Far Cry 3 astounded us with an amazing open world and an antagonist who genuinely invoked terror. Ubisoft seemingly hit the perfect formula for an open world game and introduced great mechanics such as hunting, and the wing-suit to the franchise. So Far Cry 4 has a lot to live up to, but can it define this generation of consoles as well as it did with the last iteration?
Far Cry 4 is set in the fictional city of Kyrat; located somewhere in the Himalayas. The snowy mountain tops add a lovely contrast to the vivacious greenery seen elsewhere in the land mass. Though a landlocked country, you will still see pockets of water and the odd large lake to keep things exciting. You are Ajay Ghale, an American whose Kyrati born mother’s final request is for her son to scatter her ashes back in her homeland. Much of this setup is all told via text and you begin the game by starting off in a bus that gets hijacked by militia, and you come face to face with the game’s main antagonist, Pagan Min. His introduction is rather bloody and it’s clear that he knows you, but you don’t know him. Though not as psychotic or terrifying as Vaas from Far Cry 3, there is something a little unnerving about Pagan’s gentle nature, which is exaggerated by the fact that you witness him stab two people in the first ten minutes of the game.
Much of the story is parlayed via cutscenes and a lot of radio conversations, and the lack of contact with Pagan Min’s character was quite a disappointment for me. Not to worry though, Far Cry 4 is full of oddball characters, each of which you wish you could know the complete back story of, and could potentially have a game based on their experiences. Missions and levels are broken up quite nicely, and there is a lot of variety, ranging from the usual protect the base from gun wielding enemies to the off-beat ones like arena battles or hunting. The game has a fairly good stealth mechanic, but never forces you to take a mission in a set way, you decide how you want to play it, be that guns blazing or shooting silent arrows from a distance.
Possibly the biggest downfall of the game is the story, sadly it appears to lack what its predecessor managed to capture. The feeling of dread and fear is gone, and is replaced with a slight feeling of unsureness; a mild emotion that makes the whole experience a little hollow. You can’t really pin-point why you are trying to destroy Pagan Min (without spoiling the story).
The luscious scenery is rendered beautifully and Kyrat is brought to life with its waterfalls and rolling hills. Not to mention the large variety of animals with Rhinos and honey badgers making their first appearances in the franchise. You will also be glad to hear that there is little “pop-in” to speak of, and if you specifically look out for it you may see something here or there, but for the majority of the time it is seamless. Load times are brilliantly quick when you take into account what is being displayed on screen at any given moment.
Gameplay is exactly the same as the previous game, and you’d be hard pressed to tell the differences at a glance. Perhaps it is a little tighter and you are given certain abilities off the bat, but for the most part this games’ mission structure, side missions, hunting/crafting and even the way you liberate an area by climbing a radio tower is practically identical. I guess the developer chose to take the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. If i’m honest i can’t blame them. This game works, and it plays great. There are a few new additions and each one improves the game and how you play it. The grappling hook allows the player to climb sheer faces, preventing those annoying treks all around a mountain to find the only way up. A small helicopter also improves traversal, and if you are really good you can even use it to fly directly onto the radio towers and unlock a new area in the fastest way ever.