Archive for August 10th, 2008

10
Aug
08

Ubisoft trip wrap-up

So we made the return trip home from Montreal with minimal delays…at least until we hit Vegas on an unusual rainy day. But we’re back now and poring over our notes and assets in attempt to figure out how we’re going to approach this guide. Far Cry 2 is shaping up nicely and is easily one of the best looking games I’ve seen on the 360 or PS3. Plus it addresses many of the issues I’ve had with shooter genre. But I would stop short of calling Far Cry 2 a simple shooter. It’s so much more than that.

Not long ago I was writing a guide for a tactical shooter and determining the best path to a hilltop objective. While glancing at the in-game map I saw that there was a narrow twisting road leading up the hill; an area that was certainly packed with enemies. Instead of taking that path, I looked for other ways to reach the objective. But there were none. In one area my attempt to flank was impeded by an overturned row boat. And we all know badass military types can’t hop/climb/crawl over such contrived obstacles. So I was forced to take the narrow road up the hill and was hardly surprised when ambushed by scores of enemy troops. This sort of fixed-path design seemed really old fashioned, not unlike the maze-like games (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Duke Nuke Em 3D) from a decade ago. Even recent bestsellers like Call of Duty 4 suffer from this “one path in, one path out” rail-shooter style of level design.

For this reason, Far Cry 2’s open world design feels much more like a GTA game than a standard shooter. You’re capable of taking on missions at your own pace. And instead of giving you a confined maze to run and gun through, the designers have provided an entire African country to explore. When you get a mission, it’s completely up to you how to get to the objective area. Want to drive a jeep? How about piloting a river boat? Once you reach the objective, you can accomplish your goal in a number of ways, attacking from 360 degrees. You can hold back and clear out the objective area with a sniper rifle or mortar, rush in with guns blazing, set distracting wild fires with molotovs, or you can sneak in with silent weapons, carving up unsuspecting hostiles with a machete. This type of design inspires immense creativity and replayability, allowing the player to customize their tactics based on their preferred style of play, weapon availability, time of day, current weather conditions, NPC behavior, and numerous other factors.

On our last day at the studio Jason Arsenault showed me the game’s multiplayer map editor, shipping with all versions. This powerful tool allows any user to create and upload their own map by easily molding mountains, raising the water level, “painting” the terrain with vegetation, and hand placing a wide variety of structures and objects. Of course, making a well-balanced and fun map won’t be easy, so the uploaded content will be rated by the community, helping the best maps rise to the top. This is a very exciting prospect, practically ensuring a perpetual fresh batch of multiplayer maps within days of launch.

Well that’s enough for now. I need to get back to playing the game. There’s something I need to blow up. More Far Cry 2 info incoming in the days/weeks ahead.




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