When you're playing Far Cry 3 you're absolutely resolute about what is right and wrong... until you're not so sure." In Montreal, chatting to Dan Hay - producer of the latest Far Cry - we're fast discovering this isn't just another shooter. It's different. Better. More interesting. At the risk of ending up with egg on our face, we're convinced this is going to be Ubisoft's own BioShock - a great game that marries smart gunplay to even smarter philosophical and moral concepts.
At heart, Far Cry 3 is already an entertaining shooter. Hands on with the E3 demo, we - as freshly trained hero Jason Brody - blast through one of the island's pirate camps. Well, we say island... it's actually an archipelago. We had to swim through the beautiful, clear sea to get to the camp, pausing only to admire a ray that glides past and brutally stab a random guard patrolling its creaking wooden pier.
A few silent bow and arrow kills (and an unfortunate incident involving a baboon) later, and we're on the corrugated roof of a burning warehouse. We leap off the roof, breaking our fall by plunging a machete into the chest of an enemy, before pushing the right stick in the direction of the next attacker, chaining together a double melee kill. Satisfying. Bloody.
The rest of the fight is chaos. If you want to know how it feels, think Battlefield 3 online (not quite as quick as Call Of Duty, but with more beef to the weaponry) only everything is on fire or bleeding. We shoot Molatov cocktails out of enemy hands, turning them into screaming human torches, and blast the tanks on a flamethrower-toting grunt, instantly charring him and a large patch of surrounding vegetation. Confirmed: the dynamic, spreading fire of Far Cry 2 makes a triumphant return here. In fact, there are a few clever ideas that have made the trip from the previous game. When wounded, you tap a button to heal, which shows Jason roughly yanking a bullet out of his arm with a pair of pliers, jabbing a syringe into his body, or wrapping a bandage around his wounded wrist.
The tiger rushes out of its cage, clawing at anyone who gets in the way
Another returning feature is player choice, important when it comes to murdering virtual men. Heading around the back of one of the huts mid-fight, for example, reveals a massive tiger trapped in a cage. Shoot the lock off, and the beast rushes out, clawing at anyone who gets in the way in a terrified frenzy - it makes for an unlikely ally, but sadly doesn't survive the carnage. That's fine: you can come back and skin it later. There's a jeep with a mounted gun too, which you can either drive around or use as a fixed machine-gun to even the odds. So far, so familiar. The devs have definitely nailed the combat, and that leaves them time to add the flair. And the flair has a name...