Friday, March 31, 2006

Far Cry Instincts Predator Review (360)

I am a big fan of the original Far Cry game on PC and recent news is that UbiSoft has picked up the Intellectual Property on the name Far Cry as well as license to use the CryEngine (version 1, since version 2 is being used in the upcoming Crytek/EA Crysis) platform for any game they make. That's a pretty smart move for UbiSoft, although I hope they bring out more PC releases in the Far Cry universe.

Far Cry Instincts Predator is the Xbox 360 release of both Far Cry Instincts from last year on Xbox (87% cumulative score) and of the same day released Far Cry Instincts Evolution, also on Xbox. Obviously with the 360 game you get improved visuals on both games and it costs you $60 whereas it would now cost you $60 to get both games on Xbox.

The graphics are indeed very nice in this game and although I haven't played Instincts previously on Xbox I have heard that the 360 version basically has better water effects and higher resolution textures (but the same textures) than the Xbox version. Bloom is also in full effect as well as the sun shines off the sand and the draw distance is very far away. There is some small hiccups in framerates, although it only happens when the game is being autosaved. In the end though I find it hard to say the overall graphic presentation is better than the original PC game. This could be due to the fact that UbiSoft has worked on the console games internally and have not used Crytek as the developer, but I'm not sure. Overall though the graphics are quite good, but not up to the levels of, say, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter.

The gameplay itself is very much hit and miss, but much of my bias may come from having played the PC game well before touching the console versions. Control is just not as smooth with the controller as it would be with a mouse and keyboard and it doesn't even come close to being as smooth as the Halo games for a direct FPS console perspective. The enemy AI is a bit stupid for its own good. Unlike GRAW they will run right for you and won't run away from grenades. The whole sound reaction by the enemy is good, but not nearly as refined as it was on the PC. Early on in the game I felt as if the game was on rails, but then I reached the next level and found that I could go through the jungle instead of just staying on the path all the time. I enjoyed the openness of the PC version and was glad to see it here as well.

Obviously the big draw of the original console game was Jack receiving feral abilities as the game went on. The feral abilities are very cool and bring something extra to these games that was not present on the PC version. The only problem with the feral abilities is that where you gradually acquire them in Instincts you have full use of them from the beginning in Evolution. This also points out another big minus with this game in the fact that you have to go through Instincts before Evolution even opens up for play. Anyone that has played the original game may not want to go through it again in order to play the new game. The new game also is shorter than Instincts and the levels are just not as exciting.

Along with all that you also are able to make maps for multiplayer use as well as play on Xbox Live (with 22 maps right off the bat). I played a couple games and enjoyed them and will probably follow this post up with a more in-depth multiplayer experience post in the coming days. The cool thing about the map editor is you can make a map and put it up online for people to download and play on it. Multiplayer is going to be a huge selling point for this game.

In the end Far Cry Instincts Predator is an easy pickup for anyone with an Xbox 360 that did not play the original game on Xbox. If you did play it on Xbox, you may want to steer away from paying $60 for the original and the shorter Evolution story. I highly recommend this game, but it certainly isn't at the level of recent releases GRAW or Oblivion in the single-player genre, but it is a great multiplayer pickup.