At a London-based event this time last year, Ubisoft unveiled Far Cry Instincts to golf claps and raised eyebrows rather than rapturous applause. It was far too early in development. But a year later, at a different event, the game was unveiled again, this time to a standing ovation. Now we're a year further down the production line, and the game looks incredible and plays like an FPS dream. This has fast turned into one to watch.
The majority of our hands-on time was spent on multiplayer System Link games, over a good selection of lush jungle-themed maps. After getting over the fact that everything looks so vibrant, colourful and serene, we were keen to see how the frantic gunplay would work on the pad. The answer? All good. The horizontal and vertical viewing axes run nice and smooth, giving you full control over aiming at moving enemies. This is good news, because the maps are quite large and you'll be chasing your enemies down from afar.
Controlling the many vehicles is simple to pick up too. Just hold down the X button next to your selected ride, and you automatically jump in the driver's seat, be it a jeep, quad bike or hang-glider, which has to be seen to be believed.
One major difference between PC and console versions of the Far Cry franchise is going to be Jack Carver's new adrenaline moves. Playing on a hunter versus hunted theme, Carver will occasionally be able to draw on animal-like speed and ferocity in a series of special feral moves to take down the mercs hunting him. We also saw a nice demo where you can turn the very landscape and environment itself to your advantage. Handy things trees, especially when you can bend them back and set a trap to plant a great big spike through your opponents' chest.
Further intrigue was added by the addition of an excellent level editor which allows you to design and build your own multiplayer maps. "Impossible on a console!" we hear you cry, but not so, as with a few clicks of our S-controller, we were sketching out hills, adding trees, calculating choke points and all manner of map-building chicanery normally enjoyed by our loftier PC cousins. It's quick, effective and darn clean fun, and you can have a prototype level up and running in about five minutes. Top quality and it should lend an even more intriguing aspect to an already impressive offering.
Anyway our stunning single-player demo was in fine working order, and it looked every bit as good as the PC version - to our admittedly Xbox-biased eyes. We've already made up our minds that we want this. Now. More soon.