Far Cry Instincts: The next chapter

Even by Ubisoft's standards, it's a fast turnaround. Its Xbox reinterpretation of the PC shooter had barely been out three months when it announced that the next Far Cry Instincts was not only in the pipeline, but less than three months away, alongside a bumper-pack conversion of both games to Xbox 360, subtitled Predator.

Could the French giant, famous for its annual sequels, really be moving to a six-monthly strategy? No. This, argues producer Bertrand Helias, is a special case, and in any event not really a sequel.

"I'm happy to call it an expansion," he says, likening it to one of the publisher's updates to its Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six Tom Clancy franchises; and although no pricing strategy has been announced, it seems reasonable to expect a lower price point for the Xbox version.

Ubisoft prizes the Far Cry brand highly, has been delighted with player feedback on Instincts, and expects great things from it in the long run. "We have a good opportunity to build something strong on 360 for a long time," says Helias, but in the meantime he has an awkward, transitional juggling act to perform.

Set several years later, it finds Jack Carver trying to live a peaceful life but still in possession of his mutant feral powers. When a girl asks for his backup in a meeting between the head of a pirate clan and the island governor, both are slain by the leader of a local rebel faction, and Carver is accused of the murders and hunted down by all concerned.

It becomes apparent that some of the rebels also possess feral abilities, setting up the prospect of visceral fights between superpowered, bestial warriors. This is doubly enticing when you consider the new powers: climbing, encouraging the use of sheer cliffs and trees as vantage points; and wire-fu-inspired airborne moves. Surprise feral strikes from underwater will also be possible.

New weapons, traps, vehicles and a greater degree of environmental interaction will all feature. We see the improved physics engine being put to good use, with pipe bombs felling guard towers and toppled log piles crushing enemy squads.