Ubisoft has had their fair share of disappointments and failures this year when it comes to game releases, excluding Valiant Hearts, one of my favorite games this year. Far Cry 4 helps break their bad streak and delivers to its audience after the success of its predecessor: Far Cry 3. Far Cry 4 is set in the fictional country of Kyrat, which is modeled after Nepal’s Himalayas, and in which the player returns to his homeland to scatter his mother’s ashes. Problems arise when he becomes quickly entangled in a civil war with close ties to his family and lineage.
The story in Far Cry 4 isn’t going to win awards, but it does attempt to naturalize itself more. Unlike the previous Far Cry games, the protagonist hails from the location you travel through in the game. Incredibly unique characters, such as an African Warlord-turned Christian who ties everything he says to scripture, are still very much present in the game. The character’s now ironic fighting for God contrasts nicely with the world in anarchy. However, the character that steals the show is the antagonist, Pagan Min, who is voiced by fellow Texan and veteran voice actor, Troy Baker (Seriously this guy is in everything from JRPGs to Call of Duty.) Pagan Min is essentially the king of Kyrat; his image is on all of the currency and propaganda describing his “light” is played throughout the in-game radio. The character himself is actually quite reserved excluding two scenes in game, including one in which he stabs his own soldier to death then complains about the blood on his shoes. Pagan Min is anything but intimidating physically, yet he is absolutely sinister, and Troy Baker nails the dialogue and atmosphere of this self-proclaimed king. Other characters are noteworthy but are simply overshadowed by this performance.
Gameplay in Far Cry 4 is almost exactly the same as Far Cry 3. Some may see this as laziness, but it works. In other words “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” The POV of the game is first person, making this game a open world FPS/Adventure game. Players are able to carry up to 4 weapons at once after skinning animals for pelts for holsters. The amount of ammo, syringes, explosives, etc. are also all-dependent on how many skins of animals you have collected. As mentioned earlier, the player can also craft syringes to recover health and add temporary boosts of speed, strength etc. All of these boosts are made from various plants the player can discover in the land of Kyrat. Skill points are also gained from leveling up which can be used to buy attributes and abilities that will further strengthen the player in the harsh Himalayan environment, an environment that is filled with animals that will absolutely tear the player apart, such as bears, leopards, tigers etc. The wildlife continues to be just as much of a threat as the enemy factions’ soldiers. This idea of fearing nature has been prevalent in nearly every Far Cry game.
Side missions in the game range from hunting wild animals to freeing hostages who are being held at gunpoint by corrupt government forces. Players of the previous game will be no strangers to the idea of radio towers (bell towers in this game) and outposts which populate the countryside of Kyrat. These strategic points of interest must be taken over in order for you player to be able to expel the corrupt and oppressive government forces that occupy them. A new strategic military installation in this iteration of Far Cry is the addition of fortresses, which are basically outposts on steroids. These massive forts must be weakened before the player, by themselves or with a friend, attempts to take them over. In order to take one over, the player must eliminate all alarms to stop forces from entering the fort and must eliminate all forces inside of the fort. Seems easy right? Well it is at first until helicopters full of soldiers begin making runs over the fortress while you scramble to disable all of the alarms. Experimenting, a friend and I decided that sniping the alarms from far away in co-op mode with suppressed snipers made this task of capturing the fortresses and outposts far easier. Just place yourself on a hill with your friend (if you have any) and snipe at the bright yellow alarm boxes before the enemy even notices you are there. After the alarms are gone feel free to unequip the sniper rifle and head on in like a patriot and liberate the installation like a true American, by blowing the entire thing up. That is merely one approach, but seems to work the best from my experience so far.
As mentioned earlier, outposts, fortress, and just about everything other than main story missions can be tackled with the cooperation of a friend or stranger over PSN/Xbox Live/Steam (dependent on platform). This further helped display the sheer amount of fun you can have in this game when you play with a friend. For example, I drove a truck with a mounted machine gun on top while my partner disabled a truck full of soldiers while we raced down a Himalayan mountain road at incredibly fast and fun speeds. Fishing with TNT couldn’t be any more fun with a friend, but don’t blow yourself up along with the fish (I learned that the hard way). The aspect of having an open country to mess around in with your friends whether it be liberating the land like a patriot, hunting exotic and endangered animals (do not attempt in real life), or just racing quads down a mountainside, Far Cry 4 provides fun cooperative situations for you and a friend.
The PVP multiplayer is an arena based 5v5 matchmaking that honestly could be better. It becomes rather repetitive after several matches yet it wasn’t bad, it just merely doesn’t stack up to the rest of the game. In my opinion it should have been dropped entirely and replaced with a 4 player co-op campaign like the one in Far Cry 3. That co-op campaign was surprisingly fun for what it was when played with friends. To be honest I kind of missed it and was disappointed by its lack of continuation in this iteration. However, the co-op mode, where a friend can drop into your session, is a good addition to the overall gameplay of Far Cry 4.
Verdict: 9.5/10* (if you haven’t played Far Cry 3) or 8/10* (if you played Far Cry 3)
Far Cry 4 is a nice addition to the franchise yet it fails to exit the shadow of Far Cry 3. However, if you did not play Far Cry 3 you will have an absolute blast with this free roam FPS adventure game. Even veteran players of the series will be fond of new additions to gameplay; however, it won’t feel like an entire new experience.