Below is the second and concluding part of PC Gamer's (UK) Far Cry 2 preview which has appeared in issue #178 of the magazine. Should you have missed the first part, you can play catch-up here. Pick up a copy of the mag for very first screenshots from the sequel. It's out on sale this Thursday.
Far Cry wouldn't be Far Cry without a heavy dose of jungle. While you will be crawling on your belly through the forest, it's not all-consuming like before. The canopy opens up and there are large expanses of open ground where there's hardly a piece of bark in sight.
"It was an absolute requirement that Far Cry 2 maintain the exoticism [of the original game]," explains Pharand. "The African savanna was a natural choice because there are several different kinds of plain in Africa. The grasslands are only one, and [allow] long draw distances, off-road vehicle pursuits and long-range shooting and sniping.
"Savannah woodlands, on the other hand, actually come to approximate the levels of density you saw in the jungles of the original Far Cry, but in some ways it can feel like urban fighting with small but dense clusters of trees behaving like small buildings. Of course, you can't typically shoot through buildings, while if you think the enemy is on the other side of a stand of trees you can hose it down with a light machinegun to find out."
Ubisoft are hoping that the game will satisfy those looking for the original's jungle combat, while still allowing the series to cover new styles of play.
Yet large outdoor expanses feel empty unless you have the people and wildlife to inhabit them, which is where the game becomes yet more ambitious.
"Our AI is needs-driven, and the main needs are Rest, Duty and Social," explains Pharand. "Scattered all around the world are what we call SmartTerrain Points - locations where NPCs can perform actions that fulfil those needs. For example, a Sleep point will fulfil the Rest need as long as the NPC is sleeping."
As an example, we're told how gazelles will trek to watering holes each morning, drinking water before heading out to eat and sleep in the plains in the afternoon. Enemy patrols, meanwhile, will converge upon their base-camps at night, which means that the experience of raiding a camp at night or during the day will be drastically different. Planning your assault is now about more than just spotting your enemies. It's about choosing your moment, too.
Of course, there's still a 300-pound gazelle in the room that we haven't mentioned. If you're wondering how the game compares to Crysis, the semi-sequel to Far Cry by the original developers, know that Pharand isn't worried. "From what we know the games are virtually incomparable, which is great. We expect PC gamers will be more than happy to have two incredible titles to play instead of only one."
And we certainly will. Just so long as they can pull this off.