"Did I ever tell you what insanity is?" asks the man staring at us with the boggle eyes and mohican. "Insanity is doing the same f*cking thing, over and over again, and expecting shit to change." To illustrate the point he then hoofs our character off a cliff into the water waiting below. Which is something of a problem because there's also a cement block roped to our ankles. Welcome to Far Cry 3, the most unpleasant summer holiday ever.
The idea of repeating the same thing but expecting different results (which is actually Einstein's definition, as borrowed in the game by a nutjob NPC called Vaas - more on him later) must seem particularly relevant if, like Ubisoft Montreal, you're working on a massive sequel. The development team's solution has been to splice together the best features from the previous two games. So, it's got a new tropical island (actually, there's a heavy hint it'll be 'islands') much like the original, combined with the sprawling structure and lunatic characters of the second game, but none of that dying of malaria nonsense.
"We wanted to make sure it had a flavour of both [Far Cry games]", says producer Dan Hay, who admits the team kicked around urban and sci-fi settings briefly before settling on returning to a tropical environment. "What we thought was; we had an opportunity to do something different... But the idea of an island just kept coming back." The biggest reason was that the team realised the game needed a world which was beyond the laws of humanity, which meant picking a place off the map. (Odd that they ruled out South London so quickly, though.)
The results, as demonstrated in the exclusive demo CVG was shown the day before Ubisoft's E3 press conference, looks a lot like a first-person shooter spin on Uncharted 2's jungle sections. Only much harsher. The jungle, which is predictably rich and lush, is infested with murderous psychos with fruity accents. You play new genero-hero Jason Brody, who soon finds himself literally out of his depth, (remember the cement block?), and desperate to escape.
You can watch plenty of action from the game in the following video, plus hear more from our interview with Dan Hay. (Keep an eye out for the XP rewards after each kill, plus the ability to loot bodies for cash and items like an ivory statue, suggesting both a robust in-game economy and RPG-style upgrades.)
Done that? Loving you work. Now see if you agree with the six reasons why we think Far Cry 3 will be worth your time...
1. Far Cry 3 does not hate you
One of the chief criticisms of Far Cry 2 was that everyone wanted to kill you everywhere you went. It was near impossible to drive 100yards without being hosed down by militiamen. Far Cry 3 is more forgiving. "We're giving the player the opportunity to turn on the action when they want to turn on the action," explains Hay, which means, "Making sure that the AI isn't always hammering you with bullets." The impact of that new ethos best comes through in the demo during the section in which Brody infiltrates a camp. It looked a lot easier to stay hidden, picking off enemies with stealth kills before 'going loud' and mopping up the others with an assault rifle. Plus, the fact you haven't got to manage a debilitating disease this time can only be good news.
2. It's got 'fast travel'
The other main criticism of Far Cry 2 was the sheer amount of schlepping about the map you had to do. Not any more. "I'm not supposed to talk about features, but I'm going to," says Hay, helpfully. "We're going to have fast travel. Everybody asked for it, and we're going to do it... We wanted to make sure moving around the jungle wasn't arduous." He wouldn't say what mechanism you'd use to teleport about, but it's certainly a relief to know it's there.