Ubisoft released its latest instalment of its popular Far Cry series after enjoying much success with Far Cry 3 in late 2012. With a new environment to explore filled with danger from man and beast, is this latest first person action adventure worth joining? Take a look at our Far Cry 4 review for the full picture.
Far Cry 4 Review:
Today we’re taking a look at Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4 which released on consoles and PC and comes hot on the heels of its well received predecessor back in 2012. This time round you play as new hero in the making Ajay Ghale who returns to his home country of Kyrat – a fictitious location set within the backdrop of the snowy mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Unfortunately for Ajay whose only motive at the start of the game is to bury his deceased mother’s ashes, gets caught up in the country’s on-going civil war against the egomaniac dictator Pagin Min. It’s all very tongue in cheek in how the battle against Min is presented and although we get to see very little of his madness directly, the implications are littered across the sprawling map as players engage in all manner of activities for the rebels.
The core gameplay remains unchanged from its predecessor where familiar elements make a return such as player upgrades, performance booster crafting, climbing puzzle like towers to reveal locations on the map, the use of sea and land vehicles to cross the terrain on or off-road, with new additions such as gyrocopters for an even greater sense of scale and airborne play. Outposts return which require clearing out either stealthily or full assault but this time can be replayed at any time for a spot on the leaderboards. There’s an abundance of collectibles and side activities to mess around with as well. It’s not all verbatim though as it’s obvious this is a more refined vision of previous well-trodden paths. The inclusion of the gyrocopters for example, allow for aerial assaults and the all new mountable elephants bring added meaning to rampaging through the enemy. It’s all rather neat and well presented making the world of Kyrat one hell of a place to explore. At every turn there is something to aim for, and even if you’re not, the random encounters with wildlife or humans certainly keeps you on your toes despite on occasion being deeply frustrating when attacked by eagles or leopards during a stealth moment.
Throughout the story and whatever else players get up to in Kyrat, there’s some solid first person shooting combat with a variety of weapons which can be upgraded to suit your playing style. This time, the balance of earning money is well realized, meaning there’s always something useful to spend it on and never a situation where you feel like you’ve amassed too much and it simply sits there in the bank doing nothing. Body armour, ammo refills and such like all cost a fair amount and it’s surprising how often these need to be replenished thanks to the AI which seems to know exactly who you are at all times. A little slice of subterfuge might have made the game a bit too easy, but would have been nice to include as the world against the player gameplay is a complaint made from Far Cry 2 which hasn’t been properly addressed.
Looking at the story and it’s clear Ajay is a bit of no nonsense lapdog in the Golden Path rebel camp. Although he’s hailed as a hero, his superiors Amita and Sabal treat him like a general dogsbody, often ushering him out of their rooms without much respect for him as a character. Despite being able to choose whether to side with either for differing results, the fact Ajay simply does as he is told makes him very one dimensional especially in comparison to the previous leading oddball character.
Far Cry 4’s visuals have seen much improvement over the last game with some fantastic effects used to create contrasts between mountainous highlands and dense foliage of the lowlands. Wind is presented very well with some impressive effects used to simulate the air movement from the gyrocopters as trees and foliage sway realistically. There’s a day and night cycle here as well, although it’s not clear how effective performing tasks during the night is, considering nightfall never offers the darkness you’d expect and seems more cosmetic. Character models are well detailed, although aside from the main cast there’s an abundance of clones which feels a bit lazy – although the addition of fluffy fur on the animals somewhat makes up for it.
It’s not all plain sailing with the visuals which for the most part are top quality in terms of overall looks. The PC version in particular suffers from constant stutter on some systems which although is something players can get used to, is an annoyance especially when compared to Far Cry 3’s smooth operation. The AI also tends to be a little off at times where NPCs get stuck and as mentioned, neutral beasts miraculously can sniff you out from behind cover rather than attacking the guards who stand right before them. There are also inconsistencies with how the game saves player progress on the PC version at least, where auto or manual saving might put you way back than anticipated when reloading which is rather poor. The annoyances whilst noticeably present are distracting and hopefully can be fixed in a future update. As it stands though the game is still highly enjoyable although AMD users might want to wait for the inevitable driver or patch update before splashing out.
Audio comes in with a typically Asian flavour right down to the pirate radio station banging out regional melodies when driving vehicles. The voice acting is of a good quality with expected lines and situational ramblings, although it’s Pagan Min and his flamboyant dialogue which offers the most diversity. Sound effects and ambient undertones all work well, but as mentioned there’s always something kicking off to intrude on the calming sounds of nature.
Players can sink many hours in Kyrat’s single player content with the wealth of animal culling, assassinations, courier jobs and hostage rescues to undertake, and if that’s not enough the option to dive into co-op is always available if desired. However, whilst fun playing with strangers, is a far better experience when teaming up with like-minded friends using a mic and sharing the same gameplay approach. There’s also a selection of additional missions to undertake which can be downloaded via the game. It’s here where user created maps from the refined map editor can be played on and even edited where the possibilities are endless for those who have the time to create something new. The game offers a 5 vs 5 multiplayer set of modes which are fun but somewhat lacking in basic modes which makes for some interesting fun moments but lack lasting appeal.
After spending some 21 hours in Kyrat leaving lots more to see and do, it’s clear Far Cry 4 is a definitive game in the series and a culmination of ideas that worked previously wrapped up in a neat package. It all pieces together well and despite sharing many similarities with previous outings retains its own identity amid all the familiar chaos. As an evolution of the series, it’s somewhat lacking, yet as a refinement it’s open world adventuring by numbers which isn’t a bad thing just lacking in original ideas. Aside from the familiarity, Far Cry 4 is a great game based on its own merits and despite the annoyances comes as a welcome playground for fans of the series. Whilst its undeniably less chilling than its predecessor and perhaps features a more predictable cast of not so memorable characters, the overall accomplishments on offer are certainly worth looking at when the game is properly fixed to run smoothly.