GC 2008: Far Cry 2 Hands-On - Map Editor, Single-Player Impressions, and Dynamic Narrative

Design your own war zone and then burn it to the ground.

If Far Cry 2 takes place in Africa, why is there a multiplayer map featuring the Eiffel Tower? Because a very dedicated tester created it himself in the robust map editor, that's why.

We stopped by Ubisoft Montreal last week for a first look at the anticipated map editor and managed to squeeze in several hours of the single-player campaign as well. Console players finally have at their disposal an editor that's almost on par with a PC mod tool. Fear not, PC players, the Far Cry 2 PC map editor has a simple Windows interface and looks like a streamlined version of Photoshop. Ubisoft's goal for all platforms was simplicity. Though the interface varies slightly to take advantage of either a mouse and keyboard or a controller, Ubisoft was whipping together realistic-looking multiplayer maps in a matter of minutes on the PC and consoles.

If you have more than a few minutes, the creations can be quite extraordinary. The Eiffel Tower was constructed using hundreds of individual pipe pieces, while another developer painstakingly layered cement slabs to create a naval battleship, complete with interior decks.

Designing a mountain fortress is but a few button presses away.

The first tool at your disposal is the mound tool. Simply create a circle on an area of land and hold down a button, and the earth will begin to elevate, almost as though you're spray-painting elevation changes. Indeed, most tools handle exactly like a spray-paint tool in Photoshop. If you "spray" over the ground with the noise tool, it will create random divots and rocks and small contours to give the map a more natural look. The erode tool can be applied to elevated mounds, creating sheer cliffs and steep, rocky slopes. A texture tool can apply individual biome characteristics that represent the major areas of Far Cry 2: jungle, desert, and savannah. An algorithm will select trees and bushes at random, so vegetation appears realistic rather than being a perfect grid of palm trees. We watched as one developer created a beautiful forest in a matter of seconds. Roads can be added by selecting a surface such as dirt or pavement and then dragging and dropping points around the topography. Finally, every map must have a set number of spawn points, at least one spectator camera location, and mode-specific objectives like flags in Capture the Flag. A validation tool will tell you what you're missing before you're allowed to finalize your map.

The bulk of your time will be spent with the object tool, which gives you the ability to drop any object into the environment and orient it exactly as you wish, even if you prefer a village of upside-down houses. Churches, fences, homes, walls, explosive barrels, and vehicles can be added anywhere, although the vehicle count is currently capped at six. Because these objects can be stacked on top of one another, you can create some impressive structures should you take the time to build them. One map we saw showed a construction site and an unfinished building made out of individual girders. Another map was designed as a harbor, with large cargo containers stacked on top of one another and tall cranes looming overhead. A final map we ran through featured an old passenger train stretched across a lake with a few wood docks floating about. If you can dream it, you can probably make it happen.

Once your map is created, you can play around with times of day and add weather effects like fog and rain. Finally, you can hit a button and drop right into the map and start shooting it up or burning it down with a flamethrower. Not only is this fun, but it gives you the chance to scope out good firing positions and test the design of your map.

Should you not want to spend too much time in the map editor, you can always download a map from another user and modify it to your liking. The original creator will still receive credit for his map, but you can jump right in, make changes, and upload it again. Ubisoft is still hammering out all the community features of the map editor, but at the very least you will be able to sort through maps based on filters like top rated or number of times played. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to share maps across different platforms, but based on our time with the map editor, it appears that Ubisoft has reached its goal. The editor is seamless and simple.

Build ornate structures piece by piece.

Not so simple is the single-player game, which is to say that Ubisoft is aiming for an engrossing experience with dynamic narrative. Because you can pick and choose your buddies and build up your relationships with them, and because they can die at any time and be removed from the story completely, no two experiences will be alike. As you improve your relationship with buddies by taking on their side missions, more information about their personal histories will be added to your file. No matter which of the nine characters you choose to play as, there are a few big moments in the plot--without giving away too much--when you have to decide whom to help, who lives, and who dies.

In the few hours we played of the single-player game, we noticed a definite rhythm to the action. There are safe houses littered throughout the region that you can unlock by defeating the guards there. There are weapon shops and armories where you can reload. You can also take on side missions from the shop owner that will unlock new guns. But to purchase guns, you'll need to collect conflict diamonds. Hundreds are scattered throughout the country, and your GPS device will quickly flash green as you approach a stash. You also earn diamonds and progress through the story by completing the main missions. But, of course, to better complete missions you need access to better guns...a vicious (and fun) cycle.

In the mission we played, a lieutenant in the APL faction wants a police chief dead and orders us to destroy his heavily armed convoy. Plus he pays in advance. As we head to the location on our map, we get a phone call from one of our buddies, Flora, who has a less dangerous way to complete the same mission. She recommends stealing a ledger that contains details of APL bribes from the chief's brother. When the chief finds out, he'll hole up in the police station and wait for your arrival.

Buddies like Quarbani will give you side missions and help out when you're in a jam.

Unfortunately we died before completing the mission, so we turned our attention to exploring the open world, burning enemies to a crisp with the flamethrower, and racing through guarded checkpoints. There are several large radar towers looming over the land, and you can earn some quick diamonds by accepting assassination side missions there. A creepy muffled voice comes on the line and gives you a target to put to sleep for good with a well-aimed shot from the silenced dart rifle.

At this point in development, Far Cry 2 is feature complete, and Ubisoft Montreal is focused solely on cleaning up the remaining bugs. We'll have more on the map editor and multiplayer as we approach the October release date. Until then, check out two new interviews with Ubisoft Montreal and a brand-spanking-new trailer.

Civilization Colonization proves that you don’t need an advanced technology tree with the Manhattan Project or manned space flight to get you completely engrossed in the latest entry from famed game designer Sid Meier. No, in Colonization, all you need is corn.

Early on in your quest to dominate the New World, the cultivation of food and growing your colony’s populations will be your first priority. Armed conflict against hostile barbarians? Forget about it. Even your European rivals from either England, France, Spain, or the Netherlands don’t want to pick a fight. Success in the Americas is based on your ability to adapt to new forms of agriculture, managing your relationship with Native American tribes, and generating enough resources to simply stay alive. Invading tiny Indian villages is the last thing you should worry about.

Buddies like Quarbani will give you side missions and help out when you're in a jam.

In our last hands-on with Colonization, we played through the single-player mode. In traditional Civ form, the maps are randomly generated to encourage surprise and exploration. There are two map types to choose from: New World, which generates two large land masses to represent North and South American; and Caribbean, which creates a series of islands meant to characterize the Hispaniola and the islands in the Bahamas discovered by Columbus. This week we played through one of the few maps included in scenario mode. The new scenarios use maps based on real geography, something many Civ fans have been clamoring for for years now. One map focuses on North America, a second on South America, a third on the Northwest Passage and one on that covers the northernmost colonies and Canada. Because it’s summer, we tried our luck as the English, only this time in South America.

It’s important to note that unexplored areas of the map remain cloaked in darkness, so even though you know the basic geography of South America, exploration is still important. The tech tree and road to success in Colonization is unlike any other Civ game, unless you played the original Colonization from Sid Meier back in 1994. First up is food, represented on the map as corn and fish. Cultivating food is the key to growing your population, and you can recruit expert farmers or fisherman from your homeland in Europe that will double production when assigned to their respective specialties.

While the goal of Colonization is to break away from your European home country and declare your independence, Europe is an invaluable resource for almost the entire game. There’s a market for raw materials like cotton, sugar, tobacco, and animal furs, and shuttling those goods back to the homeland will give you gold to be spent on even more master craftsman. Such craftsmen come in handy when you are established enough to begin refining your goods into coats, rum, cigars, and cloth, which are usually priced at more than four times cost of the raw product. Cha-ching.

You'll occasionally have to administer aid in the field, like on your own finger.

As many in Europe are persecuted for their religious beliefs, they look to the New World as a place of freedom, a fresh start. Often these disenfranchised citizens will be waiting at the docks in Europe to join your colony. While master craftsmen will double your production, indentured servants and petty thieves will also looking to make the transatlantic voyage and you’ll have to decide if you want such low-producing citizens in your colonies. Give me your tired, your poor indeed. One way to increase the amount of quality immigrants is to establish churches and cathedrals within your colonies. These produce “crosses,” and clergymen such as firebrand preachers can be assigned to work in a house of God to double the production of crosses. As a beacon of hope and religion, Europeans will begin flocking in no time.

When they do, education is a great way to get your masses learned in a specialization. By sending them to schoolhouses or college, colonists will learn specializations like master blacksmith, gunsmith, or carpenter, for example. Balancing all these raw materials is quite a chore. To build advanced structures, you need tools and lumber. To build tools, you need iron ore. To chop wood, you need lumberjacks. To feed miners and lumberjacks, you need food. To cultivate food, you need farmers and fishermen. On the side you have tobacconists manufacturing cigars, distillers making rum, fur traders making coats, weavers making cloth, and gunsmiths making rifles that defend your villages. Carpenters increase the production speed of new buildings, wagon trains, and naval vessels. Naval vessels are used to shuttle materials between your cities and Europe by sea, while wagons transport goods overland.

Every hour is cocktail hour.

If you’re looking for a challenging Civ experience, Colonization is it. Management plays a much greater role then combat and you can’t simply fight your way to victory from the very beginning. We’ll have more on Colonization soon as we examine multiplayer, community and mod tools heading toward the September 22 scheduled release date, if we can pry ourselves away from the extremely addicting single-player mode, that is. Just one more turn? Yeah right.

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123 comments
themoneyman4147
themoneyman4147

everything that you have heard about this map editior is true you can pretty much make anything that you want there is a ton of different features and items this is the greatest map editor out yet

themoneyman4147
themoneyman4147

the only bad thing about the map editor is that you cant make maps with your friends you can play maps that you have made but not make them with others

maverick_76
maverick_76

This game is 9.0, possibly a 10 depending on how good the extra content is.

JB2B
JB2B

I totally agree with imdawiinner. It is possible and a great addition to a game. The map editor in Halo 3 cannot even be called a map editor and was a great disappointment to me and I found it almost totally useless. I have to add that I'm used to editor like UnrealEd. But I still think the editor in Halo 3 should have been more than what we got. I wanted to make maps for Halo 3. But then of course they cannot make cash of map packs. One thing (the only thing) I find dissapointing with this Far Cry 2 editor is that you won't be able to make single player maps.

imdawiinner
imdawiinner

If a map editor like this is possible, i have no idea why more games to incorporate it in their content. That and customizable buttons (but that may be some advanced programming reason i dont understand) anyway, map editors, while being smart for multiplayer are also just fun by yourself! I will spend a ridiculous amount of time just making interesting maps, even if they dont function in game, ill just hang glide around and assess my work =P

Nicksta101
Nicksta101

GameSpot are hopeless at reviewing games so even if they do bash the game for whatever reason (they always find some reason), I'll still buy it and spend hours with the single player and the map editor. I've got so many ideas for the map editor, like Omaha Beach for D-Day...

Nicksta101
Nicksta101

GameSpot are hopeless at reviewing games so even if they do bash the game for whatever reason (they always find some reason), I'll still buy it and spend hours with the single player and the map editor. I've got so many ideas for the map editor, like Omaha Beach for D-Day...

jamesmader
jamesmader

This game is going to be the best i have ever played, better than crysis by far. lol i have to get it for 360 cause my comps crap but it will still be SICK!

tyrant2004
tyrant2004

This looks like it has so much potential; it's just what fps's need - a game that has a great single player experience, plus an awesome map editor to keep the multiplayer alive for a long time. That map editor is the key - if people make great maps, and the multiplayer is fun, this game could be played more than gears and halo, possibly. I can't wait for this game, hopefully the gamespot reviewer isn't in a "mood" and doesn't thrash this game in a review.

bear0429
bear0429

hope every thing is destructable like in the single player

Polo_747
Polo_747

Ahhhh yes finally an Awesome game is comming out that has an African Backdrop. It will be like playing in my backyard!

blackhammer77
blackhammer77

A fantastic map editor with an even better single player game - i'm just lost for words

coolghosty
coolghosty

I can't wait to put my hands on it, plus the map editor looks awesome and i can't wait to put my ideas in that editor... Cheers to Ubisoft Montreal :) (108 comment..>...)

SkaterOrHater
SkaterOrHater

woot 107th comment map editor is gunna be awsome and yeah halo didnt have a map editor, it has an item relocater like he said

chad_giac
chad_giac

this is going to be one of the best games out to date. especially on the ps3 :)

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Halo didnt have a Map Editor, it was simply an item relocator.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Been waiting for this after 'Predator' & 'Instincts', cant wait!

KOTORkicker
KOTORkicker

Halo 3 beater much? Seriously though, it looks like this game is gonna show up of Halo 3 badly...

Blackener
Blackener

This game is gonna be like the sweetest game ever! especially the multiplayer

jamesryan99
jamesryan99

i can tell im gonna get sick from not sleeping before and after this game comes out

forhekset
forhekset

About time someone revisited the easy-build style again, and what better format?

king_loei
king_loei

WOOOOOOOOOOOOT! I'll sit down with this game, and never get up again. It looks to have enough varying entartainment to keep me going FOREVER! :D

david_joseph93
david_joseph93

Man its so cool because the reason i did´t well the reason i couldn't its beacuse all those Fancy and Hard Editors .... but now with Far Cry 2 editor i will Spend my time Building Easy Cool Maps!

Paintballman97
Paintballman97

Much better map editor than Halo...... Then again what game isn't better than Halo. Too many good games coming out in the next 6 months. Not a problem at all :)

Paintballman97
Paintballman97

Much better map editor than Halo...... Then again what game isn't better than Halo. Too many good games coming out in the next 6 months. Not a problem at all :)

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

this map editor is amazing and sounds so easy to use. Fantastic value for us console owners who can;t afford a high end Pc. I hope the community is large and create lots of awesome maps to play.

eddyroc
eddyroc

this looks amazing never played the first one though hope the storys arn't linked or i'll have to find out what happened in the first

tim22000
tim22000

i word, GOTY, actually four : P

killzone_gamer
killzone_gamer

This is going to be an expansive game methinks...

Sammojo
Sammojo

This game so easily has the potential to be insanely good. Definitely GOTY material for next year, but I guess we will just have to see.

jpmad4it
jpmad4it

Everyone keeps banging on about Far Cry Instincts, who cares? Far Cry was the original PC game and that was brilliant. This is under the PC version topic, not a console version. It will rock and destroy all console versions.

denaz
denaz

Cannot wait! I'm sure i'll be spending many hours making my own maps :D

Zee666
Zee666

Looking cool, i don't know why they made a big deal out of lowering a raising the ground nwn had it before, hell the sims had it and that sucked!

Lordx67
Lordx67

It's good that a real map editor is coming to consoles AND pc's. A good map editor can give you endless replay value although it's usually exclusive to pc. Far Cry 2 is defenitely a must-have.

mayslandinmusic
mayslandinmusic

i'm so glad that console gamer finally get an map editing tool. Can't wait till October!!

xmen1414
xmen1414

I didn't really like Instincts! The game was kinda boring at some parts it was lie the same thing over and over again!(Also the voices were just annoying they like swore at total random times and with no emotions at all!) Back to this game, i is gonna rock! I can't wait for a modder to put out some awesome maps!!

jernas
jernas

Yes but the same people that made Instincts are now making FC2!

Amigro
Amigro

Anyone who played the original Far Cry knows that this game will be incredible. Apart from having the same name Instincts was nothing at all like the real Far Cry.

Aminal_basic
Aminal_basic

I'm going to pre-order as soon as my seller will let me! wow!

david1233
david1233

I have Far Cry Vengeance and it's not that good but that's on the Wii and I don't have a 360 so what what the hell am I doing looking at this...This does look good though. Do you be Jack Carver or somebody else???

Nicksta101
Nicksta101

Hello Far Cry 2! That'll be in my collection soon.

Ryir554
Ryir554

looking forward to this one

chronicman7
chronicman7

sk8more67 do you have a brain? this is a preview and it says it will be released in october