It came from Africa

Nov 20, 2007

In March 1898, two maneless Tsavo man-eating lions preyed on workers during the construction of the Ugandan railway. The pair, part of a testosterone-charged sub-species of lion local to the area, killed an estimated 135 people - their efforts later immortalized in the Val Kilmer film The Ghost and the Darkness.

In late July of this year five men from Ubisoft Montreal were spending a night under canvas in the same area. “We couldn’t see anything - we just heard an elephant scream in panic about 20 feet away from camp,” explains a grim-faced Alexandre Amancio, the game’s artistic director. “Then we realized why he was screaming. We heard one of these Tsavo lions roar - and it was between the elephant and us. It was about 10 feet away - and the vibration of that lion roar, you just felt that in your bowels… then we heard the ‘chk chk’ of our two guards cocking their AK47s and we just started running to the land cruiser.”

When Ubisoft claim that they will go to any ends to ensure Far Cry 2 looks, feels, and sounds like the real Africa, they seem to honestly mean it. But why were they packed off to Africa in the first place? What makes the Serengeti fit Far Cry? “In early conception we talked about that a lot - what does ‘exotic’ mean?” says Clint Hocking, creative director. “What does it mean for players?

“What we realized was that it meant somewhere beautiful, somewhere breathtakingly beautiful that required good graphics and art direction, but also somewhere people could never get to go in real life. Somewhere you know exists, but you never expected to visit as it’s so remote or so hard to get to. So we chose Africa because going back to a jungle island just wasn’t going to be exotic any more after people had played the original Far Cry, Just Cause, Boiling Point, they watch Lost every week… it’s not exotic any more. You’ve been there hundreds of times.”