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Far Cry Instincts Predator

David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce) David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-06-17 12:36:04

Far Cry Instincts Predator - Rank B

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Date: 3/28/06

Also available for Xbox (as Far Cry Instincts and Far Cry Instincts Evolution)

The Far Cry franchise took a convoluted route to the Xbox 360. This first person shooter launched on the PC. A significantly different game called Far Cry Instincts appeared on the Xbox. It was followed up by a sort of standalone expansion called Far Cry Instincts Evolution. Those two titles were ported over and packaged together on the Xbox 360 as Far Cry Instincts Predator.

Instincts absolutely pushed the original Xbox to its limits, but is technically unimpressive on the Xbox 360. No particular effort to overhaul Far Cry for the 360 was made; Instincts Predator is simply a higher resolution version of Instincts with better lighting. The character models are distractingly unattractive, well short of acceptable standards for the current generation of consoles. You'll spend a lot of time skulking about in the bushes, and the modest textures of the vegetation looks downright ugly up close. Nevertheless, Far Cry was the visual benchmark for PC games not too long ago, and the underlying aesthetic design is still appealing. The island setting is attractive, with beautiful water effects and impressive draw distances displaying vast panoramic views.

The enemy A.I. is atrocious. Not only do they lack any subtlety of movement, they don't respond at all to being shot. Mind you, I'm not even talking about being shot at; they nonchalantly soak up bullets until finally falling over dead. At certain points in the game, enemies will cheaply spawn at you. Tedious stealth sequences are exacerbated by enemies that are able to draw a bead on you from seemingly miles away, despite hiding in foliage that should provide visual cover.

The gunplay is decent, but not terrific. The audio isn't sufficiently robust, and the aforementioned enemy lack of response to getting shot makes you feel like you're firing pea shooters. However, the sheer variety of weapons is gratifying. Vehicles add to the mix, but the driving isn't satisfactory. I wasn't expecting Forza caliber physics, but the jeep's looseness made it handle more like a hovercraft than a four-wheeler. I do give credit for Instinct Predator's hang glider sequences, which provide for an uncommon and thus refreshing gaming experience.

The story is predictable and derivative. You play as Jack Carver, a former military badass, stranded on a mysterious tropical island and reluctantly called upon to fight a horde of evil mercenaries in order to rescue a damsel in distress. Toss in a mad scientist who delights in experimentation to develop mutated monstrosities, and you essentially have The Island of Dr. Moreau with guns.

So why, after five paragraphs of reasons not to play this game, did I give Far Cry Instincts Predator a respectable B grade? Eventually Jack Carver is forcibly injected with an experimental serum that grants him kick-ass animalistic powers. You'll have to slog through the early mediocre stages of the game, but you'll have a blast once these feral abilities start kicking in. You'll be able to track enemies by scent, and skulk through the dark with nightvision. Your melee attack becomes a ferocious one hit kill, punching clean through enemies and weaker walls. One of the more memorable moments is using feral speed to outrun a strafing helicopter gunship while leaping over massive chasms.

The thrill of combining all of your tools and abilities is the strength of Instincts Predator. Carefully sneak your way into an enemy encampment. Use your scent tracking to ascertain the path of the patroller, and place a tension trap in his way. Mow down your first several unsuspecting victims with dual submachine guns and cackle as the perimeter guard is skewered by the spring loaded stakes you set for him. Ignore the empty magazines in your firearms, and use your feral speed to close distance with the remaining enemy. Strike him with a feral punch and send him flying. Tear the mounted gun off its emplacement with your bestial strength (Instincts Predator did this well before Halo 3) and stride forward while pouring heavy caliber rounds into the reinforcements headed your way. When Instincts Predator is running on all cylinders, it makes you feel like, well, The Predator.

Like just about every other shooter, Far Cry Instincts Predator features multiplayer, but it's fairly well thought out here. In addition to the requisite deathmatch modes, several others provide unique twists. "Predator" allows one or two juiced up powerhouses to systematically hunt the gaggle of mere mortals ganged up against him. The disparity in slaughtering ability is balanced by lethal sonic transmitters capable of killing the Predators. In a rare console offering, you're also given the option of designing your own maps.

Far Cry Instincts Predator has its share of problems. It's a mix of archaic flaws and outdated visuals. The tacked on bonus expansion portion, Evolution, isn't nearly as thoughtfully designed as the main game. However, once you gain Jack Carver's animalistic abilities, you'll find satisfying gameplay that was ahead of its time.

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