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Far Cry on PC

“Far Cry” was originally released for the PC in 2004. It was the first game by German developer Crytek, the company that would later go on to create the “Crysis” series. And “Far Cry” was the game that started it all.

You play as Jack Carver, an ex-Special Forces operative in charge of escorting an attractive female journalist to a remote, tropical archipelago. Unfortunately for you, ruthless mercenaries inhabit the island and upon discovering your incoming boat, decide to blow it out of the water. Now you are stranded by yourself on the mysterious archipelago, with the journalist nowhere to be found. As you push yourself deeper into the island’s foliages and flora, the more you realize that the truth isn’t always concrete…

If you haven’t guessed already, the plot is not particularly creative. In fact, “Far Cry” manages to invoke almost every single action flick clichés, complete with cheesy battle cries (“I’m gonna tear you a new one!”) and catch phrases. I suppose I could give it some slack; after all, narrative wasn’t the goal for most games in 2004. If the game was solely focused on storytelling, then it would be in trouble. Luckily, “Far Cry” is more about being a total badass.

The first thing you might notice about “Far Cry” is that it looks great. Yes, even for a seven year old title, the game manages to impress with its lighting, art direction, and attention to detail, especially in some of the jungle scenery. The sound design is also noteworthy and goes a long way in making the game feel alive. Birds call, insects buzz, leaves rustling in the wind; needless to say, “Far Cry” is best experienced with some good headphones. The most impressive thing might be the sheer amount of freedom you are given. There are no set paths for players to follow, meaning there are multiple ways to reach an objective. It is this type of freedom that is sorely missing in today’s mainstream shooters, such as Call of Duty (Crysis being the obvious exception). And you’ll want to do some exploring too, since the game offers a variety of different locations. Although you will be in the jungle most of the times, there are also abandoned bunkers, army camps, and high tech laboratories for you to romp through (and for you to kill bad guys in).

The gameplay feels tight, if a little simplistic; then again, it’s probably because I’ve been spoiled with the newer FPSs. “Far Cry” is definitely more along the vein of classics like “Goldeneye” and “Perfect Dark” rather than “Halo.” You won’t see 40+ guns with each gun having ten different variations. Instead, you will see the well worn classics; the P90, the M4 assault rifle, the sniper rifle. Also, you won’t be regenerating any health during your stay on the hostile archipelago. Players must collect health packs in order to heal. The pack system makes the game quite a bit harder than your average shooter. This brings me to my next point: difficulty.

“Far Cry” is a challenge. You will die multiple times and be immensely frustrated with the difficulty. I played this on medium for the review and there were moments when I very nearly slammed my head into the keyboard. But the difficulty doesn’t come from bad level design or cheap enemies. The A.Is in this game are actually intelligent. They will dynamically react to the player’s choices in combat. For example, if you hide behind some cover, they will start throwing grenades in your direction while they try to go around and flank you from the sides. If you meet a lone mercenary, he will run off and call more of his buddies to give him backup. It’s because of these impressive A.I’s that occasionally, players will have to think a strategy over. Will you go in “Rambo” style…or sneak around a la “Metal Gear?” Thanks to the sandbox style of the game, you are free to make such choices in most situations.

The game’s major flaw however, is it’s save system. Although it seems like such a petty complaint in writing, it’s a whole different story when actually playing the game. The problem with the save system is that it is completely automated, meaning you can’t save the game on your own. In order to save in “Far Cry”, you must go to a specific geographic area in the game. It doesn’t sound that bad on paper, but there will be times (multiple times probably) where you will take a good 20 minutes strategically making your way across the area, only to be cut down by a stray sniper bullet; after that, you will have no choice but to start all the way back, make your way to the same location, and possibly be killed again. This repetitive process of fighting and dying, although unavoidable in any shooting games, feels particularly trite in “Far Cry” simply because the problem could have been drastically reduced with the implementation of a manual save system. This mind numbing repetition also destroys the immersion the game has, far more so than the cheesy one liners and the absurd plot.

Despite the problems, “Far Cry” is still a supremely polished game. The shooting feels tight, the graphics still impress, and the enemies are a legitimate challenge. It’s also extremely immersive and does an excellent job of making you feel a part of the game’s magnificent and exotic world. If you are looking for a game that allows you to pick your own paths and go at your own pace, then I highly recommend playing this classic.

8.7/10.0

Note: There is also a multiplayer section in “Far Cry.” Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to play it before writing this review. Multiplayer consists of three modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Assualt.



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