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Monday, June 12, 2006

People have to be paid to be evil

Don't worry, I'm not working for Microsoft yet ;-)

I've just found a great computer game - FarCry. It's a first person shooter where you try to escape from a mad scientists' island. And to do that you have to shoot a couple thousand mercenary soldiers, a few hundred mutants, blow up dozens of jeeps, motorboats, some helicopters, plenty of smaller and larger buildings.

There are two really cool things about the game. First the graphics is really really sweet. Of course not so much on computer, which is hopelessly slow, but on a real machine it's an eye candy ;-)

And of course the gameplay :-D

In FarCry major parts of the island are accessible all the time, and they're actually used for game, not just staying there empty. You usually have a single clear objective, so you don't have to wander aimlessly trying to guess what the heck game makers wanted you to do right now, or looking for keys or switches like in so many other FPS games. The enemy soldiers are doing all kind of fun things like fishing, training, gossiping, or engagind in serious philosophical discussions when they don't yet know you are around :-D (People are good for free, they have to be paid to be evil comes from one of those discussions).

While the objective is usually pretty clear, there are often many ways of achieving it. You can jump out with a P90 submachine gun, and simply shot everyone, you can snipe the enemies from far distance, or use a jeep-mounted rocket launcher, or try to sneak undetected, or kill them one by one using hit and run strategy and get back to the jungle, or even get the enemies kill each other. Usually two or more strategies work for any given objective, and which one you take is simply matter of your preferences (and the available ammo, which is plentiful for the common weapons but sniper ammo and the fancy stuff like rockets usually run low).

Of course the reason this is so much fun is a decent AI. The enemies won't sit idly waiting for you to shoot them one by one, sometimes they can be really cause you a lot of troubles. It's a real fun when someone is shooting at you but you don't really know where are the shots coming from :-D Or when you know where the guy is, but he's lying in the bush with a sniper rifle and you have no way to approach him without being hit.

Most of the common annoyances have been avoided:

  • There are few and very easy keycards/switches
  • You always know what is your objective
  • Losing stealth won't make you restart the level, as it does in so many really annoying games. Raising an alarm often means a lot more enemies are coming, but you can deal with it, right ?
  • Ammo for the basic weapons like M4 and P90 is plentiful. It kinda makes sense - you're killing the enemies by hundreds and robbing their armories all the time. I wouldn't mind more sniper ammo though. 5 shots from each killed sniper (no other way to get it) is kinda low.
  • There is plenty of medikits and body armour between the fights. So you rarely have to fight with low life and low ammo, like in so many other games.
  • There are no magically spawning enemy soldiers. If you clear some area, it's clear. Unless they come there but an actual chopter, but you can always shot the chopter :-)
  • The game saves automatically at checkpoints (no manual saving). The checkpoints are sane enough, I rarely had to replay more than a minute of shoting. This is rather convenient.
The most annoying thing about the game was the difficulty level. It starts real easy, and gets a lot harder later. Well, most of the games do, but it would be nicer to make it somewhat more consistent :-)

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