Wednesday 22 October 2008

Why I'm so fracking excited about Far Cry 2

“I think Far Cry 2 is going to be amazing…” John Walker, RPS Wireless Show, Ep.2

I also think Far Cry 2 is going to be amazing, and it’s partly because of what the guys at RPS have said about it, and partly because of what the Creative Director, Clint Hocking has said. In an interview for Edge Magazine, he used a literary comparison to explain its difference from the original Far Cry.

The original Far Cry is The Island Of Dr Moreau, a story of a mad scientist that has unlocked the inner savagery in man and created literal monsters,” says Far Cry 2’s creative director Clint Hocking. “But at the same time HG Wells was writing Moreau, Joseph Conrad was writing Heart Of Darkness, which actually has very similar themes. It’s about someone in the jungle that has discovered and is leveraging man’s inner madness, and become a metaphorical rather than literal monster. This is Far Cry 2.

The focus on the “inner madness” is an area that I am only too happy to explore. Could Far Cry 2 become the Apocalypse Now of our gaming generation? Kieron Gillen, in the same RPS Podcast as the earlier quote from Walker, explained why he thought that it was going to be a “game changer” of a game. In terms of the open world nature of the game and how the story is told, Gillen said

…the sort of narrative structure is basically you choose who you want to be from a list…and then all the other characters become NPC’s in the story…the structure generates via programming…and that’s really clever. That absolutely how we should be trying to do narratives in games instead of just the ridiculous cut-scene approach…of… your metal gear solid 4 approach, which is ludicrous. That this is absolutely embracing the form and wouldn’t be possible in any other form, [is] really interesting and novel.

If there’s one phrase that can get me instantly interested in a topic about videogames it’s “embracing the form”. To any developer who is interested in creating a game that wouldn’t be possible in any other medium, I instantly say “Yes! Lets!” and want to give them all my money. Gillen seemed to think that Far Cry 2 had the potential to change the way we perceive games, even what games are possible of, saying

Far Cry…kinda sounds like… well you can’t really go back after this. …The idea that suddenly an entire generation of gamers will be injected with something which changes how they think a shooter could work is exciting, cause that hasn’t happened since Half-Life. …Wouldn’t it be amazing if, this Christmas everything changed? The idea that the sort of things people expect form the genre changed? It hasn’t changed since 1998.

I also find that notion to be terribly exciting. However, there is always the potential that it will be ignored, missed by the game developing community at large, and generally passed over. John Walker questioned Gillen’s belief, saying

I’d love to think that were true, but unfortunately, that when PoP came out I said ‘Oh my goodness, no platform game can ever be the same again because of this game’ and yet not one single platform game has done it right at all – I mean, Braid? …Tomb Raider games…still don’t have rewinding time in them and there’s no reason not to. I mean, there’s enough mysticism and magic going on. ‘Oh yeah, but they’d be stealing that idea directly from Prince of Persia’ well what was PoP? *laughs* A direct steal from Tomb Raider. Loads of these brilliant redefining games just seem to get ignored for years, which is really frustrating.

Gillen, in response, suggests that, perhaps in this case, Prince of Persia was largely passed over because it “wasn’t the number 1 game in the industry. Whereas Half-Life was.” He says,

I think Far Cry 2 is going to be huge. If it’s huge, people rip it off more. Especially if it’s in a genre which is popular, which a shooter is.”

Early reviews are in. The verdict, so far, is quite good. Tom Chick:

The objective of Far Cry 2 as a game is to get out of the way and let you experience the game world. And there is no other game world quite like this one: haunting, spectacular, meditative, explosive, violent, and serene, all at once, and all in a mere shooter.

I for one, can’t wait to get my hands on it.


Daniel Purvis said...

Not excited yet. Obviously, I'd love to play but at present I'm enjoying a range of other games, too.

Far Cry 2 looks like a game that I'd love to sit done and just enjoy without too much pressure to complete. As such, I'll probably do my playing in a few months and avoid all discussion on the topic that'll no doubt be happening in the next few weeks.

Also, have you bought it yet? I hear it's out today at EB ;)

Ben Abraham said...

Oh it's out!? ZOMG! I'm torn between wanting to rebuild Windows and just wanting to play it now... =(

Iroquois Pliskin said...

I'm also extremely excited for Far Cry 2, as I've been following the creators' descriptions of the game for a long time. While there's been plenty of positive commentary on the gameplay in the early reviews, the early responses haven't said much about the narrative innovations that were promised in those developer interviews. It's up against a lot of other promising games this fall but I'm really looking forward to picking it up.

P.S. it's "frakking" with two Ks, per Wikipedia

Daniel Purvis said...

@pliskin I usually spell it frakkin'. (It's two Ks, I'm sure.)

Ben Abraham said...

Thanks for reading, IP and Daniel, both.

Spelling of "Frakking" duly noted. ;-)

CrashTranslation said...

Clint Hocking clearly comes from the same design mentality as the late great Looking Glass Studios, and Irrational Games.

That alone is enough to ensure Far Cry 2 is an immediate purchase me.

If he can bring some of that Looking Glass aesthetic to an open-world shooter, as Ken Levine did for linears shoot with BioShock then Far Cry 2 will be something very special.

Ben Abraham said...

I'm sure you listened to the RPS Podcast yourself, CrashT, but for others who didn't, I think it was Gillen who mentioned that it does seem possible to draw a line from Far Cry 2 back to games that came out of Looking Glass. That's in contrast to GoW which is really just Wolfenstein with HDR and bump-mapping.