The Nintendo Wii isn't even two months old, yet many gamers including myself have gotten a grasp on which types of games play well and which ones don't play so well. So far, the first-person shooter genre has been the target for a lot of controversy; some Wii gamers love stuff like Call of Duty 3 and Red Steel while others complain that the games are unplayable. I fall into the former category, and thus decided to give Ubisoft Montreal's Wii iteration of the Far Cry series a shot. Far Cry: Vengeance has its ups and downs but altogether is the most playable Wii shooter yet.
Far Cry: Vengeance won't win you over with its story. Jack Carver gets caught up with a busty arms dealer named Kade who gets him into all sorts of trouble with a crazed madman named Semeru, his mercenaries, the military, and a man in charge named Kien Do. I've never really liked Carver, even in the series' 2004 PC debut. Vengeance does nothing to change that, with poorly constructed cinemas and the worst voice acting since...well, Elebits, which came out the same day. I'll just say that December 12th, 2006 marked the day of all days for awful voice acting. As a result, I couldn't find myself caring much about the story and just wanted to shoot some thugs in the jungle.
Far Cry: Vengeance uses familiar Wii shooter mechanics but does everything better and smoother. Aiming around the screen works well and the aiming/turning "box" feels more natural here than in Red Steel or Call of Duty 3. Ubisoft Montreal added an extra helper by letting the player prevent the camera from turning by holding down the A button. This allows for super-precise aim and severely limits missed-shot frustrations. Jumping with the nunchuck (flick up) works well, and I personally think that reloading (C button) is much more natural than flicking (Red Steel) or pressing the super-small Minus button (Call of Duty 3). I can't say enough how much more I enjoyed playing this game just because of its intuitive controls. Ubisoft Paris and Treyarch, grab some paper and take notes
There are definitely a lot of guys to shoot, too. I am somewhat disappointed, generally speaking, that Ubisoft Montreal went away from the original game's stealth-centric style. This style, which forced the player to scope out an upcoming area with binoculars to pinpoint enemy locations and other points of interest, took more time but ultimately provided more depth. Far Cry: Vengeance is much more run-and-gun, which is still pretty fun, but admittedly shallow. As I said, there are a lot of mercs in the lengthy single-player campaign to shoot. There are also a lot of guns to use, like standard pistols and submachine guns as well as high-powered sniper rifles, chain guns, and rocket launchers. The guns are all pretty useful in their own unique ways; the pistol isn't too weak and thus is handy throughout the game while the sniper rifle allows the player to stay back and pick off thugs from afar. You'll also drive vehicles like ATVs, patrol boats, and licensed Jeep trucks (strange use of licensing, but whatever), but after a while I preferred to walk and shoot because the vehicles didn't handle as easily as they should.
Jack's predator powers, which were made familiar in the Xbox release, Far Cry: Predator, are put to good use in Vengeance. By killing a lot of enemies and busting skulls with headshots, Jack will fill up a Predatorine meter that allows him to utilize some of his powers. Jack initially unlocks a super-fast running speed that can be activated by holding down the A button. He also has a health-regenerating power, done by flicking the nunchuck to the left and the right. This was obviously the most useful power throughout the game. Soon afterward, Jack will be jumping 20 feet into the air, using enhanced senses like sight and smell, and climbing up walls with his bare hands. The predator powers are all a lot of fun to use and open up the gameplay for more possibilities. For example, there's a sequence about halfway through the game where a player is running across bridges and through the jungle surrounded by snipers. One could either take it slow and pick off the snipers with his or her own rifle or run and jump at mad speeds through the entire area to avoid their gunfire. I personally took the latter approach in this given situation 1) because I'm an awful sniper and 2) I was running low on health and didn't have enough Predatorine to regenerate my health manually.
Unfortunately, not all is smooth sailing. Despite my enjoyment of most of the game, I'll gladly tell you that Far Cry: Vengeance looks like piss. It is easily the worst-looking "next-gen" game I've ever seen. Nintendo can walk the "gameplay over graphics" line all they want, but when visual factors look like they came from the Nintendo 64 (textures) or Dreamcast (character models) era, the line has been crossed. I'm really not being sarcastic, satirical, or unfair: this is a pretty awful-looking game. The frame rate doesn't even hold up very well in some sequences, either. I've seen bugs like enemies walking into walls and tree bases floating three or four feet above the ground. What happened to the dynamic lighting and water effects, detailed character models, and pretty cinemas? What's the deal, Ubisoft? The Wii is clearly capable of visuals that are better than this. Look at games like Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Rayman: Raving Rabbids, hell, even Red Steel This is an embarrassment. Other than feats like an impressive amount of vegetation, large levels, and the fact that the game runs without freezing, there isn't much to compliment. I'd have much rather had small levels with better graphics and effects.
The sound effects aren't much better, but they work. The music is appropriate for the surroundings, but I found it odd that intense jungle beats would sometimes play while I was simply strolling through the harmless jungle, far away from any sort of threat. And what's with the insults? Ubisoft Paris threw shockers like "Moron " at me with Red Steel, and I'm still hearing "Coward " in Far Cry: Vengeance. What's the deal? This is an M-Rated game made in 2006. I'm not asking for gracious, unnecessary amounts of derogatory swearing, but when a man is jumping 20 feet in the air towards me about to dice me up with a machine gun, the last thing I'm going to yell is, "You are afraid of me "
There are a few factors that will ultimately determine whether or not you enjoy Far Cry: Vengeance. First, do you like how Wii shooters handle? Second, do you like run-and-gun shooters with little to no required strategy? Third, are visuals and sound effects important in any way, shape, or form? If you answered yes, yes, and no, you'll agree with me when I say that Far Cry: Vengeance is an enjoyable game, if not a great game. Otherwise, you'll say, "This game plays as poorly as the others," "This game is shallow and stupid," and "This game looks like dog crap," respectively. Think about it clearly: Vengeance has great shooter mechanics and a fun campaign but almost totally lacks any impressive superficial values whatsoever.