STAFF REVIEW of Far Cry 4 (Xbox One)

Friday, November 28, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

Far Cry 4 Box art Far Cry is known for allowing you to play in open worlds that are known to span across a massive island, or in the case of Far Cry 4, Kyrat in the Himalayan Mountains. Far Cry gives you complete freedom of how you want to play and what you want to do in its world, almost to the point of having too much to do. Not only is the Far Cry world you’re allows to play in massive, but the sheer number of activities and side quests for you to enjoy at your own pace is almost daunting at times. Even when you’ve set yourself to a path, you’ll easily become distracted with random diversions. If you were a fan of Far Cry 3, you’ll be pleased to know that Far Cry 4 is essentially bigger and better version that refines the Far Cry formula rather than reinvent it.

Pagan Min is the malicious dictator that rules over Kyrat and its people. You play as Ajay Ghale, a Kyrati native who was taken there and raised by his mother as a child. Ajay is on a journey to spread his mother’s ashes back in their homeland, though almost immediately after entering Kyrat his bus is ambushed and you come face to face with Pagan Min, who seems to know you quite well. Now placed in the middle of a civil war, Ajay escapes Pagan’s with some help of The Golden Path, the rebel group fighting back. As it turns out, The Golden Path was originally formed by Ajay’s parents, so he’s instantly treated as a rock star by the rebels, thinking they just found their savior.

The Golden Path is trying to overthrow the tyrannical Pagan Min and at specific points in the story you’ll be forced to side between the two bickering leaders of The Golden Path, Anita and Sabal. Once you choose a side, the other quest is locked out and will affect the outcome of specific events down the road, and has its own ending as well.

Oddly enough though, you only ever run into these main characters in the quests and not elsewhere in Kyrat, so aside from the few minute spurts of cutscenes, it’s hard to become attached to them. The same goes for Pagan himself as well, as you don’t really interact with him at all until the latter half of the game, which diminishes his character buildup. It’s a shame because he’s played so well and is a really interesting character, you simply don’t see enough of him throughout the campaign.

The basic mechanics of Far Cry 3 return unchanged here, as you’re still going to be looking for high ground to scope out the enemies with your binoculars which highlights them for easy tracking. That’s not to say you need to use your sniper gun and bow and arrows for a stealth approach, as running in with rocket launchers and an assault rifle is also a valid tactic as well depending on how you want to play. There are some new tricks in Ajay’s arsenal though that can prove useful when used properly. Ajay has a grappling hook that can be used to scale certain cliff faces, allowing you to reach a higher view to plan your route of attack. What makes the grappling hook so fun though is that you can actually use it for more than simply getting from the ground to the top (or vice versa), as you can also use it as an actual swing and leap off to reach other areas if the terrain allows. It’s fun to play with when you come to an area that allows for a lot of grappling freedom and can make for some daring escapes.

The basic mission structure varies throughout the campaign, but even more so with the side missions. One mission you’ll simply be saving someone, another you might be trying to prevent an opium plant farm from being burned down, next you’ll be in the Himalayan mountaintops searching for oxygen canisters, then you might even be launching an ATV off a cliff so you can open your wingsuit and fly into a plane. It’s completely unpredictable going from one mission to the next what you’ll be faced with, but this keeps it interesting and fresh throughout the campaign.

There’s plenty of side quests and objectives to do when you want to take a break from the campaign, almost to the point of being too much to do. A completionist is going to have their hands full, as there’s a massive amount of content within Kyrat for Ajay to take part of. There’s the standard save someone and fetch quests, but there’s a ton of other things to do as well, like liberating radio towers to unlock the fog from the map or even traveling to Shangri-La for some more supernatural expeditions that I don’t want to spoil, as they’re quite entertaining. There’s always something different to do if you get bored of doing the same thing over and over, so make sure to try all the different types of quests at least once.

As you earn XP from simply playing, you’ll unlock new skills and abilities that can be unlocked; even the ability to ride elephants (essentially tanks in Far Cry 4) which can lead to some hilarious moments. I do wish the skill tree was much deeper, as I eventually earned more than enough skill points that I was taking skills I didn’t care about at all.

Just like how the mission structure can be unpredictable, it’s truer when applied to how the world around you feels alive. You might be scouting an outpost, getting ready to make your attack, and you might all of a sudden get attacked by a tiger or bear, causing the enemies to take notice and mess up your whole plan of attack. But that’s not always a bad thing, as this unpredictability really did keep things interesting and you never get too complacent knowing that roaming guards or wildlife may be right around the corner. Oh, and eagles are the absolute worst, so be ready for those. When you do dispatch animals you come across, you can skin them to be used in crafting and take their meat to use as bait as well. You’ll never be forced to hunt for animals outright, but you’ll want to early on, as that’s how you’re going to upgrade your carrying capacity, holsters, and more.

Kyrat feels massive, and even when you find one of the new Gyrocopter that allows you to fly almost anywhere (it does have an altitude limit), it can still take some time to get from point A to point B. While the square mileage may be something similar to Rook Island from Far Cry 3, it simply feels larger in this game because of the verticality and the need to use switchbacks when traversing on ground vehicles. Regular cars and trucks may take some time to get used to given the default Halo-like controls of being controlled with the left stick, but this is for good reason. This is so that you can shoot from your vehicle while driving with ease.

There are some steep inclines and narrow paths that made vehicle travelling difficult but you are able to turn on an auto drive feature if you’d rather have a tour-like ride to your destination or don’t want to deal with the hassle of figuring out the right paths to get to your end point without going off a cliff. Once you clear out some outposts, some of them will permanently act as a fast travel point, making getting places around Kyrat much easier.

One of the biggest items in my ‘Pro’ list though is easily the quality of the voice acting. Normally the handful of main characters in games are voiced well but the minor ones usually suffer or simply aren’t as good. That wasn’t the case in Far Cry 4. Pagan Min is voiced amazingly and you really get the sense that he’s crazy and evil based on his performance. Ajay may not have a lot of lines throughout the campaign, but the few times you do hear him, it’s also believable. The same goes for the supporting cast, especially Longinus, who turned out to be my favorite character in the whole game the more missions I did for him.

If Far Cry 4 wasn’t crazy enough for you, you can now also invite a friend or stranger into your game for some co-op shenanigans and double the firepower. Having a second person definitely changes your strategy when taking over outposts and completing side missions, but is a welcome addition. There are some basic communication tools available if you or your partner doesn’t have a mic, but be prepared for someone to make a mistake when you’re trying to be stealthy.

Two things I found off with the co-op experience though. First, you need to choose if you want to play online from the main menu or not when loading your game. Even if you choose to play online, you won’t have anyone join unless you open it publicly afterwards or invite a friend. Also, if you happen to lose your connection to the Far Cry servers during gameplay when ‘online’, you’ll be booted back out to the main menu, even if you’re in the midst of an outpost liberation or don’t even have anyone currently in your ‘online’ game. Also adding a second player doesn’t scale the enemies or difficulty, so you may notice things become literally twice as easy unless you manually change the difficulty. Lastly, while you can play co-op with a friend, this applies to everything except the campaign missions. So you’re welcome to go around Kyrat and tag team all the side quests and objectives, but you’re going to have to play the campaign missions solo unfortunately. Whoever is the host will gain all the progress from quests and bell tower unlocking where the joining player’s main game is unaffected, though they do get the XP and unlocks earned while helping. Not perfect by any means, but playing co-op is quite fun and should be played.

If competitive multiplayer is more your thing, then you’ll be happy to know that it makes a return as well. This multiplayer is titled Battles of Kyrat and pits two factions against each other in various game modes for up to ten players. Much like the campaign, the multiplayer boasts large open world (with limitations) maps that feel almost too large at times. When half of your game time is simply traversing the map, it really hinders the flow of actual gameplay versus other players.

One faction is The Golden Path and if you’re on this team you’re much more armed than the opposing Rakshasa warriors that tote bow and arrows. To balance this, the tribal faction gets some interesting abilities, like being able to use invisibility, teleportation arrows, and more. The Rakshasa are much more fun to play as given their abilities, and much more frustrating to die against since they’re usually always invisible. It’s an interesting concept, but feels like it hasn’t been completely fleshed out and balanced yet. Having a deeper progression or skill tree unlocks would have breathed some more life into this mode for me in the long run, but with the return of the map editor, there are some really interesting player-made maps and objectives out there that you should be checking out.

At its heart this feels essentially like an improved Far Cry 3, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just don’t go in expecting a slew of new mechanics or major changes aside from the setting and characters obviously. I usually tend to finish a game and then once it is complete go after all of the remaining side objectives, but that just felt too daunting in Far Cry 4. There’s seriously a ton of stuff for you to enjoy, almost at every turn, but it felt like too much at times. There’s even an option to hide every type of marker from your map if you want to simply focus on the campaign or other objectives, because if you don’t, it becomes much too busy and even difficult to find certain objective markers in the confusion.

You’ll have so many objectives thrown at you that it feels distracting at times, especially if you want to simply get through the campaign. But that’s an issue I had, as the story never really picks up till near the end and really wasn’t all that interesting. This is probably due to the overused bickering of the two Golden Path leaders trope combined with the serious lack of screen time for the main villain that seems so interesting at the opening of the game.

All of that being said, if you’re looking for a game that can occupy you for many hours or really enjoy finding every hidden collectible and completing every sidequest, then Far Cry 4 is a very easy sell. If you’re like me and have always wanted to shoot down a helicopter from the back of an elephant, than look no further.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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