Far Cry 4 – Review

Title   Far Cry 4
Developer  Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher  Ubisoft
Platform  Windows PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre  First-person shooter, action-adventure
Release Date  November 18, 2014

When firing up Far Cry 4, my expectations weren’t particularly high. The series has become part of the Ubisoft stable of sandbox action games that all share so many common elements that it can beging to feel like there is a production line going on where all they do is switch out protagonists and cities, and slap a fresh price tag on it. So, I went in feeling a little cynical and Far Cry 4‘s opening act was so similar to Far Cry 3 that if you took out the cutscenes and told me it was a hi-def remaster of that game, it would have taken me at least an hour or two to realise that it wasn’t.

So from that, veterans of the series will know what to expect. You play an everyman character, Ajay Ghale, who is in Kyrat, a fictional region of the Hymalayas, to spread his mother’s ashes. However, it soon becomes apparent that his parents were legendary freedom fighters in the area and Pagan Min, the despotic leader of the region, kidnaps you and in true Far Cry style starts blabbering on at you with all of the wide-eyed insanity of Far Cry 3′s Vaas Montenegro, but now with the camp humour of a grown-up Stewie Griffin.

You are soon rescued by the Golden Path, the good guys in the game, and before long you are out in the huge game world doing all the things you’d expect from a Far Cry game – story missions punctuated by whatever side quests you decide to go on from hunting trips, assassinations, escort missions, and races. The map is filled with things to do and, of course, the fog of the map is lifted by climbing up towers. It’s Ubisoft-by-numbers and for those first couple of hours I felt like I didn’t really fancy going through all this again. However, what Far Cry 4 lacks in originality, it makes up for with production values and gunplay. I thought Destiny, despite its thin story and rubbish mission structure, had fantastic gun combat. The battles were incredibly satisfying, but that couldn’t sustain any interest in the game and I sacked it clean off after a couple of days. Far Cry 4‘s combat is way better.

As with Far Cry 3, battles tend to be either random encounters or planned invasions of compounds and outposts. You can opt to stealth it, which feels just like being in Predator (the film, not the rubbish Far Cry spin-off) as you crouch in the grass armed with a bow and a pocket full of throwing knives, and this feels great when you pull it off. However, things often go wrong and when you’re out of ammo on your main gun and are laying waste to the area with a flame thrower while taking out incoming vehicles with well-placed volleys from your grenade launcher, an elephant charges through the enemy camp. Well, let’s just say, no game has done it better.

The enemy AI, the excellent physics, and a good choice of weapons makes these sequences a joy and while Far Cry has always padded out the action with too much exploring and side-mission nonsense, it’s nice to take a break in between the big battles because they are so intense. You’ll be part of so many great moments that you’ll finally get a use for that Share button.

The story itself is no slouch either. Yes, it is basically Far Cry 3, albeit now you’re not cursed with douchey traveller mates, and the characters aren’t entirely believable but it is strong enough that you’ll not want to skip the cutscenes. Not that you can anyway.

Aside from the main story mode, there are co-op and PVP options. Co-op is great fun, but your co-op partner won’t gain any story progress and so may not have much reason for joining you. That said, I was struggling with a fortress invasion and called in a friend and we had a great time creating absolute chaos. The game’s netcode held together well, once we actually figured out how to invite each other. As with all recent Ubisoft games, the interface can get a little unintuitive.

Indeed, that’s probably the only real negative that I can draw from the game. A good example is how weapons are unlocked. You unlock most of them via story missions, however, you can get some for free for doing certain things, or you can buy them with in-game currency. But some of them only come from using U-Play, and there are pre-order bonus weapons, but redeeming those codes doesn’t just give you the weapon. You still need to piss about to get them. Not that the pre-order descriptions even tell you what to look for. It’s all a bit fussy, which is something that Ubisoft have really struggled with recently.

Also, the game gives you ten ‘keys to Kyrat’ that allow you to play two hours of co-op with friends who don’t own the game. It’s a nice idea but feels a little unnecessary, and we’d like to see this feature fleshed out a little.

I’m still not convinced that any game world needs to be as big as this. The problem with sandbox games is that for a large percentage of your time, you’ll be driving to the next thing to do and that’s certainly the case here. A smaller world with more stuff in it would probably make for a more focused game but, that said, I still enjoyed wandering around and having adventures. This is thanks in part to the game’s emergent gameplay. Things just happen all the time in Far Cry 4. The wildlife do odd little things (like when an eagle decides to carry a pig away) and groups of NPCs will often have battles without you. It makes Kyrat feel alive and that’s great.

The stunning graphics, believable AI, and fantastic use of sound all create a believable illusion of reality and it’s all put together with such quality that in the end it didn’t matter that this felt so similar to Far Cry 3. I’m not sure I’ll accept it if Far Cry 5 pulls the same trick but for now Far Cry is my favourite of the Ubisoft franchises and Far Cry 4 may well be the best full retail release of this generation.

  • Stunningly well-presented
  • The best gun combat in gaming
  • Stealth feels natural
  • Believable game world
  • Has that slightly fussy Ubisoft interface
  • Is very similar to Far Cry 3

Far Cry 4 probably will win awards for originality because games journalism is broken now. It doesn't deserve them but in all other aspects, Far Cry 4 is a shoe-in for lots of Game of the Year awards. You may not want to buy into Ubisoft's vision of modern gaming but when they produce games of this quality, it's hard to resist.

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  1. Jacky Early says:

    Is there much lacking in the 360 version? Aside from the graphics, obviously

  2. hashstone89 says:

    Still doesn’t come close to Far Cry 2, Ubisoft need to go back to basics and cut out all this trippy hallucination spiritual bull****. Far Cry 2 was intense and unforgiving, something 3 and 4 lacks.

  3. Mark Mark says:

    This is on my list to Santa, cannae wait!

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