By Neil Schneider
In the stereoscopic 3D gaming community, very few titles carry the same respect as the original FarCry by Crytek. Originally released in 2004, the original FarCry unwittingly became the measuring stick for S-3D compatibility for all future titles.
Best known for its open landscape sandbox design, the colorful foliage of a tropical jungle, and the sci-fi adventure of being marooned on a remote island filled with nasty mercenaries and hideous beasts, FarCry was also a great game in true stereoscopic 3D. Even with the old school NVIDIA S-3D solution, it was possible to find a good mix of game settings that made FarCry pleasing to the eye.
Fast-forward nearly five years to 2008, and with a change of the times also comes a change of the guard. Ubisoft has taken over where Crytek left off, and the franchise has been revisited with a new look, new story, and a new level of S-3D gaming expectation.
Are our expectations met? Let’s find out!
First thing’s first. FarCry 2 barely represents its predecessor by Crytek. The original characters, the sci-fi storyline, and the cartoonish look are all gone. Instead of being on a remote tropical island, you are in the heart of Africa.
You are a mercenary in this unnamed central African state, and there is a war at hand between two factions. Your primary mission is to assassinate “The Jackal”, an arms dealer who has armed both sides of the conflict, and is fueling this continual bloodbath.
While the central goal sounds simple enough, it can only be achieved by completing countless missions and hours of game play. FarCry 2 is a first person shooter, and features the exploration of an estimated 20 square miles of virtual land. Play the game long enough, and you will cover every inch of this territory, I assure you!
It’s a big state, and you can either get around on foot, by vehicle, or eventually by glider. While I have yet to come across an abandoned tank, you will easily be able to find jeeps with mounted machine guns. Some cars are faster than others for an easier escape. For example, while it won’t have a gun attached to it, you can really zoom fast with a buggy! There is a wide selection of boats too.
Vehicles that take damage will slow down your escape, and you will regularly have to pull out your handy wrench to fix all that ails your favorite car or motorboat.
When FarCry 2 starts, you are given a pseudo tour of where you are going to spend your next 50 hours of game play (estimated). It’s a bit misleading because your tour guide is able to get through guard posts almost effortlessly. NOT YOU! Everybody will gladly shoot you on site, so you are going to need decent weapons. To get weapons, you need money (diamonds), to get money, you need to complete missions…lots and lots of missions.
There are four classes of missions in this game:
The first are story driven missions. You are regularly employed by the local factions to do assassinations and dirty work. You’ll earn money in the form of diamonds, and spend it on better weapons and upgrades.
As the story progresses, you will rescue fellow mercenaries who later become your “buddy”. When you have earned a buddy’s trust, he or she will help you. They can rescue you if you lose consciousness, they will join in and give you extra firepower during a tough mission, and they will offer side quests to make your main goal easier to achieve (supposedly!).
With buddies come their liabilities. For example, buddies can get hurt and killed – so be careful!
Did I mention you are doing all this mercenary stuff with a case of malaria? As if taking out this Jackal head honcho isn’t enough, you are futzing around Africa with an exotic life threatening disease. Fortunately, there is an underground market for malaria pills, and you will be asked to do special missions to get your next refill.
You are going to need a lot of strong firepower to accomplish these missions, and unfortunately, they also don’t make weapons like they used to. Everything wears out and breaks down eventually. For example, you can pick up an amazing rocket launcher off the ground, and as you play, it will begin to jam up and eventually stop working altogether.
Worry not! There are weapons dealers all over the land who will accept your hard earned diamonds in exchange for your choice of fiery wrath. Not happy with the selection in the store? Complete special missions by the local arms dealers, and your choices will improve.
There are additional ways to make money too. For example, there are diamond cases hidden all over, and your personal GPS will highlight them when you get in proximity.
On the visual side, you can’t help but be impressed by FarCry 2’s graphics. The nuances of an African landscape, the dense foliage, and the attention to detail makes this game visually successful.
The big features include a 24 hour weather cycle that includes all kinds of sunny and rainy weather. The detailed environments make great weapons too because nearly everything is flammable. Throw a Molotov cocktail, shoot a propane tank, or acquire a good flame thrower, and your enemies will be engulfed in flame.
For me, it’s also the little things that make the game visually interesting. For example, at night, you see your vehicle headlights reflect off the ground’s surface, and you can even tell when a light has been knocked out.
The audio complements the visuals with the sound of a calm summer day, or a hard rain storm at night.
Unfortunately, FarCry 2’s successes are a double edged sword. Twenty square miles – even virtual miles – is a lot of space. There are bus stops on different parts of the map that quickly get you from point A to point B, but it is very difficult to get to where you want to be without having to fight through two or three security stops.
To make matters worse, once you clear an area, it will fill up again with fresh enemies soon enough. Eventually, much of the game is spent trying to find ways to avoid fighting through guards. Sometimes, you can try racing through an area with a fast car, but this doesn’t always work. Get hit by a few bullets, and your car’s speed gets reduced to molasses.
It’s wasteful time too because you can take out an entire village of hoodlums and not earn useful resources like diamonds or experience points or anything that would help move you along in the game.
That said, FarCry 2 still manages to be fun, and as you progress, you look forward to experimenting with new weapons and upgrades.
The iZ3D LLC testing machine is based on the following specs:
AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
AMD 4850 GPU
Vista 32 Bit
iZ3D 22” Monitor
FarCry 2 was tested with the 1.09 iZ3D release drivers with the AMD Catalyst 8.11 driver version in DirectX 9 mode. Special thanks go to AMD for making this equipment possible.
Until the profile is officially updated, add this segment to the file named “BaseProfile” in the iZ3D data directory, and mimic the spacing in that file:
This will be necessary to clear nearly all anomalies with the sky, the underwater sequences, and the map icons.
With the exception of anti-aliasing which is a current limitation of the AMD graphics cards with the iZ3D driver solution, the game can be played with all settings on maximum.
On a visual level, you will find very few anomalies. We look for the flexibility to experience both a depth and pop-out experience simultaneously, and this is easy to achieve with FarCry 2. Normally we are somewhat forgiving with this even in best case scenarios, but FarCry 2 manages to maintain a render quality no matter what settings I chose.
For example, normally when I find the 3D experience I want, the gun will protrude out of the screen inconsistently with the rest of the image or the separation between the left and right gun image will be too far apart or inappropriate.
FarCry 2 is the first title I have come across that doesn’t have this problem. The gun goes deep into the scene as though it is being held in front of you, while the branches are what pierce the display’s glass as you walk through the forests.
The only anomaly that is very noticeable is when you are using the gun shop computer, there is a vertical band on the left hand side. There aren’t many eyesores in this game.
While FarCry 2 is visually impressive in S-3D, its performance equally stands out too. I think it’s something else that I can play smoothly in S-3D mode with all settings on maximum. This isn’t a Crossfire or SLI setup, after all.
There will be instances where the game can get a bit chunky when you have several enemies in the vicinity, but for the most part, you will find it to be very smooth, and I have never had to reduce graphics settings to enjoy the game.
Even in multiplayer mode, I can still play with all settings on maximum and remain competitive – though I’m sure some are more sensitive to this than I am.
I would expect that AMD 3870 or better and NVIDIA 8800 series or better GPUs will run well with this title, and it would only require mild setting reductions if you had to tweak performance.
One more benefit to make note of. We will see if this holds true, but I have yet to be kicked from a ranked PunkBuster server with this game in multiplayer mode. This is welcome news because iZ3D drivers and PunkBuster don’t always get along.
Some of our members reported success with this title with the 177.83 NVIDIA stereo beta drivers. I haven’t managed this yet.
The good news is NVIDIA tells me FarCry 2 looks very good with their upcoming drivers, and we will update their review portion as soon as they are available.
A potential advantage is the NVIDIA drivers support DirectX 10. We will have to wait and see!
The verdict: FarCry 2 far surpasses the original in terms of stereoscopic 3D compatibility and effectiveness.
While the nature of FarCry 2’s large environment combined with its forever replenishing enemies makes for a mixed blessing, it is very much a visual success guaranteeing hours of enjoyment.
“Comfortable” is the best way I can describe the FaryCry2 stereoscopic 3D gaming experience, and I am very hopeful that Ubisoft continues to put titles out with this level of render quality. It is a welcome change from the Rainbow Six Vegas and Rainbow Six Vegas 2 experiences we had earlier this year.
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