Far Cry 4 Review

I have a confession. I never finished Far Cry 3’s story. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved the game, I spent over forty hours within its world and it would have been my pick for game of the year if an indie title named Journey was never created. It was one of my favourite first person shooter titles ever produced with so much crammed into a single package, so much in fact, that I never found the end of the game. I was constantly in pursuit of whatever side mission or deadly predator I came across in between story missions, this drove me to never see the end of the games campaign. Yes I still own it and yes it is on my pile of shame (at the top now actually) so when things slow down, I promise myself I will revisit Rook Islands and finish what I began so long ago. With the release of Far Cry 4 I was wondering if the same would happen, luckily I was asked to review it which forced my hand to finish the story; it was not an easy task!

Far Cry 4 has a relatively similar map size to its predecessor. Due to Far Cry 4 being set in Tibet it feels larger, traversing mountains and unassailable terrain gives larger scope. Although the map is similar in size it seems as though Ubisoft believed there was not enough content crammed into Far Cry 3 (there was, for the love of God, why more?) and have upped the anti in terms of side quests and challenges to complete. It happened to me again. I would open the map, set a way point for the next story mission with full intentions of ploughing through the story only to realise two hours later that I had not reached my marker. I had however helped out some rebels in a fire fight, hunted down a pack of cocaine-fueled Dhole that had been terrorizing the local Yak farm, highjacked a communications tower which adds locations to the map, stolen and delivered a weapons truck to the rebels and taken down a Royal outpost which gives another hub in which to restock supplies. I had done all this and totally forgotten about my objective, I don’t care, I was having an absolute blast.

Far Cry 4’s story, which took me in excess of forty eight hours to finish due to what I just explained, sees Kyrat born, American raised Ajay Ghale return to his birth land to lay his mother ashes to rest. He is quickly thrust into a war that rages within the lands. The Royal Army, led by charismatic dictator Pagan Min is trying to keep control of Kyrat, the population has formed a rebellion known as the Golden Path. Ajay is quickly recruited by the Golden Path learning that his father was the man responsible for creating the rebellion. Along the way you meet plenty of memorable characters and face choices that change the course of the rebellion and ultimately the ending of the story. The only disappointment I had was that the star of the show is Pagan yet he seems to have too little presence throughout besides voice communications to Ajay.

The game play is the same as Far Cry 3. The gun play feels the same, the weapons are pretty much identical but there are new vehicles to use and due to the setting there is more wildlife to encounter. It seems Kyrat is out to kill you, Honey Badgers, Rhinoceros’s, Tigers, Leopards, Dhole, Wasps, Bats, Wolves, Devil Fish, Bears, Eagles (the god damned eagles!!!), wild pigs and snakes. They all want to kill you and will do so, the smaller animals hunt in packs, and the bigger ones are nearly bullet proof. Then there are the Elephants, majestic creatures that are peaceful (unless you attack one, bad idea) that allow you to ride them and use as a weapon of massive destruction. The Elephants are by far the best new addition to the series, they have great strength and can get you to places you previously could not get to in ways that are new and exciting, call me the Elephant Man!

Hunting again allows you to collect skins which in turn are used to craft accessories such as bigger ammunition bags, additional weapon holsters and the like. Plants can also be harvested to create potions that enhance abilities for a certain amount of time like highlighting enemies and animals for example. Hunting can take a large amount of time. Clean kills award you with double skins and unfortunately, as I found out often, hunting with mines, C4 and flamethrowers destroys the skin giving now reward. It is still mighty fun however hunting with C4 from a Gyrocopter, the visual results can be spectacular.

The strategy and approach to combat has always been a strong point within the series. I will never forget, in Far Cry 2 the first I used fire to surround and funnel terrified enemies to my heavy machine gun that eagerly awaited their arrival. Far Cry 4 is similar; there are so many ways to approach combat. You can attack from the air via a Gyrocopter, take a stealth path and silently take out enemies one by one or you can jump on an Elephant and simply rampage through. The options are enormous and it makes the fighting really fun. The controls are spot on, everything feels natural and there is just the right amount of aim assistance as to not be too easy. For something different you can even throw chunks of meat to attract predators that will in turn attack your enemies. Genius!

Due to such a large map there is the option of using fast travel points at any time during the game. I used these rarely due to travel being so fun and achieved in so many different ways. Even the random events that occurred during my wandering of the region made the travel worth it. Karma events can open randomly anywhere which earn you XP if completed, these vary from protecting people from animals and rescuing hostages to killing Royal captains and stopping weapon supplies. Also the world is so alive, things happen whether you are involved or not. I saw Bears fighting each other, wolves hunting and attacking deer, animals attacking farmers and at one point I was knocked back by a dead Monkey that had been dropped through the air by an Eagle and landed on my unsuspecting head. Kyrat is alive and it is busy.

For the first time ever in the series the story is open to drop in co-op. Your co-op friend takes control of Hurk, the dudest dudebro seen in a long time. Plying with a friend is a great addition and at times necessary. Taking down fortified strong holds is near impossible alone and the game even suggests teaming up when you highlight these areas on the map. One problem was server stability and getting friends into game, once in however it is smooth sailing. If you are a lone wolf or simply have no friends then you need not fear. Ubisoft have introduced Hired Guns, an ability that calls AI controlled reinforcements to assist you on missions, it is much more impersonal but maybe that’s how you roll, the choice is yours. There is also 5 V 5 competitive multi player but unfortunately I have not been able to find a match. I guess due to the campaign being so dense that no one has felt the need to enter here.

Overall I can’t recommend Far Cry 4 enough. It has an amazing amount of things to do and even the usually shitty side missions don’t feel shitty. They are actually fun and this is the games great strength. No matter which way you play, how you approach anything the result is fun. The story never really grabbed me enough to warrant advising one to buy this game but as a package it is outstanding value and a true contender for game of the year. Far Cry in my eyes is now clearly Ubisoft’s marquee franchise.

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