Review by ColeMonsen
"This package plays well, but you can play better and you should look elsewhere."
Far Cry exploded into the scene unexpectedly on the PC back in 2004 and it landed with heavy critical acclaim and massive sales. The game was praised for it's wide open, unique jungle setting, tight gun play and smart AI. However most people who were stuck with consoles were left alone and unable to experience the quality newbie developer, Crytek put on a DVD in a long time and in the FPS genre no doubt. That all changed, when after Ubisoft bought the Far Cry rights and announced that the series would get a new start on the Xbox. The hype began and in 2005 it landed. It received wide spread acclaim and became a top shooter on Xbox live and was widely noted for it unique and easy to use map creator. Then a year later ubisoft released the expansion for the highly acclaimed shooter, dubbed Evolution and also released both games for the 360 for the price of one. Is this a next gen experience?
First the setting, its not too often you play a FPS in a jungle setting and immediately your jaw will drop. The wide open vistas will wow from the beginning right to the end. The jungle scenary is lush and if anything the nice beaches will make want to visit this island even though there are plenty of mercenaries out for your blood. Ubisoft did a decent job of making the game seem wide open, sure it pales in comparison to the pc version, but for a console it works nicely. The sun will beam down on you really making you feel the heat, while jumping the water will cool you off. Really the island is great for immerison and Ubisoft should be applauded for making this work. Some new additions to the graphics department include a longer draw distance, so both games will feature this improvement as well as some of the best looking water I've ever seen before. Seriously the water ripples with such realism you will feel as if you're actually there. With the improved draw distance scenery no longer appears right in front you like an eye soar and you can actually appreciate the sights more now. They did redo the gun models and vehicle models, along with the resolution, but that falls flat.
New to the series was in Instincts, when you gained super powers. After being injected with a serum you were embedded with almost animal-like powers such as: super strength, agility, healing, jump, and sight. This really changed how the game played and it most points made the game too easy. Run out of ammo? Just bum rush them and one hit kill them with your punching ability. Lost in the dark? Turn on your sight and take out the enemies one by one. Even if you take too much damage you can just sit back and your health will regenerate. You can run out of energy but by simply stalking your enemies, or by taking adrenalines packs(which are way too spread around, you can easily find them) you can be restored quickly and be ready to fight. In Evolution you start with them already activated.
It seems however this game was meant for multiplayer and this will really keep players interested. The game supports the usual modes like deathmatch, team deathmatch, and another take on capture the flag, where flags are replaced with serums. The game also has a wide variety of maps, which seem to be designed for 16 players in mind but they are definitely creative and remain interesting even though you can get through them fast. There is a nice new mode where a team of mercs take on one infected player and when the infected kill a new player that player is than on the infected side. Its a nice change and it can be fun to have the tables turned on you when you think you have the upper hand... the hunters become the hunted. Its pretty addictive and with the map editor you can create and endless amount of maps if you get bored with the ones that came with the game already. Not only that, but you can play them online and share them with other players. But its too bad you can move maps from the original versions to the 360, but thats more trouble than its worth. The game also supports system link from up to 16 players and split screen for up to 4 players. Really the multiplayer is the meat of the package here and its great. Both single and multiplayer support a wide variety of vehicles, too as wells as a nice amount of firearms to boot.
The gameplay is okay(if unremarkable) and the weapons pack an okay punch, and they sound great. The voice acting is pretty nice with a nice performance by Stephen Dorf who plays Jack Carver, the main protagonist of the series. Control wise its solid with both anlogs used for movement and looking around. You use the triggers to shoot and toss grenades, while the d-pad is used to select weapons although, like Halo, you can only have 2 weapons at a time. Really its standard stuff here and any shooter veteran will feel right at home
Well too be honest, the improvements won't make you jump to the store and put down $60. The graphics, which are nice are definitely not next-gen worthy and will remind you of the original Xbox graphics. Character models are low res, and the jungle scenery is ugly up close. The updates to the weapon models and vehicles make them look plastic and Carver's arms look plastic too. Its not too bad, its just disappointing. The rag doll physics are really sorry and it seems Ubisoft only made a total of two death animations. Most of the time enemies look stiff motionless.
The enemy AI is basically nothing and Ubisoft did promise improvments but they are minuscule. Enemies are more aggressive but they still have trouble finding cover and sometimes their own grenades end up killing them. They do actually dodge grenades now, but thats not much and they have some inconsistent sight as sometimes they'll see you from a mile away, but other times they won't notice that you popped their buddies. They also added in new difficulty settings but all that does is up the enemy damage and accuracy rates. There were no big changes to the gameplay or levels, so this will seem familiar to anyone who has played the original.
Whats really new to this package is the addition of the new campaign, Evolution. Now it is more open ended but it falls prey to the same pitfalls as the first one. Such as: repetitive level design, terrible AI, poor vehicle controls, and it just fizzles out near the end. To be fair it is more open ended but its bogged down when the designers padded the length near the end with endless jumping and climbing puzzles. You do get your powers from the start as well as some new ones. You can tell they ran out of ideas with both campaigns as Instincts eventually devolves into endless corridor shooting and both feature lame end bosses. They had the right idea, but they missed what we wanted: more jungle fighting.
It had so much potential, but it really falls flat. The multiplayer can be fantastic at times but when you advertise two single player games you need to do something with that. Most players will lose interest half way through each game anyways. If you're a big multiplayer buff than you will like this game but really single player is pretty bland and needs some more work. If anything invest in a nice computer and play the original game on pc.
+ Tight multiplayer
+ Some nice single player moments
+ Feral powers are cool
+ Map editor
- Weak graphics
- Bad game designs all over
- Single player is bland
? Achievements are lame, too.
To buy or to rent?:
Rent. You can easily play the pc version nowadays and with user created content is better, too. However if you love multiplayer shooters than you can't miss. I'd just wait until a price drop or just rent to try it out.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 07/07/08
Game Release: Far Cry Instincts Predator (US, 03/28/06)
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