here is a little game preview Behold, Multiplayer readers, “Far Cry 2“! It’s coming later this year and has many notable features.
It’s a PC first-person shooter from Ubisoft Montreal, a major game for the fall of 2008. It takes place across more than 50 square kilometers of African savanna and jungle. It’s designed to be so open, you’re only forced to accomplish one goal: kill the game’s main bad guy, however you can possibly manage it. Much of the story is generated on the fly. Much of the game world is destructible and flammable. It’s coming to consoles too.
And, as I learned when Ubisoft creative director and generally innovative game designer Clint Hocking showed me the game, it has… explosive barrels.
All that innovation and they still do the barrel thing?
As Hocking gave me a demo of the game last Tuesday hewalked the game’s main character through a town full of wary rival soldiers, many of them resting next to piles of ammo or close to big red drums. I stopped Hocking in his tracks and said…
Multiplayer: Do I spy a lot of exploding barrels?
Clint Hocking, creative director, “Far Cry 2″: Yeah. Particularly in places like this, there’s lots of ammunition and fuels and supplies. [Pointing his character's machine gun toward some red barrels.] These are barrels that just explode. They’ll still cause fire. … [Approaches a pile of bullets that rests on crates near some soldiers.] This is how I replenish ammunition for all of my guns that fire bullets. There’s another different pile like that that restores all of my guns that shoot fuel. And another that restores all of my explosives. I’m not going to do it now, but you can shoot those things and if I set it off it’ll fire almost in a random direction.
Multiplayer: You always hear people make fun of exploding barrels in games. Do you feel like, “Who cares? It makes sense gameplay-wise”? Or does it bother you too?
Hocking: [Makes his character do an about-face; walks toward a barrel] I’m going to show you something.
We also think exploding barrels are kind of silly. So we wanted to make sure that ours were better. Our barrels go flying up into the air. [Hocking shoots at a barrel and it launches straight up to the sky on a column of flame.]
Multiplayer: Rocket barrels, huh?
Hocking: Well, there are two kinds. The red ones that just explode, because, hey, that’s gameplay. [A chain reaction of explosions commences.] And then –
Multiplayer: Whoa! What was that? [An explosion sends a third kind of "barel" not straight up to the sky but zigzagging up a few dozen feet, left, right and left and right again, like an angry swarm of hornets or a newly inflated balloon that has just been un-pinched and set free.]
Hocking: That’s a propane tank. [Explosions continue.] Whoops, I’m going to get killed. That’s a lesson about exploding barrels. You shouldn’t leave your propane tank beside your ammunition.
So yeah we put a lot of work into designing the ingredients so that it wasn’t just: make an explosive barrel, make an explosive crate. Fire propagation is such an important part of our game, so we need really specific tools for propagating fire. So if I have these propane tanks — if I shoot the endcaps off them they’ll launch in a kind of random way with a jet of flame behind them, if it flies through a tree, that tree will potentially catch on fire depending on how wet it is. It was really important for us to give a wide range of explosive and fire-generating objects to allow the player to really play around with fire.
Multiplayer: You sold me. I’m into the exploding barrels again.
And that’s it. Maybe I was a soft touch. But when you show me exploding barrels that explode in all-new ways, I’m pleased. What’s next? A re-thinking of lensflare? A re-invention of invisible walls?
Turn those cliches inside out.