One of Ubisoft's big games for this holiday season is Far Cry Instincts on the Xbox. While using the same name as the PC original, Instincts has been made exclusively for the Xbox, and will offer gamers a unique single-player FPS experience and extensive multiplayer game modes. We took a look at a few levels from the campaign and took on some foes in multiplayer.
While Far Cry Instincts may seem like any other first-person shooter there are a number of areas where it differs. The most significant is in Jack Carver's (the lead character) feral abilities. Due to some experiments that were carried out on him he now has a number of special abilities: he can run faster, spot enemies easier, hit enemies with more force, smash through locked doors, and even rip gun turrets out of the ground and use them as standard weapons.
On-foot FPS combat is pretty standard stuff, with Jack being able to carry three weapons at any one time, plus grenades (although we only had rocks at our disposal). Controls seem smooth and are intuitively mapped to the Xbox controller, with the obligatory stance type, jump, zoom etc all present. However, vehicle control isn't quite as simple and is far more problematic.
Once in the driving seat the left analogue stick acts as the throttle and the steering wheel, which, as you can imagine, isn't ideal. This does mean that the right stick is free to aim your weapon, but trying to aim while driving a fast moving Humvee isn't simple. If available you can also man the turret mounted on the vehicle, but this stops you from moving. It's hard to think of a better way the controls could have been implemented while giving you full control, but it still isn't ideal.
'If you're feeling like a cold blooded killer you can also stealth-kill enemies from behind...'
As well as a plethora of guns (of varying power) Jack can also set branchwhips (a tree branch that whips approaching enemies) and Claymore mines that can take out enemies while he hides in the jungle. While setting up a tree to dish out some nasty damage to enemies that go near it is a good idea, during our time with the game it was hard to get the enemies to set it off, but with prolonged play the ideal placement may become more apparent. If you're feeling like a cold blooded killer you can also stealth-kill enemies from behind using your knife. Careful approaches to enemies (who are often facing away from you, rather conveniently) will see a prompt to 'press B' appear on the screen. Doing so will plunge a knife into the oblivious enemy's back, killing him instantly without a murmur.
Despite what looks to be an impressive single-player campaign Instincts will ship full to the brim with multiplayer game modes. Four-player split-screen is supported, but online and system link will support 16 players. 'Chaos' and 'Team Chaos' are the game's deathmatch modes, and capture the flag comes in the form of 'Steal the sample', but the mode that sounds most exciting is 'Predator'. Here one player will play the 'Predator' who will have all the feral powers at his/her disposal. A team of mercenaries must then try to make their way across the map before the 'Predator' wipes them out. It sounds a little like the Spies v Mercenaries mode from Splinter Cell, but more action packed. The multiplayer modes also include support for vehicles, both on land and sea. Add in the map making tool and this could be the definitive Xbox Live shooter.
From the levels we played it's clear that the developers have created a rather stunning engine for the Xbox. While texture work and foliage detail isn't as great as it was on the PC game, this is certainly up there with the best looking games on the console. Characters and vehicles are well modelled, and the tropical island lighting is simply superb. Shadows are cast beautifully across the environment and underwater sections use a blur effect that looks stunning - your eyes even take a little time to adjust once you come back to the surface.
Far Cry Instincts is looking very promising, with its combination of stunning visuals, strong single-player campaign and extensive multiplayer modes. With a release set for September 29th, we'll bring you a review early next month.