Feature

Far Cry 2 blowout

You stand at the edge of a cliff. Below you lies a sun drenched savannah, with trees and long grass swaying lazily in the wind as far as the eye can see. Somewhere in that distance you can see a small village, where people walk around and get on with their daily lives. You stare down the sight of your rifle, and spot your intended target harassing some of the villagers.

The dev, Patrick Redding, snaps us back to reality, with an anecdote regarding how the tester had not previously got this far. This is how good this game looks – it completely draws you in.

 

 

 

Such a thing should go without saying though. Even though FC2 is not being developed by Crytek, Ubisoft Montreal seem to be treating this like their own baby, and are carrying on the legacy of superb graphical quality. This is only scratching the surface of this game, albeit a beautifully crafted, lush surface. The gears and cogs whirring behind the scenes are epic, not only in terms of size, but in scope and idea.

You’re a mercenary or assassin in a 50 square kilometer undefined part of Africa filled with gorges, savannahs and jungles. The world the game is set in is more of a real world setting then the original Far Cry; speaking of which, there seems to be little to no connection between the two games plot-wise.

You’re ultimate mission is to take down ‘The Jackal’, a drug dealer and generally naughty boy. Or girl maybe? Mr. Redding didn’t really specify. But that is pretty much your only constraint, as the game has an incredibly non-linear structure, highly reminiscent of the Elder Scrolls series of games. You can take missions whenever you please, and can then fulfill them whenever you want.

You can pick up missions from ‘neutral’ villages, possibly ones in some form of DMZ. Here you can purchase supplies and weapons, some of which are black market goods.

The world this takes place in has been made very realistic, right down to the smallest of elements. Fauna runs on an engine called RealTree, where branches and leaves snap off and break due to such disturbing factors as, well, gunfire. They will then grow back over a period of time. We aren’t being metaphorical; they will literally grow in real time.

Encampments you come across are highly destructible, with wood realistically splintering, breaking and catching on fire. The fire even spreads in the direction of the wind. With that said, if you feel like starting a bit of arson, get the hell out before you get caught up in it.

Weapons jam and degrade over time, with jams happening more frequently, and being more of a nuisance, the greater the degradation is. Weapons can either be fixed or replaced, but the basic idea would be to go into a combat situation with a fresh weapon to lower the chance and frequency of weapon jams. Vehicles are run on a similar system, as where as before a damaged vehicle would remain damaged and possibly become unusable, you can now fix the damage and be on your merry way. This will probably come in handy after outrunning angry villagers in a stolen Land Rover.

This leads us nicely onto the character AI in FC2. With the previously mentioned example of stealing a Jeep or Land Rover that some of the villagers are particularly fond of, the villagers may jump into a nearby vehicle and make chase, guns ablaze and all. They are highly voracious, and no less than driving like the Duke boys from Hazzard County will get them off your tail.

Once you’ve jumped the nearest dried-up riverbed (as luck may have it, there are a few in the Africa setting), and have homed down on an occupied village you feel the need to liberate from bad men, other AI aspects begin to come into play. Your opponents will ruthlessly hunt you down when you engage them. Cover will not remain cover for long, and hiding places are only temporary. AI characters may also retreat if wounded, only to fix themselves up and come back after you. Much like the Last Stand perk in COD4, you’re going to have to make sure you finish off your foes properly, or you may be in for a nasty surprise.

Not all AI in the game tries to kill you however. Along the beaten path you can pick up ‘companions’ to help you throughout your travels. They will follow you around on your journeys, and help out in firefights, even attempting to pull you to safety if you’re heavily wounded. This gives you enough distance and cover to heal yourself before they possibly hand you their (only) sidearm as a means to continue with your ‘dirty’ business.

It helps not to let these guys get killed off, as they are a reliable and useful allies (unlike, say, the cliché useless FPS ally Natalya from GoldenEye 007), and will probably be very helpful during some of the harder missions, or near the end of the ‘main’ story.

Going back to being wounded, your character has a very novel way of ‘fixing’ himself after taking damage. Leaving behind the current trend of ‘accumulative’ damage that can be recovered over time, FC2 has you operating on yourself, removing bullets from your own body when enough damage is taken. There are a finite number of times you can do this, largely based on the limit on ‘med kits’ you can carry. These can be picked up from merchants or from first aid boxes.

On the topic of equipment, you can carry up to three weapons at a time, although only one in each ‘class’, these being side arm, main weapon and ‘special weapon’. The special weapons include, but are not limited to, rocket launchers and flame throwers, and are not as common as the other types of guns.

But wait, there’s even more! The game features day and night cycles, and even has changing weather patterns. Save points are located in ‘safe houses’, shacks dotted around the epic landscape that allow you to not only save your game, but also let your character ‘sleep’ or rest until a certain period of time. Perhaps you feel the urge to partake in a night raid when a village will be less heavily guarded – simply sleep through the day in a safe house. Incidentally, while playing the game, every minute of real-world time that goes by, eight game minutes will elapse. That is fairly long, even by game terms, so this feature could be very useful.

Now you may understand the whole cog and gear reference. All these bits, the RealTree, the enemy AI, the towns, the buddies, and the ticking clock, all of these are highly developed. Yes, most of them aren’t new, but rarely have they been executed with this amount of depth. The game is truly epic, and even if you feel gipped by the current lack of continuity from the previous game, you will still smile when you notice a rideable hang glider perching on the edge a cliff.

When pressed, Mr. Redding did reveal a couple of tidbits, namely the future expansion/downloadable content and possible Sixaxis controls,
which we reported here on PSU a week or so ago.

So, let’s wrap thing up. The November 2007 build we saw at Play.com Live apparently has "nothing" on the graphics of the current builds running on 360, and Mr. Redding assured us that their will be negligible difference between the two platforms. Whether or not you view that as a positive thing is up for debate, but either way, the game looked fantastic and had a truly epic sense of scale. Bring on the fall.