With the original Far Cry developer gone and Far Cry 2 in new hands, you'd have been forgiven for expecting nothing more than a prettier version of its predecessor. But Far Cry is going to be much more than that.
For us Far Cry 2 is not only one of the most graphically impressive games we've seen on PC, but it's also a title that's attempting to push current boundaries of AI, characters and player freedom.
To find out what the dev team aims to achieve, we spoke to technology director, Dominic Guay.
A number of previous games have boasted of having independent AI, but usually they follow predictable routines. What's different in Far Cry 2?
Dominic Guay: You are right to point out that having an autonomous AI does not make it automatically unpredictable.
It all depends on the array of possible actions and behaviours you provide the autonomous AI to work with. It's a bit scary to give an AI a lot of actions because it means it will not be as predictable for us developers and that makes our job harder.
I saw in some games "autonomous AIs" that would basically only run to the nearest cover as soon as they were bothered and stick there forever, shooting at the player.
For FC2, considering our goals for the game, we needed the AI to be able to handle a vast array of possible situations.
And we suppose the massive emphasis on player freedom makes that even more complicated, right?
Guay: The player can come from any direction, at day or night, using any weapons, long range or short range, setting fires, using boats or trucks, etc. So our AI needs to be able to deal with all of those situations, to adapt to the extent of the player's freedom of play and freedom of tactics.
Outside of battle, our AI is driven by its needs, mixing work, social activities and rest. This is also necessary considering the player can visit an area at an unpredictable time from an unpredictable place or visit the same area multiple times.
If the behaviours were predictable it would hinder the replayability. All this said, I'm still regularly surprised by our AI, I think that's a good sign.
You seem to be approaching the whole immersion sim/RPG genre, what with the unpredictable world, different NPC's, weather patterns, day & night cycles. What about people who just want to blow stuff up?
Guay: That's something we have kept in mind all along. The team really wants to do a new style of game with FC2, not just "another shooter".
That said, we also want the user to play the game they want to play, the way they want to play it. If a player wants to focus on main missions and play an aggressive style, it is possible to do so.
Even though we communicate a lot on what we feel makes FC2 unique, we actually spent a lot of effort making sure that the controls and weapons were finely tuned and fundamentally fun to use.
Ultimately, the unpredictable world, the dynamic and destructible environment, the propagating fire and the large open battlefields are things that we believe will thrill the people who "just want to blow stuff up".
As the new engine takes advantage of multi-core processors, what sort of system requirements can we expect for Far Cry 2 on PC?
Guay: That is still in flux. This said, the game is very scalable, including to single-core processors and GPUs that are many years old.
We keep all game features across the quality settings, it is only the detail and quality of the rendition of them that is changed. A little while back, I played the game on a gaming PC that is almost 4 years old.