It takes a special kind of FPS to make the well-weathered PC crowd sit up and gawp, but the original Far Cry managed just that when it released back in 2004. Sporting huge, complex outdoor enviroments, advanced AI and all the sun, sea and sand a gamer could possibly ever want, Crytek's Far Cry managed to impress even the most jaded of FPS afficianados.
Ubisoft's console reworking - Far Cry Instincts - received a similar welcome when it hit Xbox last year, and its success has now ensured that both a sequel (Far Cry Instincts: Evolution) and Xbox 360 compilation (Far Cry Instincts: Predator) are in the works.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bertrand Helias, senior producer on both titles to see what's in store on for the series' reluctant hero Jack Carver. "We learnt a lot from the feedback on Far Cry Instincts from players", Helias explains. To this end, Ubisoft has implemented a range of additions and improvements for the sequel.
For the full lowdown on what we can expect from both the Far Cry Insticts: Evolution and the massively enhanced Xbox 360 game, set to incorporate both the original Far Cry Instincts and its Evolution follow-up, read on...
We don't know too much about Far Cry Instincts: Evolution [formerly know as 'Next Chapter']. Could you start off by telling us about the storyline and main characters?
Bertrand Helias: It's really an extension from Far Cry Instincts. Jack has been in a bad situation; he has new abilities: he can go faster, he can see in the dark - you start the game with all of these abilities. In terms of storyline, it continues on from the end of Far Cry Instincts. Jack is trying to survive on the island, he's not having a good time until he meets Kate, who gives him some little jobs with pirates who are doing some business around the island. She brings him to the pirate leader who is negotiating with the a corrupt governor, but unfortunately the two of them are murdered and Jack is accused. He is then chased by the other pirates, the government, everybody.
Kate helps Jack to escape, and we meet the CIA agent from Far Cry Instincts. He promises to prove Jack's innocence if Jack helps him to capture the leader of the mercenaries who are controlling one half of the island.
So you've decided not to leave the tropical island setting for this follow-up then?
Bertrand Helias: Yes, but there is more influence from Asia, we have some Asian architecture like temples. There's still a nice beach, palm trees - in the beginning it's a place you would like to go on vacation, but as you'll discover in the game it's actually a very dark environment.
Did you ever consider taking the game to another environment, urban, for example?
Bertrand Helias: To have an open environment is something we focused on from the first conception of the game. We learned a lot from Far Cry Instincts, and we have really large environments now - we wanted to open it up and create a better sense of freedom. There's one level where you can see three islands and you can go on to each of them.
In what ways are you expanding and improving the key gameplay elements of the original Instincts?
Bertrand Helias: We learnt a lot from the feedback on Far Cry Instincts from players, we received comments from people saying the game was too easy, and some saying it the difficulty was fine, so we tried to balance that. You have to be careful not to make the game too difficult without going to the other side and making it too easy. First of all, we have difficulty levels to help balance the game depending on your skills, but of course we also worked on the gameplay, particularly on the AI, to make it smarter and more offensive. We changed the way the AI took cover. They take cover more often now, there's better communication within AI groups - they try to surround you and if they have good positions they will engage in a firefight.