Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/23/04 | Genre: FPS
Right now, most of the hoopla around star publisher UbiSoft seems to revolve around their fantastic new title Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. However, the company has also recently published another high quality title that may be somewhat overshadowed by the Splinter Cell name. The game is FarCry, a PC first person shooter developed by Crytek. In this case, the team at Crytek did a fantastic job and hit virtually every aspect of the game dead on.
FarCry puts you in the shoes of one Jack Carver, a boat captain in the South Pacific. As luck would have it, Jack is hired by an American journalist, Valerie Constantine, to take her to an island so she can snap a few photographs of some World War II ruins located there. Naturally, there's more to Valerie than meets the eye. She is, in fact, not a journalist, but an undercover government agent on a mission to investigate the actions of a maniacal professor. Our friend Jack should've known something was up when Valerie came to him as a journalist; you see, as a rule of thumb, journalists are never hot. Journalists can be cute, annoying, or both, but never hot; and Val is just that: hot. Anyway, things get messy pretty quick and the game opens as Jack's boat comes under heavy enemy fire. Somehow he manages to get off the ship alive, and thus begins the worst tropical vacation in the history of our kind.
One of the first things you're likely to notice is just how unbelievably beautiful the game looks. Make no mistake about it, this game requires a heck of a PC to run nicely, but if you've got that "heck of a PC," you're going to be in visual heaven. If, however, you don't have the greatest PC ever made, you will probably want to upgrade your system just to play this game, or if need be, just go buy an entirely new one. Don't worry, the lush, tropical environments more than warrant the money spent. On a decent computer, the game looks outstanding, on a true workhorse, the game looks better than your wife. The textures are fantastic, and the vibrant color scheme of the jungle and beaches comes to life like never before; quite simply, you haven't played a game that looks this good.
Complimenting the jaw-dropping visuals is a wonderful assortment of sound effects. Okay, so the voice acting may be a bit below average, even by video game standards, but it really doesn't detract from the gameplay experience. Besides, the other sounds in the game are good enough to make up for it. The gunfire sounds true to life, the vehicles sound great, and the music in the game is pretty good too. All in all, the sound of the game gets the job done.
Alright, now let's get into the meat of the game: the gameplay. No game is complete without solid gameplay, and thankfully the folks at Crytek took the time to make FarCry stand out from the extensive PC FPS crowd. There's plenty of shooting, to be sure, but you can also take over a variety of vehicles in a very Halo-esque manner, including a hang glider. Stealth can also play a vital role in keeping you alive. Since you're in a jungle, be smart and use the thick vegetation for cover and try to sneak around enemies when possible. The thick jungle also gives you some great opportunities for ambushing your foes. One of the best techniques is to hide in a bush and wait for an unsuspecting enemy to walk nearby. Then you just pop out and cap him, and duck back into your bush while his friends come scrambling blindly to his side. From there, it's just Pete and Repeat sittin' on the ol' log until you've taken out the lot of them.
The large variety of environments in the game leads to some interesting experiences that simply can't be found in other games; or at least they weren't as well executed in those other games. Playing in the jungle is a ton of fun, but you will also be forced to explore an old oil rig, a communications tower, and the secret scientific laboratory of the professor; each of which provides some unique experiences from the other portions of the game.
The enemies you fight in the game are also fairly intelligent, and rather bent on seeing you die. At first you'll fight mercenaries and guards, but as you progress the enemies become a bit more frightening, and a bit less human thanks to the professor's genetic experiments. Needless to say, you'll want to adapt your style of play based on the enemy you're fighting and figure out which gun will get the job done the best.
Honestly, if I were forced to find a flaw with the game, it would be that it actually ends. I suppose some could argue that the system requirements are a bit steep, but that's what happens you really push the envelope as the Crytek team has done here. FarCry isn't just a great game, it is your first look at the next generation of video games. The generation that will be heralded by games like Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 is already here, and it started with FarCry.