Far Cry Instincts is way too easy

April 22nd, 2006 by Tommy Gun

farcryinstincts.jpgNote: This refers to the original Xbox version.

First off, let me say that I love this game and had a fun time playing it. The first day I played it was for eight hours straight, so I must have liked it. However, there are no difficulty levels, and the game is way too easy! You can literally run through most of the game if you really want to, especially after you have feral speed. Even the final boss isn’t very hard. He’s certainly more challenging, but it still only took me three or four tries, and that was simply figuring out what was going on (apparently there’s a huge glitch on the final boss, but I guess I avoided that). The rest of the game is a cakewalk, and here’s why:

The enemies are shown on your radar
Okay, so they don’t show up until you get close, or hear them, or something, but it’s really nothing you need to worry about. If they’re around, they’ll be on your radar. So much for hiding in the jungle.
The aiming reticle turns red when you’re locked onto an enemy–even when you can’t see them!
This game has various stealth things thrown in. You can crawl through the bushes, you can set booby traps on tree branches, etc. The problem is, there’s no reason to set those traps, you have plenty of ammo and shooting people is easier and faster. When you’re hiding in the bushes/grass/trees, view completely obscured, your reticle still tells you when you’re locked on. Combine this with radar, and you can easily duck down, line people up on your radar and reticle, and fire until their dot disappears. You won’t even get hit much since they can’t really see you.
The auto-aim is way too good
Auto-aim is definitely needed with most console FPSs, but you don’t even have to have the enemies inside your (very large) aiming reticle! If you’re 15-20 feet away from a guy, you can aim about a foot to the side and it will still turn red! There’s a way to turn it off entirely (Cheat menu password: “NotForSissies”), including the red color change, but you’ll probably find the control pretty frustrating then because Far Cry doesn’t control as well as, say, Halo. (That may just be an illusion though, since Halo’s auto-aim actually moves your reticle, whereas FCI only moves your bullets.)
The guns shoot really far
This probably sounds weird, since guns should shoot far. But combined with the things above, you can really keep your distance and take people out, no matter what gun you’re using. Sure, the enemy can hit you too, but it’s not like they’re very good. This while hiding in the bushes, and it’s no sweat.
Your health regenerates (later in the game)
I like games with regenerating health, like Halo. No more backtracking for health packs…except Halo throws more enemies at you, and you have to find cover to regenerate your small shield. Instincts only hits you with a few guys at a time, and your health is large. There are also tons of health packs, armor, and adrenaline around. You hardly ever need them, since both health and adrenaline regenerate.
You can hold your breath underwater for a really long time
There are some sections where you’re supposed to drive a jet ski or a boat through the water, past enemy camps. Sometimes there are mines in the water, sometimes enemies shoot rockets at you, etc. Well, you can skip all of it by swimming. Not only that, but your health regenerates underwater too! I got hit by a rocket and fell into the water with 4% health left. I swam the rest of the way and my health refilled completely underwater, and I still had plenty of air left! Obviously, if you want the game to be harder, just don’t use that tactic. I must say, however, the fact that you can swim under everyone is pretty damn cool. It’s more realistic (as opposed to invisible wall type things), and it gives you a cool stealth infiltration feeling while doing it.

Now, each of those things on their own isn’t so bad, but when they’re all in the same game, it’s just too easy. Oh yes, and the AI is pretty terrible, despite what the trailers say. That, on the other hand, is something that would require more work to fix. The things above just need to be taken out (not all, just some).

Surprisingly, some reviews have talked about how difficult this game can be. Before I played it, a friend of mine told me that it got “so ****ing hard.” I can’t believe we’re talking about the same game. I think maybe they just used different tactics–but I used every tactic, and they all worked, including the one you should never ever do in an FPS–run straight through camps of enemies and casually take them out along the way! Let me assure you it’s not because I’m that good at games–I’m no pro. Even if I were, I know when it’s skill and when it’s the game, and this is definitely the game.

One review said that the game is as easy or as hard as you make it, and I agree to a point. But that shouldn’t be the player’s job to make the game hard by aiming for the feet instead of the head, or avoiding health packs, or only using the pistol the whole time. The player is supposed to find the easy way through a level. You’re supposed to be immersed in the game world, and feel like you’re really that character. You wouldn’t say, “well, I could blow up those barrels and kill the enemies, but that would be too easy! I’ll just close my eyes and run straight at them instead!”, and neither would the character.

What Ubisoft should have done:

Add more difficulty levels
This one’s obvious. Make the enemies stronger, have fewer health packs lying around, etc.
Change the auto-aim
Even just taking out the red color change would have been enough.
Ditch the radar
Your radar also shows a blue dot for where you’re supposed to go, and that’s really nice if you get turned around. On the other hand, the game is fairly linear, so it might not really be needed. They could also easily change that (show it on your compass or something). The big point of the radar is to tell you if an enemy spots you, similar to Metal Gear Solid. If the enemy is green, you can lure him into a branch trap. Maybe the radar should work differently, like just blinking a color when an enemy is close, but not show his location. This is the single change that would have dramatically changed the game, for the better in my opinion. Rather than sneaking through the jungle looking and listening for enemies, you can simply watch your radar the whole time. That kills a lot of the experience, and makes it too easy.

Eventually you get “feral sense: smell” that lets you see the “scent” left by enemies. It looks like a streak of orange smoke behind them, and the effect is beautiful. But why bother using that sense when you have a radar? It could have been so cool and useful.

What you can do:

Like I said, you can disable the auto-aim (Cheat menu password: “NotForSissies”), but that may make it too frustrating. This may sound weird, but you actually may want to physically cover up the radar. Just use some sticky tack (unless you have an LCD) or something and put a piece of paper over it (but don’t cover your health). There is the issue of the blue dot telling you where to go, but you may not really need it since it’s pretty obvious most of the time. You could try covering only the center of the radar, so the blue dot still shows up on the edge, or you could use semi-transparent paper. That may keep you from looking at the radar all the time, but still be able to make out the blue dot when you’re stuck. If you have really good self-control you can just avoid looking at the radar, but your health is over there, and you may look without even realizing it.

Far Cry Insticts Evolution

I have yet to play FCIE, but the word on the ‘net is that the AI is much improved, and there are multiple difficulty levels. The aiming has changed, giving you more options for the auto-targeting. A lot of people seem to hate the controls though, wondering how Ubisoft screwed up the controls on what is essentially an expansion. Others say it controls the same. I guess I’ll find out when I eventually play it. I’m looking forward to it.

Update: Watch my Far Cry Instincts Rabbit Run video to see these points in action.

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