Trent Polack's site for cats, games, game development, and undeniably powerful sociological insight all with a healthy dose of narcissism.
This Isn't Your Daddy's FPS
Published on March 16, 2004 By mittens In Action
I was one of the guys that gave into the game's hype and figured it was going to be the best thing since marshmellow peeps. I just figured the game was going to revolutionize FPS-gameplay. That was, of course, until I played the demos released by CryTek/Ubisoft. The Farcry demo(s) were so bad that they made me vow that I'd never play the game again. Ever. The demo was just so bug-ridden, sluggish (the graphics were FAR from optimized), the difficulty had obviously not been play-balanced at that point, and the game just wasn't fun.

So, you may be asking: what made me play the game? Well, to be honest, I had faith in the Crytek team and gave them the benefit of the doubt that the final version of the game would be better than the horrible excuse for a demo that they released. And, I'll be the first to say that I'm glad I was wrong. I'm also going to be trying a new format for my reviews with this review, so bear with me (and please, give me feedback!)!

Gameplay: This game attempts to be revolutionary in that the levels aren't really "levels" per se. The "levels" take place on a set of islands, and you need to take vehicles/boats to go various places on the island in order to accomplish your objectives. This makes the gameplay very open-ended, and the fact that the locale doesn't change from map to map makes the gameplay more immersive than it would be otherwise. Also, the game's training takes place progressively throughout the first level, so your play isn't really disrupted if you already know what you're doing. Also, let me say real quickly that the game's story is surprisingly decent, which was totally unexpected (I won't ruin it for you, but let me just say that you come across some enemies that you would never have expected to come across from all the ads/screenshots you've seen).

The game's enemies are smart. Really, really smart. They're very sensitive to any noises that you make as you traverse the islands and its surrounding environments. And the game is designed in such a way that you could potentially escape a lot of the enemy encounters without any bloodshed (at least early on). The enemy AI works well with each other, and it's not unexpected to see a group of two guys trying to draw you out, only to be "ambushed' by their third partner-in-crime. And if the enemy has yet to realize your presence in the area, they go about their own schedules. In the screenshot below, one of the enemies can be seen at a shooting range practicing his aim (unfortunately for him, he was killed moments later), and another can be seen doing push-ups. There are screenshots of both of these below:

There are some problems with the AI though, especially for a game that claims to have the most "complex enemy AI ever experienced." First of all, the enemy's AI seems to only work in "zones." As an example, in one level, I took out a group of enemies with a silenced MP5 that were about 75 meters away from me, and killed them. This is alright, except that you'd expect the pair of guards 3-4 meters away from me to either: A) notice their comrades died, or hear the muffled blast of a silenced automatic being fired right next to them. Also, you would think that if I unload a 30 round clip from my AR-15 into a metal door that's the only thing blocking me from a room of 5 or 6 mercenaries, that they'd attempt to open it and figure out what was going on; nope! They just act completely surprised when I burst through the door anyway. One last gripe is that enemies don't seem to notice dead bodies if they come across them, which is odd, being that the enemies in games like Splinter Cell do notice that kind of thing, and Crytek claims that Far Cry has the most "complex enemy AI ever experienced." These complaints may be minor, but for a game that touts very complex AI, I'd expect better (though the previous examples may be "cured" in the harder difficulty modes... If so, I'll eat my shoe and post an apology to the Crytek guys; but it is my experience that higher levels of difficulty just mean that enemies aim better and do more damage).

There are two words for the physics in Farcry: Fucking. Amazing. If you can see it in the map, chances are you can move it; whether it be shooting a can of food off a shelf, a camera on a desk, or a bomb off a stack of bombs (screenshot below). Another aspect of the game's physics that I felt was cool was that there are certain aspects of the game's environment that are "attached" to a secure object via a rope or chain links. One examples of this are when a bridge is secured to the environment by 4 chain-link segments (screenshot below). Well, if you have enemies crossing that bridge, just shoot the chain-links, and BAM! The bridge falls, along with the enemies that were traversing it. The fun with physics I've mentioned so far hasn't even touched the subject of "ragdoll physics," which seems to be the new "IT" term for the year. Ragdoll physics are, as the name implies, physics that treat a dead body like a ragdoll, in that it swings all over the place. It's good fun, and I've spent a good amount of time shooting a dead body, just to get the appendages positioned in a way suitable to my disturbed brain.

Graphics: If you've seen the screenshots that I've posted so far, then if I say that the game's graphics are absolutely beautiful, it should come as no surprise. So, let me say it: the game's graphics are absolutely beautiful. The forest's are lush, the water looks amazing, the models are very well-made and detailed, the lighting and shadows are amazing, and the game has some of the best bump-mapping (the process of giving a 2D-textured surface "depth") I have ever seen in any game to date. Believe me, I don't need to elaborate on how beautiful the graphics in this game are, though I will anyway (simply because one of the comments asked me to use my 3D programming knowledge to explain some of the cooler effects in the game). The game takes extreme advantage of the ever-so-touted pixel shaders that you hear everyone clamoring about. The game's water refracts the light from the skyboxes and the rest of the environment around it and the bump mapping is believable (though used to an extent that some surfaces, including some characters, look a bit "oily"). The game's viewing distance is also some what of a technical miracle. The ads I've seen in gaming magazines for Far Cry claim an "800 meter viewing distance" which means exactly jack-shit, since we don't really know the game's distance scale used, but as far as us gamers are concerned, it means that we can see a very, very, very far distance. I can snipe an enemy a good LONG distance away from my tower... And by long distance away, I mean the poor bastard I sniped was on a completely different island. Very impressive indeed.

The game isn't without its graphical flaws though. As I mentioned earlier, bump mapping is used to such an extent that some characters/surfaces have an "oily" feel to them (check out the screenshot of the main character, in the red Hawaiian shirt, and the screenshot of the pile of bombs and you'll see what I mean). Some of the particle effects aren't too spectacular either, namely the fire effects and the waterfalls in the game; the waterfalls, actually, look quite corny. This is just me being picky though.

If you don't believe everything I'm saying about Far Cry's graphics (the good things I'm saying about them, not the minor nitpicks), just take a look at some of the following screenshots:

The game also uses some very cool graphics effects that actually impact the gameplay: such as the "after-effect" from a flashbang (screenshot below); which, at-first, is just a bright white screen. However, then it moves on to having the environment have an "over-exposure" look to it. Very cool. Far Cry also gives the user the option to have different rendering schemes in-game, such as a very "bright" color palette, or a gritty, washed-out color palette (a la Saving Private Ryan/Band of Brothers). They even have a pseudo cel-shaded rendering option, though it's mostly a gimmick, and looks pretty bad in-game.

You may be wondering how a game this beautiful performs though. Well, the demo was VERY sluggish, though it appears that the Crytek team did their homework, and ironed-out the bugs/optimization problems, because the game is silky-smooth now (at, what appears to be about 30fps). However, it's not like my system is "low-end." I ran the game on an AMD Athlon XP 2200+ (~1800mhz), 1gb DDR333, 128mb Radeon 9800 Pro, 7200rpm HDD. So my graphics card is top-of-the-line, though my CPU needs some work.

Another thing that Crytek changed since the release of the Farcry demo is that the amount of blood and gore in the game has increased (screenshots below to see if you should let your kids play it or not). One particularly interesting (I'm afraid to say "cool," even though it is cool) effect in the game is that if an enemy is killed, and falls in the water, the blood flows out into the water. Kind of nifty looking.

Controls: Jack Carver (your character in the game) has some odd movement quircks that can make the game play experience a bit odd. For instance, the mouse-sensitivity controls how sensitive the mouse is to your movement, just like every other FPS to ever use a mouse for looking around; however the quirck comes in the fact that you can also have the game "smooth" the mouse movement, or "accelerate" the mouse movement. Both of these help to eliminate the odd feeling you get while you control your view in the game, however, no matter what you do, the controls just don't feel "right." This is a minor quibble, however, and probably is a complaint unique to me. Another minor complaint as far as controls go is that the leaning in the game is very odd. It feels like your character does a full 45 degree rotation in the world, instead of just poking his head out left/right, like you'd expect leaning to work.

The game's many vehicles are a real blast to use, there's nothing like the feeling that you get from running over enemy characters, or killing a couple enemies in a boat that you need, then taking the boat over (screenshot of this below). However, the vechicles' controls take some serious getting-used-to. You can control them from two perspectives: first-person (like the rest of the game) or third-person. Both are optimal for certain situations. I tend to like third-person for movement and first-person when I need to aim a vehicle's guns. However, the vehicles have *REALLY* sensitive controls, and tend to wipe out a bit too easily (though, thankfully, they don't tip over easily like in BF1942), though they really are a godsend when you need to traverse across an island quickly, or take a boat from one island to another.

Audio: I'm not going to rave endlessly about the game's audio, though it is definately impressive. I'll just give you a quick run-through on my thoughts on the game's audio: the voice-acting is mediocre, the music is amazing, the sound effects (guns and such) are amazing, and the comments/one-liners that you hear the enemies say as you progress are amazing as well.
The one dent in the aural experience provided by Far Cry, and it's a big dent, is the voice-acting. It's absolutely terrible! The lines are said without any emotion at all, and the actor (and I use this word very loosely) that voices the main character, Jack Carver, attempts to sound like a badass but just ends up sounding like an ass. Oddly enough, the best voice acting is done by the enemies in their one-line comments, occasional conversations and screams of pain.

Final Word: Farcry is an amazing FPS with graphics that are sure to make your jaw-drop. The controls are a bit quirky, but other than that, the game is pretty flawless. If you were disappointed by the demos released earlier by Crytek/Ubisoft, like I was, then don't let that get you down. This game is absolutely amazing. Check out my Far Cry gallery for more in-game screenshots!
on Mar 16, 2004
I like the new style but it seems to have less "meat" to it than it should. You should comment more particularly on the subject of graphics since you know such a great deal in that area. The level editor was hevily touted in the early technology test video as being kick-ass. Give that thing a try and even do a review on it if you feel so inclined. On a final note nice job on the screeshots, great variaty and quantitiy.
on Mar 17, 2004
God, this review was fucking INCREDIBLE. I'm going to read it over and over again. My computer won't run the damn game, but your review makes me feel like I'm ACTUALLY THERE!
on Mar 17, 2004
How did you get it!!!!
on Mar 17, 2004
I had a friend that got a copy of the gold version for review purposes. I decided to use it for review purposes as well.

I have it on pre-order now.
on Mar 19, 2004
Dang, good for you, where are all my friends who get pre-released stuff that I can "Barrow"?!!! awsome review btw
on Mar 19, 2004
Thanks a lot, nice to know you liked it.

There are a lot of cool things I could say about the game in the review that I didn't, but I really didn't want to ruin the story for anyone... Because there are some rather surprising elements to it.
on Apr 08, 2005
I'm not sure if anyone is still reading this as this review is quite old but ni just wanted to correct a few technical errors in it.
1. first off, far cry doesn't use bump maps, it uses Normal maps. whcih instead of using shades of black and white ot interpret extruding, normal maps use colors to interpret extruding.
2. Bump mapping isn't and can't be used to give object/modeling an oily appearence. as stated bump/normal mapping can only be used to give flat 2d textures depth.
3. the fire effects and water falls aren't done by partical fx. they are done by using animated/sequence textures.

other than those few corrections, great review!!! and this game is sweet, i love how the ai actually sometimes manages to sneak up on me the player, its unlike any other game i'v eplayed yet.
on Jul 31, 2006
Spalding tomorrow tributes sorely elector unfolds ... Thanks!!!
on Sep 05, 2006