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Ubisoft Focus: Far Cry: Instincts
game: Ubisoft Focus: Far Cry: Instincts
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Crytek
ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed Jan 12th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed Jan 12th, 2005

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It's one thing to think that a PC port to a home console could end up as a diminished product, and another thing entirely to think that said port could actually be a different game entirely.  Ubisoft is betting on the latter in this case, as FarCry, which graced PCs March of '04, is looking to be a completely different offering on home console than it was on the beefy, upgradable computer.  It's coming in the form of Far Cry: Instincts.

Far Cry: Instincts is (still) the story of John Carver, like it's PC cousin.  The game begins when John discovers that he is mysteriously strapped to a chair in the belly of a cargo ship.  After he is freed by an unseen stranger, John is pursued by his captors.  He must rely on cover, firepower, and cunning to stay alive.  That's basically the PC game in four trivial sentences - without giving away any of the details.  Far Cry prides itself on giving total freedom of movement through the island in which John Carver is stranded.  And this total freedom gives gamers the opportunity to play the game in many different ways.  Want to play it cool and hunt people?  Set traps and sabotage from a distance?  Or just be Rambo?  These are some of the options of how to play Far Cry, and, of course, it's all up to the player.

Far Cry for the PC was flexible by letting the player venture and play however he or she wanted.  On the console, things are not going to be the same.  The hardware restrictions of the consoles have forced developer Ubisoft Montreal to streamline the open-endedness a bit.  Just a bit, though, so don't panic.  Since they're passing it as a different game entirely, we'll have to wait and see.  As for me, I'm glad they're taking the time to make the game quality regardless of the console.  Don't expect a dumbed-down version for Xbox and PS2, as Ubisoft Montreal is keeping the basic story the same, only making it unique to the console release; so, in a way, if you own the PC version the console version might be worth owning as well.  While, they're keeping the same open-ended style of gameplay, it will be a little less open-ended.  This is probably due to the memory restrictions of the two consoles.  But Ubisoft Montreal isn't speaking much about the changes to the story, and it's too early to speculate.  It's certain that there will be branching paths, though.

Expect new vehicles and weapons aplenty, as well as the ability to set traps.  Traps like the branch whip, multi-arrow, and claymore mine each contain to their own abilities, such as taking out a single pursuer or blowing up an incoming truck.  Use your instincts, (hah!) and learn how to construct these traps as you go.  This new ability will force players to be cunning in their placement of traps, and be vigilant where they step - as enemy hunters will be privy to this skill as well. 

The gameplay variety will probably only be improved on, not lessened, as we can only hope to blow up helicopters, boats and sneak through the grasses and silence an enemy before he alerts his buddies.  Far Cry excelled at the strategy element where it was important to take down an individual enemy, by using the landscape to your advantage (that includes exploding barrels, hurray!). Overall, expect the core gameplay to remain intact, and if anything, improved on.

The PS2 and Xbox version takes place across 4 different islands throughout the course of 14 luscious levels (instead of the PC's 20) of swaying grass and zipping bullets.  There will be some new areas including an abandoned mine and an aquatic lab.  With the new additions there should be enough variation and deviance from it's PC cousin to warrant a play from both fans of the original and newcomers alike.

It's also comforting that Far Cry: Instincts will be multiplayer heavy via Xbox Live and (probably) through PS2 Online.  Instincts is promising to not only offer a great single-player experience, but to bring console goers a map editor and online play for up to 24 people (final number still pending).  The map editor will bring an element to consoles that is frequently ignored.  Though we've seen map-editors in other games like Timesplitters 2 and numerous iterations of Tony Hawk, this customization and flexibility is welcome news, adds some spice to the console versions, and gives them a leg-up this 2005.  Ubisoft Montreal will give console gamers the chance to play one of the best first person shooters of 2004.  And it's just a wee distance off.  With all the care Ubisoft Montreal is giving to make this port a new game entirely, things are already looking great for the new year.

Look for Far Cry: Instincts to blast, sneak, and trap its way onto PS2 on February 1, Xbox March 5, and GameCube (TBA).  We'll have further coverage of Far Cry: Instincts when a playable demo is available.

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