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Far Cry 2 (xbox360) Preview


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Compared to the weird sci-fi hijinks of its predecessor (as well as the unabashed sci-fi flight of its spiritual successor Crysis), Far Cry 2's premise is decidedly grounded in the here and now. Involving a fractured African nation, a Malaria-afflicted protagonist, and an opportunistic arms dealer who supplies both sides of a protracted, unproductive conflict, you could even say it's prescient. But the mind of a gamer can easily extrapolate from these elements a whole mess of concepts with which we perhaps feel more at home: a free-roaming environment, complete with realistically-rendered foliage; disparate factions to alienate and curry favor with; and of course, munitions and firearms in no short supply.

As we've written before, Far Cry 2 is being built around precisely these sorts of elements. The game will more closely resemble the free-roaming S.T.A.L.K.E.R. than its own more linear predecessor when it comes to structure. You won't be leveling up per se, but you will cultivate a network of allies and supporters (whose faces are culled from the stable of potential avatars you didn't choose at character creation) who will provide you with missions and even possibly come to bail you out from particularly hairy firefights. The game's environment will be vast and seamless, facilitated by all sorts of vehicles, from hang gliders and airboats to jeeps and buggies.

Ubisoft's recent press event in San Francisco afforded some hands-on time with Far Cry 2, and as is always the case when jumping into a snippet of what is supposed to be a continuous experience, the context was a little disjointed in spite of the satisfying minute-to-minute mayhem. Patrick Redding, Far Cry 2's story designer, was quick to point out that the weapons loadout used for the demo scenario was kind of unorthodox. Which begs the question: What's so unorthodox about a man in the savannah carrying an assault rifle, side-arm, and RPG?

Trailer here: :link:

The first big set piece in the demo involved attacking a large compound populated by several dozen enemies. Redding mentioned several possible approaches: Sneaking in and picking off a few patrols could be viable, as well as commandeering and weaponizing a car near the approach. Running in guns ablaze ended up winning out, however.

Enemies reacted in ways you'd expect from characters governed by a reasonably advanced AI system: they held cover, took pot shots, retreated and hid when injured, and even appeared to attempt to flank on a few occasions.

Littered throughout the battlefield were, of course, explosive barrels, but also numerous shanties to scurry inside of or duck behind. The tall grass surrounding the grounds imparted a false sense of security; while they do seem to obscure your body, they logically don't provide much in the way of cover. Given how much the game's Dunia engine seems fixated on rendering luscious greenery, it'll be interesting to see how much all of the dynamic stuff it can do will factor into the mission design.

Later sequences involved driving cars and piloting an airboat. It all works like you'd probably expect it to (in other words, GTA-style). While you can instantly discern your location by looking at your map and compass, the designers have apparently embraced a recent trend and taken this to the literal extreme: Your character actually pulls out a map case in real-time. Just like it's difficult to navigate a map in real life when you have one hand on a boat throttle, so it is in Far Cry 2.

The demo culminated with an attack on another compound, this time involving a car theft, which resulted in a chase. After it became clear that the pursuers were not going to relent, Redding advised exit the vehicle, arm the RPG, and let loose on the pursuers. "Nice shot" he said after they blew up.

It's a given that any game even tangentially associated with Far Cry will benefit from some fancy tech. Delivering on the promise of the free-roaming FPS is a much more difficult proposition. Far Cry 2 seems to have one piece of the puzzle locked. Let's hope that the whole comes together in a way that is as rewarding in the long term as it is gratifying in the minute-to-minute.

Source: gamespy

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