I had completely written off Far Cry 2. Don't ask me why, I don't know. I just didn't care. Now I do.
First, it's being developed by Ubisoft Montreal.
Second, the game looks amazing.
Third, the plot. There is no plot. Far Cry 2 claims to be the first open-world FPS (Stalker was a mix of linear and non-linear). At the start of the game you wake up in a hotel room with the game's villian, the Jackel, saying he's given you malaria and you'll die soon. He leaves a gun with a single bullet in case you want to end your life.
From there, you have a 50 km stretch of Africa controlled by 2 opposing factions whom you can play off each other. Particular NPCs can provide you malaria medicine (increasing your max health) if you meet their demands. There is a neat map system with a physical map that your character holds in one hand, and a compass to orient yourself in the other.
The developer also talked about pie-in-the-sky concepts like replacing scripted sequences with many generic AI behaviors - the developer called these "micronarratives" which let the story react to the player's actions. Like any other open-world game, the devil is in the details. I believe it when I play it. However, this IGN preview is promising:
You can set grasslands on fire, which will actually require more fuel to start and maintain if it's just after a rainstorm, cut trees to bits with your machete, and blow up nearly everything. To see the world you'll have access to gliders and be able to coast out from orange mountains across the desert plains or section of jungle. Dust storms will occasionally start up as well, there's a full day night cycle in the game, which currently Ubisoft Montreal is saying will take about six hours to run through.
Once we're able to play we'll be able to deliver a better sense of how the game feels, but from watching Ubisoft demo their product it seems like you're free to do whatever. Driving vehicles into town and detonating them in front of groups of enemies, lashing flamethrower fuel against explosive drums, sniping from afar, or sneaking in and setting explosive charges were all methods of attack and infiltration shown to us. You can even deliver non-fatal wounds to enemies in the open to draw out others, as the AI is programmed to drag their wounded behind cover. When the other enemy shows his face you can hit him with a sniper bullet as well, just like the scene from Full Metal Jacket.