Release Date: March 23, 2004
Pre-order 'FAR CRY': PC
FarCry answers the age old question: If you are stuck on a deserted island with ten of your friends, what would you go for first - the assault rifle or the rocket launcher? Now that you mention it, being stuck on an island with my friends would drive me batty enough to ponder that question. FarCry is set on a nice, quiet tropical island that's also home to a ubiquitous amount of small arms; imagine Gilligan's Island on Guadalcanal -- actually let's not imagine Gilligan holding a machine gun, some childhood memories need to remain as-is. UbiSoft recently released the multiplayer beta and we tested it out in the time honored fashion: blowing the bajeezus out of each other.
The beta consisted of three game modes: assault; free-for-all and team deathmatch. Assault borrows from Unreal Tournament, where one team defends the goal whilst the opposing team attacks. Free-for-all is your typical deathmatch where it's everyone for themselves, and team deathmatch pits two groups of teams against each other; the team with the most points at the end of the match wins. Of the three modes Assault was my favorite, but I'm always a sucker for any multiplayer mode that requires teamwork in addition to great aim. The other modes don't bring anything new to the table, but there's not much that can be added to deathmatch play; its been fine the way it is for the last ten years.
What FarCry does have going for it though are huge, gorgeous maps. The demo contains four maps: Monkey Island, an Aztec themed map that features - yep you guessed it - monkey statues; Dune, a beach-based assault map that also lets you use the patrol boats; Airstrip, an assault map that takes place in a jungle; and Radio, which is four islands connected by rope bridges, and was my least favorite - it seemed constrained compared to the other maps and it just wasn't as cool. The maps feature plenty of dense foliage and high hills, potentially turning it into a camper's paradise. To combat people being completely masked by the bushes, each player's weapon reflects some sunlight; you can still hide, but at least people stand a sporting chance of spotting a lurker. A larger concern is the vantage points combined with the massive view distances - you can see for several miles - turning the game into a shooting gallery for someone skilled with a sniper rifle.
Controlling the vehicles is a tad difficult. They use the WASD keys to move and the buggy and patrol boat, the two vehicles in the demo, seemed to have two speeds: too fast and too slow. Also, the driver controls both the vehicle and the attached minigun; that works for single player, but in multiplayer the passenger should control the gun. Also, the maps didn't seem like they were designed with the buggies in mind as I frequently found myself heading down a road just to have it dead-end. Also, in the Dune map you'll come across some large, very cool looking patrol boats that aren't player usable and are just crying out to be manned by groups of players. The walk speeds a tad slow as well, and combined with the size of the maps really can make you seem like you are moving at tortoise speed.
The graphics are amazing and do an excellent job of immersing you into the tropical environment - so much so that I kept looking for the bottle of bug repellent. After years of sci-fi and WWII maps, the tropical theme is a nice change. The graphics stand to give Half Life 2 and Doom 3 a run for their money, and with the release dates for those two games still in limbo you'll be able to frag your friends when FarCry comes out March 23rd. Far Cry has kept a low profile until recently, and with 2 excellent single player demo's out - and a third on the way - as well as the press MP demo, this game deserves to be on your radar screen. It looks like it will deliver quality single and multiplayer components. The best part may be that it's priced at $39, which makes it a great value for the money.
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