Far Cry PC Review

Talk about First Person Shooters (FPS) with any PC gamer and, chances are, they’ll tell you that nothing has yet surpassed Half Life. I’m not sure I’m in that camp, as I feel Half Life has already been bettered by games such as Call of Duty. However, the fact remains that, to the average PC gamer, Half Life is still the standard setter until something very special comes along.

2004 looks like being a great year for the FPS and we have all heard about the big guns on the horizon, the likes of Doom 3 and Half Life 2. The thing with these games is that all the hype is generated before release, leaving the final product a lot to live up to. Occasionally, very occasionally, a game will pop up that has little or no hype prior to it’s release date, but makes big waves after it becomes available to the public. Far Cry is one of those games, arriving on our shelves with no real fanfare but then blowing people away with its quality.

Will this be the game that makes Joe Average put away his Half Life rose tinted spectacles? Read on to find out.

Graphics

Crytek have developed their own game engine for this game, and the results are stunning. Graphically, Far Cry is the best game yet released on any format. The island that the game is set on creates a truly beautiful backdrop to some of the best animation and physics seen in a video game. The lighting is spectacular and the character models move so convincingly, it really sucks you into the game world. It’s hard to find the words to do justice to the graphics, but I’d be willing to bet that there’s a fair few jaws have hit the floor when they see this game running.

All of this comes at a price, of course, and you’ll need a top end PC to see the game at it’s finest. My test PC is an Athlon XP 2800+ paired with a Geforce FX 5900LX 128 meg video card. This has enabled me to turn most settings up to high and retain good performance. It’s also worth mentioning system RAM here. If ever a game needed or deserved a gigabyte of RAM, Far Cry is that game. I started playing with 512 meg RAM, upgrading to 1 gig about half way through. The difference in performance is VERY noticeable and makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

In fairness to the developers, Far Cry features a whole host of scaleable options, meaning the game can run well on computers well below the specification of mine. However, don’t expect to see the same level of detail, and this is a shame.

Gameplay

The story of far Cry is not very indepth and doesn’t really need to be. The box says:

“You are Jack Carver, a boat skipper who thought he’d seen all the South Pacific had to offer. But nothing could have prepared you for what you are about to uncover on these islands. Heavily armed mercenaries are just the beginning of this getaway gone to hell!”

That’s as much as you’ll ever need to know!

Far Cry plays like a traditional FPS, and the controls are similar too. Where this game serves another ace is in the level design and non playing charcter AI.

The outdoor levels of Far Cry are it’s best, with absolutely huge environments to roam around in and many routes to your goal within that level. The game is somewhat linear in that goals must be accomplished in a certain order, however, how you tackle each of those is up to you. One thing is for certain; running in all guns blazing will ALWAYS result in you dying…quickly. You really need to scout around the levels, picking off enemies from a distance and using the trees and foliage to hide in.

There are also a good selection of vehicles to play around in, and these are immense fun. Most vehicles come with mounted weaponry, making for some great chase and be chased sections.

When Far Cry takes the player indoors, the game suffers ever so slightly. These levels are still fantastic to play, but this is when the game feels a little too much like the generic shooters we’ve all played a thousand times. This is Far Cry’s only weakness.

As stated above, the enemy AI is amazing in this game. Yes, there are still some small glitches and very occasionally an enemy may do something stupid. But by and large, enemies hunt you down intelligently in groups and will utilize all the tactics and cover that you will. What’s more, they adapt their tactics to how you are playing the game, making you think all the more. Enemies are mostly of the human kind, but you will come across some rather nasty genetically altered monkeys who can kill with one hit. Best avoided then!

Far Cry also features a full multiplayer mode with all your standard game types. Perfomance here is good and the game is very enjoyable. However, this part of the game is bettered by the likes of Unreal Tournament 2004, and single player Far Cry is where the real quality lays.

There is also a fair amount of replay value, with several difficulty levels to master. The hardest of these is a real challenge, where one shot will kill you. Personally, I don’t have the patience for this, particularly as the game has no quick save function, relying instead on checkpoint saves. The spacing of these checkpoints is fair, although many gamers will miss the quick save. This appears to have been realised by Crytek, and we are promised a quick save patch in the near future.

Sound

The sound effects in Far Cry are superb, with every gun sounding different and convincing. Environmental sound effects are also great, as are the voiceovers of the main characters. There are many nice touches here, and lots of things to uncover. Use the binoculars to zoom in on enemies talking, and you can hear some nice conversations about events that day, their plans for the weekend or even what they are about to eat. This all adds up to a game world that’s about as realistic as I have seen.

Lifespan

This is a tough game, make no mistake about it, even on the default difficulty setting. Whilst the single player game will take around 15 – 20 hours to beat, this does not take into account the many times you WILL die and have to replay sections. Actual gaming time from the single player is probably more like 25 – 30 hours. You can then replay the game on harder difficulty settings if you fancy even more of a challenge. Add to that a competent multiplayer mode and you won’t be complaining about value for money here.

Overall

Well then, is this game better than Half Life? Yes. Without doubt. However, I’d already said that, in my opinion, Half Life had already been surpassed by Call of Duty as the PC’s finest shooter. So the more relevant question for me is: is this game better than Call of Duty? I’m very pleased to say that the answer to this is also Yes. Far Cry has set a new benchmark for the FPS on PC, both in terms of graphical quality and gameplay. I’m hearing reports that Half Life 2 and Doom 3 have now been delayed again. Could this be because they have realised what a job they have at hand to beat Far Cry?

It’s only a rumour, folks, but you heard it here first.

10 out of 10
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