The History of Far CryGAMING
The Far Cry series is one of the most beloved and interesting first person shooter franchises out there. In just 14 short years, it has been set in locations as beautiful as they are mysterious and storied. It has been a benchmark for open world design and graphics alike. Hell, a movie was even made based on the series (though we strongly suggest not watching it, as it really is terrible)! Today we will be taking a brief look at the many games in the series leading up to the recent release of Far Cry 5!
Far Cry 1 (2004)
Developed by the legendary Crytek, a German studio known for pushing technology and gameplay, Far Cry was released in 2004, one of the absolute best years in gaming history. Going up against fierce competition from some of the finest FPS games ever made, and vying to be the most impressive looking game ever made with the likes of Half-Life 2 and Doom 3. Having started its life as a humble tech demo, it did compete, and managed to vanquish those juggernauts of technology in a myriad of ways. The fact that it took place within an island paradise definitely helped it too.
Instead of immersing the player into a very linear, point-to-point and scene-to-scene world, the game relied on a more open type of level design. It is not really an open world title, but big, approach-as-you-will scenarios were rare at the time in FPS games, being mostly confined to a few tactical shooters. Vehicles, wacky chase sequences, stealth gameplay, Jack Carver’s ugly shirt—it all added up to quite the achievement. In a sense, this has more to do with Crysis, Crytek’s second game, than later Far Cry titles.
The game was not without its faults, though. Inspired by campy action titles, the storytelling was not as well realized as it could have been, and the latter half of the game has a very annoying enemy type that is antithetical to the title’s gameplay design. It became all the rage nonetheless, inspired many more video games in the coming decade, and still stands proud as a testament to the technological and gameplay ambitions of Crytek. Is it still worth your time and money? My answer is yes, but do know… it will be a bumpy ride!
Far Cry Instincts and Evolution
The first title headed by Ubisoft Montreal, Far Cry Instincts is a remake of the original for Xbox hardware. Instincts is less open-ended and more linear, an unfortunate consequence of the console’s reduced processing power, which prevented the full rendering of the Microsoft Windows version’s vast islands and landscape. However, Instincts added new multiplayer modes, weapons, and feral abilities, the latter reflected in its slightly modified storyline. Many of the design features of this game were to be reused and polished in later titles, so a simple remake it is not. Crytek’s work was amazing and passionate, a fact Ubisoft’s development studios honoured in spades. The franchise is in good hands.
Whilst its being a console version renders it non-moddable, it does feature a map editor, which would become standard for all Far Cry titles going forward.
Far Cry 2 (2008)
With Ubisoft now de facto owning the IP, they wanted to take it in a different direction, one inspired by the original game in gameplay and featuring a setting that was unique for FPS titles at the time. This is in part how Far Cry 2 came to be.
In many ways the most ambitious game of the series, Far Cry 2 has a huge open world map that still manages to impress. Central Africa has never looked this authentic and immersive in a video game—not in one made up to that point, and not in a game made since. The vastness of the areas left players no choice but to depend on vehicles and their map, which was now an actual physical object used to explore the wilderness, and one which aided immensely in the sense of immersion players felt. With relentless enemies, multiple factions and a storyline that, whilst far from perfect, made at least some sense, it was not a game for everyone, but it did appeal to some.
Gameplay by LioN KoLLA
Technologically, Gameplay managed to look great even in the year of Crysis: Warhead and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky. Featuring one of the most amusing flamethrowers in gaming and a very cool fire propagation system (them bushfires!), and even a faulty and janky but still innovative buddy system, this one became a cult hit for many gamers and set the stage for what was to come. Lacking the polish and presentation of newer games in the series, it now seems rough and undercooked, but those able to look past these issues will be rewarded with an amazing and challenging experience.
Far Cry 3 (2012)
This is where the series’ popularity skyrocketed. With an amazing trailer featuring Vaas Montenegro at their E3 conference, Ubisoft had the gaming world trembling in anticipation for their latest game. Ubisoft learned many lessons from Far Cry 2, and they were now keen to polish their new baby.
Again set in a tropical island, far from moody war torn Central Africa, Far Cry 3 is a very well-polished, more colourful, execution of most of Far Cry 2’s concepts and ideas. Every single system in the game received major care and attention, from the way vehicles handle to the new and improved leveling and hunting mechanics. The biggest change of all was how this installment handled the story. No longer just an excuse to blow stuff up, it offered real and acceptably deep and well thought out characters, each and every one of whom had a motivation, insane or destructive as they may have been. It wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot: the world building had faults, as did the pacing, and the protagonist was not very well developed compared to the antagonists. But the game showed a new way of tying locations to major villains and ideas. That’s a formula that will no doubt be successfully repeated in the future.
The hype man himself! Played by Michael Mando!
Whilst I am saddened by certain elements Far Cry 3 changed from it predecessor, rendering its world in some ways less reactive and immersive than FC2 had been, this one deserves all the hype and acclaim it got. The UI elements were also simplified, to no longer be real physical game world objects, such as maps or GPS devices. Still even with the omission of those sweet ideas, Far Cry 3 is an amazing experience for all fans of the genre!
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (2013)
A standalone title, a parody of and love letter to 1980s action films, cartoons and video games, it takes place on a retro-futuristic open world island with players assuming the action role of the military cyborg Sergeant Rex “Power” Colt. Yes, that really is your name in the game.
A more streamlined and linear companion piece to Far Cry 3, but completely standalone, it stands as the oddest title in the franchise—but also one of the best. Originally seen as an April Fool’s joke, as its teaser trailer April 1st 2013 release date might suggest, it became a hugely pleasant surprise for all fans of the open world FPS genre.
Fun, inventive, wacky, full of one-liners and gigantic laser T.Rex dinosaurs… need I say more? Not only is the game a lot of fun, but it’s also affordable.
Far Cry 4 (2014)
With the success of Far Cry 3 and Blood Dragon under their belt, Ubisoft Montreal and the other talented co-developers were tasked with making a title to eclipse all previous Far Cry titles. The result was Far Cry 4.
Despite a rough launch, the game was beloved by fans and critics alike. The fictional setting of Kyrat, a small Himalayan country besieged by civil war and strife, was a standout very rarely seen before in gaming, regardless the genre. It featured a slightly bigger and denser world than Far Cry 3, with many more weapons, quests, side quests, caves, vehicles, animals and areas to explore. The main baddie Pagan Min is one of the best villains of gaming and a charismatic dictator that is so good at being evil and morbidly entertaining that every scene with him is pure joy. The game’s cast and story in general have seen a major revision effort, presenting moral conflicts that have no clear long-term resolution and a surprising slew of different endings.
This is what good marketing looks like.
The vast majority of fans—myself included—loved the game. It is in many ways superior to Far Cry 3 and 2, and the sheer freedom to goof off and have your own fun is seemingly unlimited, far greater than ever before. Some fans were disappointed with its reuse of mechanics and even certain models and textures. The density of content was also so high that it could actually limit one’s ability to suspend disbelief.
Far Cry Primal (2016)
What would the Far Cry series be without an awesome or unique setting? Set during the Mesolithic Age, 10 000 years before the rest of the series, it is a spiritual successor and a unique spin on the series and its roots.
Whilst it is not a separate “main entry” into the franchise, it is, like Blood Dragon, a project smaller in scope. That did not lower the team’s commitment to rendering a fantastic setting, though—they even made up a language based on our modern understanding of Proto-Indo-European for the many tribes inhabiting the land!
Overall, the title was well received and introduced better simulation AI and a new pet and tame mechanic for animals. Some were critical of certain repetitions in its design, mechanics, and its progression system, though others actually love those very same parts. Well-written and interesting, it is worth your time if you are a fan of the series.
This most recent release in the series launched just a week ago! The developers didn’t shy away from experimenting with new locations. This installment takes place in none other than American’s wild state of Montana. Inspired by real world doomsday cults (ones actually even weirder than what we see in the game) and with some exploration of religious themes, it is no exception to the rule of Far Cry – to always have an interesting setting and villains!
The game features AMD technology such as shader intrinsics and rapid packed math and runs amazingly well on GCN hardware, especially Vega. The crossfire support is exceptional as well!
It has already released to great fanfare and acclaim, marking yet another success in this storied franchise. Learning from the mistakes and triumphs of past titles, the veteran teams at Ubisoft have designed another polished and fun experience for all fans of the genre. Whilst it does not reinvent the gameplay wheel, if you will, sometimes what matters more is to nail and polish what you already do well, building and adding onto a solid foundation. This is a lesson more people need to learn in general, and one that works, as Far Cry 5 has shown with great panache.
And with that we conclude our brief overview of the history of Far Cry. The games are all very interesting and show a real love for the craft of making great FPS titles! With amazing villains and interesting settings, exploration of some dark … and humorous themes, the franchise has carved out its well-deserved place in gaming culture.