Far Cry Instincts: Predator

For two months I had this game sitting in the drawer above my X360 and for two months I debated whether or not I should just send it back to Gamefly and accept the fact that I'm not going to earn a single Achievement on it. I always wanted to play Far Cry for the PC but just never got around to it so one day I casually added the console version to my "Q" at Gamefly and lo and behold it was shipped. It's been the bane of my existence ever since.

Let me start by saying that while I'm no grand master at first-person shooters, I have written the official guidebooks to several games in the genre including Prey and Tron 2.0. So while I'm not an expert -- and certainly aren't going to claim much "pwnage" online -- I can hold my own and make it through the single player modes of most games on Normal difficulty without much trouble. Also, let it be known that I am one of the people who find playing a first-person shooter on a console instead of a PC to be somewhat like kissing a cousin. Sure, it's possible to enjoy it and maybe even get used to it, but deep down inside you know it's just plain weird.

Originally I was excited to see the lush Far Cry graphics in all of their high-definition splendor but while the game definitely has some nice touches in the visuals, it certainly isn't the feast for the eyes I was hoping for. But I can forgive Ubisoft for that; after all, the game is just a port of an Xbox title and it was certainly within the range of acceptable for a launch-window X360 title. Besides, it was definitely nice to see the lush island jungle environment finally come to life on my tv after having seen screenshots for this game for nearly two years.

But I'm not hear to talk about graphics or animations, but rather the ridiculous difficulty of the game and the non-bone-throwing Achievement requirements. I started the game on Normal difficulty, as I always do and promptly made my way through the opening tutorial scene in which your character, Jack Carver is fleeing enemy fire, swimming to the ruins of a ship, and then knife-fighting his way through the jungle to a communications station. It then took my far too many tries than I care to admit to advance more than 15 minutes further into the game. Not only did the game -- in my hands -- control atrociously, but the enemies were far too numerous, too deadly, and too resilient to my shots. I don't mind a challenge, but how about a learning curve? When an experienced gamer such as myself has to spend nearly 90 minutes to struggle through the first 20 minutes of gameplay, something is broken. I'll be the first to admit when I'm not giving a game a fair chance, but this was absurd.

Finally, after venting my frustrations on several message boards, I learned that I was far from alone in this matter. Apparently, nobody plays the game on Normal. Everyone I spoke with went through the same troubles and finally started over on Easy mode. So that's what I did. And I was actually starting to enjoy the game too (although the pendulum was now swung too far in the other direction and the game was so easy it wasn't much fun) until I started having to rely on the vehicles in the game to get around. Never in the history of four-wheeled videogame vehicles had their been such a collection of trucks and ATVs that controlled so horrendously. I've never seen anything like it. I can't even put it into words. Halo, which I think is one of the most overrated titles of the previous generation of gaming, had an assortement of vehicles that controlled like a dream compared to this. As did Half-Life 2 and even Pariah.

But, in the spirit of Jack Carver, I soldiered on. Or tried to. Eventually it came to a point where I just lost interest. The ground-fights were far too easy to be entertaining and the vehicle segments were far too frustrating to be worth my time. And so the game has finally gone back into the envelope and will be returned to Gamefly tomorrow morning.

What really irks me about this isn't that I rented the game for two months and never beat it, but I didn't even get the feeling like I was making any progress. I was several levels into the game -- had a couple hours of gameplay in -- but didn't earn a single Achievement because unlike every other game out there in Xbox 360 land, you actually have to complete the entire game to earn a single damn Achievement with Far Cry Pedator: Instincts. And to add insult to frustration, Only by playing through the entire main story campaign can you get to play the "Instincts" add-on portion of the game. Not a big deal for me, but for people who already played through Far Cry Predator, this can be quite an annoyance.

But getting back to the Achievements issue, maybe I've gone soft but I really look forward to earning Achievements (I don't exploit glitches or cheat to get them though) and they have definitely become the carrot on a stick that keeps me playing games that my short attention span would otherwise have me shelve. But with this game, I probably put in nearly 7 or 8 hours in total and didn't earn a single point. What fun is that? Would it have hurt Ubisoft to give out a few points for reaching milestones in the game? Did everything have to be tied to completing the game on various difficulty modes or for multiplayer? Worst of all, whenever I look at my scores online, I'll have to see that big goose egg for this title. But unlike a lot of games in my collection, I know that I at least gave this one an honest effort, but in the end we had to go our separate ways. I might still pick up Far Cry for the PC one day if I see it cheap. Then again, I probably won't.

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