Far Cry 4 Review
When I first got my hands on Far Cry 4, I felt a little anxious as to what I should expect. I had never played the first game in the series, so the first game I played was Far Cry 2, which I ended up buying on its release and being completely enamored with the awesome effects fire had on the open world which I was patrolling. Slaying the enemies and animals of the African landscapes felt incredible since I had never played a game like it. Aside from a few AI and somewhat boring story mission issues, Far Cry 2 was a huge step in the right direction.
A few years later, up popped yet another game I was completely infatuated with in the form of Far Cry 3. With a much better story this time, and even prettier graphics, Far Cry 3 showed me exactly what the franchise was capable of. I loved every moment on that island that was so rife with insanity, and with good reason. The inclusion of a wing suit only helped to further enhance my experience as I soared high above, darting from location to location at great speeds.
And now, 2 years later we have the latest entry in the series, Far Cry 4. You may be wondering why I decided to speak of all the above things when it is all information many will already know, but here is why. Far Cry 4 on all accounts is a great game, not a fantastic one, but a great one. Contrary to what others have said, the game has a strong cast of memorable characters, some brilliant new wildlife and a wonderful location. On the other hand, the location is far too similar to that of Far Cry 3‘s and the majority of the mechanics feel far too overused. Let us put this into a bit of perspective, and hopefully you shall all see where I am coming from here.
In Far Cry 4, players take on the role of Ajay Ghale who has traveled to Kyrat to simply scatter his mothers ashes. Of course being a game heavily centered around the misfortune of others, poor Ajay does not exactly have it easy. The utterly berserk Pagan Min stands in his way as well as his Royal Army and legions of loyal subjects. Ajay goes from a humble boy trying to commemorate his mother to psychotic killing machine in minutes. After a few hours, scattering the ashes of his fallen mother are nothing more than an afterthought, and reaching the next radio tower becomes the most important objective. If you were hoping for a heart wrenching tale of a boy facing the trials and tribulations of manhood, then prepare to be disappointed. Ajay skips all the boring stuff so he can unlock a nice new weapon, no matter how many bodies it costs.
Throughout play, despite enjoying myself I really wanted to feel for Ajay, but thanks to his cold blooded nature I found it pretty difficult. Connecting with the character was so difficult as all I was able to think about was the next creature that I would viciously slaughter or the next enemy I would (literally) stab in the back. It was not all mindless though, since the characters which I faced made it all worth while. Generally after playing games, even the ones I adore, I tend to forget the names of characters I have faced no matter their stature. Pagan Min and Yuma however are the exception and names that I imagine will stay with me for quite some time. There are other secondary characters which I remember providing for some awesome experiences, but both of the characters I have mentioned stood out to me as particularly special. Troy Baker yet again steals the show as the big boss Min, and despite having limited screen time he manages to always be the villain I could not wait to encounter next. Yuma however feels completely different, portrayed by Gwendoline Yeo, she seems like a truly tortured character, and despite being very much against Ajay, it was difficult to not feel sorry for her.
If the lore of Far Cry 4 has you interested, then expect to learn one heck of a lot. Scattered throughout the game are various notes, letters, posters and more which all help to dig deeper into Pagan Min’s massive empire. Should the lore become too much, Kyrat offers a host of activities to take part in. By host, I really do mean a lot. Some of the content may feel very much like a copy and paste job, but boy does it flesh out the game. Whether collecting items is your thing, hunting animals or completing dynamic events, Far Cry 4 has you covered.
So how is the overall gameplay exactly? Anything new? The short answer would be no, but if you are reading this then you will most likely be hoping for a bit more of an explanation. As I have said above, Far Cry 4 does not feel like an entirely original game, way too much of its content feels used to the point of “Am I playing Far Cry 3 re-skinned?”. If players were given the same cast from the previous title, then they would find it pretty difficult to see a new game here.
Ajay feels just like the previous protagonist from Far Cry 3, with only very minor differences to a formula that might be getting a little too stale. To those who have not encountered Far Cry’s health recovery scenes, they are pretty much mini scripted events that the player has no real control over. By holding a button down Ajay will then in some way repair his hand. While I like that health is not just regenerating in a standard fashion, I still felt that since the game aims to be a kind of survival adventure, it would have been nice to see improvements. These animations have been around for years now with no big changes, so at this point it kind of feels like wasted potential. Why also, is it only ever my hand that gets hurt? I feel as though I would have been much more immersed if medical woes were a serious gameplay element, alas though, they are not.
I completed the entirety of the Far Cry 4 campaign in roughly around 12-13 hours, and I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy it. Even though I have ranted above about the things the game repeats too much of and the changes I hope one day it makes, in the end Far Cry 4 is still a great game. Some of the missions which I did are bound to stay in my mind for a long time as they were not only enjoyable, but thrilling. One mission involving a kidnapping I found to be a lot of fun, and really spiced up an already flavorful game.
When doing these missions though, I did encounter a few issues. Before starting a mission Ajay will have the opportunity to go the nearest trade station and organize his weapons, but this is not always as effective as it should be. I remember being incredibly frustrated on a mission taking place in the Himalayas which required stealth for a fair chance. Unfortunately for me however I had equipped a loud AK-47 and a handgun with no modifications either. Needless to say, my mission ended rather abruptly and resulted in me aborting and then changing my loadout. It would have been nice to be offered the ability to change my loadout, at the very least see a recommended form of entry prior to launching the mission.
It is kind of a funny situation for me with Far Cry 4. When I was playing it, I was expecting to praise it highly and give it a top notch rating, but the more I think about the game I played, the less I appreciate it. There are just way too many things that are rehashed to consider the game as good as I would want it to be, and it upsets me. I saw the trailers for the game and left them hoping for a game that would change other first person titles like it, but I have sadly been left with a bitter taste. I think that Ubisoft is pushing its luck with these samey games with samey objectives.
How many Ubisoft titles alone have you played where liberating an area has been a main goal? It might be one thing, but in a game such as Far Cry 4 it is a damn big thing. Ubisoft needs to go back to the drawing board and think up some new systems that do not straight up steal from their own games’ designs. It was okay for the first few games, but let’s look at this directly. Most open world Ubisoft titles seem to now incorporate some kind of liberation aspect, and to me it just feels like filler content. I literally go into Ubisoft games expecting to find an area to liberate. This to me just is not how it should be, I should have a fresh experience with each game, yet I am finding it increasingly difficult to get one.
Before this review turns into an overly long rant, I will discuss the sides to Far Cry 4 that are done well, and with care. First off, the freedom felt when flying through the air in a wingsuit is impossible to replicate in any other game in my opinion. Flying is done really well, and practice is most certainly rewarded. Mostly though, the reward is not plummeting at insane speeds into the side of a wall. Often I found that climbing a tower and jumping to an objective was a much more fun way of travel than using a vehicle, running or even fast travel. The wingsuit is something I hope that the Far Cry franchise keeps forever in some way or another since it adds so much to the game. Much like the wingsuit in that respect, I hope the grapple stays too. It might not latch onto every surface, but I was hard pushed to find a location where I needed to climb where a grapple point was not located. The idea to add a grapple was a brilliant one, and it helps to add a whole new layer to the platforming in the game. Ajay is no Arno, but he sure can move with grace.
The game also looks stunning in every way. Shadows flicker as expected, grass flows beautifully and animals look and react accordingly. The animals in general make for a really exciting experience as they all act in their own natural ways. A wolf can be an easy kill but a pack of them are not something to be toyed with. Characters as I have stated also make the game a lot of fun and keep the story fresh. Ubisoft should be commended for managing to hold attention, and the idea of adding real consequential choices was a smart one. Whether you bowl for Amita or Sabal, big gameplay changes are a sure thing.
My verdict on the singleplayer campaign for Far Cry 4 is a tough one. On the one hand I appreciate that some people firmly believe in the “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” rule, but on the other I feel that it promotes lazy development. Since it took me to the end of the game to understand how repetitive Far Cry 4 was, I have to respect it for what it has done right. This for me though is the last straw as far as open world titles from Ubisoft go, the developers need to get some originality in because for me personally, I am sick with the present formula.
As for the multiplayer in Far Cry 4, I would not go expecting to find your next great online game. The multiplayer was dead when I played it, just days after launch and people were otherwise preoccupied. This just is not normal, and most of all, a shame. After a multiple tries across multiple days though I managed to play a few games in each of the three modes. The competitive side to Far Cry 4 offers players the ability to play as both the Golden Path and the Rakshasa, and allows players to customize their loadout to maximize play style.
The mode I played the most was Outpost, and basically tasked players with capturing a flag whilst defending a radio tower. I ended up playing this mode for quite some time and it really managed to pull me in thanks to some intriguing ideas. I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to fly to the radio tower from the start of the match in a matter of seconds.
Both sides have different kinds of offensive weaponry, with the Rakshasa being most people’s favorite if voice chatter was anything to go by. Where they lack in modern weapons, the Rakshasa have other powerful tools at their disposal. The game literally lets you throw a tiger at an enemy, and the results are often hilarious. It is also possible to upgrade weaponry and perks so that a playstyle can be nicely formed. I have always been a long range kind of player, so a mix of an arrow that enabled teleportation and a large quiver worked a like a treat for me.
Multiplayer is a nice distraction, and I even heard people in a lobby saying they preferred it to the singleplayer game, but it is easy to see that it will not last long. It just does not have enough staying power to warrant constant play. Multiplayer is most likely going to be used for custom maps between friends using the sometimes intricate always simple map editor.
Far Cry 4 also offers co-op play via online which can make the game a true playground of destruction. Taking down a fortress with a friend feels great, but not only that, it is so much easier. Even when weakened, fortresses are not simple enemy camps and require serious thought and planning before executing any kind of move. If taking down a fortress is not your thing, then exploring Kyrat is also a great activity to take part in with a friend. In my experience me and a buddy took down all four fortresses in the two hours he had access to the game thanks to the Keys to Kyrat feature. It might have gone pretty quickly, but it was still a really fun time. Discussing tactics with him improved the experience greatly and we soon learned that going in guns blazing might not be the brightest of ideas. The Far Cry 4 map has a lot in it, and playing it with a friend is sure to make your experience more exciting.
The thing is with Far Cry 4, no matter how much bad it has in it from my point of view, it is still a decent game. Whereas I am getting pretty tired of the same copy and paste formulas used, I can easily see why others may find it all very appealing. If you loved Far Cry 3 then I highly doubt you will not love Far Cry 4. The game is more or less a reskinned expansion of Far Cry 3, but depending on how you feel about that, it could be a good thing. The game has a crap ton of content, you just need to head into it with the mindset that you might have already done it.
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Review Statement: The author of this review purchased a PS4 copy of this game for the purposes of the review.