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Feature: 'Beyond Far Cry 2: Looking Back, Moving Forward'

Far Cry 2 was one of the most ambitious AAA titles of 2008's holiday season -- but what did it actually accomplish? Gamasutra reflects with Ubisoft Montreal
Far Cry 2 was one of the most ambitious AAA titles of 2008's holiday season -- but what did it actually accomplish? Gamasutra reflects with Ubisoft Montreal narrative designer Patrick Redding. While Far Cry 2 doesn't retain the science fiction elements of the original, Redding mentions that the development team did toy with "surreal or impressionistic" elements, tampering with player perception with hallucinatory moments and other experiments. Some of those ideas remained in the final game: "Part of it was part of a larger discussion about how to use filters and kind of dynamic art direction, sort of in response to player actions, and doing things like altering the weather dynamically in reaction to how the player's doing, or even having filter effects on saturation of the screen that would kind of communicate some aspect of the player's infamy. This was at a point when we were thinking of infamy in much more low-level, mechanical terms as well. It's not like that we threw it out for being unrealistic. I think it's more you have to make sacrifices in order to enhance the clarity of the game. And I think we felt that, in general, we weren't really necessarily adding anything to the realism and the immersion of the game by doing it this way, but we also might also be muddying things up so it's harder for the player to see what's going on. [laughs] That principle, that was more of an aesthetic position that we took early on, and it dovetailed with the realism goal and the immersion goal. But very quickly, it just became kind of the style of the game, that we would keep things very muddy and visceral and earthy." The narrative designer also talked about the first-person shooter's abusive introduction, in which players are introduced to the mechanics of the game while also suffering malaria, broken weapons, and feelings of vulnerability: "That turned out to be very challenging, because we're trying to do two things simultaneously: We're trying to make the player feel vulnerable and at a disadvantage initially -- to set the ground rules of the world and the moral universe of the game -- and at the same time we're trying to give them useful and practical information that's applicable to play, and not do it in a way that's completely ham-handed. [laughs] I think that that's something we could have had more iteration time on, just to maybe either pace things out slightly differently or try to use fewer obstructing, pop-up-type interventions in order to teach things to the player. It's a lot to absorb. It's kind of sensory overload. At times I think we succeeded, to an extent, in managing it. And at other times, it fell short of what we probably would have wanted in the long term." You can read the full feature, which includes more details on Far Cry 2's narrative structure and subtleties, as well as the challenges of meeting player expectations (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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