The Xbox definitely does not have a shortage of FPS games in its roster. So the question on many people’s minds is does it really need another online frag fest to clog up its library? The simple answer is yes, especially if it’s the caliber of Far Cry instincts. Released last year on PC amongst some high profile company, Far Cry received much praise from critics and gamers alike, but being released alongside such big name titles as Doom 3 and Half Life 2 the game really didn’t get the exposure it deserved. Now with an Xbox release close to the end of the system’s life cycle and not apparent competition, the game has a chance to shine, add that to the fact that Xbox owners are looking for any reason to finally give Halo 2 a break and you have a game that is ripe for success.
Let’s begin with the visuals, simply stunning would be a good description. The island locales are simply enormous and breathtaking at first glance. You feel like you can see for miles, and the sheer sense of freedom is almost overwhelming. Can I also mention that this is the best water in any videogame ever? Everything from the subtle lighting to the way the screen is blurry coming up out of the water really shows that the developers are squeezing every last ounce of power from the Xbox console. To say that this game is pretty is simply not doing it justice.
The sounds in Far Cry are also top notch, shooting a wood bridge sounds like it should, and when you hear the rattling of the chain link fences you will really appreciate the attention to detail. The voice overs are certainly not going to win an Oscar, but they do serve their purpose. The best part about Far Cry’s audio is the ambience, when you travel through a dense jungle it really feels like you are there. Creepy sounds of unknown entities at night and hearing the waves crash on the beach will really immerse you in the whole experience. All of this blaring through your favorite home theatre system in glorious 5.1 Dolby Digital.
The single player campaign is nothing to write home about; in fact you can probably complete it in a matter of days. What is worth noting though are the absolutely amazing and addictive online multi-player modes. You have four basic modes of online play; chaos, team chaos, steal the sample, and predator. The first three are pretty self explanatory, the predator mode however is something new and extremely addictive. Basically you have two sides; predators and mercs (all of which can be edited to your liking in the game options), the mercs objective is to start up the generator and sound the sonic alarm to take out the predators. The predator’s job is much simpler, hunt and kill the mercs. The game is very nicely balanced with predators having infinite respawns and all of the feral abilities from the single player game. The mercs can also earn respawns by killing the predator(s), there are plenty of options to choose from to fit the game to your liking. We always like to play with five to six people and have two predators with a 20 point health bonus; this can lead to some extreme matches.
While all of this sounds fun you may be wondering what does this offer that you cannot already do in other online shooters. I have two words for you my friends, map maker. Being able to create your own maps and upload them to the web has upped this game’s replay value ten fold. Now some may argue that other games in the genre have a map maker as well, problem is they are extremely limited. Far Cry’s map maker is one of the best and easy to use tools I have ever seen for a console game. You will be designing great maps in no time and become seriously addicted to it. Creating theme maps is no sweat with the seemingly limitless flexibility of this editor. You can also create maps accustomed to certain game types such as predator and steal the sample. This editor is so user friendly it should be used as a template for all future game offering the map making feature.
In closing I have to say that everyone who is a fan of the shooter genre needs to play Far Cry Instincts. Graphically it is probably the best looking game on Xbox. Add that to the revamped single player campaign and the addictive online modes this game is a must own for all Xbox fans. Throw in the map maker and you have an endless amount of possibilities for maps and an endless amount of content for an already stellar game. Without Xbox Live I may suggest renting first, but if you play online do not hesitate, buy Far Cry Instincts now!