Frivolous Waste of Time

Sci-fi, fantasy and video games

Far Cry 4 for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC

Far Cry 4 is proof that a sequel doesn’t need to innovate to excel. Far Cry 3 was a great game and, barring a handful of small changes, Far Cry 4 is more of the same. Is that a bad thing? Well, no, Far Cry 3 was great and I was very happy to do the same stuff for a bit longer. That said, I’m not sure if Ubisoft could get away with it again for Far Cry 5, or we may be entering worrying Assassin’s Creed territory.

Ajay Ghale has travelled from his home in the United States to his birth place, the tiny Himalayan mountain nation of Kyrat to scatter his mother’s ashes. Kyrat is ruled over the tyrannical, insane and charming Pagan Min. Pagan is opposed by the Golden Path, a resistance group formed by Ajay’s father Mohan. Ajay is quickly brought into the resistance against Pagan, slaughtering his way across Kyrat and through Pagan’s power structure until he reaches Pagan himself. At the same time, Ajay must resolve a power struggle with the Golden Path itself between the traditionalist yet regressive Sabal and the progressive yet brutal Amita.

The overall storytelling is stronger in Far Cry 4 than in Far Cry 3, partially by not killing off its compelling villain and replacing him with a much worse one half way through. I’ll never forget Vaas, but I can’t for the life of me tell you who the main villain was. Far Cry 4 doesn’t make this mistake with Pagan standing as your opponent through the whole thing. He still doesn’t have enough of a presence however, occasionally taunting you through your radio but feeling mostly absent for much of the game. The sheer unbelievability of Ajay’s military and action prowess is ridiculous, with Ajay being a total non-character, with her personal connections to the events in Kyrat never feeling particularly engaging as a result. Far Cry 3’s protagonist was also insanely proficient at killing, but at least that game attempted a Heart of Darkness style focus on the changes that violence makes to a person. Of course, Far Cry 3 also shared some of Heart of Darkness’ problematic colonial themes, which are thankfully less present in this instalment. The attempts at humour are pretty embarrassing, with the irreverent resistance DJ grating and the ‘comic relief’ stoner side characters really not working. Pagan Min is main redeeming feature of the storytelling, but thankfully he’s enough of an asset to carry the whole thing through.

If you played Far Cry 3, you know what to expect in Far Cry 4. The mechanics are basically the same, but that means they’re still incredibly fun. Stealthily taking outposts with bow, arrow and knife is still fantastically fun, as is raining destruction with rocket launchers, or sniping all from afar. Far Cry is a series which has made good on its open world structure, with the popular marketing buzzword that you can approach objectives how you like for once being very true. You won’t really be doing anything different; you’ll still scale radio towers to unlock new parts of the map, hunt animals to craft new gear, assassinate commanders and, of course, complete story missions with greater set piece moments. There’s a huge amount to do in this game, with some brilliant side missions given by particular characters being standouts. The generic assassination and delivery missions are still really fun, simply through the strength of the core mechanics. There are a handful of new toys to play with however and they’re all a lot of fun.

Kyrat is more hilly and vertical than the Rook Islands from Far Cry 3, so getting around is made easier with a fun and effective mountain climbing mechanic. I’m a sucker for first person platforming and Far Cry 4 does it quite well. There’s a nice little tweak to the driving in the form of an ‘auto-drive’ mode which allows you to focus on shooting during high speed pursuits. The real vehicular highlight is comfortably the mini-helicopter which you can use to get around quickly. I love flying in games and I never really got tired of zipping around in the little thing. The ability to ride elephants into battle is another extremely fun addition, although the guilt I felt when my giant flappy eared bro fell to enemy fire was a bit of a downer. The only change that I really didn’t like was that Pagan can now take back outposts if you haven’t already captured one of four fortresses. I’ve seen a few different opinions on this and I do really understand that the developer is trying to create a sense of satisfaction in taking the fortresses. The reality is however that every single time it happened I was extremely irritated, as I would usually be half way towards something else that I wanted to do. I ended up feeling like the game was wasting my time. That said, it’s really my only quibble in an otherwise joyful experience.

Far Cry 4 looks pretty great, although it is unarguably held back by its inclusion in the previous console generation. A large amount of stuff is ripped straight from Far Cry 3, but it’s not too noticeable. Kyrat is a hell of a location, quite unlike anywhere I’d really seen in a game before. It’s undeniably beautiful and a nice change from the tropical Far Cry 3. The music isn’t bad, although I actually kind of missed Far Cry 3’s wub wubs. The voice acting is mostly excellent, with the obvious highlight being Pagan Min, but your Golden Path contacts Amita and Sabal acquit themselves well too. It’s refreshingly glitch light as well, which is surprising considering that it is a) open world and b) released by Ubisoft. A nicely presented package overall, but I’m looking forward to a Far Cry 5 exclusive to the current gen.

Did you like Far Cry 3? Good, you’ll like this too then. It may not make the same impact as its predecessor, but it’s still a damn good game and well worth a play.farcry4

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