Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: September 2005
Although not one of our most-anticipated games of 2005, Far Cry Instincts' move to the console from the PC could be a very exciting addition to the Xbox roster. In a move to bring the game to console, Ubisoft is committed to the arduous task of making Far Cry look as good on the Xbox as it does on the PC.
Given the constraints of the Xbox as compared to your costly gaming PC, Ubisoft has indeed taken up the challenge, and from what we see at this point, they have a shot at pulling the whole thing off. Even in its early stages, the Xbox version of Far Cry has the look and feel of the original, looking strikingly similar to the PC environment.
So what can this new Xbox game do? Take any of the descriptions you read about the PC version, and make at least 90 percent of it apply to their console rendition. As in the original, players are able to use very flexible means to achieve the goals in any level, sneaking, stalking, driving, or blasting your way through enemy positions.
One of Far Cry’s claims to fame for many PC gamers was that you would see the only effective way through a level as a sniper, and be very successful at it. Surprisingly, you would talk to a friend, and find out that she chose to just blast through the level, running and gunning, mowing the opposition down while they helplessly tried to resist. Indeed, the AI in Far Cry on the PC remained challenging to each style of gameplay, while not making any style impossible in any given level. This is welcome news for both stealth and action-style players, and Far Cry Instincts promises to have some action-packed driving thrown in to the mix as well.
We are looking forward to testing their assertions that this version will be as balanced as the PC version, and to see just how responsive the Xbox will be compared to the PC. At the point we got to throw-down with the game, the control was still a bit akward and inverted look was not coded, giving some players quite a challenge to compete. Hopefully by E3, Far Cry Instincts’ controls will be fully functional to give all control configs a fair shot at the action.
A new addition to Far Cry on the console is the concept of “feral attacks.” If you’ve heard any fuss about the legalization of hunting feral cats in Wisconsin, you know that this implies felines who hunt live prey. Essentially, Far Cry Instincts will incorporate special abilities and attacks related to tiger-like strikes and low-light vision. We heard some sneers and odd looks from others about this, but Ubisoft is using the abilities to compensate for some of the control drawbacks of the console, and to spice up gameplay on the newest release of Far Cry. After all, Far Cry was not a hard-core combat simulator, and never advertised as one, so it doesn’t seem out of line for them to create a special “feral” ability to have night vision instead of giving you goggles to see in the dark – it’s more their style.
Right now, multiplayer is being designed for up to 16 players through Xbox Live or systemlink, and Far Cry Instincts will also support up to four players on a single console through split screens. This will all be incorporated into some basic match styles, including capture the flag, steal the sample, and your standard deathmatch chaos. An interesting twist here is steal the sample, where you will be able to take the sample and keep your gun to protect yourself and cut a path through the enemy. Also, Far Cry Instincts will enable you to toss the sample to a teammate, allowing your efforts to live on even if you are about to bite the dust.
Vehicles are again integrated into Far Cry Instincts, and players will be able to hijack vehicles from other drivers, but it may not be an easy task. The current resident of a vehicle is able to fend off your hijacking assault, and odds of you success are tough if they are talented defenders.
One of the most highly-advertised features for Far Cry is the map editor. In Far Cry, players will be able to create maps not only for offline multiplayer use, but also for submission to Xbox Live. This marks a real step forward for the console version, but how feasible is it? Ubi has gotten the coding of these maps down to a mere 500KB, with a personal guarantee that they will not exceed 1MB. This makes implementation in the Live environment quite feasible, without significant startup lag for these customized environments of deadliness. In personal testing of constructing these maps, we found their attempts at making creation intuitive quite successful. Map terrain customization is reminiscent of SimCity, with rate of change coded to respond to the pressure applied on the controller. Placing items, weapons, vehicles, bridges, and landscape is a drag-and-drop operation that anyone can pick up in minutes. The map editor will be a real asset to Far Cry, and we look forward to designing a level expressly for the repeated killing of our best friends over Xbox Live.
All in all, Far Cry Instincts is coming along well in its move to the console, and with the added bells and whistles it should see some nice action over Xbox Live when it is released. The new player abilities will undoubtedly be criticized, but if you really want the original version of Far Cry, it is still available on the PC. In the meantime, get ready to steal the sample and run for your life – while still having the ability to take the lives of others!
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