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2 Reviews

Far Cry Instincts

Will Ubisoft's Xbox rumble in the jungle send you (coco)nuts with excitement?

Mosquito spray? Check. Snorkel? Check. Rough Guide to The Jacutan Archipelago? Check. Six-pack of Tesco Economy Grenades complete with timed detonators and military-grade five-second fuses capable of producing a causality radius of 15 metres and a fatality radius of five metres? Oh, very check. But, before you're allowed access to those particular pineapples, or indeed the Manimal-style superpowers that come later, you'll have to undergo a little hand-over-fist survival of the fittest. Far Cry Instincts begins like an episode of The A-Team, minus the cabbage guns.

As retired survivalist, gun-nut, and gruff cigar-chomper Jack Carver (voiced capably enough by Stephen Dorff), you agree to take a curious photojournalist to the island paradise of the Jacutan Archipelago on your small fishing boat. She believes, quite rightly, that some sinister goings-on are taking place on the island. But, before you can slap on the Factor 15 and do the odd bit of crab-lining to while away the time, your old wooden boat has been blasted to matchwood and you're washed up on the beach. Seems there really is something up after all...

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So, plunging into the dense woodland, Jack begins his quest for survival, a desperate struggle to get off the island intact, and perhaps take out a few of the bazooka-toting loons who blew his beloved boat apart. One problem, though. No weapons. Still, at least the scenery is good. In fact, it's incredible. Before you get to the slaughter, just stop to gaze at those vistas and sunsets, eh?

The island model is second to none, looking better than all the Zanzibars you could eat. The water physics are, well, eye-watering, and the dappled shade through the palm trees makes us want to curl up under them and make boolooloop to a soft-skinned native. The crunch of the undergrowth, the lapping of the sea, and the glare of sunlight from distant guns - it's all real, tangible stuff. Ubisoft has paid such attention to the crucial feel of the island, getting it so real, so right, and so deceptively beautiful, never once do you doubt where you are. It's a paradise that's about to be blown apart, a dangerous playground where anything goes, and where you can turn the very environment to your advantage.

Far Cry Instincts isn't, initially at least, about all-out warfare, as you might expect. Learning to crawl through a mile of the foulest, stinking filth using just your elbows in the hope of planting a make-shift man-trap is what it's about. You have to throw stones in an enemy's direction to lure him to you. You have to rustle about in the bushes, or simply make some noise to get attention. Then, with a little patience, and a little luck, the trap is sprung. They're easy enough to assemble (just collect thorned branches and fix them to a tree in the correct position by clicking a single button), yet incredibly effective. Natty ragdoll physics will catapult the body through the woods, crunching it into a nearby tree, or better still, off the side of a cliff, leaving only the dropped weapon behind. Your first mistake will probably involve going on an immediate rampage with your new-found gun. This is a whole island of death you're dealing with here. A soggy sailor in ripped pants stands no chance of a full assault on a heavily-armed militia. Which means it's back to the undergrowth for our Jack.

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The control system in Far Cry Instincts is such that it lets you do just about everything you need to in order to evade (and exterminate) an enemy without rousing suspicion. Most enemy encampments consist of stilted huts, ideal for crawling under and peering up through the slats. Go prone, roll over onto your back, and more often than not, there'll be a gap which offers a perfect head shot opportunity. Jack Carver: 1, Mad Militia: 0.

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