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Far Cry Vengeance

Welcome to the jungle, watch it bring you to your knees

Wii grabs gaming wheat with one hand, gaming chaff with the other and rips them clean apart. For those with imagination, just holding the controller is enough to set ideas off in your head like fireworks.

But the dull, the tired and the lame choose to focus on the fixed specs and the unconventional controls, wondering how existing games could possibly work and seeing the innovation as something to be overcome rather than celebrated.

Perhaps we're seeing this divide among developers too, because make no mistake, this lazy, klutzy, stuck-in-the-mud port of Far Cry is so astonishingly inadequate that if it had made launch as scheduled, it could have single-handedly killed the console off before it even made it out of the box.

We have to start with the visuals. Have to, because they're so unbelievably ugly that if a game appeared in Old Lady N64's house in this state, she'd chuck a throw over it. Far Cry Vengeance is technically impoverished in every way imaginable.

What a Carve-up
Awash with blurry, low-res models, Vengeance's 'paradise' resembles what you might see looking around Chernobyl's surrounding forestry while flesh-eating bugs gnawed away your retinas. The animation is bad - Carver's arms hang out at acute angles as if they were handlebars to a novelty scooter. Handlebars your character is afraid to touch due to the morbid lack of textures. Worse, Far Cry's engine can't even deal with its primitive surroundings. Pop-up is obscene - grass appears in front of you as though your gun is actually some kind of magical watering can. And the framerate is unpredictable at best - even during cutscenes.

No, graphics don't really matter, but the reason we've dwelled on them is because Far Cry's shoddy presentation is entirely indicative of how rushed the entire project was - every single aspect of it is fundamentally flawed. We're not even that bothered about the stripped-down multiplayer or the total omission of the map editor - it's the relentlessly broken single-player that really makes our eyes alight with flames.

Want an example? AI. Stick Vengeance's AI into a bird and it would fly backwards. Your polygon-starved adversaries stare into the middle distance as you brazenly stroll up to them, and there are numerous comedy moments where enemies pass you by on stairways, ignore nearby explosions or are just generally unresponsive to what's happening around them.

It's a shame the grass textures are so ugly because the controls mean you spend most of your time looking at them. The camera struggles to keep up with your movements and often the only reason you've died is because you find yourself at an impossible angle, with little chance of recovery. The controls are gimmicky and useless, because they treat the controllers as - yes! - something to be overcome rather than celebrated. Jumping, initiated with a flick of the nunchuk, is impossibly vague, like cross-stitch patterning with a machete.

You don't know Jack
Yet none of these faults are as crippling as that of Carver's turning circle - Jack spins around as though death itself is standing behind him, meaning you'll often have to strafe aimlessly for yards before you manage to turn the full 180 degrees.

And it continues. Vehicle bits cause the game to fall apart like a cheap watch. The single-player campaign is insultingly short. Without the challenge and without the stunning vistas of yester-port, you're left with nothing more than Far Cry's bare skeleton - a game where you wander around a forest killing the same two morons over and over again. If only it was that playable.

There was no need for Far Cry to be this bad. The Wii can easily handle what PC Far Cry would have demanded. Ubisoft Montreal is one of the most talented developmental studios, and there was no need to rush it out the door. Once more for emphasis - there was just no need.

The verdict

Turns your living room into some kind of talent vacuum. This waste of developmental time makes three strong brands - Wii, Far Cry and Ubisoft - look woefully incompetent.

Nintendo Wii