The impending release of Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5 will make it the 5th Far Cry in the past 6 years. Well technically it’ll be the 4th since Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was an expansion. But then again, Blood Dragon was a standalone game that didn’t require Far Cry 3. So, to summarize, in just over a week from now Ubisoft will have published 4 and a half games in the series.
Over that time, the franchise has performed quite well both commercially and critically. I would even call a couple of those games (Far Cry 3 and Blood Dragon) “really great”. So considering the timing of this release and my affinity for looking back on the games of my youth, I thought this would be a great chance to look back at one of my favorite FPS games of the early 2000’s: the original Far Cry.
The Original Far Cry
Unlike its sequels, spin-offs, and console ports, the original Far Cry was developed by Crytek and released in 2004. You play as Jack Carver, a former special ops soldier hired escorting a journalist through a fictional South Pacific archipelago. Some mercenaries decide to blow up your boat and you end up washed up in a cave. After the requisite tutorial of running, crouching, and jumping through said cave the game spits you out into its lush, dense, and tropical world where you set out to find your journalist partner.
My favorite moment of the game might just be this opening sequence when you emerge from that cave and set your eyes on the island for the first time. The undeniable star of the show in Far Cry is the outdoor environment that Crytek crafted. CryEngine, built and debuted here, pushed the limits of graphics and gameplay for the 2004. It allowed you to interact with the environment in creative and fun ways. Using the cover provided by bushes, tall grass, trees, and shadows were an integral part to your success. The incredibly detailed sound design made sneaking around and distracting enemies with thrown rocks truly satisfying. These systems, compounded with the advanced enemy AI, turned Far Cry into an immersive, intense and unique experience.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think the entirety of Far Cry is perfect. Midway through the game the plot goes a bit off the rails (something about genetic engineering). The indoor levels veer towards a more linear and traditional shooter approach, which strips the game of its best features. However, most of the game takes place outdoors where the levels are expansive, sprawling in all directions, and offer countless creative solutions to the problems posed your way. 14 years later it’s these aspects of the game that have become the hallmarks of the modern Far Cry series.
Crytek have applied these gameplay pillars beyond just the Far Cry series into the Crysis games and their recently released and very promising early access title, Hunt: Showdown. Far Cry 5 looks like another solid entry in the series with plenty of fun to be had. If you have some time on your hands and want to get extra hyped for the new iteration, I’d absolutely recommend diving back into the original game for a fun reminder of where the series started and an experience that still holds up nearly a decade and a half later.