Developed by: Crytek
Published by: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC
Initially released for PC in 2004, the original Far Cry was considered too advanced for home consoles at the time and it received a more linear-focused remake called Far Cry: Instincts for the Xbox in 2005. It wasn’t until February 2014 that it received a proper release for consoles, appearing on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 under the name Far Cry Classic. This port maintained the same open-world island exploration that was present in the original PC release, but had a number of minor improvements and changes to make the game more accessible for console users. Thanks to the wonders of backwards compatibility, the game is also playable on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles.
The plot is extremely wafer-thin compared to the Far Cry sequels and involves ex-special forces operative Jack Carver stranded on a tropical archipelago that is also home to hundreds of deadly mercenaries and illegal biological experiments. Tasked with rescuing the reporter who hired him as a bodyguard, Carver must make his way through beautiful jungle landscapes, volcanoes and deadly underground bunkers to get to her. Despite the bare-bones nature of the storyline, Far Cry Classic still manages to impress with its gorgeous visuals and level design as players are given expansive areas to explore. It’s an interesting balance of linear gameplay mechanics and open-world environments as players are given a single objective to fulfil but can use multiple methods to get there. Modern open-world games would flood the game with optional side-quests and collectibles, but Far Cry Classic remains focused on the core mission. I was struck with just how huge each of the levels were, particularly those that were set outdoors, and there were more than a few instances where I got lost.
As you’d expect from a first-person shooter initially released in the early 2000s, Far Cry Classic is somewhat basic and rusty around the edges, although that adds to the game’s nostalgic charm. Players can carry four weapons with them, most of which are fall into simple categories such as: assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, pistols and rocket launchers. They can also carry around two types of grenades and an emergency health kit, which can provide a much-needed refresh of the health bar in some of increased difficulty settings. While most of the game involves traversing the island by foot, some of the outdoor sections can be also be explored via jeep, boat and glider. The vehicle controls are a bit fiddly and it can be hard work to maintain the camera whilst driving along the bumpy roads; especially when trying to use the mounted guns to take out pursuers. It takes a bit of time to adjust to these clunkier controls after playing modern first-person shooters but there’s a sense of accomplishment to be had on mastering these controls and beating the game on Realistic difficulty.
Far Cry Classic attempts to inject an element of stealth to proceedings by having the player use binoculars to ‘mark’ enemies with an indicator that changes from green to red based on their awareness of your presence. Unfortunately, there isn’t much opportunity to make use of stealth apart from one specific achievement that requires you to locate a key card without alerting anybody (that was fun!). The easier difficulties support a more frantic playing style as you can absorb a decent whack of damage and just mow down enemies as they burst out of the forests, but the harder difficulties require a slower pace and it’s suicide to attempt to play the game without scouting out your enemies beforehand as an undiscovered threat is always waiting to jump out and take you down. I enjoyed playing the game on Realistic mode the most as it required me to think more tactically and approach each patrol of enemies differently.
Far Cry Classic remains graphically impressive despite its age, and while some of the gameplay mechanics do feel dated by today’s standards, it still holds up as an enjoyable first-person shooter in the same way that the original versions of Doom, Duke Nukem and Quake do. More of an historical curiosity than a “must play”, it is definitely worth checking out Far Cry Classic to see the franchise’s origins and how far it has come since then.