|Far Cry enters the next-gen. But not really|
Far Cry Instincts: Predator is a bit of a let down, really. Not only is that name alone a bigger mouthful than a one night stand with Ron Jeremy, but arguably more important than throat gagging is the fact it's completely ruined by horrendous controls that pretty much break it in every single way.
It's a shame, 'cos I'd even go as far as saying it's a decent game...but due to these control woes, it's just, ya know, unplayable. If they'd nailed the simple concept of a control system that worked
, this could have been one of the best FPS games on the 360. Sigh.
It's Had a Remix
Similarly to what Ubisoft did with GRAW, the console rendition of Far Cry is a completely different beast to its PC cousin. Remixed story, completely different levels, but still undeniably similar in look and spirit. I worshipped Far Cry on the PC, and it's still a game I keep handy when in desperate need of a trip to a deserted tropical paradise on a rainy day. Or when just in the mood to headshot mofos from 500 feet. Needless to say, I was quite anxious to try out a new adventure in that same beautiful, wonderful universe I fell in love with years ago.
|Unlike the PC game, here on console, Far Cry imbues the player with crazy new super powers. It sorta works|
First some history though. For those that don't know, a game entitled Far Cry Instincts actually showed up on the old Xbox last year. As in the PC game, you controlled shady bad arse Jack Carver, who when taking his boat out for a spin got caught up in a nasty sci-fi tale of evil experiments and killer mutants overtaking a tropical island. Where the games differed primarily though, was - as mentioned - in its completely new levels, and hugely revamped story. Among other things, this time Jack got infected with the same mutagenic gene of the island's inhabitants, thus developing his own super powers in the process. Essentially, you were turned into Wolverine, with guns.
Which leads us onto this game. Here Ubisoft have ported the aforementioned Far Cry Instincts, given it the 360 upgrade treatment, and also bundled in a brand new sequel adventure on top titled "Evolution". Thus "Instincts Predator" is - rather confusingly - born. As a result, you kinda get two games in one here; an upgraded Instincts, and its follow-up, which I must say makes that £40 price tag a little easier to swallow than perhaps some other 360 offerings.
With that out of the way, I must dive straight into negative town though, as I really have to whine about those controls some more. Although the layout is fine - ripping off Halo's controls as closely as possible (right down to the dual wielding) - the reason Far Cry doesn't work is simply because the whole thing is so damn unresponsive
. I swear to god, you pull left and it takes half a second to actually move. You click the thumbstick to duck and it just flat out doesn't work 90% of the time. This all-out sense of cumbersome-ness (English language? Hello?), finds its way into every other aspect of the controls. I'm not exaggerating, it's just sloppy as hell. Its constant sluggishness makes just walking around, crawling through the jungle, and jumping into vehicles an absolute nightmare as a result...and don't even get old Dig started on how utterly disgraceful the combat subsequently is.
Lining up your shots is frickin' impossible on a moving target, and pretty much feels like you're playing on the laggiest server of all time. Why are the damn sticks so unresponsive? It literally feels like you're playing on a PS2 pad. That same horrendous delay and those god-awful dead-zones have somehow transported themselves into the previously near-perfect 360 pad.
|Predator's aiming system is so far from fucked, it'll make you, well, cry. Even Kill Zone handled better|
We all know a shooter is only as good as how it handles. Halo felt so smooth, GRAW felt rock so solid, yet Far Cry feels...just downright terrible. I played the demo of Far Cry Instincts on the old Xbox a couple months back, and I swear to god even that wasn't this bad.
The game tries to alleviate this by throwing in tons of whacky auto-aim stuff, in an attempt to make the combat somewhat bearable. This includes the ability to just kinda roughly shoot in the general direction of a bad guy, and let the game do the rest for you. That's fine in theory I guess, but to see your bullets and tracers magically heat seeking into an enemy's head when your shot is miles off target is just comically awful. Not only does it lose any kind of realism and finesse in the process, but it's just an all-out guilty admission on Ubisoft's part in how off the targeting is by itself.
I will say this, as the game progresses and you start snagging some of the more high octane weaponry - your SMGs and such - this is all minimised a little. Spraying machine gun lead at a group of bad guys is far easier to manage than lining up the single shot pistols...but ridiculously the game decides to literally drip feed you ammo for all the good guns, instead forcing you to fall back on those ruddy handguns way more often than you'd like. So a decision must be made to compensate; suffer through the janky, unresponsive aiming, or accept the embarrassment of lock-on magical headshots that are a metre off target. The combat is just flat out broken in this game, it really is that simple.
Give & Take
The PC version felt so fluid and glorious to play in comparison, which makes this even harder to swallow. It saddens me, because controls aside, I love being back in this universe again. When I'm swimming in the sea, riding boats, driving jeeps along the coast and just enjoying the scenery, I'm kind of in love. I want
this game to be so much better, 'cos it has so much damn potential. I wanna live on this fucking island.
|The cut-scenes are probably my fave part of the game, all of which are seen from your own view, and are a joy to watch|
It's not the prettiest game in the world by any means, don't get me wrong. Despite featuring the HD upgrade and pretty light blooming effects you'd expect, Instinct's origins as an Xbox 1 game are very much evident in its low-polygon environments and ugly character models. It's the art direction and the way it all melds together that impress though; the views stretch out for miles, it's got the HDR lighting stuff, the physics are great, the framerate's super smooth, the water is just about the best you've ever seen in a game, and the fab use of special effects really suck you in like never before. I love how when I zoom my gun in for a closer view, the whole world blurs briefly as my eye sight refocuses, or similarly how the glorious water effects kick in when I go for a swim in the gorgeous liquid sex that encapsulates the island. You feel like you could reach into your TV and pee in it.
Even more impressive are the simply amazing cut-scenes, which are not only in-engine, but also in view. It takes the Half-Life concept of never leaving your viewpoint for a single moment in the entire game, but here the tension of these sequences has been racketed up into something far more impressive and exciting. In just the first few minutes alone, you'll be hunched down inside your boat when choppers open fire, glass smashing all around you, before the whole thing explodes and sends you over board...all seen from the first person. These sequences are directed and edited almost perfectly, and pleasingly fire off regularly. I loved every single one of 'em.
|One cool feature is the ability to set traps here, although in practice it's a bit clunky and is therefore rarely used|
This sort of stuff is vastly superior to the storytelling of the PC version, which was its only real negative. This extends to the voice acting, which is similarly improved beyond all recognition. Long gone is Woody McWoodpecker of the PC game, replaced here with Stephen Dorff of Blade fame, who actually does a surprisingly good job of breathing some life into Jack Carver as a bad ass name taker.
With a pleasing stream of gratuitous "fucks!" thrown in for good measure, I rather dug the voice acting and the storyline in Instincts Predator. The fact they spruced this stuff up over the PC version means the Far Cry storyline has gone from merely functional, to far more riveting.
Admittedly, there are one or two other areas where this overtakes the PC version. The aforementioned super powers are ace; you can smack motherfuckers miles into the air with one punch, enjoy super speed movement for dodging and interweaving past groups of mercs, and perhaps most bizarrely of all, even smell your enemies from a distance for aiding in a more stealthy approach if you so wish. It doesn't stop there though, you can also lay traps, which are ripe for comedic gold, especially when you attract a merc over, only to see a branch whip him in the face to an all-powerful "ARGHHH!". These traps do fall by the wayside after your first hour of comedy filled fun, but it's a nice bonus feature that adds some more depth to the world.
Some interesting multiplayer modes and an incredibly easy to use custom map editor round off these pleasing features, especially as you can play online in your own creations, which I believe is a first for the console world.
Due to all of the above, there are some
reasons to recommend Far Cry, and it's not all doom and gloom by any means. There are moments in this game where I'm running around these massive, wide open levels, blown away by what I'm seeing, causing me to stop for a second to say myself...YES, this is it. This is the Far Cry experience. And it's running on my massive widescreen TV in high rez. Fuck yeah.
Ultimately though, when all's said and done, it has to come back to those fucking controls doesn't it? No matter how much fun you have exploring the environments, or uppercutting mercs off cliffs, or swimming in the most picturesque, turquoise blue sea of your wildest dreams...it's forever marred by the fact you can't quite turn fast enough...or can't line up that headshot properly...or can't quite duck underneath that branch...or can't steer out of the way of that tree...or can't climb through that window...or can't man that machine gun nest in time...or can't just pause the fucking game...despite the fact you're clicking the motherfucking Start button over and over and over and...!
Argh, it's fucking infuriating I tell ya. Why are the controls so god damn terrible? What a waste.
All eyes look towards Crysis on the PC for a much more impressive spiritual Far Cry follow-up...but as for 360 owners...I guess they're sod all outta luck.