Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Far Cry Instincts (Xbox 360)

I finished the two campaigns in Far Cry Instincts Predator (Xbox 360) (GameSpy, GameSpot) and sent the game back to GameFly with mixed feelings. In many ways, the game was thoroughly disappointing. But in other ways it was inspiring.

The first campaign (Instincts) really sucked. You're this charter boat captain turned jungle ninja. You get to prowl the jungle, backstab unsuspecting guards, plant traps for them to stumble on, and eventually get animal traits of crazy speed, super jumps, and smell-o-vision. You'd think it'd be like being Richard in The Beach, but it's not. I wasted lots of time trying to set up traps and lurk in the brush, but it's vastly more efficient to just run and gun through the whole game. That's okay by me - my inner Serious Sam loves unrealistically blowing the hell out of everything. But the gameplay features in Far Cry are screaming at you to sneak. For example, not only can you go prone, but you can then flip onto your back when prone so you can shoot guards through the floorboards of their stilted beach shack. Too bad you'll never ever use it. I weep for the poor developer who built that feature for no reason.

Okay, so this is a "shoot first" and "to hell with who hears it" game. I can dig it. Then why do the guns all feel the same? They might as well have saved time by just calling it Machinegun #3 and used the same weapon model. It's particularly bad because the enemies' health seems to scale up at the same time your weapon's damage does, making it feel like there's no change at all. The only weapon that felt good was the shotgun (which is great for me because I love a good shotgun). But the open environments and lack of ammo makes it not very useful.

My largest complaint with Far Cry Instincts is with the unbelievably obvious spawning system. The critics all seem to love Far Cry's open environments where you can "choose" the way you get from point A to point B. The reality is that the game is very linear and heavily scripted. Scripting isn't inherently bad (case and point, Half-Life), but this is really bad scripting. Example: So you're going along, creeping through this generic facility. You crawl through some ducts (the shooter's superhighway) and pop out in an office. There are some guards hanging out there in the dark (don't ask why) and you dispatch them (they're evil, duh). There's only one door out of this room, so you head out that way. As soon as you exit the door into the hallway... two new guards come out of the room you just left! There was no other entrance to the room! I guess you could explain it by saying that they came in the vent, just like you, but come on! Events like this happen constantly, completely breaking the realism of your environment.

I finished off the Instincts campaign thoroughly disatisfied. But I'm an achievement point whore, and that first campaign left me with a paltry 15 points, so I decided to keep going and do the second campaign. Thank god, because that one was much much better. More on that later.

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