Game: Far Cry 4
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
Reviewed Platform: PS4
I have but one final wish. Take me back to Lakshmana.
Far Cry 4 is primarily a single-player first person shooter. It is the latest entry in the Far Cry series, started back in 2004 by Crytek. You take on the role of Ajay Ghale, an American whose birthplace is that of the fictional Himalayan country Kyrat. Ajay is there on a temporary visa to fulfill his mother’s dying wish and spread her ashes in a place called Lakshmana. What you do in between that is ultimately up to you; however, you will have to get involved in local politics.
At first glance, you may feel like you’ve played Far Cry 4 before. You’d be forgiven for thinking such — there isn’t a lot to the game that is exactly new. You can scale some of the radio outposts that have been hijacked by the Royal Guard and restore freedom to the airwaves. There are optional missions for characters you meet throughout the game, and you can compete in the arena for money and better weapon unlocks. Like Far Cry 3, once you take over nearby outposts, turning them into fast travel points and shops to purchase upgrades and various items. Among these items is the iconic A.J.M 9 from the previous spin-off game Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon as well as the Robocop films. This weapon is devastating early on and can be purchased for free. The downside? You need to register a Uplay account, but that being said the gun is almost worth the hassle of that online service. This gun, like many others, can have attachments like scopes and sound suppressors attached to it to increase state and usage.
Unlike the previous game, Far Cry 4‘s radio towers are far easier to scale, thanks in part to a new tool that you will pick up through the course of the game. This is where the game is altered slightly from its predecessor. The Grappling hook is a tool acquired fairly early on in the game and you’ll be relying on it a fair bit. It effectively replaces those annoying vines from Far Cry 3, but that’s not all — you can use the grappling hook to swing from grapple point to grapple point as long as you’re close enough to one. This allows quick scaling or abseiling of mountains and caverns while you’re off spelunking for those hard-to-find collectibles.
Another improvement from the previous game is the health system. While you still hear every unpleasant snap and crack as Ajay realigns his dislocated arm or digs out a bullet with a twig, you can also find and use green plants. Yes, just like the previous game, you can concoct all sorts of drugs that not only heal but allow you to run faster, swim longer, take more damage, and deal more damage. How it’s changed this time round only applies to green plants. When you pick up two, or even one (after you acquire an ability to harvest two from the one plant) you’ll automatically craft them into health packs. You no longer have to sift through the inventory and manually combine two health plants together. Sadly this doesn’t apply to the red, white, yellow, or even blue variations of the plants.
Adding to the survival aspect in Far Cry 4 is a plethora of animals that are sadly very similar to the third game’s. There’s the occasional difference like a rhino or an elephant or tapir, but for the most part the animals are the same fare. Once again you’ll need to kill and skin them in order to craft inventory upgrades like a bigger wallet, weapon holsters, ammo pouches, and so on. While the weapon holsters are fairly crucial to progress in the game, the rest of them aren’t pivotal and are entirely optional. On top of fighting animals, you will also have to deal with elements like fire and poison from special hunter enemies that can control animals. Upon leveling, you’ll also receive skill points that give you access to effectively the exact same abilities from the three tattoo trees, just bounced down to two categories.
In addition to the usual outposts there are also fortresses. In Far Cry 4 you can take on these instances by yourself or with a friend. If you choose to take them on solo then there’s a number of activities you can do throughout the course of the game to weaken enemy forces and make it easier for you. I won’t say anymore, but you’ll know when a fortress is weakened by your actions. These can be tackled a number of ways like everything else in the game. You can choose to run in guns blazing , or you can play stealthily, using the binoculars to tag and slowly pick off guards and alarms one by one — I found the latter to be far more effective as I don’t have a Playstation Plus subscription.
Now let’s talk about vehicles. The includes a small one-man helicopter to buzz about Kyrat on, as well as the usual automobile fare. Each car now has an autodrive function. While the main idea of this function is so you can pick off enemies attacking you from behind with a sidearm, it also accommodates lazy people like myself. You can set a point on the map and then turn on auto-drive. The game will take you right there, which is very neat if you get tired of driving around everywhere or have no idea how to get to a particular point of interest that houses a collectible you don’t know how to reach. The understandable disappointment — from a technical standpoint — is that the buzzer (one-man helicopter) has no auto-drive function, but the controls for the most part are decent. At least until you get up too high and stall before plummeting to your death. The cars have a quick brake you can tap for tight corners and like the third game, vehicles are controlled via the left analog stick. And auto-drive does allow for some truly spectacular firefights.
Karma points are an interesting design by Ubisoft — not really a moral choice per se, but they’re clearly there to discourage the mowing down of innocence. As you play through the game, you’ll come across members of a rebel alliance called the Golden Path. They’re often under fire or have been captured by enemy soldiers — if you help them out you will acquire karma points. And if you acquire enough, your karma will level up and you’ll gain access to better weapons as well as store discounts. However, it can be frustrating when a faction member comes to help you with an outpost, as they often leap right in front of your gunfire. If you happen to nick them with a bullet or two and kill them, or accidentally run them over while driving, that will cost you karma points. It’s ultimately pointless, though — by the time you’ve accrued enough points for the best stuff, the game is nearly over.
The story of Far Cry 4 is also a big improvement over the last game. While Ajay is for all intents and purposes a silent protagonist, he will swear and carry on while under fire, but he won’t grate on you like Jason Brody and his sniveling group of ingrates that he called friends did. Ajay’s story isn’t even front row and center, which is interesting. The story of him scattering his mother’s ashes takes a backseat to the rather brutal power struggle happening in the small nation of Kyrat. Being the son of a great Kyratti man Mohan Ghale, he is called upon to help the Golden Path liberate Kyrat from the wretches of Pagan Min. The story is very well told and you will have to make some hard decisions regarding how the story unfolds, with one path leading to the best ending of any game ever.
Far Cry 4 is all about decisions. Not easy ones, either. In every single choice I was given I had to sit and think about the implications on the nation and my gameplay. Even after you’ve made a decision, you still won’t be sure if you’ve made the right choice. This was one aspect where the game really shined, not showing clearly who the enemy really was, or if in fact there ever was one. The one complaint I had about the story was with the choices of a whole nation being weighed on the shoulders of a man who hasn’t even lived there for most of his life. I know he’s the son of a great man that everyone respected but still, it just felt a bit hard to believe. However, the pacing and the voice acting was top-notch and really helped bring the characters to life.
Graphically the game is very impressive. The draw distances go a long way to help you believe the sheer scale of Kyrat. It’s a surprisingly big nation and Ubisoft has done a great job of illustrating how epic the world you’re traversing is. It almost seems too big at times, with all the optional things to do in it. The details on most models are spectacular and the foliage is just breathtaking. You’ll likely find yourself taking tons of videos and screenshots of the environment and the breathing world. The entirely optional sequences within the Shangri-La Thangkas are some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen in a game like Far Cry 4. It’s just a shame they’re entirely optional and you can bypass them if you feel so inclined. The animals in particular look very menacing. Every individual hair on a dog or a bear is accounted for and the scales of a charging rhinoceros accurately portray how immensely difficult it is to bring one of them down. If I’d bought this on PC, I would have likely died. I’ve been curious to see how the game runs on the very best PC money can buy, because I was blown away by some of the vistas as I careen through the sky at several miles an hour in the wingsuit, or scale some of the highest mountains in the game.
The voice acting and sound design is top-notch. Can’t count the number of times I heard a snake, freaked out trying to find it, and could only locate it due to the sound proximity. Special mention goes to Troy Baker for his performance of Pagan Min as an affably evil antagonist. Every crack of Ajay’s bones will be felt and cringed at due to how gut-wrenching the sounds are. The sound spotting is quite spectacular — whether you’re diving through the troposphere in the wingsuit or diving in some hidden underwater cave cache, you won’t ever feel like something’s out of place. Supressed rifles are even pretty loud, adding to the realism, and kickback looks correct, whether in-house or stock sounds are used. While the music does drag on in some parts like most of Yogi and Reggie’s drug induced missions, the sound design is overall very solid.
The problem with Far Cry 4 is that while it’s a decent game, it reuses too many aspects of the previous title. While I was impressed with the story and especially the possible endings, I had this sneaking suspicion I had played this all back in 2012 as Jason Brody. Sure, Jason was kind of whiny and annoying but at least he had a personality. Ajay doesn’t really exist. There is a name and a legacy and that’s it. All the other characters fill in the empty space around him. The game reuses assets from the previous game frequently, with some of the animals being palette swapped or altered slightly. My main complaint is that the most enjoyable parts of the game are entirely optional.
At one point, you find these ancient scrolls that induce Ajay into a sort of vision, and take on the role of his ancestor. You have to stop these demons from invading Shangri-La — the stealth element was the meat of this game and I’d like to have seen more of it (or at least be able to revisit). All the devotion to detailed artifacts and architecture of Shangri-La makes me wonder why the gameplay did not receive as much care. Ultimately, while Far Cry 4 is a good game, I can’t rate it highly because I felt there was less effort put in. The story and characters were good, but the rest of it felt phoned in. In my mind it felt like I’d already played Far cry 4 two years prior. Far Cry 3 was better as it was a dramatic change from the rather abysmally received second game. This mostly felt like a retread. It was a really nice experience to play on my PSVita via remote play as my roomie played Xbox One, but despite the game’s best efforts, I just can’t bring myself to rate it highly.
This was my review of Far Cry 4. It was my personal experience with the game and I lament the fact I was unable to try the multiplayer. Sadly I can’t afford a subscription to Playstation Plus, so hopefully our readers will forgive me. As always if you like what we do here at The Nation or just feel I didn’t go in-depth enough with the game or the optional stuff feel, free to leave a comment or stalk us on Twitter. Thanks for reading.
- Improves on issues from previous game.
- Only encountered one glitch while using the hookshot to scale a mountain.
- Graphics are gorgeous.
- Story is fairly decent, and full of grey areas.
- Shangri-La is truly breathtaking.
- Sound design is very impressive.
- Pagan Min is the most likable bad guy ever.
- Succinct narrative and game experience.
- Needlessly expansive world.
- While there's a lot to do, most missions are fetch quests that feel very superficial.
- Rhinoceros are overpowered and crush you while you're down, making it impossible to get up and run.
- Some issues with the PS Vita remote play link despite sitting directly in front of the console.
- Too many collectibles.
- The far more interesting plot of Kalinag (Ajay's ancestor) takes a backseat.
- Not enough Shangri-La Sequences.
- Feels like a retread of Far Cry 3.
- Too many optional missions.