Thursday, January 18, 2007

Far Cry Evolution (Xbox 360)

The second campaign in Far Cry Instincts Predator for the Xbox 360, called Evolution, managed to suck a lot less.

Evolution starts off with the return of the big open island environments that used to be Far Cry's trademark. You're given multiple objective blips on your radar, a boat, a gun, and you're supposed to figure out the rest on your own. And given that you begin this campaign with all the feral powers from the previous campaign, romping through the jungle is a lot more fun. I found the super jump from Instincts to be a nice gimmick; in Evolution it was my bread and butter. I felt that there were more encounters where jumping was a viable stategy and there were definitely more routes through the jungle that took advantage of your increased mobility. There still wasn't much motivation to sneak around, but at least leaping around through the jungle like a bloodthirsty monkey was much more satisfying. Which is why I enjoyed the second campaign so much more: the level design actually matched the gameplay features.

After actually having an opportunity to take advantage of the crazy feral powers, I started to think about some potential synergy with Science & Industry. There are four primary buckets of research items in S&I: weapons, armor, devices, and implants. The feral powers in Far Cry felt like a good fit in S&I's implants branch. There's the powerful melee attack (Muscle Fiber Replacements), super speed/jump (Leg Implants), and super smell/sight (Ocular Implants). So the powers themselves felt right at home, but there was some nice details to Far Cry's implementation that made it just that much better. The melee attack had the same touch as Halo 2's plasma sword where it also leaps you towards the target. The super jump had a nice mechanic for charging it up and letting it fly, but without being disorienting. And the super smell had these nice glowing trails to help you track enemies. Now if we could just get some traction on S&I2, it'd be great to see a little Far Cry in the implant system.

I'm certainly glad that I only rented this game. I hit multiple nasty crashing bugs and the first campaign bored me to tears. But it did have its moments. Cruising around the islands in a boat while enjoying the gorgeous water. Leaping through the jungle and pouncing right on top of a couple of unsuspecting guards. Having some guards inexplicably spawn right behind me, defying even the most dubious video game logic. Wait, maybe I don't want to remember that last one...

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