily, and more quickly, run and gun your way from one side of the map to the other than you can by sneaking around the place and picking off your enemies one by one.

Game Mechanics:

The generic FPS setup is used for most of Far Cry Instincts, as you have a HUD with a map and life gauge on it, and your array of weapons is accessed by pressing a given direction on the D-pad. Things get interesting when you try to take the stealthier approach to killing. Jack can set spiked traps on any tree in the jungle, traps that will spring when anyone walks in front of them. He can also set up claymore mines, but unlike the traps, these you must first find and then place on the ground. Luring your enemies to their doom is done simply by throwing a rock near the trap, and hoping that one of the guards in the area heard it. He will then unknowingly walk over to investigate, ignorant of his impending death.

Another stealthy approach is to sneak up behind an enemy and kill him in one hit with your knife. By going prone or crouching, you can make less noise as you travel, which helps leave your prey unaware of your presence. The last method, and the most poorly executed one, is to shoot people through floor boards. There are a lot of huts around this island, and every one of them has a couple of loose boards through which you can see into the cabin. By going prone, you can crawl under the hut, take aim at enemies within, and shoot them dead. For some reason, Far Cry Instincts has a hard on for this method of killing, because there are so many huts with so many enemies in them that it starts to get ridiculous. The AI is also tampered with to allow you to more easily accomplish these silent killings; if you kill someone in this method and they have a friend standing next to them, the friend will look around and say something like "we have to keep our guard up", and then go back to his business, oblivious to the fact that the shots were coming through the floor.

Far Cry Instinctsís attempts to capture the glory of the PC version has failed here. The outcome is a FPS that looks great but which tries too hard to blend different genres. There are better versions of both types of gameplay out there, which leaves Far Cry Instincts with setting and cinematic qualities as its only true merits.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Sony PlayStation 2 Mobile Suit Gundam Seed: Never Ending Tomorrow Microsoft Xbox Heroes of the Pacific

 
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