Reviews

Review: Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4 is Far Cry 3 with the added benefit of monkeys, elephants and the occasional bout of snow. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

We rated Far Cry 3 quite highly back when we first reviewed it; a departure from Far Cry 2, you played as an American party animal who travelled to an island, got separated from his friends and then seemingly went batsh*t crazy, becoming one with the island its inhabitants and adorning himself equally in tribal tattoos and the blood of his enemies. Outposts were for liberating (and later, resetting and redoing, thanks to an update), animals were for hunting and crafting, and stealth was your best bet. Far Cry 4 takes this winning formula and makes it easier to connect with.

This time around, you play as Ajay Ghale, an American who returns to his home country of Kyrat with his dead mother’s ashes in tow. You are fulfilling your mother’s dying wish: to return her to her homeland, specifically somewhere called Lakshmana. Almost immediately upon your return to Kyrat soil, your bus is ambushed and you’re first introduced to the tyrannical leader of the region, a very fashion-conscious man named Pagan Min. Don’t let that pink suit fool you; Min is one bad-ass motherf*cker, as he quickly demonstrates. Ghale is quickly rescued by a resistance group known as the Golden Path, and Ajay learns he’s more connected to the freedom fighters than he ever thought possible. Straight away, Far Cry 4 is easier to swallow than a bunch of party-going kids having a bad day; Ghale learns that the Golden Path almost have as much in-fighting going on as they do freedom fighting, and he’s tasked with focusing the resistance before liberating Kyrat from Min’s rule.

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What follows is that polished Far Cry 3 gameplay in a slightly different setting. Despite a PR campaign that stresses Kyrat’s snow-capped roots, gameplay is largely in a tropic jungle and its surrounds, with short jaunts to the mountains you can see off in the distance. Far Cry 4‘s open world is huge, with outposts, towns, shantys, caves, ruins and more littered throughout the landscape. Vehicles — including the nifty new gyrocopter — are dotted about in the same fashion, and allow for faster transportation. A resourceful chap, Ajay can craft wallets to hold more money, pouches to hold more ammo weapons and medical syringes to keep himself alive, thanks to animal skins and native plants. Min’s Royal Army roams the region, based in outposts that Ghale is tasked to infiltrate and liberate as bases for the Golden Path. Said bases also allow for fast travel and new opportunities to trade for weapons, ammo and consumables.

Before we continue, let’s just go back to Pagan Min himself. He’s awesome; charismatic, deliciously evil and so compelling, you’re desperate for your next encounter with him. He’s different than the sadistic Vaas of Far Cry 3, and in all the right ways, too; where Vaas was simply discarded near the 2/3 mark of the last game, Ubisoft ensures to keep Min front and centre throughout this entire game. As well they should. While not as compelling as Min, each of the game’s supporting characters are fully formed… despite some of their first appearances.

Anyways, back to our protagonist. Ajay has a number of ways to upskill himself as well; Karma points are gained by doing good deeds in random encounters and finding specific collectibles; those points and ranks allow for discounts at trading centres. A typical XP system also exists in the game, levelling Ajay up and providing skill points which can be used for aggressive Tiger skills or defensive Elephant skills. That XP is gained through hunting, completing story missions, liberating outposts, silencing Min’s propaganda-blasting radio towers and more. No matter which tree you decide to follow, those skills are essential to progress through the game; I tended to throw most of my points into stealthy knife- and weapon-takedowns, funnelling some into health as well in case it all went awry.

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Far Cry’s open-ended nature means you’ll be able to progress through story missions and nothing else, or as a distraction, delve off into hunting, hostage rescuing, racing, supply gathering or a host of other types of missions. Despite a fairly solid story, my most memorable events occurred while I was simply exploring, finding joy in stumbling upon a dank cave only to realise I could grapple up a narrow shaft within to find an old journal written by my dad. Another time, I’d dumped every single bit of ammo I had into a rhino, narrowly surviving… only to find out immediately afterward that the rhino had a mate nearby. Oops. Thankfully, the rhino’s friend, the tiger, helped my later on my deciding to run into an outpost I was stalking just a little later on. That tiger did most of the work for me in that particular fortress.

Sure, it’s fun running amok in a crazy open world environment full of constant surprises by yourself, but the real fun starts when you can share the experience with a friend. Racing off a cliff on an ATV only to deploy your wingsuit to sail to a distant location could never be boring, but try doing it to win a race with someone on a rampaging elephant… with a head-start. All the side quests in Far Cry 4 can be played with a friend, and my advice is to do just that. There are missions and quests galore, but there’s also plenty of fun to be had just setting your own goals in between.

People looking for a challenge will be glad to know it’s not all screwing around in co-op. Some of the missions are surprisingly complicated and difficult. In one mission, the objective is to save at least two of four helpless hostages from a gang of thugs. After failing in an attempt to sort things with the guns-blazing approach, my accomplice and I tried a more stealthy approach. This was also a failure, as the bad guys had themselves set up in a damn good position at the mouth of a cave. After a little exploring (see?), I happened upon another entrance to the cave through a small hole in the ceiling. After several attempts and some exceptional communication between myself and my sidekick, we managed to time a perfect takedown from both sides. It was exhilarating and such a rush to finally accomplish to much.

Far Cry also offers a PvP mode for those so inclined. I must admit this isn’t usually my forte, but after playing a few rounds I was impressed. It’s about what you’d expect in terms of modes available, all with a bit if a twist. You might think it’s the bunch of modes you’ll play the least, but that’s without knowing that PvP has a trick or two up its sleeve.

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You see, PvP modes come with one detail that makes them fresh and fun. One team gets a standard loadout of guns and grenades; the other goes native, equipped with bows and magic animal grenades. Yep, magic animal grenades. They unleash the fury of bears, tigers and eagles. Oh, and those guys can also crouch and go invisible. Almost surprisingly so, this is all done with actual balance. If you add in all the craziness of the vehicles, wingsuits and, of course, elephants, PvP is fantastically chaotic and hard to put down.

While Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity fought hard to evolve the franchise… by taking it back to its roots, it’s as if Far Cry 4 did the opposite, realising the publisher had hit pay dirt with Far Cry 3 and not upsetting things with this new release. Thankfully, each decision seemed to suit the games they were made for. Despite being a little too close to home to the previous game in the franchise — I mean, how many times can you burn a field of opium — you really can’t go wrong with Far Cry 4.

Far Cry 4 was reviewed using a debug copy of the game on PS4 as well as a debug PlayStation 4 on loan from Ubisoft Australia. This review was written with additional content by Steve Wright.

 

Far Cry 4

The good

  • A lot like Far Cry 3.Full of stuff to shoot, stab, explore and craft.
  • A much better story and characters than the last Far Cry game.
  • Neat new co-op and PvP.

The bad

  • Sometimes, just a bit too like Far Cry 3. There’s not a lot to fault, otherwise…

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About the author

Shane Wall

I'm just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe. A game geek turned audio engineer/musician. Shane's life is a delicate balance of video games, music and science fiction.

1 Comment

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  • Pro: its like Far Cry 3
    Con: its like Far Cry 3

    are you mentally retarded mate? Or are you just so painfully new to this review gaming thing? Because you sure act like a fuckin amateur. Get a new hobby.