Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Graphics help hide familiar scenario

Game review

By Matt Slagle
The Associated Press

Far Cry is a gorgeous new video game that should please first-person shooter fans - provided you have a powerful computer and a stomach for cliched science fiction.

Sailor Jack Carver gets caught in a conspiracy involving genetically altered soldiers gone haywire, megalomaniacal corporate bosses and shady government operatives.

The lush outdoor environments let Far Cry flex some impressive graphic muscle. Water ripples, splashes and shimmers like it does in the real world. Surfaces such as metal machines and ancient stone statues are etched with tiny cracks, pock marks and other detail.

Look down in this three-dimensional world and you'll see whiskers of grass growing at your feet. Peer toward the horizon to gaze at distant mountaintops.

Listen, and you'll hear a symphonic cacophony of tropical birds and insects chattering.

Soaking in all this atmosphere is enjoyable, but the point of the game is beating the bad guys, of course.

The enemies are plentiful and fairly smart. They work in teams to kill you, and once you've been spotted, the bad guys will duck behind trees for cover as they advance on your position.

Far Cry accounts for gravity better than most games. You can push barrels and watch them roll down stairs, for example.

But playing on anything less than a powerful computer will surely bring tears to your eyes.

Games sometimes became slow and choppy during battles involving lots of monsters, soldiers and wide-open spaces. It's understandable because Far Cry really pushes the visual envelope.

Once you've solved the single-player mode, Far Cry provides endless replay value with online matches against as many as 20 others. There's even a bonus program that lets you design your levels.

We've been hearing about the splendor of revolutionary games like Half-Life 2 and Doom III for more than a year now, but they still haven't appeared.

Impatient gamers needn't fret. This $40, M-rated game for the PC delivers now on the promise of groundbreaking graphics.

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