Score: 9.2 / 10
When the first screen shots of Far Cry were released, it was a popular sentiment among the gaming press that the game would be little more than a tech demo for the clearly powerful Cryengine engine (say that five times fast). After all, most of our attention had been on the giant three-headed monster of promised first-person shooters: Half-life 2, Doom 3, and Halo 2. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to E3: Far Cry is good enough that the holy trinity of potential gaming goodness might not include the best FPS of the year. In fact, Far Cry makes all those movies and screen shots of the “next generation” shooters look decidedly “this” generation.
is impossible to ignore the graphical goodness that is Far Cry, so I'll
just go ahead and start there. The game is beautiful. Set
on a series of sprawling tropical islands, Far Cry offers some of the
best eye candy we have ever seen. The
textures, which looked a bit wonky in the early demos, are a good as it
gets at this stage of the game. The
water is stunning and realistic as it rolls onto the sandy shores (are
we still obsessed with water graphics, or have we collectively moved
on?). The character models
and animation are spot on, easily matching any other game on the market. Add to all of this a draw distance of over one mile and Far
Cry becomes even more impressive. As
far as those aforementioned games go, only Half-life 2's face-modeling
engine seems more impressive than what we see here, not that Far Cry's
facial animations aren't great.
only downside to the graphical goodness is the fact that the game has
stiff resource requirements. My
home system (P4 2.4, 1 GB ram, 256 MB Radeon 9700) was able to run the
game with all of the settings on “high” at a good frame rate, but it
was unable to run the game smoothly with many of the settings on “very
high” as it is able to do with any other current game, including the
very pretty Unreal 2004. Still,
the game looks awesome even on the “high” settings (see the screen
shots for examples). I
didn't get a chance to play the game on a state-of-the-art rig, but I
did pump all the options to “very high” and watch it run as a slide
show on my system, and it was a pretty slide show.
The plot of Far Cry isn't anything really special—genetically engineered super-soldiers and Mad Scientist claptrap—but it is interesting enough to pull the player along. The main character is likable, kind of a subdued Duke Nukem or less melodramatic Max Payne or the Master Chief in a Hawaiian shirt (hey, I could keep this up all day). Anyhow, the protagonist is a strong, silent type that seems only a bit more vulnerable than the aforementioned
heroes, but with the
copious caches of armor and heath packs, he is as tough as any action
movie hero. The plot is rolled out in occasional in-engine cut scenes
with solid voice acting. Overall,
not as compelling as Half-life or Halo, but still better than the vast
majority of FPSs we've seen lately.
the healthy amount of health and armor power-ups, the game can be really
tough. The enemy soldier
A.I. is excellent, at least on par with Half-life's.
The soldiers exhibit awesome small unit tactics as they lay down
cover fire and methodically advance on the player's position.
If there is a fault with the A.I., it is that the soldiers
exhibit some super-human senses, and it can be nearly impossible to
sneak up on some of them. If
a player is forced into a firefight with a large number of soldiers,
chances are he or she will be toast, though knock-down, drag-out
firefights where the player stumbles out with a few health points left
happen occasionally and create a thrill when they do.
The game takes a good twenty hours to complete and is a joy during the entire run. Unlike many of the games I've played lately, there isn't really a dud among the missions, though a few do stand out as better than the rest. I especially liked the ability to distract the enemy soldiers by throwing rocks or rolling barrels down hills. I know it has been done in other games (especially the recent third-person stealth games), but I still find that having enemies who respond to “real life” stimuli really sells me on the realism of the game.
realism is helped tremendously by the solid physics engine present
within Crytech's Cryengine. I
got untold hours of joy out of just pushing things and watching them
roll or bounce down a hill. The
realistic way gravity and other forces were applied to the interactive
objects was awesome. By
now, most of our readers will have seen the Half-life 2 tech demo that
shows the support beams being shot out from under a shed and the shed's
resulting collapse. The
physics engine here isn't asked to do anything so dramatic, but I get
the feeling that the later projects using the Cryengine will be capable
of such things.
only place that Far Cry or its physics engine seems unpolished is in the
area of vehicles. Our hero
has the option to pilot any number of vehicles during the game, but the
vehicles themselves seem to have little real “weight” to them.
I felt similarly about the Warthog in Halo, but Far Cry's jeep is
far more “flighty” than even the Warthog.
The glider is much nicer, but the ground vehicles just don't
handle realistically. Driving
a jeep off a cliff is cool, but it doesn't have the same jaw-dropping
realism while plummeting that we see when we push a barrel off.
it's nice to even have access to vehicles in a game this large.
And, trust me, though it is usually possible to go from one area
to the next on foot or by swimming, doing so will add a good five hours
to the game play. These levels are huge and having sea, land, and air
transportation at one's disposal is very helpful.
Given its great graphics, fun game play, cool physics engine and amazing graphics (hold it, did I say that already), Far Cry takes its spot at the top of the hill for “next generation” first-person shooters. Doom 3, Half-life 2, or Halo 2 (or maybe even the Chronicles of Riddick) might come along and knock it off its lofty perch, but Far Cry is enough of a heavyweight that it won't go down without a fight.
- Tolen Dante
(May 2, 2004)
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