First Impressions: Will the sleeper hit and top PC FPS survive a port? My instincts scream: Oh God, please say yes!!
Far Cry debuted on the PC last year and was instantly hailed as one of the best First Person Shooters since Half Life. Playing as Jack Carver, you're hired to sail a beautiful woman reporter to a tropical paradise. Of course, upon arrival your ship is blown to bits and Valerie is kidnapped, forcing you to take on an island stronghold run by a mad scientist. Featuring phenomenal graphics and intense gameplay, German developer Crytek really blew the doors off with this surprise gem, and now an Xbox port is on the way. Under construction for some time now, Far Cry: Instincts is shaping up to be a worthy console version of the stellar PC title.
While obviously not as graphically superior as its PC counterpart, sources indicate that Instincts is looking impressive nonetheless. The wide open, lush jungle environments appear intact, and the surface reflections, real time lighting and marvelous shadow effects lend realism and immersion to every frame. Obviously, a game like Far Cry, which allowed you to see a full 800 meters in any direction, is tough to reproduce on the aging Xbox hardware. However, it definitely looks like the game still boasts much of the visual strength its PC big brother displayed. The wide open coastal areas look sweet, and the character models, weapons and explosions are equally impressive.
Instincts won't be a direct port, as it will feature a branching story arc that - while following the basic plot elements outlined above ? will contain original objectives and different scenarios for its main character. You'll still explore a tropical island (actually, you'll explore 4 islands) face down hordes of tough mercenaries, and eventually mutants turned by the good doctor's ?medicine?. Think Island of Doctor Moreau meets Predator. In an interesting new twist exclusive to the Xbox version, Jack himself is infected with the nutty professor's mutagen, which gives him super-enhanced strength, as well as animal-like attributes. Jack has the ability to find his adversaries by scent, enhance his vision (night and thermal) and go chameleon ? in other words, change color to fade into his surroundings ? perfect for stealth kills. Make no mistake though; there'll be plenty of heavy weapons to use, including assault rifles, pistols, shotguns and more. You'll be hunted through the jungle by Black Hawk helicopters (hey, this is a very well-funded mercenary army) and you'll need some massive firepower to make it through.
Speaking of choppers, you'll get to pilot vehicles in Far Cry: Instincts - a jeep, Jet Ski, an ATV, and others. Attacking enemy installations throughout the islands whether on foot, or in a vehicle is up to you, and the cool thing about Instincts is the freedom of choice you have in how to approach your assault. You can throw rocks to distract adversaries, or wait until they crowd around interactive objects (like incredibly convenient barrels of highly flammable liquids) and blow them to bits. Head at them on foot, or run over them in the jeep, it's up to you. The AI looks to be admirably up to the task. Cunning and complex, battles never become repetitive. You'll deal with mercenary units trained in advanced adaptive squad tactics, and battalions will include snipers, scouts, and grenadiers that attack from all angles in coordinated strikes. Good stuff indeed.
Another big part of Instinct's gameplay - environmental traps. What are they? A variety of fiendish ambushes like pits filled with spikes, swinging logs set to crush you, and branch snares to trip you up. They'll be set by the mercs hunting you, but you can turn the tables by gathering material from the jungle and rigging up your own surprises. You can also disable traps that impede your progress.
The game will also feature Xbox Live multiplayer action. 16 players will be able to go at it together, and the welcome addition of a map editor will allow you to create your own arenas and then play, as well as trade them, online. Boasting a very user-friendly interface, you'll be able to create terrain and then pop in vehicles, weapons and spawns wherever you like. You can even jump in and test the map out as you're making it. Sounds pretty nice, as not too many Live games have level editors (the upcoming Pariah being an exception).