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I’ve played the original Far Cry on and off over the years but never beat it until now. I always ended up dying repeatedly and would just give up. But this time I decided to give it a real chance and push through. And let me tell you, it’s a very difficult game. Developed by Crytek and published by Ubisoft, Far Cry was released for PC in March, 2004. It was released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as Far Cry Classic in February, 2014. The Classic version did see some changes including the ability to aim down sights, redone textures and models, and various tweaks to the gameplay. For this review, I played the PC version. I did install the 64-bit Upgrade Patch along with the 64-bit Enhanced Content Patch. And I should mention that with the Upgrade patch installed, the game cannot be updated to version 1.4.
The protagonist is Jack Carver and he’s hired by a woman named Valerie to take her to an island. After Jack’s boat is blown apart by a rocket, he ends up being hunted by mercenaries but with the help of a man named Doyle, he fights his way across various islands while searching for Valerie. Jack eventually learns the island part of an experiment involving genetic mutation and ends up engaging genetically altered beasts known as Trigen. The setting and tone of the game are great but the actual story is nothing special and the voice acting is pretty awful across the board.
Jack can walk, run, sprint, jump, crouch, go prone, lean left and right, throw rocks to distract enemies, drive vehicles, and pilot boats and hang gliders. Sprinting does drain stamina and when swimming underwater, you have a limited amount of oxygen. Health and armor can be acquired from health packs and vests scattered throughout the environments. Sometimes enemies will drop these items when killed along with weapons and ammo. You can use binoculars to scout areas before infiltrating and any enemies spotted through the binoculars are tagged and added to your radar which is extremely helpful. There is a stealth meter and when the meter fills, enemies have detected you. Stealth is never really forced but it’s usually safer to be quiet and take out enemies from a distance. At a certain point in the campaign, you’ll acquire Cry Vision goggles which offers a combination of night and thermal vision and it does have a battery that drains when in use but will recharge over time. Unless you cheat, there is no quicksaving ir quickloading but the game does auto save frequently and each chapter or mission is broken up by a loading point.
You can only carry four weapons and there’s a decent variety of weapons at your disposal including a machete, a handgun, multiple assault rifles, a sniper rifle, machine gun, sub machine guns, an automatic shotgun, grenades, and rocket launcher. Some weapons include attachments. The MP5 is equipped with a suppressor which can make being stealthy easier and weapons like the AG36 and OICW are equipped with grenade launcher attachments. The sniper rifle is easily one of my favorite weapons and your aim will become less accurate the farther you zoom but you can improve your aim by crouching, going prone, and holding your breath. You can blind enemies with flashbang grenades, blow them up with frag grenades, and smoke grenades can give you some cover. Vehicles and boats are great for getting around and many of them are equipped with weapons, and there’s a cool set piece where you get to ride in a vehicle and gun down enemies while Valerie drives.
Far Cry includes five difficulty modes and I played on Medium. You can enable AI Auto Balance which I’ve read means the AI gets smarter the longer you stay alive. I can’t confirm that and I’m not finding out any time soon because even on Medium, the game can be brutally difficult. Enemies can spot you from ridiculous distances, they are very accurate, and there are times I died and had no idea where the shots came from. The enemies aren’t even that smart, you just take a lot of damage from attacks. They’ll stay out in the open when under fire and sometimes they just won’t shoot. They do exhibit basic behavior. Mercenaries will run around, take cover, shoot at you, throw grenades, snipe you, fire rockets, use emplaced weapons, some carry shields, they’ll attack from vehicles, boats, and helicopters, they’ll come rappelling down ropes, and you’re always going to be outnumbered. As you progress through the campaign, tougher mercenary variants start to appear and you will want to be constantly alert. Once you’re detected, all of the enemies will start to search for you and they can set off alarms, alerting reinforcements. It’s wise to stay off the main roads. Navigating through the lush foliage is a bit safer. If you didn’t use the binoculars to tag enemies, they can easily flank and rush you without you even noticing. The accuracy of the mercenaries is a tad ridiculous in my opinion and I can only imagine how frustrating the game is on higher difficulties. One minute you’re slowly creeping around making sure there’s no enemies in the vicinity and the next thing you know, you’re getting picked off by sniper fire or rockets from enemies way out in the distance. It gets a bit insane. There’s a lot of trial-and-error scenarios and what makes is worse is when the game auto saves when you have little to no health.
The Trigen are more dangerous than the mercenaries and they do come in different types. There’s big and small types that like to slash you and can leap ridiculous distances. Fat Boys are large bullet sponge Trigens equipped with rocket launchers. The Fast Trigen are humanoid in appearance and carry assault rifles. Finally there’s the stealth Trigen which are fitted with cloaking devices and wield MP5’s. You can spot them using the Cry Vision goggles. All of the Trigen are dangerous and the big and small types can kill you in a matter of seconds. Hell, one slash can deplete all of your armor. It’s ludicrous. Late in the game, you’ll be dropped on an island full of Trigen stripped of all your equipment but are provided an assault rifle with very little ammo and you have to escape. The difficulty in this game is outrageous but sometimes it just feels downright unfair. You can sometimes sneak or run past enemies and you’ll often enter battlefields with mercenaries and Trigen battling it out and I found it best to let these battles play out and then take out whoever is left which is usually the Trigen. Also, letting them fight each other is a good way to save ammo. When you finally get to the end of the game, you’ll end up fighting your way through gauntlets of enemies along with a boss and, honestly, the final areas are just not enjoyable.
Far Cry does excel when it comes to the environments. You’ll navigate across various islands, infiltrate numerous enemy camps, blast your way through multiple facilities, engage enemies in an ancient temple, and the end of the game takes you to an enemy compound. Much of the game takes place in the lush tropical jungle areas and in my opinion, these are the best areas in the game. There’s always multiple ways to approach situations, you’re free to basically go anywhere you want, and exploration usually does reward you with goodies like health, armor, weapons, and ammo. There’s usually always an objective waypoint on your radar so you should be able to figure out where to go most of the time. You will have to locate and acquire key cards to gain access to certain areas and you’ll have to watch out for some hazards like explosive canisters, nerve gas, steam, and lava. Whenever Trigen enemies appear, things can become really frustrating. The game really shines when you’re outside and up against mercenaries. Enemies are usually encountered in groups, found in camps and along paths which is why it’s good to stay off the main roads but even if you do, you can still be spotted rather easily. You will want to take your time and tag enemies with your binoculars so there’s no surprises when you decide to infiltrate. Thankfully, you can pick off distant enemies with most weapons and the sniper rifle can really make things a lot easier. One enemy can be all it takes to drop you. They can come from around corners or out of the foliage and just take you out in seconds if you’re not paying attention.
Far Cry was visually impressive for its time. The textures and skies look good, the game is filled with plenty of color, and there’s different render modes you can choose from in the options menu. You’ll see birds in the skies and fish in the waters. Muzzle flashes look good and enemies release blood puffs when shot. Nowadays, the game clearly looks dated. Pop-in is rampant, distant textures are noticeably blurry, and some of the animations are a bit wonky. The sound effects are great and the music isn’t bad. The more intense music kicks in when you get into firefights. On the technical side, I encountered several issues. The frame rate would dip here and there, sound effects would frequently get stuck in a loop, the audio in some of the cut scenes was out of sync, I saw enemies get stuck in the environments, and at one point, dead enemies were stuck in their running animation.
I don’t know if “fun” is the word I would use to describe my experience with Far Cry. I was more frustrated than anything. The difficulty is just insane. I think the high difficulty brings the game down in some ways. I don’t mind a challenge but I was playing on Medium. It’s not like I was playing on the highest difficulty. The difficulty is in desperate need of some tweaking. From what I understand, the version ported to Xbox 360 and PS3 has the difficulty toned down slightly. I’ve played it once before but not enough to really have an opinion on it. Far Cry does have some positives. The gunplay is fun, the amount of freedom you’re given adds a lot of replay value to the game, and it does support mods. There is a multiplayer component which I didn’t get the chance to try and despite the game’s issues, there are times when I was really enjoying myself. I absolutely love the setting and the whole action-adventure thing the game has going for it. It’s a shame that the story and characters aren’t that interesting and are made even worse by awful voice acting. I think the game could have been the start of an awesome campy B-action movie inspired series with an action-hero type protagonist that was actually badass and memorable. As it stands, the plot and characters are just forgettable and Ubisoft went on to develop the sequels.
I would only recommend Far Cry to those that enjoy challenging shooters. If the difficulty was toned down a bit, I would have probably enjoyed it a lot more and would recommend it to everyone. The game is hard, sometimes it feels just unfair, but it does have its moments. And if you enjoy getting your ass kicked, then Far Cry may be the shooter you’re looking for. I just think the difficulty will turn some people off. Nowadays, the original Far Cry may be considered the outcast in the series if you don’t include its console variants – Instincts, Evolution, and Vengeance – but it did plant the roots for the open world first-person shooter franchise we’re familiar with today.