First, let’s get the plot of this first-person shooter out of the way. Charter boat owner Jack Carver is offered a considerable amount of money by sultry journalist Valerie Constantine to take her to an uncharted island. Big mistake. Approaching the shore, the boat is shot up and destroyed, Val is kidnapped and Jack is left gasping and barely alive on the sand.
It’s now that his former marine training (of course…) kicks in, as Jack sets out to rescue Val by trying to avoid or, as is more usual, eliminate hordes of trained mercenaries who are guarding a secret research facility on the island.
At this point, you may notice obvious comparisons with Halo and Half-Life as the hero battles his way through thick jungle to murky underground corridors where decidedly non-human enemies will provide an even greater challenge.
This is more than just a stop-gap first-person shooter until Doom III and Half-Life 2 hit the shelves (if ever). The graphics alone are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, with two kilometres of island to explore in exquisite detail, including foliage, rippling water, various lighting effects, tropical birds flying overhead and scudding clouds.
Although the storyline is essentially linear, there is a great degree of freedom in how you pursue your objectives. Part of this is decided by geography (i.e. crossing to another island by boat) but mostly it’s determined by the strength of the enemy AI. The mercenaries are well organised and will call for land, sea and air back-up once they sense your movements. They will also attempt to circle behind you while another group tries to keep you pinned down.
So stealth is a vital factor. You will find medical, weapon and ammo pick-ups along the way but it doesn’t take many hits to put you down and the sheer volume of foes (who often take several shots before they collapse) can be daunting. There are no quick save options, either; you have to get to specific save points, which may deter non-seasoned FPS players.
One vital piece of equipment, though, is the binoculars you’re provided with by an ally. That’s because they have the ability to ‘tag’ the enemies within your orbit and to listen in on their conversations, which can give useful clues to where they are. Vehicles such as Humvees, hang-gliders and boats can be commandeered and weapons put to use, although that frequently exposes you further to the bad guys.
As you might expect, Far Cry has a multiplayer dimension but with only three basic modes: Free For All (you against the rest), Team Deathmatch and Assault (one team against the other’s defences). There is an excellent, easy to use map editor, though, which could prove very popular after you’ve exhausted the single player campaign.