Far Cry Instincts

Platform(s): Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

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'Far Cry Instincts' (PS2/Xbox) - Developer Q&A

by Rainier on June 8, 2005 @ 2:58 a.m. PDT

Just as Far Cry redefined the FPS genre for the PC, Far Cry Instincts will take things a step further with its wide open environments and unique immersive gameplay elements. Far Cry Instincts takes the PC version's signature locations, Full-Action Response A.I. (F.A.R. concept), and unprecedented view-distance, and combines them with improved gameplay scenarios that will challenge players to utilise an even broader range of strategies and survival tactics to uncover the many secrets within the beautiful, but deadly islands.

WP : From what we have seen at E3, it seams that Jack Carver is now evolving – physically and mentally – all along the game? Could you please give us some more info?

PR : Jack’s evolution is at the heart of the Far Cry Instincts experience. Our theme is “Adapt or Die,” and in the story this is linked to the research of the main antagonist, Dr. Krieger. Krieger believes that modern humans have become too disconnected with the natural world. He develops a serum that allows humans to tap into their dormant animal abilities. After Carver receives this serum (involuntarily), he begins to manifest improved strength, speed, stamina and senses. But he also finds it easier to fall back on raw aggressiveness to deal with his enemies, and this pushes him steadily towards savagery and inhumanity. Carver starts out at a disadvantage, but over time becomes uniquely suited to the tropical wilderness. He becomes the perfect predator.

WP : So before becoming a predator Jack will be 1st a prey. Could you please let us know how this will be translated in terms of gameplay?

PR : When Jack first arrives on the island, he’s armed only with a butterfly knife and his wits. The first levels are designed to reinforce the sense that he’s outnumbered and outgunned by providing the player with more opportunities for stealth-oriented action, or with hit-and-run tactics as he begins to acquire better weapons and vehicles. We’ve brought in a trap system for Jack that lets the player improvise branch-whips and set tripwire mines. After Jack receives the serum that unlocks his Feral Abilities, he finds himself having to be more proactive, raiding enemy camps or conducting guerrilla-style missions. This puts him in a more offensive role, but against progressively tougher enemies who know how to manoeuvre. In the last act of the game, Jack has unlocked all of his Feral Abilities and suffers fewer drawbacks, making him tougher and less inhibited; so there we’ve created big set-piece battles pitting him against larger numbers of human and inhuman foes in more dangerous terrain.

WP : What sort of tactics will it need to use in order to survive?

PR : Initially, it will be a choice: Sneaking around, using the vegetation and water for cover in order to get the drop on lone enemies with backstabbing or traps; Or, using the open environments to move into position, then staging lightning fast raids to take out several enemies at once with vehicles or heavy weapons before disappearing into the jungle. Later on, Jack can exploit his Feral speed and barehanded attack to disrupt groups of enemies from within their ranks – even tricking them into accidentally firing on each other. As his senses become more fine-tuned, he’ll be able to operate freely in low-visibility environments where his human enemies are at a significant disadvantage. Finally, once he finds himself up against some of the more aggressive non-human enemies he’ll have to modify his approach and use combinations of weapons and Feral Abilities.

WP : Could you please describe us a moment of the game where you’ll feel like a prey?

PR : Right after Jack’s been captured and injected with the Feral serum, he wakes up in a container truck being transported to parts unknown. Using his increased strength to break out, Jack finds himself being pursued by mercenary hunting parties who essentially want to put him “back in the zoo”. As he runs through various outposts, the mercenaries will trigger a sonic defense system that only affects Krieger’s specimens. This reveals the first major drawback of Jack’s new abilities… that he can be cornered like an animal and tormented by his pursuers.

WP : What feeling do you please think this will bring to the player compared to competitors?

PR : The Far Cry world elicits very specific emotional reactions because of how it uniquely combines atmospheric beauty with lurking danger. Everywhere in the game, the player finds himself in these rich environments that prove to be lethal if handled improperly. The payoff is when the player is able to use those hidden dangers to his own advantage. All of our gameplay mechanics reflect this. Most of our competitors’ games, however great, operate in pretty standard shooter environments. Even in the Next Gen, it seems like the typical sci-fi shooter is still riffing on themes from the mid-1990s. Not just aesthetically, but in terms of gameplay. Most recently, we’ve had great military shooters that do a decent job of conveying the feelings associated with realistic warfare. But Far Cry can claim sole ownership of the “wilderness shooter” genre.

WP : Could you please let us know more about traps? Will Jack be able to set up traps, and will NPCs also have the abilities to set some up?

PR : At the beginning of the game, Jack learns to improvise a simple branch whip and lure unsuspecting mercs to their doom by tossing pebbles in the right spot to get their attention. The mechanics are pretty straightforward: Press the black button to bring up the trap reticle, which in the case of the whip is a translucent branch that goes opaque when it’s positioned over a usable tree. The player pulls the right trigger to bend the branch into position and it’s set. Later in the game, the mercenaries start deploying Claymore mines, which are triggered by tripwire. Jack will be able to pick up the mines and set them using the same system, in this case pulling the right trigger and using the thumbstick to extend a tripwire out in whatever direction he wants.

WP : From what we understand, some part of the game play will be more stealth oriented? Don’t your please think this may break the gameplay pace?

PR : Not at all. The whole proposition of Far Cry is to enable the player to approach any given challenge in their own way. The player is never forced by the design of the level to take the stealthy approach as opposed to a more action-shooter approach. There will be sections of the game where we set out deliberately to slow down the pace in order to create a heightened tension, especially where Jack is being hunted down. But even there, the option to move through the vegetation or make a desperate run-and-gun dash is still there. Of course, as Jack evolves over the course of the game, those options become a lot more fun!

WP : How would you convince the Core PFS gamer that steath really bring something to Far Cry Instincts gameplay

PR : Actually, the open environments of Far Cry Instincts make it an easy sell. Even the most aggro FPS gamer occasionally finds himself running low on ammo or health! By providing a sophisticated cover system and a responsive AI that adopts different tactics based on the player’s approach, we’re making it possible for players to move seamlessly between stealth and run-and-gun as the need arises: To bypass a threat, load up on pickups or flank an enemy. Hardcore players appreciate having access to a variety of systems and being able to combine those systems creatively for the win. This becomes even more apparent in the multiplayer game.

WP : Creating a prey feeling will also mean having a pretty accurate AI? Can you please tell us more about your AI system (as it was a big part in Far Cry PC)? Can we compare it to the PC one?

PR : We based our AI system on the PC one to have several layers of “life” to the mercenary enemies, and also allow squads of enemies to work collectively to create interesting challenges for the player. As in the PC game, our mercenaries have innate behaviours that they carry out even when they’re not in direct contact with the player. After all, they have jobs to do, same as the rest of us. But what’s different is how those same mercenaries transition into incremental states of alertness when the action starts. For example, a mercenary squad might have no idea that you’re up on a ridge watching them… until a patrol chopper flies over and spots you, and then contacts their fellow mercs to order them into a search pattern. Once you get into a firefight, the mercs will adapt their approach depending on how aggressively you’re being. If you’re taking the stealthy option, they will try to flush you out with grenades, or outflank you. If you’re being more aggressive, they may fall back to a defensible position, try to slow you down by throwing obstacles in your way and then direct overwhelming firepower at you. The main thing is that we’ve put a lot more of this behaviour into the hands of the AI, rather than scripting it case-by-case.

WP : Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add?

PR : It’s really a small detail, but it’s near and dear to my heart: In order to create a compelling first-person experience, we chose to keep all of our scripted events in-game… No cut-scenes; no leaping into 3rd-person. Once the player is in Jack Carver’s shoes, he stays there. This really helps to create a sense of immediacy to the world and preserves the most important promise of the Far Cry world, which is the ability to go where you want and do what you want.

Even though I’m most directly involved with the Solo Mode in Far Cry, I want to make sure that everyone is aware of just how amazing a multiplayer offering we’ve put together. Particularly, we’ve taken on the challenge of developing a custom map editor for console gamers, and made it work by giving gamers access to a uniquely ‘Far Cry’ set of environments.


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