When Farcry PC first came out it forced even the most adept PC games machine to swallow its pride. It was one of the first games to come out that when the recommended specs were listed an audible gasp was heard. Games have now advanced way past Farcry PC now, not just in terms of graphics but also sound, A.I and gameplay. In 2005 Farcry Instincts was released on the first Xbox console to a great reception but people always knew that the PC version was still the best. The question was, could the new 360 do a perfect conversion of the PC original and have all the graphical bells and whistles as well? The answer is no. The 360 cannot do a plain port of the PC Farcry game. In fact the 360 looked at the PC version, laughed and pointed and then dished out a graphical tour-de-force which made the still stunning PC version feel very self-conscious and inferior.
First things first, Farcry Instincts Predator (Phew!) is a reworking of the first PC Farcry and the Xbox Instincts version. The graphic detail has been spruced up for the 360 and the weapons, levels and most notable the water look pin sharp on a fancy HD-TV. The question to ask though is: Has Farcry evolved passed its great but aging roots? Has the 360 managed to craft the definitive version of Farcry for gamers around the world to enjoy? Make sure you have your passports, swimming trunks/bikini sets and any heavy weaponry you feel comfortable with using as we will head into the depths of Farcry Instincts Predator.
Farcry: Combat Evolved?
Anyone who was a fan of either the PC version or the Xbox version will instantly feel at home with the 360 version. The game still has the solid feel to it and this time there are less levels to play in, but each one is significantly larger and more free-roaming. It is nice to stand on the beach and watch the waves roll in and then pointing and saying “OMG! Fish!” when you see a small group of tropical fish swim by. It all looks very pretty and Ubisoft have really put effort into make the game looking stunning, especially the environments in which you get to play and shoot in.
“I swear I saw something moving in there!!”
The hallmark of a good game and one that separates average titles from top ones is the ability to immerse the player into the game. If you can really feel like you are running through the jungle, popping caps in evil pirates and throwing pipe bombs around with wild abandon, then the game is doing its job well. Farcry does make you feel like you are in the depths of a tropical jungle battling for your survival and trying to unravel the mystery surrounding you and this huge jungle infested island.
The one issue with the first Xbox version was that even though you could see the whole island you were still herded in one direction by invisible walls. You did not really have free access to the island and this made Farcry feel a little restrictive. The PC version had you placed on an island and left you to it and this has been captured for Farcry’s 360 outing. The draw distance in Farcry Instincts Predator is over 2km which is huge anyone’s books. You can peer over and see where you would like to go on the island and then start walking. Don’t expect to walk all the way there whistling and setting up picnic’s every so often, this island is inhabited by nasty mercenaries and pirates all hell bent on making you sleep with the fishes.
All of the story is put in front of you via some nice cut scenes which slowly unravel the mystery as you progress through the game. If you have never played a Farcry game before then the 360 version would fit very well in your game collection. Combining great graphics, some nice physics (both rag doll and environmental) and a good run and gun feel, Farcry Instincts Predator is a great FPS, both in the large and varied single player and the intense and brutal multiplayer modes. Not only do you have a large variety of weaponry and nifty vehicles to play with, you also get to set spike traps on certain trees, throws rocks at guards to attract attention and ‘thwack!’ Dead merc! Combine this with your feral abilities which give you animal like tendencies including sharp claws, being able to batter doors down, tracking enemies through feral sight and ripping them limb from limb – oh and all this works in the multiplayer version too.
A Jetski and popping caps in the sun…ahh…
For those that played either the PC original or the Xbox version the news is not so good. You may want to sit down for this. While the 360 version is stunning and great to play, it has not really changed at all. Sure there has been new items added but it does not feel like the game has changed. Adding a few new guns and vehicles here and there does not make the game any more complete. Some of the issues that people had with the Xbox version are still here in the 360 version, just looking a little prettier. What it boils down to is that the 360 version is good but it has not really evolved since last year and therein lies its downfall. Will people pick the game up is it is only a prettier version of the Xbox version? Time will tell but apart from a few tweaks, additions to gameplay and sweeter eye-candy, Farcry Instincts Predator feels like your ex girlfriend/boyfriend wearing new clothes. Sure, they look pretty and you can remember the fun times you had but you know underneath they are old news and you’re glad you moved on.
Finely Crafted Farcry.
Is Farcry Instincts Predator on the 360 the definitive version of the Farcry series? That really depends on what Ubisoft plan for the sequels to the game because future instalments might just redress the balance. You cannot help but notice the graphics are superb and the levels are beautiful to look at. Nobody is doubting the time and effort the gifted team at Ubisoft Montreal have put into this game but sometimes the feeling that they should have done a full blow sequel to Farcry may have sated the desires of Farcry fans instead of a remixed Xbox version. A little disappointing to be truthful but the game is well crafted and has solid gameplay through and through, the only problem is that it has been like this since last year.
On a much lighter note, the fantastic map maker that game with Farcry Instincts is back and ready for more. A few tweaks here and there to address previous problems, adding some extra vehicles and tile sets for us to play with end up increasing the replay ability of Farcry for ages. I myself have played for hours with the Xbox level editor and it is easy to get into but can be both time consuming and rewarding to craft a fine level and get all your Live friends to playtest it for you. If you have access to Xbox Live on the 360 then the mapmaker is for you.
You have a wide variety of options when it comes to making your maps and adding which game types you would prefer for each of your maps. You will find that you spend more time making and testing maps than you actually do playing the game and this is what makes Farcry Instincts Predator stand out amidst some of its smaller faults. Not many games have such a good mapmaker included in the package and being able to make your own levels is usually the territory of PC users, so this is a good example of something that other developers should look into for their new releases.
All in all Farcry Instincts Predator is a mixed bag. Multiplayer is solid, fun and varied due to the mapmaker, vehicles and lots of guns. Singleplayer is great looking, vast in size and will immerse the player in the game world but has not really changed much at all since last year, which will disappoint many and may dissuade them from not picking up the game on launch (31st March). For those not having a background in Farcry it is a good buy and you will have hours of fun in singleplayer, multiplayer and mapmaking to your hearts content. For those that have done the Farcry thing and made maps until you cried real tears and have subsequently moved on the Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, then Farcry Instincts Predator is not really for you. Yes its is good but it has not really changed and so many other games have had to change to fill the needs of gamers and made the most of it. Maybe a sequel will be able to right the wrongs and provide us with a true Farcry game that does the 360 and avid game fans around the world justice.
Originally Written By: Barrie Rogers