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Far Cry Instincts Evolution

It really is evolution rather than revolution for Far Cry fans, but it's playable enough

Charles 'chuck' Darwin had a big set of balls, that's for sure. Not only was he a great explorer and adventurer, but he also stuck two fingers up to old-fashioned beliefs with his controversial Theory of Evolution.

It's a cruel but perfect principle, and it works in gaming too. If you're not well adapted, you probably won't survive to help create the next generation. Far Cry Instincts was such a success that it's taken less than a year to spawn this expansion - but this isn't much of an 'evolution'. What you're getting here is eight story levels, eight multiplayer maps, three extra weapons and a new feral ability. It's not exactly a lot.

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The story picks up a few months after the destruction of Jacutan. Jack Carver has hooked up with a femme fatale called Kate, and is reunited with Agent Doyle of the CIA during a gun-running mission. Rather foolishly, the trio comes into conflict with a tribe of bloodthirsty natives who somehow possess the same feral abilities as Jack.

While it's a fairly flimsy plot, much credit is due for the cut-scenes, all of which are viewed from the first person. They're really crisp and impressively directed. Stephen Dorff also does an excellent job with the role of Mr Carver. He's one of those rare videogame heroes that isn't actually a nice person. Kate is just as unscrupulous; she's the kind of lover who'd kill you in your sleep just to get her hands on your wallet.

In gameplay terms, almost everything is identical to Far Cry Instincts. It's still a little too easy to rely on the super-accurate auto-aiming. Likewise, the enemy AI isn't particularly threatening and you'll rarely feel like you're in serious danger of dying. Stealth tactics are always available, but sadly, they rarely offer benefits over just storming in with guns blazing. We'd have loved to have seen at least one level where you had no weapons and had to depend on traps and feral abilities alone.

You begin the game with all the powers you attained on Jacutan; strength, agility, night vision and regeneration. This makes the first few levels really easy. Later on, however, the natives possess poison blowpipes that temporarily neutralise your powers. To make matters worse, these enemies also have super-agility and strength. They move and leap around just like the mutants from Far Cry Instincts' online Predator mode. Luckily, you can turn the tables and use the blowpipes against them, grounding them for a more straightforward kill. It's good to see the developer being a bit more inventive with the feral abilities.

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There's one new one which does give the final levels a unique feel. By turning on your vision mode, you'll be able to see which wall surfaces and trees are now climbable. It's very exciting on the penultimate mission where you have to leap from rock face to rock face as you scale a vertigo-inducing mountain. There's one slight problem, though. Because climbing is automatic, you can end up hugging a wall just by accidentally brushing against it, which can be annoying.

Evolution's new projectile weapons also have useful effects on the environment. Molotov cocktails aren't that accurate, but they do set fire to big patches of long grass. Anyone caught in the blaze is incinerated in seconds. The big daddy of them all though, is the new pipe bomb weapon. This explosive has a remote detonator and is powerful enough to destroy sniper watchtowers. You won't find anything more satisfying than watching one of those structures come crashing down onto a platoon of mercenaries. It would have been nice if you could have destroyed other things too, though.

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