Yesterday I got a double dose of Ubisoft's Far Cry 2, getting a chance to check out the level editing features of both the console and PC versions of the game. While there are noticeable graphical differences between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions versus the one they had running on a PC you can't afford, all three versions of the game are shipping with the multiplayer map editor, which should allow even the most novice player to quickly create their own, beautiful Far Cry 2 maps. How quickly? Try around 90 seconds.
Yes, the toolset the developers are providing is that fast. Raise or lower the terrain, slap on a texture, and then paint the grid using the collection system, which automatically applies bushes, grasses, and trees to the landscape. A touch of a button takes you down from an overhead view right into the middle of your map, where you can explore your creation or just shoot holes in it with the provided magical machine gun with unlimited ammo. As someone who likes playing with their games as much as simply playing them, it seems like a dream come true.
You don't have to keep things simple either. You can start off with a basic map and then, for instance, raise the water level to turn the whole thing into a swamp. Painting a road on your map automatically shifts the foliage to conform to the trail you blaze. Even something as simple as setting the weather and time of day dramatically changes the look and feel of your map.
The devs showed us a premade map that they claimed took four hours to build using the editor, and it looked like any professional map you'd find in a retail product. A dusty town spotted with run-down shacks, debris like discarded tires and busted vehicles littering the dusty roads of some long-abandoned town. It looked amazing for four hours of work. I can't wait to see what sort of things come out of the community once they get their hands on the editor.
The Far Cry 2 level editor is the sort of additional content that I would gladly pay $60 for on its own. In the right hands it's capable of results that could put even the most seasoned professional level mappers to shame. I was planning on picking up Far Cry 2 anyway, but now I'm going to buy it extra hard. Damn straight.