Far Cry 4 – Preview

Title   Far Cry 4
Developer  Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher  Ubisoft
Platform  Windows PC, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre  FPS, action adventure
Release Date  November 18th, 2014
Official Site  http://far-cry.ubi.com/en-gb/home/

The Far Cry series has generally been one that reflects a high level of quality and diverse gameplay, challenging the player to approach different situations in a variety of ways in order to gain advantage over the enemy. That isn’t to say that the series hasn’t suffered a few bumps and bruises along the way – Far Cry suffered a questionable second half thanks to some very strange creatures appearing out of the woodwork, Far Cry 2 suffered from being every shade of brown while going through long periods of having nothing to do, and Far Cry 3 had a whiny protagonist, a bonkers story and a pathetic difficulty curve. Despite this, each game has bought something new to the series and it’s generally gone from strength to strength. So what does Far Cry 4 bring to the table?

You’re expecting  me to talk about the elephants, right? The one feature that every other site has spoken about? Well, fuck that shit. I wasn’t impressed when Call of Doodie introduced a fucking dog, so Far Cry doesn’t get a free pass just because it introduced something that would fucking crush the canine with an eyelash. I’d rather focus on what I saw during my hands-on with the PlayStation 4 version of the demo.

Players will take on the role of Ajay Ghale, a native to the location where the game is set. He returns to his homeland to scatter his mother’s ashes and, instead, becomes entangled in a civil war; I’d bet good money it has something to do with the platinum-blonde pink-suited 1980s’ reject we’ve seen in the trailer. Fashion insults aside, he does come across as one creepy fucker – Vaas of Far Cry 3 fame was certainly unhinged and, for the most part, completely psychotic, but at times his rambling and babbling came across as comical. Pagan Min on the other hand strikes me as someone who is completely sane but not afraid to kill a few people to make a point, and that makes him far more dangerous than Vaas ever could be, as he was just as liable to kiss you than kill you. I’m also pleased that the protagonist has a back story that isn’t as thin as a Ritz cracker – Ajay Ghale has a very personal mission, and the events unfolding around him may be separate from that goal but are still something that effect him, because those events are occurring in a place he once called home. It gives the character more depth to know that he is invested in whatever direction you plan to take him.

The demo focused on a feature that has been at the core of  the Far Cry series since its inception and that is the ability to approach any combat situation in the way you want. This has been evolving in various iterations since the start of the series, and where the first and second games allowed an approach from virtually any angle, combined with a decent difficulty curve, the third game stripped it back a little in favour of more controlled fights inside bigger environments, such as outposts. This wasn’t a bad idea, but due to the fact that the game was so ridiculously easy and there wasn’t much opposition outside of these outposts, it made for some decent highs but terribly dull lows.

This is where my first concern lies with Far Cry 4, because the devs appear to be bringing back that same capture and hold outpost structure from the third game. This wasn’t a bad feature, but certainly suffered from delusions of grandeur in terms of challenge and importance.  They have made the areas bigger to fight in, however – this one was like a small village surrounded by twenty foot high stone walls and I was given three different ways to get into it: Gyrocopter, elephant, or climbing equipment.

Naturally, I shunned Dumbo and the climbing equipment and, instead, hopped into the Gyrocopter in order to gain an aerial advantage. It handled well, allowing me to get into a pattern of making passing runs or circling compounds without too much aggravation. I would imagine that getting around the area of Kyrat will be made all the more easier when using the ‘copter, and will be just as much fun as a hang-glider or wingsuit. Circling the compound allowed me to fire off rounds from a grenade launcher, which caused tremendous damage to the guards below who, by this point, had called for re-enforcements and had started unloading heavy fire in the direction of the angel of death.

With the transport taking serious damage a tactical landing was made (I crashed trying to land just outside the front door), just as mortar fire started raining down. Usually I’d not worry about such a thing in a Far Cry game, as it wasn’t something that ever hit the target, however a statement of intent was made by the AI when it blew up the Gyrocopter and then blew the (bloody) doors off the compound, revealing a cluster of very pissed off guards. Fire was exchanged between the two groups, with the player using a mixture of a grenade launcher and silenced machine pistol in order to quell the masses, and soon the compound was secure, with exception to the giant Huey-style helicopter laying down fire. I was impressed with the fact that the AI reaction to having a helicopter throwing grenades at its base was to call in two trucks full of men and a helicopter to deal with the problem – that’s the sort of escalation I want to see as a penalty (or desired outcome) for going in loud and proud to a combat scenario. Not that it mattered – the helicopter took an entire clip from a heavy machine gun before ditching into the ground and the demo ended.

Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to try out the other two approaches that I had initially shunned. Firstly, the stealth approach was considered, which included the new grappling hook and the crossbow – both of which will become fan-favourites, I’m certain. The level was certainly much easier, having adopted a stealth approach, and the signature melee deaths from Far Cry 3 make a welcome return. There was an increased challenge from sheer enemy numbers, and from working to ensure that I wasn’t spotted and the alarm wasn’t raised. However, the mission was a success and I decided that I’d not forgive myself if I didn’t at least give Babar one go.

I’m pleased say riding Tantor was good fun (I promise that’s the last fictional elephant reference; no, really, it’s getting addictive) and he rampaged through the compound like a bull (no pun intended) in a china shop. There wasn’t a whole lot the opposition could do to stop him, because they either got crushed underfoot or picked up by his trunk and tossed aside. Even cars got flipped over – in some cases onto people using them as cover. Was it cool? Yes, it was very cool. Is it a feature I would use all the time? No, not unless they included the option to buy and feed the elephant. Tantor was eventually killed by, yes, you guessed it, that same Huey, returning and spraying my dump-truck on legs with hundreds of bullets. So much for the AI responding in a unique fashion to an aerial threat (the ‘copter in my previous run-through, not a flying elephant). Once again, I proceeded to the mounted gun and took the chopper out.

I finished up Far Cry 4 with mixed emotions, having been a big fan of the series since it began. Personally, I thought Far Cry 3 represented a low point in the series, more interested in cramming as much content in as possible without consideration as to how it would all come together. I think Far Cry 2 had a more fluid and controlled set of systems for players to enjoy, not to mention the fact it was a more challenging game, generally. What both games needed was more opposition and less driving around with piss all to do. On both occasions you’re given a massive arsenal to use but never get a chance to actually use it against anyone.

Far Cry 4 doesn’t look set to buck this trend at the moment and, instead, currently feels like Far Cry 3.5 as opposed to Far Cry 4. Graphically, it certainly looks more impressive and the story is certainly hinting at a richer and more intriguing experience. The combat is, for the most part, a replication of what we’ve seen in Far Cry 3 but I’m optimistic that Ubisoft will listen to fan requests and make the necessary tweaks to the game, because if they do, they could very well have a very special product on their hands.

Last five articles by Chris


One Comment

  1. Edward Edward says:

    “Far Cry 4 doesn’t look set to buck this trend at the moment and, instead, currently feels like Far Cry 3.5 as opposed to Far Cry 4.”
    You’ve hit the nail on the head for me, here. I played far less of FC4 than you did, because I only did that “capture the outpost” thing, but I left it going “oh, it’s basically FC3 but with Elephants and a flying thing that doesn’t really work”. We’ll see how the reviews go, I had too many problems with FC3 and Blood Dragon to consider getting 4 as well.

    Great preview, Chris :D

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