Far Cry 2 • Page 2

So far, so good.

But, since the multitude isn't going anywhere, the first thing we do is go for a relaxing stroll. We've already heard a lot from Ubisoft about what's 'not Far Cry' about the sequel: it's not the same hero; it's not supernatural; it's not the same location. Yet these surface details miss the point. According to Hocking, it's "the same experience you had when you experienced Far Cry for the first time. That's what we wanted to recapture: going somewhere you knew was real but was really foreign and exotic, and you never really expected you would get to go in your real life."

Far Cry 2 transports you to the arid plains of Africa. But, just as the original Far Cry's tropical island was an abstraction rather than any specific palm-treed paradise, so its sequel's vast world is the Platonic ideal of the Dark Continent.

"We're trying to capture the quintessential feeling of Africa. We wanted to have really sandy deserts and dry rock deserts; rolling grasslands that you'd see in the Serengeti, woodlands like you'd see in Tanzania or Namibia; mountain dwellings like you'd see in Dogon villages in Mali; colonial cities; jungles like you'd see in Congo; rivers and lakes like you'd see in Kenya. All of these things actually don't exist in any one country in Africa."

As much as the Ubisoft wishes to invoke the adventurous spirit of the original, however, the cold realities of big business are never far away, as when Hocking takes a pointed swipe at Crysis - the second game from the original developer of Far Cry, Crytek.

That diamond is my ticket off this godforsaken continent. Er.

"You have to recapture [the magic of Far Cry] or you're not really making a sequel to Far Cry, you're just cashing in on the tropical island," he says. "Players have been to tropical islands in Boiling Point, in Just Cause, in Lost every night on TV, in Crysis and Far Cry on console. All of these games and movies and TV - you see this place and it's not that exciting adventure that it was. Far Cry did it first." Well, they do say sand gets everywhere.

Going walkabout allows us to appreciate the detail that has been lavished on a game world that is, according to Ubisoft's own research, "bigger than Oblivion. It was 40km2 and we're 50km2." It's the new Better Than Halo!

Either way, it's hugely impressive. Trees are fully destructible, cracking and splintering exactly where they are shot; weak branches can be snapped by a strong gale; grass blows according to the direction of the wind. This isn't just game engine willy-waving: an awareness of wind direction can be used to your advantage when predicting the spread of a fire, or using its smoke as cover.

You can even embark upon a mini-safari, attempting your best David Attenborough impression as you stalk a herd of zebra. You can shoot them in the face for kicks, if you wish; or, if you really do have nothing better to do with your life, you can kick back and watch through your minocular as they feed and rest.

That's for breaking my TV.

"Sometimes it feels good to take a breather from being chased by guys with mounted grenade launchers on the back of their vehicles and look at the world," reckons Hocking. "Yes it's a shooter, yes it's an action game, but there's lots of opportunities to explore, take a look around and appreciate the world for the simulation of it." And of course, there's always the argument that the more in-tune you are with your environment, the more likely you are to exploit it to your advantage.

Eventually we remember there is a game to play (sorry about that!), and trudge over to the safe house - well, shack - where our bestest buddy Frank is waiting with mission instructions. As with the UbiDays demo, we're again tasked with entering an enemy compound and blowing up a pipeline.

The freedom of approach to your mission is underlined by the choice of six different weapon loadouts in the updated E3 build. This something-for-everyone approach caters for the stealthy tranquilliser dart-in-the-ass stalker, and the rampaging Arnie-in-Commando killer alike, theoretically with everyone in-between.

At this point you can change the time of day by pulling out your watch and setting it at the hour you wish to continue. We go for midnight; the game cuts away to a shot just outside the hut and a lovely time-lapse sequence as the sun sets, and night falls.

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Johnny Minkley

Johnny Minkley

Contributor  |  johnnyminkley

Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.


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