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Long Play: Far Cry

Is it wise to retread the tracks of our tears?

I'm gonna shoot you in the face!" If you're like me, those seven little words will set your breast a-glowing with warmth - the recollection of fun times.

"Hey enemy soldier, remember the time you said you'd shoot me in the face, but I shot you in the face halfway through, and you sort of sighed and fell over and your mate said, "What happened here?" all perplexed, then I headshot him too, and he sighed, and you both just bled into the perfect white sand while I flanked the next palm-lined barricade and pushed a rock off a slope towards your other mate, who just happened to be standing on the end of a plank balanced over a barrel, and watched him launch, all flailing legs and arms, and found it counted as a stealth kill! Nobody noticed!


Then, right, remember how I just ran around on your corpses enjoying the satisfying, chunky, post-battle click of stealing your ammo? Those were the days!"

Far Cry does a lot of things, but unlike many other shooters, it doesn't take itself too seriously. In fact, it does everything in quite spectacular style - it's totally geared towards crazy action sequences. More so, indeed, than I realised at the time. It rewards a revisit more than most shooters, simply because there so many ways to go about things. At least, outdoors there are.

At first, you try the stealthy route. For good reason: the game constantly encourages you to sneak and shoot. You can lean or go prone, for a start, and it does make you a little harder to see (it also steadies your aim). There's also a vast amount of foliage to act as cover, and a vast amount of soldiers, mutants and workers hunting for you. So it makes sense to head off the beaten path and use brains (well, high ground and a powerful sniper rifle) rather than brawn.

Or it would if all that cover obscured anyone's vision but your own. Irritatingly, the AI can see through any amount of greenery, and even through tents. True, it'd be far too easy if concealment was perfect - and you'd constantly miss the set-piece battles Far Cry so revels in because they were just behind a hedge - but it's still galling getting perfectly perforated by a man 100 yards away inside an opaque green marquee.

This frustrated me plenty the first time around, but now I have the benefit of three years' better aim (you've got to go for the head every single time) and less inclination to sightsee. This time my operations are far more Rambo, and it's quite a different experience. I'm actually surprised when some of it works.


For instance, at one point you assault a ship moored off the coast which is guarded by a sniper and two rocketeers. But instead of scuttling into cover and sniping all resistance before carefully moving in, this time I blithely drove a vehicle into full view, grabbed a handy hang-glider, floated over the barrage as my 4x4 exploded behind me and spammed the deck with rockets. Over the top? Oh yeah. Fun? Oh yeah.

I used to worry about how many bullets some of these freaks can take. It's a major problem when they have rocket launchers for hands - some of the Trigen mutants took me forever to beat originally, as massive splash damage meant I just didn't last long enough whatever tactic I tried. Not that there's much room for clever in a corridor... among the trees these chaps flank, retreat and react unpredictably every time, but the developers of the game, Crytek, definitely miscalculated in sending
us indoors for so long.

But my 'tactic' this time, the same one I used replaying Half-Life 2 recently - familiarity freeing me from exploration - was what I think of as Custer's Last Murderous Rampage. I get in close and leather everything as fast as possible. Incredibly, it works.

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