GC 2008: Far Cry 2 Preview
Written Wednesday, August 27, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
The two words "Far Cry" when used together, usually fill me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I think back to the original on the PC and it makes me warm inside, and on the other hand, we have the 360 port, and that fills me with disappointment and makes me a little melancholy if I was honest. How a fantastic, classic game can take so many steps backwards with a shoddy port, is beyond me. Here we are now though, with a clean slate and new engine. No porting, just straight up development from the off with next gen platforms in mind. How does it shape up?
Welcome to Africa. Gone are the mapped out missions, the linear objectives and the bright blue skies and tropical beaches. Say hello to the freedom to choose your own way how to accomplish a mission, a sandbox environment and the wild natures of the land. The world is your oyster. You have but one objective, take down The Jackal through any means necessary. That may mean having to take missions to advance your detective work, or just having to rip apart the whole country (good luck with that, it’s huge!).
Patrick Redding, Narrative Designer ran us through one of the later “base” missions of the game where they wanted him to sabotage an irrigation system. You don’t have to take the mission, but there will be certain benefits from doing so, namely conflict diamonds which is the Far Cry 2 currency and you can use it to purchase, upgrade and repair weapons.
Redding introduced us to the buddy system which is a feature that runs alongside the main storyline and buddies are characters you unlock through exploration of the game and through certain story missions. Again, this is optional, but if you choose to, you can interact with them and build your history with them and they will offer you side missions and such which can make your main mission objectives a hell of a lot easier.
Far Cry 2 uses a pretty neat infamy system inside towns which means that NPC’s will react to you in different ways depending on how you’ve been playing. As your reputation increases, the attitude of enemy soldiers changes from maybe contempt to maybe a little fear.
The map in which you live is absolutely huge so instead of running the length of the map to get to an objective, the player can use the river system which Redding described as the games’ “freeway system”. There are two main boat types; the swamp boat and the deep hold fishing boat and they will be necessary to getting around the world but remember, these places are not safe so beware of the patrol boats.
As Redding navigated the river it was clear to see the living, breathing, openness of the world as you passed some local wildlife on the riverbanks. The boat didn’t kick up too many waves but the water did look very realistic and at that time, the world was so peaceful and tranquil, who would have thought that this place can turn in to a war zone.
At this point, Redding makes his way to the target armed with an AK-47 and an RPG-7 so as you can tell, stealth was not an option. Because Far Cry 2 is an open world game and the paths the player takes towards an objective are unknown the AI needed to be unique and Redding mentioned how the dev team overcame this by developing “smart terrain”. Smart Terrain is a script that means that the AI will be “autonomous, systemic and not predictable” so enemy infantry placements will not be scripted and will be different every time.
It’s possible to scout the area with the Left Trigger before you move in to determine who is where and get them to appear on your map. Redding had no time for that and ploughed in blowing up an ammo pile on his way, that as a result started letting off live rounds causing a nearby bush fire. This sort of tactic attracted a lot of attention naturally and as a result, the mercs took him down.
At this point your buddy will spawn in to the map to pull you to safety so you can patch yourself up, but be careful because if the buddy dies when they are out helping you, they are dead forever and the entire outcome of the game will be altered. These relationships, as you can see, are more important than originally made out, but fear not, you don’t need them to complete the game.
Another aspect of Far Cry 2 we got to check out was the map editor and boy, is this the most advanced map editor that you have ever seen? It’s incredible. In the space of 90 seconds, the Ubisoft developer had created a map that was reminiscent of the environments that the single player mode shows off. You literally have the control to do anything with it. You can change the mapping of the floor, the texture of the ground, the time of day, the wind, the thickness of the foliage, the objects, the trees... Literally everything! It’s incredible. After creating the short 90 second map, they showed us one that had taken 90 minutes and it was effectively a village, something reminiscent of a level from Ghost Recon. It literally will put any other map editor to shame, no doubt about it.
Far Cry 2 is shaping up to be a Game of the Year contender. With its dynamic weather system, an in-game day-night cycle, its vast, living, breathing environment and fantastic visuals, the game doesn’t seem to put a foot wrong. That sort of stuff may pull the player in but it’ll be the map editor that will keep gamers hooked allowing them to play and show off their favourite maps to their friends and the rest of the world.
Far Cry 2 will be available by the end of 2008 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.