In what other areas would you say you're pushing FPS genre boundaries in Far Cry 2? Our spies have told us something about dynamic story elements, for example...?
Clint Hocking: The game's story is non-linear, dynamic, and procedurally assembled using a simple drama-management engine to populate the story with key characters, and facilitate the convergence of the story toward major climactic events.
The player's overarching goal is to hunt down and kill a man who is allegedly responsible for selling arms to both sides of a conflict in a failed African state. He is not only free to go where he wants in order to achieve this mission, but is also free to take missions for either of the game's principle factions who promise to facilitate him in his mission.
The player can work for either or both of these factions, playing both sides against the middle to keep them handicapped, and leveraging his reputation and infamy to maximize his gain while simultaneously working with autonomous AI "buddies" - themselves procedurally called into the story by the drama-engine to suit the needs of the narrative.
Ultimately, while several major climaxes will take place for all players, the characters involved in those events, the locations where those events occur, how those events resolve, and ultimately what they mean is up to the player.
Simply stated, neither the world, nor the story, could be called 'linear' in any imaginable sense. The experience of the game is entirely driven by the player, with the game evaluating the player's actions and choices and serving content that puts the player's actions into a context that resonates with the themes of the game.
Are you keeping Far Cry's "open world" aspect in place, or enhancing that?
Pharand: As I said previously, we are creating for Far Cry 2 a true open world of 50 sq/km.
And what's there to get excited about with the game engine and how that's impacting the gameplay experience?
Pharand: It's a lot of things. What comes to mind... Immersion! It allows us to have features that make the environments, characters, AI, animations, etc... realistic and believable. We have dynamic vegetation, 24 day-night cycle (meaning a kick ass dynamic lighting system), fire technology complete with propagation, a new animation system, 650 meter distance views... We have more coming.