Ubisoft crying Far again...in Africa?

French publisher announces sequel to 2004 franchise-spawning shooter is coming next year; Montreal studio developing, teaser site hints at Serengeti-esque setting.

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In 2004, Ubisoft shook up the PC first-person shooter genre when it released Far Cry. The game's dazzling visuals earned it high critical praise, including a nomination for Shooter of the Year in GameSpot's Best and Worst of 2004 awards. The accolades translated into income, with the game selling nearly 425,000 copies in the US, generating $12.9 million as of May, according to the NPD Group.

Far Cry's success launched a whole franchise for Ubisoft, with Far Cry Instincts hitting the Xbox in 2005, its expansion/semisequel Far Cry Instincts Evolution the following year, Far Cry Instincts Predator arriving in 2006, and Far Cry Vengeance tackling the Wii last December.

Unfortunately, Far Cry's success also led to some unwelcome developments for Ubisoft. Just months after the game's release, its German developer, Frankfurt-based Crytek, formed a " strategic partnership" with Ubi rival and part-owner Electronic Arts. The first project to emerge from that deal is the PC shooter Crysis, which has been turning heads at industry events with its groundbreaking graphics. In fact, its rapt reception has sparked talk of EA buying Crytek outright.

While disconcerting, the EA/Crytek deal didn't stop Ubisoft from buying the Far Cry IP last year. Today, the France-based publisher announced its Montreal studio is developing the first proper sequel to Far Cry, inventively titled Far Cry 2. Ubisoft Montreal developed Far Cry Instincts Evolution and the Prince of Persia series, and its currently finishing up Assassin's Creed.

"Far Cry marked the beginning of a new era for shooters. An era of gorgeous graphics and of advanced artificial intelligence," said Tony Key, Ubisoft's vice president of marketing, in a statement. "We are confident that Far Cry 2 will have the same impact again on the FPS genre landscape."

Other than its platform--the PC--and its release window--Spring 2008--little was revealed about the game other than what can be seen on its new teaser Web site. However, the site's splash page did hint the game might be set in Africa, showing pictures of trees in a Serengeti-esque plain with tribal drums playing in the background. Also, a French-language stamp bearing what looks like a lioness or leopard appears in the upper-right-hand corner. At the turn of the 19th century, nearly a third of Africa was under French or Belgian colonial rule.

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