Far Cry 2 - first look

Jack Carver isn't here. The monstrous Trigens are gone and that tropical island from the original game is over a thousand miles away. Instead, we're on the sprawling plains of the African savannah, and our enemies are angry humans and hungry wildlife. Far Cry as you know it is dead:long live Far Cry 2.

If it's not white beaches or slathering mutants, what is it?

In short, everything. Far Cry 2 is hugely, impossibly ambitious. It's S.T.A.L.K.E.R. gone on safari; it's Boiling Point with a budget.

"Our research with consumers showed that there was more interest in the earlier parts of Far Cry - the highly realistic parts where you were raiding mercenary encampments using planning, infiltration and then explosive action to win the fight," explains Louis-Pierre Pharand, Far Cry 2's producer.

"Many people seemed to feel the game suffered a bit with the introduction of the Trigens, and the fantastical story that they brought with them. We agreed."

After just a glance, the different focus is clear. There are no nanosuits in Far Cry 2, and no mutant, alien or magical powers. "Neither the player nor the enemy have any 'powers' other than those that any individual human can summon up in extreme circumstances," says Pharand.

"The game takes place in two fully open worlds that are five kilometers on a side, with the second world 'unlocking' roughly one-third of the way through the game," he explains.

"This gives a playable area of 50 square kilometers, through which the player is allowed to freely travel at any time. The story's also 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."

Er, okay. What does that actually mean?

The story - the procedurally assembled story, that is - charges you with killing a man who's allegedly responsible for selling arms to both sides of a conflict in a failed state.