Far Cry: Instincts
The Xbox re-imagines the PC origin-of-species, though the subtitle has nothing to do with David Beckham's new fragrance... or Sharon Stone's pet beaver, for that matter.
Far Cry began life as a tech demo on the PC, but developers Crytek saw the potential to turn it into a full game that ended up being a mostly inventive new spin on the FPS genre. The lush jungles and beaches designed to show off new graphics card effects became the playground for ex-Army man Jack Carver to go all 'Schwarzenegger' on a bunch of mercenaries.
The highlights of the PC game were the openness of the island and the intelligence of your guns-for-hire enemies, though the indoor laboratory areas did move things back toward too-familiar territory, but with the addition of some Dr. Moreau styled man-beasties and a nice variety of vehicles thrown in, there was far more to love than not.
Due to its roots as a technical exercise, it was always going to be a difficult game to port over to years old console hardware. That much is evident from the now cancelled PlayStation 2 and Gamecube versions, leaving the Xbox as the sole bastion of the console-ised CryEngine - Far Cry Instincts - and even then the machine is obviously being pushed to its limits.
What this mostly entails is a game that is incredibly beautiful, but which in a few areas does not quite live up to its inspiration, most obviously in the open plan nature. Far Cry on Xbox has had to become a much more linear experience, though areas are still large enough so as to allow you to approach mission objectives from a variety of methods and directions.
Indeed as some things are lost, others have been newly introduced to Far Cry to make this console version an almost completely different beast. Most literally in the hero's gradual transformation into a feral powerhouse, which has the effect of turning the hunted into the hunter - just as well considering the more stealthy and measured approach needed in the game's opening acts has too many frustrations (mostly within enemy AI) for it to support an entire game. Stick with it though and the change in gameplay, and your approach to it, moulds the basis of the PC original into something that just feels right as a console interpretation.
It may have had to make technical concessions in the visuals as well, but it doesn't stop this version from being absolutely stunning to look at. Thematically it's a holiday from pretty much every other console FPS game out there, ranging from clear blue tropical waters lapping lazily at pristine sandy white beaches, through dense rainforests filled with wooden huts (in turn filled with gun-toting crazies) and into the dark confines of underground tunnels.
Everything casts a shadow and reflections shimmer on every watery surface adding up to some incredible scenery, though it does slightly spoil the illusion that you can clip through anything smaller than a tree trunk as if it wasn't even there; to be fair, the machine is already doing everything it can so the achievement is not to be sniffed at.
The presentation continues to impress on the audio front, drawing on a wealth of wildlife sound effects that immediately put you in mind of the Predator movies (it doesn't hurt being stalked by inhuman hunters either), and the soundtrack switches between sounding like something from Lost (in moments of quiet exploration) through to Rambo-esque rock when spotted by your enemies. This all adds up to create an atmosphere denser than the surrounding greenery which in turn, instinctively, evolves you initially cautious approach to play into a feeling of empowerment as your animalistic skills allow you to adapt to your surroundings.
Some imagination has also been put into Far Cry's multiplayer games, considering Halo pretty much has the deathmatch market sown up. The spin here is for one player endowed with superhuman strength, and other such beastly abilities, to be pitted against everyone else as machine gun carrying fodder, something which recreates that Predator feeling even more strongly. Add on a feature-rich map editing tool, and any Live players out there could end up losing a serious amount of time to another worthy multiplayer experience on Xbox.
After the initial wow factor of the tropical setting wears off, it does take a while for Xbox Far Cry's gameplay to grab your attention (due to the necessary restrictions effectively neutering what made the PC version feel so fresh), but forgive it's console dumbing-down and allow it enough time to pump you full of adrenaline, and it's hard not to enjoy the carnage. "Animal, go bye-bye."
(See Latest Videos & Video FAQ Here)
|PLEASE DO NOT DIRECT LINK TO ANY MEDIA FILE ON KIKIZO|
Half-Life 2 Xbox
Xbox gameplay footage (VU Games)
|0.19m||3MB||DF, SD, 30
Latest direct feed trailer (640x480, 1.6Mbps)
Entire E3 2004 Demonstration (640x480, 1.8Mbps)
Multiplayer segment of HL2 presentation, CounterStrike: Source (640x480, 1Mbps)
Half-Life 2 (PC, Xbox)
Gameplay footage - striders! [640x480, 2176kbps]
Half-Life 2 (PC, Xbox)
Gameplay footage - coastline! [640x480, 2176kbps]
Fully awesome Half Life 2 PC trailer. [480x356, 1Mbps]