2004 Reviews

Far Cry

  • Review Date: 2011-04
  • Release Date: 2004-03
  • Developer: Crytek
  • Rating: 9.0

First off, this is a review of an enhanced version of Far Cry with the 64bit patch applied. This gives better textures and graphics, apparently. It's also played using a quicksave mod, so there's no replaying checkpoints over and over again.

Now, I'm not sure how good this game would have looked unpatched on a 2004 spec computer, as there's no way you could run it at maximum settings. However on a brand new 2011 spec computer built specifically for gaming, this game can run happily with maximum quality and resolution. There was one point in the game, in front of a boat in one of the first levels, where it ground to an almost complete halt. Not sure why it did it there, but the rest of the game ran smoothly.

Now Far Cry was a hugely popular game from a brand new gaming studio, Crytek, based in Germany. It's not often that a new startup releases a game of this quality using their own engine. It's a fairly amazing feat, especially compared to most of the games Germany puts out.

However as amazing as Far Cry looks for a 2004 release, I do have to bring it back to earth as there are other weaknesses in this game. But I'll talk about the graphics first. Now Far Cry is the first so-called sandbox game i've played. Games like Call of Duty, Medal of Honr and Vietcong had some sandbox elements where you weren't stuck on an absolutely obvious linear path, but even Far Cry isn't as open as I was expecting. There's still 20 levels which you can only play one at a time. You can't decide to return to the island from the first level at the end of the game. And many of these levels are quite linear, especially the indoor ones. There's a few where you can pick a path across an island, but your destination is always the same. Of course this is kind of a good thing for me, because I don't mind some linearity so I know where I'm supposed to be going.

The outdoor levels all look amazing. No game I've played up until 2004 (and for a couple years following Far Cry) comes close to the huge scale and tropical beauty of Far Cry. No other shooter comes close to the awe-inspring scenic scenes, as you climb a mountain and can look back at the ocean and cliffs you just climbed. It's truely epic.

Unfortunately this quality isn't carried through to the indoor levels. Ships, catacomb, factories, bases... everything indoor sets the par back to average. In fact every time an indoor level interrupted my enjoyment, all I could think about was getting back to the lush jungle in, hopefully, the next level. The indoors are just plain, lacking detail and you really see that the CryEngine doesn't come close to id Tech 4 or Unreal Engine 2+ at close-up visual eye candy. What it does well is huge sprawling levels. But everything does look a little cartoony and unrealistic, not helped by the average CryEngine lighting.

What Far Cry also fails at is a story. You're thrust into a game after an epileptic low quality intro apparently trying to save an oddly clothed women with some random person helping you on the phone. Perhaps I was supposed to read the readme to get an idea of the plot, but as you start the game you have no idea who you're supposed to be or why your trying to save the girl. And none of that really changes throughout the game. Ultimately, the story is an afterthought.

Other weaknesses are the models. The Trigen look like they came from a 90's shooters, even the human models look average.

Now, I played Far Cry on medium difficulty with a quicksave, which in same cases I used enough to make it worthwhile. I imagine this game, in it's later stages, would have become very frustrating with limited checkpoints. A couple times my quicksave corrupted and I had to use checkpoints. One of which took me back almost 10 minutes of gameplay. So playing this game with checkpoints, I repeat, would have been painful. In particular the last level where you'll get obliterated in a couple of seonds by enemies which are too far away for you to shoot if you have the wrong weapons (which I did). So I threw god mode on, ran out into the open where I could actually see the enemy because once they get too far away the engine doesn't render the characters even though they're still shooting at you, which itself is another major flaw in the game. And with god mode on slaughtered everyone as quick as possible and kept notice of how many times I would have died without god mode (a handy feature of this particular cheat). 130 times was the answer, which is ridiculous with no quick save.

So overall the last couple of levels were very poorly done, but overall the gameplay was all standard realistic shooter type action. Not too difficult, in fact quite easy for the first half of the game. Apart from driving sections because Crytek failed miserably at providing a usuable vehicle.

So for 2004, Far Cry is one of the best games alongside HalfLife 2 and Doom 3. It renders non-linear (but not totally sandbox) outdoor areas like no other game before it. It's worth playing just for this. In all other aspects (gameplay, indoor levels, story), it's just another shooter.