Far Cry - hands-on

Does that mean the action isn't really full-on then? Not in the slightest. True, a more stealthy approach is generally required in Far Cry as you're so out-gunned - all guns blazing is rarely wise - but when the action does kick off it's very intense, extremely satisfying and rather violent. Make that very violent. Ketchup isn't over used but prevalent and the rag doll physics are a joy to behold. Whether they're flying through the air from a grenade attack or dropping like a lead weight from a headshot, watching how the enemy die is a neat part of the game that doesn't appear to lose its appeal.

The weapons we got to use were very nice, looking sweet as you like, sounding fantastic and boasting a very authentic feel. One piece of kit that will be a crucial companion throughout the adventure is your binoculars. There's far more to them than simply zooming in on proceedings as they also pick up sound and allow you to listen into conversations. However, their main function is to pick up enemy chips. Each foe has a chip in their body and when they come within the radius of the bins (even if you can't see them, like if they were hidden by foliage), that chip is scanned and downloaded onto your game map. Now, for the rest of the game that individual will show up on your map radar.

This has a major bearing on your gameplay, especially when you're in open areas (note: 30% of the game is set outside of the jungle environment). The usual scenario has you spying out the land from a vantage point, trying to pick up all the enemy chips. When you're satisfied that you've thoroughly scouted an area and have the hostile forces individually marked up on your map, then you start working out how best to tackle the situation. Fail to do this and you'll often find yourself in the rather smug position of pinning down the enemy only to get a rude awakening as another undetected group wades in with automatic fire. Otherwise know as dying..

There is also another important tactical reason for the above approach. Groups of enemies that contain four or more persons usually have a leader. The presence of which greatly hikes the efficiency of the group as a whole as he communicates team tactics against your position. Further, he'll have a radio and will call back-up of any militia in the nearby vicinity. Which should lead you to the obvious conclusion that whenever possible, take out the group leader first as this greatly enhances your chances of success. Without their leader the group act much more as individuals and are therefore easier to deal with.

Probably the most surprising element of the enemy AI we saw was the extent to which they were prepared to hunt you down once aware of your presence. We were spotted by a passing patrol boat as we navigated one the island's many inlets. Since they had a heavy gun mounted on the front and we had the total arsenal of a pistol, we thought better of it and legged it to the nearest beach. Once we touched sand, out we hopped, made like Lynford up the beach and hunkered down in the encroaching jungle.

It was with some surprise that we watched our pursuers land on the beach and send out a guard to track us down. Most games would dismiss any thought of chase once you'd changed major environment (from sea to land, in this case). Not Far Cry. One guy stayed with the boat and, sure enough, the other guy started out on a path that looked like he'd make our position. Of course, we plugged him, then his mate in the boat. Which was kind of handy as now we had a boat with some major firepower up front. That's the beauty of Far Cry, tactical moves and decisions are forever presenting themselves and it's down to your imagination and dexterity to exploit any given situation.

However, the AI clearly needs tweaking, as some of the enemy were plain dumb and on quite a number of occasions their incidental cries made no sense at all - like the guard looking right at us and shouting "Where the hell did he go?"

As you read this be aware there are 5,000 beta testers currently hammering away to reveal any such problems and Crytek have about a month's worth of tweaks to go before the game is finished. We're fairly confident that all will be well in paradise by the time the game hits the shops.

Far Cry lived up to and beyond our expectations - which were pretty high before we even got to Ubi Soft's offices. From its visual beauty to its open-ended gameplay it promises to be a FPS of the highest order that will stamp it's name on 2004 in a big way. Dying may be second nature but dusting yourself down for one more attempt is a joy all of its own.

Fancy a go on Far Cry yourself? Thought so. Go to the and you'll find a downloadable level (The Fort) for you to try your hand at. You may want to bookmark the page as Ubi Soft also told us that they expect to have a multiplayer demo up by the end of February.

Far Cry is scheduled to be released for PC on 26 March