Far Cry Instincts
My instinct is telling me: “not again a port of a successful PC shooter?”. I shouldn’t be complaining actually, but I’m not a big fan of shooters that don’t bring something new to the table and only brag about their good looks. Far Cry Instincts looks to be such a game. Let’s see if an extensive playing session contradicts my instinct.
In Instincts you play as Jack Carver, an ex-military with a ridiculous action hero name. Aside from the fact that he didn’t choose his name, he’s also having trouble getting around financially. Hassling around was his cup of tea but now he finally found his destiny: sailing around with his lovely boat. But life can’t be “happy, happy, joy, joy” forever and which species is best in changing your happy mood? Exactly, the women are. A certain Val Cortez arrives at the peer and asks you to bring her to the lovely island group called the Jacutan Islands. As a lonely sailor (just think of the Rod Stewart song while you’re reading this and you’ll understand it even better) you don’t hesitate one bit. When you arrive at the islands it’s clear that the local population, which consists of a rich army, isn’t to pleased with your visit and your only way out is to adapt to the surroundings and try to survive.
To succeed in this you’ll obviously need some proper firing power but before you get to this you’re stuck with a boy scout knife and a booby trap. The so called branch whip can be attached to every tree and it’s built to catapult your opponent miles away. The only thing you have to do is, connect the whip to a tree, lure your opponent and watch the spectacle. It surely does have a high level of jungle tactics to it, but you won’t be using this booby trap an awful lot in the game. Especially when you receive guns ranging from machine guns to a sniper rifle that lets you eliminate the bastards from miles away. But let’s not jump to conclusion; you start off the game with a knife. This can come in handy when approaching your enemy from the back. One strong stab in the back does the trick just fine. When I however planted my first knife into the back of an opponent I couldn’t help but notice the awful physics that went along with this. Your enemy falls to the floor like a lifeless pile of potatoes. Then again, have you ever seen a lively pile of potatoes, I guess not. Far most, the enemy is as dead as he can be so there’s no point in using the word lively here. The fact is that the animation that’s accompanied with this backstabbing is just horrible. “With the arrival of guns, this however might change”, I thought in an optimistic mood.
Guess again partner, the weapons only enlarge my dissatisfaction. While some first person shooters give you the chance to eliminate certain parts of a body, it doesn’t matter in Instincts whether you hit him in his shoulder, knee or crutch. He’ll always go down the same way, straight and backward. This made me feel like Ubisoft put the emphasis a bit to much on the game world in stead of on the gameplay and physics. But you should keep in mind that I only played half an hour, so things can change.
And they do, but this time it isn’t due to a female interruption, but you can also ride on it and the steering is a bit rough at times too. Exactly, vehicles made their way to Jacutan, from quads to a cool delta flyer. The throttle as well as the steering is done by the left analog stick which makes the chance that you hit a palm tree a lot bigger. Certain vehicles, such as the army jeep, are also equipped with a machine gun. Since you’re left alone in the jungle, you’ll have to switch from drivers seat to machine gun seat and this is a little difficult in hectic situations. Therefore I used the vehicles for their main purpose, namely getting me from a to be a lot faster than on foot.
At least until Jack got infected with the virus making him more animal like. This will give Jack feral senses and my personal favourite was the feral sprint. With this handy little fellow you can rush through the lush environments by the push of a button and a lot faster than when using vehicles. Aside from this you’ll also get feral attack, feral sense, feral vision and feral power. All in all they give the game an original twist and turn Jack into a real predator. This offers some nice diversity in the gameplay which I can only support because I often feel that we’re in the era of uninspired sequels with repetitive gameplay. The extra senses also had another advantage to them. They made me forget the awful physics. Sadly there’s another part in the technical department that worries me: the AI of the opponents.
Whereas Zwan had nothing but good things to say about the AI in the PC version, I am a lot more pessimistic. It looks like Ubisoft really had to downsize in some departments in order to make the game playable on the Xbox and those were the physics engine and the AI of the opponents. It happened quite a lot that I was firing all the ammo I had and every enemy just ran into the bullet sea as if they had no eyes at all. But this minus also dissolves as you play Instincts more and more. The only thing that matters in the end is you killing every single being on the island and now and then enjoying the lush environment that’s passing your eyes. This however doesn’t make Instincts a brainless shooter. As you progress the competition will be more fierce and you’ll have to adjust your tactics in order to survive.
True fps fans find a good multiplayer important. It’s gotten even worse since some think the multiplayer is more important than the single player. That’s just a bridge too far for me as I’m more a fan of single player experience but nevertheless I did my job and tested the multiplayer for all you multiplayer fans out there. And dare I say that Instincts also delivers in this department and it shows once more that Ubisoft is making up for the physics and AI. Take for instance the Predator mode where one person plays as a predator and the others have to find an alarm and set it off in order to kill the predator. However this alarm is on predator’s ground and whoever is playing the predator gets all the feral abilities from the single player game. You’ll feel hunted or super human, depending on which team you’re on. The other multiplayer game modes are: chaos (death match), team chaos (make a wild guess) and Steal the Sample (capture the flag). This should be enough for all you hungry multiplayer gamers.
A cliché that pops up in most review and even in my own review is the knowledge that gameplay is more important than graphics. But in the case of Instincst I just like to contradict myself. Jacutan is namely so beautiful that you just want to keep on playing. “But, Mario, Doom 3 is also very beautiful and you didn’t want to play this forever”? Indeed, oh true fans of my reviews, nicely seen. But you’ll have to suffer of a severe eye disease if you don’t get it. Doom 3 is dark, with lack of variation and claustrophobic while Instincts is colourful, varied and enormous in size. Which screams: “play me, play me, please, play me”, or not? It doesn’t have the same scale of GTA:SA but the open gameplay and enormous game world is rather unique in the fps genre. I’m not going to waste any useless words on the sound because this does exactly what it should do, nothing more, nothing less.
Whoever dares telling me that Far Cry Instincts is a port of the PC version should go check himself at the psychologist for a severe case of stubbornness. Ubisoft has done its job in offering a new experience, both gameplay and story wise, making it right to buy this version even when you already played through the PC version. The somewhat lacking AI and physics engine do get on your nerves in the beginning but as you play more and more you’ll see the real beauty of this unique fps that may exceed Halo 2