First-person shooters, eh? When you get a good one it's one of the most absorbing forms of videogame entertainment, when you get a bad one it's shit. End of story.
Far Cry: Instincts looked like it was going to be one of the many low-grade fps releases that litter the shelves, but after eventually playing it, I reckon it's the best fps on xbox (that includes halo2).
Farcry puts you in the head of jack carver, an ex-navy recruit who, through gun-running and mob troubles, ends up in business sailing tourists around a group of tropical islands. Fortunately for us, everything goes tits-up and good ol' jack ends up on an island under military rule and with the whole of their armed forces on the lookout for a trespasser who may stumble upon some of the secrets experiments on the island. Nice one!
Unlike many fps games, instead of asking you to blow the shit out of every soldier that you come across, farcry lets you choose when to strike and when to lay low and sneak around a patrol. I keep thinking back to a particular section here:
Lying in some tall grass at the top of a cliff, you scope the military compound below. 7 soldiers patrol the beach while around 15 are stationed in the stilt-legged buildings standing over the water. Using your binochulars, you weigh up your options:
There's a jet ski. You could sneak down, cap the patrolling guard on the beach, make a bullet-spewing charge to the water's edge, tear off on the jet ski and hope that you hit the other side of the beach before that gun turret cuts you to ribbons... nah! You could try popping a few with the sniper rifle, hope that no-one sees a body drop, clear yourself a path, get to the gun-turret... damn, not enough bullets! What should you do?
That's the kind of open-ended gameplay that farcry throws at you. It gives you an impressive amount of choice. How you deal with a situation is up to you. In the above I took out a guard with a silenced pistol, then snaked through the grass, around the compound, dropping only 3 soldiers to clear my path. I is a sneaky bastard, see?
Take into acount that enemies are pretty smart and will investigate any movement/noises they detect, that you have the ability to set basic traps, that you can distract/lure guards by throwing stones, that you can kick explodable barrels around, that you can crawl under huts and shoot up through the floor and that (later in the game) you have some handy "primal instincts" then you'll realise that farcry gives you a lot to play with.
Part way through the game (when you master your instincts) stealth becomes less of a neccessity, giving you more of an all out gun party. However, if you want to be stealthy, you can. There's just not much point. But it's still entirely up to you.
Vehicles are well implimented. Speedboat, jetski, humvee, hang-glider... a nice variation in vehicles and it's cool to be able to aim and shoot with your machinegun/pistol (though it takes some practice). They aren't always there for a "driving level", either. They pop up all over the place and are another welcome addition to your gameplay tactics.
Using a humvee to tear through the forest dirt-tracks I couldn't help wondering how long it would've taken me if I was on foot. The levels are huge! And they don't seem contrived. By that, I mean the layout of buildings and surroundings seems realistic. Organic. Like the natural surroundings were there first, and the buildings were made to take advantage of them (you'll know what I mean when you play it). The game has a very nice "Predator" feel to it.
Graphically, I was stunned. The overwhelming amount of plants and foliage. It's impossible to take in. It's so bloody... natural! Long draw distance, too. And I didn't notice any pop-up (though one review led me to believe it was abundant). Also, from the opening section I noticed some cool effects that I don't think I've seen before in a videogame. The sunlight seems to radiate off every surface in a pleasingly realistic way. There's a slight blur as you step onto dry land from swimming. Very nice touches.
The game's physics add a lot to the visual side of things, too. There's a lot of stuff that reacts to explosions, especially people! The ragdoll effects on characters is great but I really love how corpses float ("they all float down here!" ). It reminded me of the first time I saw the E3 Half-life 2 video and sat, gob-smacked, at how the barrels had realistic weight and bouyancy. Farcry has that, and I didn't even notice until I'd been playing for a good few hours. I just took it for granted.
There's a shitload of stuff in farcry that you'll take for granted, probably not even notice, but you'll instantly appreciate the gameplay and graphics. For my money, the best fps on xbox. No arguments!