Discover why choice is your key to surviving trouble in paradise on PlayStation 3.
The first question Mark Thompson, level design director at Ubisoft Montreal, asks himself when embarking on a new project is: "What do players expect from my game?" In the case of Far Cry 3, the PS3 adventure set in a lawless tropical hideaway currently in production at the Canadian studio, it's Thompson's job to make sure his team understands the high hopes of fans.
"We know that the game has to be beautiful," Thompson says. "Far Cry is known as a brand that has always been incredibly attractive." Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crafting a game to fill the Far Cry fan base with enthusiasm, and Ubisoft is striving to balance the demands of gamers with the ambition of the development team.
"Far Cry 2 looked incredible even though it was an open-world game, and most open worlds sacrifice the visual fidelity," muses Thompson. "But for us that's just the cost of making a Far Cry game. It's the cost of making a shooter game as well. People expect a certain visual quality, and we don't want to reduce that just because it's an open-world experience."
The words "open" and "world" are key when it comes to distilling the real qualities of Far Cry 3. Ubisoft is piling a lot of effort into creating a sumptuous environment that lures players in completely.
Game designer Andrea Zanini agrees. "Far Cry is a shooter. It's always been a shooter. It's always been about the player's choices in an open world, and with Far Cry 3 we really wanted to drive that through to players and give them a sense that this is a breed apart." Noble aims, more than supported by watching the game in action, and it's easy to see what Thompson means when he says "the island is the main character". It's a clever solution to the problem every open-world game designer has to face.
"We like to think that we're smart, but we're not as clever as we need to be," Zanini explains. "I can walk past someone's desk, see him playing and think, 'Oh wow! I didn't think anyone would ever try that.' The only thing we know they'll definitely do is the objective. So when we design a mission we pick a single objective and then we build out from there. We try to support the players and think about their expectations in a given situation. We always have to answer those questions."
Park and ride
So it's the visual appeal along with the freedom of Far Cry 3 that will make this game a unique experience, not to mention the fun you'll have travelling around an island paradise. The huge fleet of vehicles alone will offer endless hours of action-filled frenzy. The team are careful not to spoil any surprises, although Thompson couldn't resist offering a tiny glimpse.
"We're going to give you a wide array of air, ground and water vehicles. Everything from boats and jet skis to trucks and buggies. The glider's included too and there are a few others which I can't mention just yet. They are part of your arsenal and you decide how to use them. Sometimes you can lose them as a result, and that is your choice."
Undeniably, the easiest decision you'll have to make concerning Far Cry 3 is electing to play it when it launches in 2012. Make sure you keep an eye on eu.playstation.com and PlayStation.Blog at blog.eu.playstation.com for more updates from the tropics.