Far From Anything to Cry About
Last year Far Cry 3 surprised me. It surprised me in a way I was not expecting. After all, I admittedly hated the first two Far Cry games. They never really captured my attention. This is not to say they were bad games, they just didn’t ring any of my gamer bells of attention. But Far Cry 3 , man it changed my mind dramatically. So much so that I spent weeks with that game far after the campaign was done. It was something about the characters, the villains, and the world that lay before my feet. I never felt bored. Even hunting the random assortment of animals was derivatively enjoyable. One time I sat down and for several gaming hours only hunted to level my character up, and this was ok, because it was fun. Even when the Blood Dragon DLC came out and reshaped the game more for an extreme 80’s sci-fi action film galore, I still found myself enjoying the game, all because it was fun.
So when Far Cry 4 was announced, I was a little more than worried the fun aspect was going to be removed, or the game was going to be so vastly different from Far Cry 3 that I would go back to my “meh” state of caring about the franchise. Thankfully, I was wrong, as this entry into the franchise has reminded me of one very simple rule to follow in the development of games: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Far Cry 4 follows this rule, but it might follow a little too closely.
The story opens with you playing as Ajay Ghale, a man who has returned to Kyrat to spread his mother’s ashes as per her last request. Much like the inevitable explosions in a Michael Bay movie, the peaceful car trip with a monkey turns into a full on WTF storm as the “enemy” pulls the truck over and shooting starts, people die, people live–but none of that is important. What is however, is the introduction of probably the best villain of the year, Pagan Min. Min is not unlike villains we have experienced before, but there’s just something about him that crosses the line of psychotic villain. It’s more in line with why people love the Joker from Batman. You never know what’s really in his head; you never know what the hell he’s going to do. It’s that level of cinematic fear he brings each time he is on screen that you can’t help but wait with a certain sense of dark anticipation to see what is going to happen next. Hands down, his introduction and subsequent scenes littered throughout the game became a driving force for me to play through the campaign story.
Another reason was because of the “civil war” between Pagan Min and the Golden Path, and the unknowing hero being brought into the mix without really knowing what’s going on. It’s a cliché I have seen and enjoyed throughout countless games and movies. After all each of us in our right would love to think that given a similar situation we would champion up and be the hero the people deserve and need (that’s two Batman references if you are counting). This is a very clear similarity between Far Cry 3 and 4 . In both titles and unknowing hero is thrown into impossible odds and has to overcome them. The biggest difference though is that in Far Cry 3 the hero was at several times too brash, this time around it feels like Ajay is very “let’s save my people”. Which is not a horrible thing, in fact it is a very welcome aesthetic.
While I do enjoy the varied array of characters in the game, the true star here is once again the world we get to travel. Vast mountains, lush forestry, beautiful bodies of water–Kyrat has it all. It feels very much alive. Even though it’s not like some other games I have enjoyed recently, Far Cry 4 does treat its world like you are at its disposal as you play. There are random events that occur to increase your Karma, more on this in a moment. But these events will be anything from rescuing people from deadly honey badgers, car chase, and various other acts of heroism for you to perform. The important thing about Karma missions is that you can build it up with the villagers to reduce prices of the items people have for sale as well as occasionally A.I. will help you out in the wild. While it doesn’t seem like much on paper, it is in execution.
There is one feature I am so thankful for in Far Cry 4 –Auto Drive. This little feature allows you to plot your point of interest and then your vehicle will drive there. While the driving in the game is better than Far Cry 3 , it is still pretty abysmal. At least with this you can sit back and enjoy watching the A.I. handle the driving aspects and you can focus on important things like shooting, looking at the sights, or taking a quick 30 second nap before playing again. I really hate the driving mechanic in all Far Cry games, but at least it is progressively getting better. Another aspect that is both a love and hate relationship has got to be the “skill tree”. Broken into two parts, the Elephant (for defense) and Tiger (for attack) sides don’t really bring a lot to the table. In fact some of the skills just seem really pointless. It’s also very close in resemblance to the “skill tree” from Far Cry 3 . You leveling up your character is more about the hunting and crafting segments of the game, also very similar to Far Cry 3 . I know it might sound like these comparisons to Far Cry 3 are a bad thing, but they are quite the opposite for me.
One thing I really did enjoy however is the ability the enemies have to take back your “Fortresses”. Sure you can go through the vast map and tackle each increasingly hard tower to claim as your own. Just keep in mind that, until you have progressed the story along to that point, you could lose the tower and thusly, fast travel options in certain areas of the map. It’s kind of cool to know that even if you have taken over a challenging tower that you could lose it all because you advanced too far out of your depth. That however doesn’t stop you from challenging the plethora of wildlife in any given area. Just know that there’s more out there that wants to kill you than the enemy you know.
Far Cry 4 also offers up some online gameplay mechanics: the traditional shoot ‘em up team battles, as well as online co-op. You can have fun with the co-op because there’s almost nothing that you and your friends can’t team up against to take down. Well nothing except story missions. This is where the issue comes in. With its drop-in drop-out mechanic, if you are in the middle of a mission and you start some co-op action, you will have to start that mission all over once your romp is over. This can get a bit annoying honestly, but I do find myself really wanting more of the campaign to be co-op.
There are two kinds of people that will play Far Cry 4 . Those that will look at it and complain about how similar it is to Far Cry 3 and then there will be those that rejoice in those similarities. That is the simplest approach to this title. There’s nothing to make it not an enjoyable experience, but for those that loved Far Cry 3 , for all of its beautiful distractions, will find hours upon hours of glorious gameplay waiting for you. Plus, with a villain like Pagan Min, you just can’t go wrong with the latest installment of the Far Cry franchise.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
This game is easy on the eyes and great to look off in the vast world before you. 4.3 Control
Not much to complain about here. 4.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Solid voice acting and surprising score rivals anything out this year. 4.5 Play Value
There’s loads to do and an enjoyable campaign experience. 4.3 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best