After what seems like an eternal struggle, developers have started to complete some of the next generation First Person Shooters. Before we go any further, it's important to give a double dose of credit where credit is due. CryTek
really did their homework and pulled out the stops when it came to design and implementation in FarCry
. Staring Jack Carver, a hawiian shirt wearing hero, washed ashore after a rather unpleasant explosion aboard ship. Jack wahes up on a strange island and the adventure begins...
The secret to making a strong FPS these days is still relatively simple to understand, and yet appears to be almost impossible to deliver (for many developers). You need excellent game play, immersive environments (audio/video), good graphics, and and semi-intelligent AI. Unfortunately for other developers, CryTek took those standards and raised the bar across the board.
Probably the first thing that gamers will notice with FarCry that sets it apart from titles of the past is the sheer beauty of the game. The line between "cut-scene" and game-play is finally beginning to blur. Providing that you have the hardware to support it, FarCry's Crytek engine is probably the most impressive setup that I have laid eyes on in a retail game. The dense foliage of the jungle landscapes is simply incredible. The leaves and trees cast realtime shadows across the landscape as the light shifts, you can make out the smallest of details as you crawl about the jungle floor trying to avoid detection. And as this does take place upon an island, you have to expect there to be a lot of water, and the water is done incredibly well. Ripples, and reaction to disturbance from foreign objects (like boxes and boats) are oustanding. Even jungle critters make themselves known as they buzz and flit about in the background. Now, on a game of this scope, loading and load times could be a serious issue. Thankfully, loading only occurs once per area (or zone), and movement within that zone is then seamless. Load times are only an issue the first time, so when you return to FarCry to pick up where you left off last, you must wait a bit for the game to re-load everything, but loading after a death to the same zone takes just a few seconds.
What could complement these lush graphics you ask? Why, outstanding gameplay of course! The controls are pretty standard as far as FPS titles go. Not too many surprises go in that regard. However, there is a relatively well thought out implementation of vehicles, which adds a bit of spice. While you don't spend a great deal of time behind the wheel, you do have the opportunity to use various vehicles like jeeps, trucks, hang-gliders, & boats. The thick underbrush of the jungle does inhibit your ability to drive "offroad" much at all, forcing you onto the roads which are usually patrolled. The vehicles are fun, but they deffinitely draw quite a bit of attention to yourself, which leads us right into the AI. This is easily the most suprising improvement in FarCry. The implementation of AI that actually appears to be Intelligent! NPC's use cover and work together to flush you out when they are alerted to your presence. They are also aware of the noise that you make as you trapse through the jungle, so be sure to tread lightly. NPC's also use cover, and will move from one point of cover to another as they advance on you. They will also call for help if you don't dispatch them quickly. This can come in the form of ground support, or if you are really having a bad day, a blackhawk gunship.
To help you get through it, you have your choice of inventory items, 2 primary weapons can be on hand at any given time, weapons range from auto shotgun, m4, p90, mp5+silencer etc. You also can pick up various forms of grenades, and you always have a pistol and a knife. Other equipment includes a com-link device, and some snazzy binoculars with a built in mic which will allow you to spot and listen in on NPC conversations. This can help drive the story, and give you clues about what you might be walking into down the road. The binoculars also have a handy feature that identifies enemies and add them to your radar. My only real gripe with the controls is the mouse sensativity hit you take when you zoom (with weapons or binoculars). I understand why it was done, but it bothers me none the less. If you wish to sight in on something, mouse sensativity seems to be cut roughly in half for the duration of your zoom. Increased accuracy comes at a price.
Ambient audio adds to immersion without being so pronounced that it becomes a distraction. On top of normal jungle noises, you can overhear conversations and combat in nearby areas as you progress. Playing with surround sound, or a nice headset adds quite a bit to the experience. You have to be paying attention to everything, especially when that mutant gorilla is sneaking up from behind... And sporadic gunfire is quite soothing after a while.
Another small issue (said to be addressed in a future patch) is the inability to use any sort of quick-save during the game. All game saves are check-point based. This isn't a huge issue, the check-points in game do appear to be reasonably placed to insure that you don't loose TOO much progress, but it can be frustrating if you run into a difficult spot, to have to fight your way back there from the last checkpoint to try again.
All of the environments that you explore throughout the game are extremely interactive. Unfortunately for me, many of these became obvious only after I had eliminated the guards that would have been effected by the environmental item. These include boxes, exploding barrels, and the like. So be sure to observe your surroundings closely, before you go in guns blazing.
FarCry does include Multi-Player online modes, three to be exact; free-for-all, team deathmatch, and assault. However, the number of servers online is pretty scarce, and joining games is pretty iffy, for whatever reason. But, it is unlikely that people will remember FarCry for its MP anyway, this title really shines as a Single Player title.
FarCry really shines, bringing a welcome breath of fresh air to the single player FPS. FarCry will run on a lower end system, but all of the eye candy would have to be disabled for acceptable game play, and part of the joy of this game is the eye candy! Running FarCry on a 2+ Ghz system, with a DX9 compliant video card, and 512 to 1024mb RAM is a sight to behold. With around 20 hours worth of game play (your results may vary), its about par for the course in duration. Not too short, not too long. Any FPS fan looking for some great offline entertainment should give this title a shot.