Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Far Cry: Instincts

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             Any PC fanatic with a love for First-Person Shooters would have played FarCry, a game now renowned for it’s difficulty, but previously renowned for it’s divergence from many other First-Person Shooter of the time. It was released in March, 2004, to quite a bit of anticipation, and it deserved it. The game changed many aspects of what people considered the standard for First-Person Shooters, by adding the options of proper Close-Quarter Combat  – obviously influenced by The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay – and a Long Range Gunplay Battle System, plus the intelligent AI was like nothing seen before!

Now FarCry: Instincts, released after a year and a half of work on the FarCry Engine looks set to take the First-Person Shooter genre to a whole new level. As the game starts – in all it’s graphical glory – players of the first game may have a little shock, you start in a fishing boat near a small, south-pacific island, taking what seems to be a rather arrogant female journalist on a photography tour of the island. She wants to get closer to the island but, because of the stories you’ve heard and the rocks that are near the shore, you don’t want to in your new boat. Consequently she gets in a mood chucks down a lot of money and nicks your water scooter, realising there’s nothing you can do you get some kip for a bit, only to get woken up by a military helicopter that’s about to gun down your boat. After jumping to safety from your burning boat in to the water then swimming – yes swimming – to the nearest shore, which unfortunately is the island you wanted to stay away from in the first place; you get to delve into the weird and wonderful world this island Electronic Theatre Imagehouses!

Once on the island, you have to face a whole outpost of highly trained, skilled mercenary units, armed with a small gun, some traps, stones and your wits. This is one of the first games I’ve ever played that successfully manages to combine the Stealth and the First-Person Shooter genres so effectively. It’s truly brilliant; the amount of times I’ve laced a copse of trees with traps, waited on the other side of it for a patrol to come wandering past and then lobbed a stone into the middle of the traps, alerting at least one of the guards, this leads him to wander into the copse to check where the noise came from, setting off at least one trap, his team-mates when hearing his screams of course run in to check out what the problem is; yep, hours of fun. The amount of ways to deal with every area, every group of enemies, and even every enemy is phenomenal – the set-pieces are far less constrictive than with ninety-percent of the competing Stealth/First-Person Shooter genre.

Electronic Theatre ImageThe control system is perfectly adapted for the Stealth/First-Person Shooter game, the click of the Left Analogue controls whether you’re standing, crouching or lying down, holding it takes you straight from one extreme to the other. The Black and White Buttons are switch buttons, one switches between the traps you can have, the other switches between grenades and rocks allowing you to choose between taunting and annihilating people. You also have a melee attack on the B Button for when the ammo from the humongous range of weapons you have runs out.

The AI is one of the most advanced I’ve seen for a while, the enemies use advanced tactics, formations and actually communicate to try and take you down. What’s even more impressive is the fact that there seems to be personalities put into the hardened killers sent to hunt you out, many times have I been hiding in a bush as a couple of guys wander past having a mild mannered conversation. There’s even clever and dumb opponents, there’s been times when I’ve chucked a grenade into a group of people, the shout of “GRENADE!!!” goes up and they all dive off in various directions, apart from one who stands there looking around confused for his last few seconds of life!

Electronic Theatre ImageThe story of the game is amazing, it just flows from beginning to end, and every map – or arena as they seem to be – is soaked in story. It’s all so very, very interesting. Through the story of the game you start to acquire many varied and ultimately useful Instincts (hence the name of the game), these start coming slowly after a pinnacle part in the story, then they start to come quicker and quicker as the whole thing gets more and more intense.

Multi-Player in this game is a very different twist on what people usually expect; instead of the usual Deathmatch, Capture the flag and King of the Hill, there is now Chaos and Team Chaos, like Deathmatch but just a little more chaotic! Instead of Capture the Flag there’s now Capture the Sample, which in all honesty, is a very, very similar idea. Instead of King of the Hill we now have Predator Mode, which is wholly expansive and often comparable to one of Giest’s more inventive Multi-Player Modes. You can have either one or two Predators with up to eight Mercenaries for each. The map has a Sonic Alarm Generator in it, which will kill the Predators if turned on; it’s the job of the Mercenaries to turn this on, whereas it’s the job of the Predators to kill all of the Mercenaries. Predator’s re-spawn every time they Electronic Theatre Imageare killed, Mercenaries re-spawn only when the Predator does; quite complex, but when the Predators have all of the Instinct powers and the Mercenaries have lots of guns, it becomes very simple indeed, one big blood-fest!

The Map Editor featured in the title is absolutely awesome too; you get the option to completely create your own island, complete with military base, research lab, swamp or whatever else you want. There aren’t any grids to work to; you build it all to whatever specifications you like. It’s designed better than any other Map Editor I’ve had the pleasure of working with – even if it doesn’t feel quite as complete as the likes of TimeSplitters: Future Perfect – as it allows you to switch between editing and playing in the Map with one touch of a button, and where-ever your cursor is when you press the Black Button to go into the Map is where your character will be when you start.

Graphically the game betters any other Xbox title I’ve seen, ever. The in-and-out-of-water effects are stunning, the water itself is stunning. The people could be living and breathing and their reactions to in game effects are lifelike. The scenery is absolutely stunning with many of the views not looking out of place in a “Best Shots of Hawaii” picture book. The lighting effects are amazing and the transition of light as the day goes on helps the game’s suspension of disbelief no-end. In addition to the surrounding environment, gameplay has a huge effect on your characters faculties – as you progress through the game and its wild and wonderful story, you’ll find certain things mess with your head and therefore your vision, in certain cases. This not only looks awesome but affects you in a similar way that you’d expect it to in real life; for example, when a flashbang goes off, not only do you see it on your screen, but your eyes also get affected and you find it hard to see for a fare number of seconds afterwards.

The sound of this game rocks as well; everything from the sound of you carefully coming out of water to the sound of crawling through the undergrowth has been mapped to perfection. The guns all sound vastly different even feel slightly different with the modestly variable Force Feedback feature inbuilt with the Xbox Control Pads. Similar gameplay-hindering occurrences can happen to you character’s hearing also, like when you’re sensitive to sound the high pitch noise of an alarm actually hurts you, or when a grenade goes off a little way from you, you end up with a ringing in your ears for a few seconds afterwards. There are just loads and loads of little tiny additions within the game that you don’t even notice but just make the whole playing experience better. Even the music adds to the experience of the game, for you music buffs there’s even a helping hand from the well-known Electronica artist Paul Haslinger (Tangerine Dream), Electronic Theatre Imageadding his own unique style to the mix.

As a whole, FarCry Instincts fares quite well, there are a few flaws; Level Checkpoints failing to re-load, 2D object scarring and a little pop-up, but little else. The huge variety of weaponry is bigger and better than any realistic shooter around, but the traps, stones and the brilliant backstab move makes them almost irrelevant. The enemies are structured and clever making re-play value huge as every time you play a situation it will be slightly different – and even if you get bored of the in-game Levels, you can just make your own and take it online!

FarCry Instincts is clearly an awesome game. It certainly fares better than the recent competition from the likes of Conspiracy: Weapons of Mass Destruction, Medal of Honour: European Assault, and, possibly, it’s even better than Halo 2. Everything done in this game has been done right, the enjoyment whilst playing it is huge, the re-play value is huge and, damn it, I know if I wasn’t writing this review now I’d be playing on it even though I really don’t much like the whole First-Person Shooter genre. This game has done something that every First-Person Shooter has tried to do before but this has pulled it off, to take the genre and do something different with it. I personally think these guys’s deserve an award for the sheer amount of work you can see in every square inch of this game.Electronic Theatre Image





















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