One FPS that has been turning heads since last year's E3 is Far Cry, a title developed by German developer CryTek that promised unsurpassed gameplay coupled with some of the best graphics seen on the PC. Far Cry is among the first of many games that will tap into the incredible power and possibility offered by AMD Athlon 64 processors. With AMD offering the best 64-bit performance available today and gaming developers are already using 64-bit computing environments to build unprecedented realism into their products, 32-bit only technology is no longer a barrier to the imagination of creators. With AMD64 platforms, games can now be created on, served on, and played on the award-winning next-generation technology like the fantastic Polywell IceCube we tested our copy of Far Cry on. Is Far Cry the next step in the evolution of FPS games, or will it leave most of us, uh, crying? (Sorry about that one.) Thankfully, Far Cry delivers on its promises and then some, making it certainly one of the best FPS games in recent years. The gameplay is extremely immersive, the AI is incredible and the graphics are bar none the best yet on the PC.
You are Jack Carver, a former Ocean Patrol officer who currently spends his day transporting tourists and small cargo around the South Pacific. One day, you meet an attractive journalist who hires you to escort her around some WWII-era Japanese ship wreckage on an uncharted island in Micronesia. However, before too long, mercenaries destroy your ship and your escort disappears. Therefore, you set about on a quest to rescue her from her captors and find out what's really happening on this mysterious island.
The first thing you'll notice about Far Cry is the sheer enormity of the world in which you're thrown. The island is huge, and the draw distances (measuring in at more than a kilometer) allow you to see incredibly far at any given time. Use your binoculars and you'll be able to pick out enemies, say, standing along a beach carrying on in conversation about half a mile away. Approach an enemy encampment and you'll see mercenaries manning mounted machine guns, target practicing and all kinds of things that add to the level of realism. Helicopters will occasionally fly overhead, patrol boats will zoom by and jeeps will drive along paths, adding to the effect that this island is constantly active.
Like Halo, you can only carry a limited number of weapons at once, in this case four (plus grenades). This adds another element of strategy to the game, requiring you to weigh the pros and cons of each weapon to determine if you'd need it. The weapons are accurate and based on real life models, like the M4 assault rifle and the MP5 submachine gun. Aside from carrying weapons, you can also drive most of the vehicles on the island.
The game will take you through a variety of different kinds of environments throughout its 20+ hours of gameplay. You will fight your way through the island itself, end up in the wreckage of a Japanese warship, and go through subterranean caverns and even a volcano.
One of the best things about Far Cry, however, is the amazing AI. This is some of the best unscripted AI ever put into a game. Enemies react in real-time, adapting to your actions and taking the smartest possible route. For example, if they are alone, instead of engaging you they will run to a nearby radio and call for reinforcements. If they are in a group, they will suppress you and then try to eliminate you using real-life tactics. If you notice, one of the group members is calling out orders to the others, and if you take him out, the group will be forced to rework their strategy. Pretty cool.
As I said earlier, Far Cry has some of the best graphics seen yet on the PC. Crytek's CryEngine pulls out all of the stops using Pixel Shading, dynamic lighting and shadows and bump mapping to their fullest potential, bringing the game to life. The environments are fantastic looking; the character models are unsurpassed in detail and are very realistically animated. The weapons look great, and have all kinds of great little details that add to the realism. For example, when holding the sniper rifle, you can see objects in the foreground through the scope, which is a great effect.
The sound effects are really good. This is especially appropriate, since sound factors into the game very heavily since you must rely on stealth and silence in order to get the drop on your foes. The game is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, allowing for the experience to be even that more immersive if you have the appropriate sound setup. The music is appropriate for the game, and is basically something that you would find in an action movie with similar content. The voice acting and dialogue is a little bit too cheesy, however.
Far Cry is a gem, a game that combines an incredible technical presentation with some of the best single-player FPS gameplay in a good long while. Although it does require a pretty heavy-duty gaming rig, like our Polywell this is the type of game worth upgrading for.
This software was reviewed on the remarkable QBox-NF3B gaming PC made by Polywell Computers. The Polywell Ice Cube is equipped with an Athlon 64 bit 3.2 GHz CPU, which will make any game an awesome experience. It also has two 1G sticks of DDR 400 RAM from the great people at Gigaram. The video card is an nVidia G-Force FX 5900 with 128 Megs of cached RAM, which is one of the top 3D graphics rendering cards available on the market today. The OS is Windows XP Pro + sp1+ latest updates. Polywell Computers has really outdone them selves putting this screaming game box together, so if you get a chance to get your hands on one too, don't pass it up.