Review: Far Cry 4
Far Cry 4 kicks off with your character Ajay Ghale returning to his homeland to scatter his mum’s ashes, her last wish, when you find yourself under attack and chaos ensues. After being taken prisoner you’re greeted to the central villain of the piece, Pagan Min. With his colourful suit and bleached hair, he’s both wonderfully entertaining and menacing at the same time. Just as mesmerising and crazed as Vass in Far Cry 3 but in a more Gary Oldman’s Zorg (The Fifth Element) kinda way than just plain insane.
After escaping Pagan’s clutches you meet up with members of The Golden Path who start you on your journey across the course of the game. The overall aim is to remove Pagan from power but the central plot has several points where you can decide which mission to choose from (and therefore pleasing/annoying one person or the other) and generally it’s not clear cut good/bad choices but various shades of moral grey. Do you let Kryat grow opium for money or destroy it due to the links to the drugs trade. Not easy when you see people suffering with a lack of money.
It’s obvious that you’ll remove Pagan from power but the journey you take can be surprising and very enjoyable, with an interesting ending(s) that adds depth to what you’ve done earlier on in the game.
Supporting the core story are enjoyable supporting characters like a religious guy who uses weapons to spread his message or a bunch of druggies keep the campaign ticking along nicely in the course of its dozen or so hours. All in all I found the plot to be more enjoyable and make a little more sense than Far Cry 3’s Jason being on a fun holiday and then slaughtering his way through the locals to reach the top.
Far Cry 3 was one of the games I spent the most time playing in the last console generation. Running around the islands hunting animals and partaking in a whole host of activities which were all enjoyable and moreish. So coming to Far Cry 4 I was pleased that Ubisoft knew what we all wanted more of and gave it to us. So it’s mostly a carbon copy of Far Cry 3 in pretty much every respect which in my books is great and to be honest there’s very little that’s been tampered with as Ubisoft struck gold. The reason I’m not complaining it’s too similar to the last outing is that it’s been two years which is long enough to not feel like the franchise been milked (however this is a fear I have going forward but currently there’s no indications that’s the case at the moment).
With Far Cry 4 offering even more than Far Cry 3 you’re not going to be short of things to do. Hunting, a huge myriad of side quests and a entertaining campaign with a crazed villain fill up a large map that will take many hours to do. I completed the campaign in 13 hours and 18 minutes doing a fair few side activities but I was only around 33% completion so you’re looking at a good 40 hours game length to do everything. So what’s new? Well you’ve got a few tweaks here and there in the UI and some new additions and side quests plus as co-op campaign (more on that later). Some of these missions go full of psychedelic in their colour pallet which is very nice to see.
Due to the mountainous terrain of Kryat there’s far increased verticality which is where the new (and very handy) gyrocopter comes in letting you get from A to B (and X and Y when we’re talking vertical movement) and the grapple hook. The grapple hook can only be used in set places so you won’t be flinging yourself around the place like Just Cause 2. You’ll need it to get around key places but it may as well be a keycard as it’s fairly prescribed in how it’s used.
Open world games love giving you the opportunity of upgrading your home and that’s the case here too. You eventually unlock the family home where you can upgrade with both useful and cosmetic improvements, the most useful having a permanent gyrocopter available.
All in all there’s more of the same and a whole load more too. Some could argue there’s too much but you don’t have to do that much to actually complete the game. Sure unlocking the towers and liberating outposts make map visibility and fast travel better respectively but the rest can be ignored if you wished without compromising any enjoyment.
PvP offering I really struggled with. Not because it’s poor mechanically (it offers the typical capture the flag and other multiplayer staples) but because it wasn’t easy to find a match. It’s understandable as why play Far Cry when far better options out there, even if it’s sound gameplay wise? It’s a shame but the reality is that most people play a few select games and that’s it. I did enjoy what I played but the spark was missing and so was the people.
Co-op play fared much better though. It’s basic in its implementation as you can either join someone’s campaign or they join you but their assistance certainly helps a great deal. There are enough pre-set messages such as “follow my waypoint” to make mic-less antics smooth.
The world of Kryat is luscious with beautiful vistas and a great use of the underused Asian design. Although you don’t have the lovely Bounty chocolate bar style beaches of Far Cry 3, the mountain ranges are no less stunning in their own right. A few missions also pour on pshycedlic stylings with colour that would give some of Nintendo’s games a run for their money. You also move into blizzard conditions for a few missions which still makes me crave hunting down polar bears and emperor penguins.
However it’s not as fabulous looking as it could possibly be due to the title being a cross-gen title. There’s sometimes iffy textures, shadows and some annoying pop in especially when travelling in the air. However these disappointment didn’t cloud my overall enjoyment of the game. I can just imagine that Far Cry 5 will be a majestic sight!
To sum up
Far Cry 4 is hugely entertaining and packed with fun activities. It’s essentially more of the same but when it’s this fun to play who cares?!
Version reviewed: Xbox One
Far Cry 4 is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.