Far Cry 4 Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox 360, PC, Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox One
It seems like an age ago now but having hit just before Christmas 2012, Far Cry 3 was widely praised by both reviewers and gamers alike for its fantastic sandbox environments, plethora of open world activities and downright psychopathic main villain. Fast forward to November 2014 and we are greeted with yet another jaunt into the mystical, often bonkers world of Far Cry, filled with animal skinning, tons of side missions, even more random activities, a solid campaign and yet another psycho bad guy - this time on new consoles, with new tech.
Chaos, variety, colour and great gun play await all that dare.
You play as Ajay Ghale, a Kyrati raised in America who is returning to his homeland to scatter the ashes of his mother. Kyrat is a fictional region based almost entirely on the Himalayan regions of Nepal, ruled by a fairly bonkers despot king, Pagan Ming. As soon as our hero arrives on the sunlit, lush green landscape of Kyrat he becomes embroiled in the civil war that is raging between the aforementioned Pagan Min and a group of rebels calling themselves The Golden Path, which was coincidentally started by Ajay’s parents. To add to this The Golden Path itself is looking for a direction, a leader and Ajay has the ability to help them decide.
When you first boot up Far Cry 4 (as we did on PS4) you will likely be initially taken aback by just how damn good it looks, even as static images it looks gorgeous with bright, beautifully drawn menus. It doesn’t stop there as the landscapes and skylines that greet your first foray into the fields of Kyrat are lush and beautiful. Usually in this situation it all goes horribly wrong when things start to move, most games stuttering under the weight of their own ambition, but not here though. In full flow Far Cry 4 is a technical delight; great draw distances, little or no pop in, detailed textures, great lighting and a real sense that Kyrat is alive.
The only thing that lets it down in the looks department is the blandness of the main game area, Kyrat. In this regard the game is its own worst enemy. The open world environment of Kyrat is by no means dull and is absolutely littered with things to do - however - the sheer size and scale of the game means that you will spend anywhere between fifteen to forty plus hours there and as a result things can get a little samey. That said, some of the campaign missions and the Shangri-La side missions in particular show an attempt by the developers to vary it up a little, the campaign taking you up to the peaks of Kilimanjaro and the mystical land of Shangri-La has both a dream-like environment and new enemies to tackle, with new weapons and some new gameplay mechanics. To heavily criticise a game’s environment for becoming dull because there is so much content within it does come across as a little silly though, and the game is jam-packed with so much minute-to-minute enjoyment that people will likely not care one bit.
As with many open world romps, the core campaign in Far Cry 3 was the campaign, the central narrative if you will, with stunning set pieces, bonkers villains to slay and damsels to save. This time however things are ever so slightly different. In the first instance the campaign takes a bit of a back seat to the wealth of activities available outside of it - it is as if the team behind the game realised that the most fun to be had in a Far Cry world was ignoring those mission markers, grabbing a grenade launcher with twenty or so grenades in, and heading off to cause maximum mayhem all over the map. There are as ever the usual dose of towers to liberate and enemy camps to obliterate along with the usual hunting elements found previously but this time around there is so much more that can be enjoyed. Races, intercepting shipments, assassinations, propaganda missions, filming missions, collecting rare herbs, skinning rare animals plus loads more - the map is littered with things to do and while we are on the subject, is pretty darn big to boot. As well as all of the above you have set side missions from named NPC’s, the letters appearing on the maps, along with an awful lot of karma based random events - the latter being a particularly nice touch as it really does bring the world around you to life, aiding the submersion in this beautiful, violent world.
You could literally spend fifteen hours not touching a main mission and it would not be time wasted, at all. It is in fact only when you do eventually undertake the campaign that annoyances like forced stealth missions occur - luckily though these are few and far between.
This time around the developers wisely decided to add a two player co-op feature, allowing you to team up with a mate while prowling the lands for enemies to snipe and tigers to skin - thus adding yet another level of fun to proceedings, as we all know too well that everything is better in co-op. Playstation 4 owners even get the rather nifty idea dubbed, The Keys to Kyrat - this great little idea allows you, the game owner, to invite ten of your friends to join you in a co-op sessions of up to two hours (and here’s the kicker) without them owning the game. All you need to do is send them a key from the menu, they download the trial from the PSN store and they are free to join your game. The only restrictions being the aforementioned two hour limit and they cannot participate in any campaign missions. That said though this is a really nice little piece of marketing, think about it - you will definitely enjoy the game, even more so with a mate and the prospect of being able to play the entire game with a mate should drive sales. It would come as no surprise at all to see this “demo” strategy used in the future.
Finally there is a new 5v5 PvP mode which while on paper may sound like it’s tacked on and simply in there for them to be able to say that it’s a multiplayer game, actually ends up being rather good. With a list of around ten maps at launch and three core modes; Outpost, Propaganda and Demon Mask, pretty much all bases are covered. Outpost sees teams rushing command posts, Propaganda has them destroying installations and Demon Mask very much has a capture the flag vibe to it. All in all it’s actually solid; naturally it won't get the attention it probably deserves but it’s worth your time none the less if you pick up the game.
It looks fantastic - the gun play, whilst different from your standard Call of Duty fare, is solid, the open world is huge, bursting with life and activities to undertake plus they’ve finally realised what makes Far Cry so great - freedom to blow stuff up as you please. Technically fantastic, a joy to play for the most part and an awful lot of game for your money.