Far Cry 4
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: 17 November 2014
Price: – $59.99 USD Available Here / $89.95-99.95 AUD Available Here
Far Cry 3 was lauded as a brilliant reboot of the Far Cry franchise and now Ubisoft is looking to build on the solid foundation with Far Cry 4. The new game takes players to the fictional country of Kyrat, a country inspired by Nepal and its bloody civil war that dragged on for a decade and finally ended in 2006. Ajay Ghale returns home to Kyrat in hopes of fulfilling his mother’s desire to have her ashes spread back in Kyrat; however, young Ajay is quickly caught up in the conflict between The Golden Path rebels and the despotic King Pagan Min.
Ajay Ghale left Kyrat as a young child when his mother fled to the United States. He has grown up to be as American as apple pie. After his mother’s death, Ajay is back in Kyrat in hopes of fulfilling his mother’s last wish. Kyrat is just as unstable as when Ajay last left it. A bloody rebellion is raging in South Kyrat, bristling under King Pagan Min’s leadership style that would make the North Korean government proud. All isn’t well in The Golden Path rebellion, either. Amita and Sabal are the two leaders of the rebellion and their differences in opinion is pushing their organization to a crossroad.
Far Cry 4 is not a story about good guys versus bad guys. It is more about really bad guys versus not so bad guys. It’s hard not to feel used through the entire game. Characters gleefully use Ajay’s identities, emotions, family, and heritage for their own means. My biggest beef with Far Cry 4’s story is the fact it has so much untapped potential. Amita and Sabal feel to shallow for such important figures. The lack of depth as characters makes the decision on who to throw your support behind feel flimsy and superficial. Kyrati culture plays a huge role in their disagreement, but important aspects of it is not fleshed out properly, which further contribute to Amita and Sabal’s lack of depth.
The cast of characters in Far Cry 4 is memorable. Best of all, old favourites from Far Cry 3 like Hurk and Willis make an appearance. Pagan Min strikes the right balance of insane, deluded, and absolutely charming. The mercurial dictator always feels like he could be just one step from completely becoming unhinged. Pagan Min’s three deputies are unique and almost feel like they have more depth than Amita and Sabal, based on the three’s short appearances in game.
It is worth mentioning that there are actually three endings to the game. One of them is a very cheeky addition that allows players to “beat” the game without actually leaving the prologue, while the other two endings are found at the end. I thought it was a really nice touch by the developers.
Far Cry 4 is an open world FPS. Although most of the game is played in the open world Kyrat map, there are portions that take players in smaller more linear levels. Many of them take place in the Himalayas, with some even requiring players to manage an oxygen tank, which help hammer in the new Kyrati locale. I feel these levels are a refreshing change of pace and help keep things fresh.
From the get go, players are given a half a map full of activities, side quests, and random things to do. Players could easily get sucked into just hunting things and doing random events that crop up for hours without touching any of the story missions. Of course, the player is eventually prodded forward by locking out certain weapons and skills until later into the game. The campaign and side quests manage to keep a pretty varied set of objectives, which keep things interesting.
The world around Ajay is teeming with life. Civilians go on with their everyday tasks, while Pagan Min’s Royal Army and The Golden Path patrol the streets and eventually clash. Random karma tasks will pop up, asking players to protect civilians or assist The Golden Path in a firefight. All the while, Kyrat’s wildlife continue on their merry business. Predators attack their prey, and most animals are ornery things that will attack Ajay for invading their personal space.
As part of emphasizing the mountainous region of Nepal, Kyrat is full of climbing points Ajay can toss a grappling hook on and climb up. It definitely makes navigating the map much easier by allowing players to climb up the high cliff faces littered across Kyrat. It also allows for some neat jumping puzzles outside of the bell towers.
Although I was a little disappointed to see that most of Far Cry 3’s arsenal has simply been remade for higher resolutions, Far Cry 4’s gunplay is solid. Some of the weapon imbalances seemed to have been worked out and the weapons pack a good punch. The cover system is still one of the most intuitive systems in an FPS. The game manages to strike a great balance between classic HP based health systems and the more modern regenerating health, which make gun fights a little more challenging than the average shooter.
On the other hand, I found the stealth system to still be a bit iffy. Players can tag enemies to keep track of their movements, allowing players a better opportunity to sneak up and execute a melee takedown. A good chunk of the game’s skill trees is dedicated to variety of takedowns. However, I found the cover takedown ability did not work very well and the stealth levels tend to be more irritating than rewarding. Probably the biggest irritation of them all is that conquering an outpost through stealth takes about half an hour of carefully picking through the outpost and is fraught with tons of risks, while standing over 100m away and emptying the entire outpost with a silenced sniper rifle in five minutes or less with barely any risk yielded almost the same outpost experience bonus.
My biggest complaint with Far Cry 3’s co-op mode was the linear nature of the levels. Instead of mirroring the single player’s open world, the co-op mode played like a traditional FPS. Far Cry 4 co-op seeks to remedy the situation by dropping the co-op down to two players, but allow players almost full reign of the single-player game. Unfortunately, activities are the only things that can be done in co-op mode. I would have preferred to be able to drag Hurk along through campaign and side missions. There were some minor glitches in co-op where certain random vehicle-based events would appear for one player, but not the other. However, I have to say I had an incredible amount of fun causing trouble with a friend. For all its flaws, Far Cry 4 may possibly be the most fun co-op title released in 2014.
Far Cry 4’s competitive multiplayer is surprisingly refreshing. Instead of trying to clone the traditional competitive shooter, Far Cry 4 opts for an asymmetrical multiplayer mode that attempts to marry competitive FPS games with Far Cry 4’s open world. Players will split off in teams of five and take turns at playing Pagan Min’s Rakshasa and The Golden Path. The Rakshasa use stealth, special drug syringes, one hit kill bows, and the ability to summon animals into the fight; while The Golden Path rely on more traditional hardware.
Unfortunately, the map maker does not work with multiplayer. Instead, players are free to create single player challenge maps. Players can opt for Assault mode, which pits players against waves of enemies; Hunt mode, where players will attempt to hunt and kill every animal on the map; Outpost, which is the same as the regular outposts found in game; and Extraction, where players will run through a gauntlet of enemies in hopes of making it to their extraction point. It is a crying shame that co-op is not supported out the gate for player created maps, as it is a perfect opportunity to grab a few friends to tackle some serious challenges.
Far Cry 4 would have really benefited from being delayed by a month or two. The game doesn’t encounter any game breaking bugs, but there is a clear lack of polish. The wingsuit has a really obnoxious habit of randomly not deploying when jumping off medium sized cliffs that are tall enough to kill Ajay, then randomly deploying when jumping small boulders of a feet or two. Other minor things like the radio declaring that all radio towers have been liberated when they haven’t or glitches in the store menu resulting in weapon names showing up as “Undefined” seem to constantly crop up.
Far Cry 4’s visual design is breath taking. Ubisoft Montreal has gone to great lengths to recreate the environment and feel of Nepal. Multi-coloured prayer flags stretch across towns and dot the country side, while the ever present tuk-tuk auto-rickshaws are left on the streets. The player is constantly reminded that Kyrat is supposed to be located near the tallest mountain range in the world through notes on each locale’s elevation when entering new areas. Mountains tower around the map and serve as a replacement for the water that boxed in the map in Far Cry 3. Ubisoft sent their developers to Nepal in hopes of capturing the beauty of the country, and they have done a fantastic job replicating what they saw.
It is striking how colourful the game is. The portions of the game that tell the Kyrati legend of Shangri-la take on a bright red, white, and gold hues, while the drug addled segments are splashed with the vibrant blues, purples, and oranges of Holi’s coloured powders. Far Cry 4 continues the work of its predecessor, sporting possibly the best depiction of a drug trip in video gaming. Instead of a motion sickness inducing camera wobble, Ubisoft opts for a multi-coloured trip set to music clearly inspired by The Beatles during their drug and guru inspired era.
On the hardware side, Far Cry 4 has some serious ups and downs. Being designed for next gen consoles, Far Cry 4 is extremely demanding of PCs on higher resolutions and quality levels. On lower video settings, the game is surprisingly playable on older rigs. Ubisoft Montreal has acknowledged PC gamers by providing a slew of video settings. The all-important field of view settings needs some work. While on foot and when driving vehicles, the larger FOV setting worked just fine. However, there are certain parts where it was very painfully obvious that they were not designed with the adjusted FOV in mind. Sitting in vehicles travelling at extremely high speeds sometimes would shoot up to an insanely high FOV which caused a bit of a weird fisheye effect. Adjustments to the FOV slider also made the mortar’s targeting camera very difficult to use.
Far Cry 4’s audio meets the high expectations of an AAA titles. The sound effects sound great and the soundtrack is stellar. The music features a mix of traditional video game music with what I assume is a traditional Nepalese twist with contemporary Nepalese pop. The more modern music is absolutely fabulous. It has a serious 60’s rock vibe that feels like the artists grew up listening to The Beatles. The major character’s voice acting is stellar, though the minor characters drop their accent in favour of American accents at times. Although I cannot speak for the portions of the game in Kyrati or possibly Nepalese, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Cantonese spoken by Pagan Min’s Royal Guard is pretty good.
Far Cry 4 is an excellent game. It could have used a little more polish before being hurried out the door, but the bugs are mostly minor. The single player campaign is loads of fun, the multiplayer is surprisingly satisfying, and the co-op is possibly the best I have seen all year. Ubisoft Montreal does a great job of replicated the feel of Nepal in Kyrat. Although I wish they went deeper with the story, Far Cry 4 manages to provide an interesting plot and a great cast of characters. Far Cry 4 is definitely worth a buy.
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