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FarCry 2

An arsonist's guide to razing Africa to the ground

Now, if you found any reason to not enjoy bombing about the tropical islands of the original Far Cry, chances are it was something to do with the mutated gorillas that appeared halfway through and started clawing your face off relentlessly. That's okay though, because on these pages you'll find not a single ape, nor the faintest whiff of ridiculous mutant super-powers.

In fact, Far Cry 2 is a good few thousand miles from the sun-drenched beaches of the original, as Ubisoft are focusing on gritty realism across a 50km2 patch of Africa. A sprawling chunk of the continent encompasses the wide, grassy savannah, the dense, sweltering jungle and a vast sandy expanse of desert, all wrapped up in a dynamic weather system which delivers blistering heat and torrential storms in equal measures.

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So what are you doing in this place? Well, you begin on your deathbed, riddled with malaria as the local warlord looms over you. Rather than kill you himself, he laughs with Bond villain levels of irresponsibility - he's going to let the virus destroy your body naturally.

Revenge is sweet
In this open world Ubisoft have created, your overarching objective is one of revenge against this man, the Jackal.
How you do this is, for the most part, up to you. The region is torn between two rival factions, agents of whom you must rely on for your anti-malaria meds, which must be regularly taken to stay healthy.

It's this mechanic of being indebted to those people in charge of your medicine that will initially see you tearing across Africa in a range of vehicles, carrying out missions in order to stay alive. Plonked in front of the game at Ubisoft's Montreal studios, one of these early missions is fired up, and I find myself standing
knee-deep in golden grass, a light breeze sending a visible ripple across the beautifully rendered savannah. I've got everything a man in my position could need - an inventory of weapons, a jeep, and a map and compass pointing me towards people who need to be shot.

They're roughly a kilometre northwest, so as I blast through the countryside in my 4x4, terrifying the local wildlife (the game features some wonderfully animated and easily spooked gazelles), Far Cry 2's creative director Clint Hocking clues me up on what to expect when I reach the enemy. What Ubisoft Montreal want with Far Cry 2 isn't a bunch of guards working from a setlist of predefined actions - they want guards whose actions are unpredictable, leading to all sorts of improbable situations.

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"That's where the real moments of excitement are," claims Clint. It's cool when an enemy throws himself under a truck to get the perfect sniping position, he explains, but ultimately, such things begin to repeat - especially if you're using them to fill up a 50km2 world with over 60 key locations, from enemy bases to neutral towns and safehouses.

Reaching the enemy camp, I park up atop a nearby ridge and scope the place out. Enemies and objectives spied through your monocular will appear on your map, allowing you to plan your attacks carefully. I'm warned that 'Doing a Rambo' isn't an effective strategy against Far Cry 2's incredibly intelligent grunts, so instead I get acquainted with the game's sniper rifle. Artificial intelligences in the game will work around a system of needs: they've got a duty need (patrolling), a socialising need (chatting), and a rest need (sleeping) - and they spend their day fulfilling these needs as best they can.

24-hour cycle
The world will follow a day and night cycle too, meaning that if I were to wait around long enough, night would fall and most of these guards would wander off to bed.

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