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Burning it up in 'Far Cry 2'

We got out hands on Far Cry 2 and smiled as we burned down a small village with our flame thrower.

Far Cry 2

We had sly grins on our faces. Not because we were here chatting with Ubisoft at the company's NYC showcase. Not because we got our hands on one of the most anticipated games this year. We were reveling at the destruction, you see.

We took our flamethrower, lit up a patch of dry brush in the African savanna, and observed as the flames spread to a small bungalow from the prevailing winds. Just as a group of enemy soldiers ran over to investigate the damage, we ambushed and mowed them down with our M16. We're not in the tropical island jungles anymore.

Far Cry 2 throws you into the swamps and jungles of the African continent this time around with a new cast of characters and a new setting, further drawing players into the open-ended first-person game that the first game pioneered. While Crytek (developer of the original game), is off working on the sequel to Crysis, Ubisoft Montreal came to the helm for this game, developing a brand new engine, dubbed Dunia.

Flamethrower screenshot
Yes, we enjoyed lighting him up too. Ubisoft

We were first shown a early mission in the game. The premise of the game, as already covered by Video Games Blogger, leads up to the "assassination of 'The Jackal,' an arms dealer who has been selling weapons to both sides of the conflict that's tearing apart a small fictional African country. The way to complete this task is entirely up to the player. There are various factions involved, where a player can do missions to earn influence."

As we were told during the demo, for example, at the beginning of the game your character is infected with malaria. The only way to alleviate the symptoms (as there is no cure) is by receiving medicine from an underground faction for doing missions and also subsequently earning reputation.

However, if you wreak too much havoc, such as killing innocent civilians, to the countryside and thereby draw attention to the faction, expect to be shunned and lose your precious supply of drugs.

Right away we noticed that the game is more realistic than the previous incarnation. For example, a player will have to dig out a bullet from a wound or readjust a dislocated limb when injured. Weapons also function realistically: our M16, which had seen its share of fights during our playing time, began to look worn and would occasional jam up on us.

The game also features an ecosystem of wild animals grazing in the savanna and a real-time night and day system. There are no load times, just a open-ended gameplay area of about 50 square kilometers, sprawling with lush jungles, swamps, and savanna. The only way to navigate the large expanse is with a map and compass. Forget about being handicapped by the typical FPS heads-up display.

Jungle screenshot
Lush jungles allows extensive coverage against enemy forces. Ubisoft

The game's graphics were also impressive for an early build. The swampy areas were choking with lush vegetation, and the savannas' dry brush swayed realistically with the wind. As we mentioned earlier, the fire effects in the game stood out the most in the demo; as we lit up the dry brush of the savanna, we noticed that the flames seemed to spread realistically based on the direction of the wind and dryness of the environment.

The game is being developed for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3, but Ubisoft has yet to lock down a release. Stay tuned for a full review from our friends over at Gamespot.