IGN Review of Far Cry Instincts: Evolution
Far Cry Instincts was an awesome game. Released last fall, it enabled players to blast through gorgeous tropical environments with not only guns, but megaton charge punches. Unfortunately, Far Cry Instincts Evolution (FCIE) doesn't quite live up to the pedigree. While the game is still fun to play, there's little offered here in the way of new content. However, those who enjoyed or totally missed out on the original might still have reason to pick it up.
Far Cry Instincts Evolution, unlike Far Cry Instincts Predator (FCIP) for the Xbox 360, is only one game. While FCIP has a graphically revamped version of Xbox Far Cry Instincts, FCIE only has the new, eight map Evolution mode. There are a few new weapons, a couple of new vehicles, and some notable improvements to the map editor, including ziplines, auto-snap sniper ladders, and some new objects and terrains. On top of that, you've got more multiplayer maps and one new mode, Seek and Secure, which resembles Call of Duty 2's HQ mode.
The new Evolution content isn't quite up to FCI's level. It's only eight maps, the first three of which comprise the first level. While the new content offers players some opportunity for open-ended exploration, it never comes close to what was possible in the PC version. Beyond that, the game falls back into stages that feel very similar to FCI. There are still plenty of entertaining challenges, but nothing decidedly new.
Aside from the Evolution mode offering more of the same, the story pales in comparison to FCI. A lot of what was so great about the original Xbox game was how you were slowly changing, becoming aware of your new feral abilities. In Evolution, you immediately start with your powers active. Right from the beginning you can see enemy scents, run at high speeds, instantly kill foes with a punch and jump to lofty heights. You'll also be able to perform a feral climb, though this isn't really an interesting ability. After turning on your feral scent mode, you can sometimes see lingering odors on a cliff's face, indicating it's climbable. You can also perform feral attacks from underwater, but again, it's not really sequel material.
Once you finish with the new, underwhelming single-player content, you've got the multiplayer modes and map editor. These are absolutely the highlights of FCIE, and one of the best reasons to buy this game. Multiplayer is, as it was with FCI, a blast to play. Offline, players can engage with up to four others split screen, while online you can have up to 16 on one server. You'll still get all the old modes like Steal the Sample and Predator in addition to the new mode, and a couple of new maps as well, making for 22 total. Some of them are much larger than in FCI, so some of the new vehicles like the transport truck, with a capacity for up to eight people, become useful. The new mode, Seek and Secure, requires you and your team to capture and hold certain positions on a map for points. When you find yourself in a server with players actually trying to work together, this mode can be as fun as a fridge full of drunken clowns. Seriously.
In addition to the modes and maps, the map editor received a few changes, and all for the better. Far Cry's map editor is an extremely user-friendly tool for designing your own multiplayer maps, populating them with trees, objects, weapons and vehicles, saving them to your hard drive and publishing online. After they're published, others can download and play on them. It's an extremely rewarding process, since you know if lots of people are playing on your map, you've done a good job. Fans of FCI's editor will not be disappointed here, as new objects, menu tweaks and undo abilities have been altered for the better. If you're hardcore into editing, you might want to consider buying the FCIE, since it will let you import FCI maps, whereas FCIP won't.
It's too bad the single-player content wasn't more enjoyable, otherwise this could have been a much better game. Enemy A.I. borders on stupid. Foes will occasionally run away from you, but most of the time they'll simply stand there, firing as you dart in to claw their faces off. Another sticking point is enemies do not react at all to being shot. If a foe is running forward, you can pump half a clip into them and they won't miss a step. That's weak. It's also worth noting that FCIE's aiming controls seem more stable than FCIP's. Even with a sensitivity slider, it's easier to accurately blast foes on the Xbox.
While the gameplay is practically identical to FCI, what about the graphics? Well, they're virtually the same as FCI. For the Xbox, that means it looks awesome. Animations are smooth although somewhat unnatural, the framerate stays stable and the lighting effects are especially impressive. With some of the expanded environments in FCIE's new single-player modes, you're going to witness some extremely pretty vistas. Even on the Xbox, though, the character models could have used some better animations, they move with an overly stiff gait.
The sound is almost exactly what's offered in FCI as well. This isn't entirely a bad thing, but some areas could have been improved, the gun effects in particular. If I'm going to fire dual MP5s at a group of baddies, I want it to sound like I'm cracking the sky. Instead, several of FCIP's weapons sound like you're popping out pebbles. To clarify, they're not terrible, it's just they aren't cranked to 11. Aside from gun effects, you'll hear some excellent breathing and panting sounds as you slice by foliage while sprinting through the forest. Enemies squeal with pain to a satisfying degree, even if they are screaming after you've already killed them. Environmental music is pleasing to the ears, with rich ambient jungle soundtracks.
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