Have gamers finally received the breath of fresh air that open world role play games have been denying them for so long? The answer is simply, maybe. In order to give gamers the experience they deserve, game developers must bring something new and fresh to the table. Much like political campaigning, nothing disappoints the public more than years of publicity and promises only to be let down upon arrival. I believe that Far Cry 4 might answer gamer’s prayers depending on how familiar with the franchise they are. So let’s swiftly move into the meaty review that is Far Cry 4 where I will be evaluating the game as a whole looking at both its strengths and weaknesses in detail and hopefully give you an idea of what to expect upon purchase.
Far Cry 4 is set in the remote fictional nation of Kyrat situated in the midst of the Himalayan Mountains. Kyrat is essentially a snowy version of the old Wild West where violence and corruption are both prominent and intoxicating. The nation of Kyrat is controlled by a sadistic ruler Pagan Min who controls the locals using a combination of violence and fear, sounds familiar right? That’s because it is essentially the same as Far Cry 3. Far Cry 3 takes place on a fictional island in the south pacific called Rook Island where memorable antagonist Vass brutally murders locals and terrorises its occupants. But anyway back to Far Cry 4. You play as an American called Ajayy Ghale who has returned to Kyrat to fulfil his mother’s dying wish, for her ashes to be spread at the shrine of Lakshmana. Within the first 5 minutes of tantalising game play you meet Min, who from the very start is a nasty piece of work. Similarly to Far Cry 3 the directors have embraced the idea of grandiosity and exaggerated displays of violence to engulf you in the insane world of Pagan Min fuelled by opium and carnage. In the opening scene we see Min butcher one of his own commanders with a pen for disobeying his orders; if this isn’t an enticing insight of madness to come then I don’t know what is.
Far Cry 4 does have some issues that might make you think twice about spending your hard earned money which I will try my best to explain. The key issue is really the story. The directors have been lazy with the story and produced a stale piece of work, essentially reusing a lot of key themes and ideas from its predecessor. Similarly to Far Cry 3 you have the themes of madness clearly personified by Vass and Min’s eccentric sadistic characters as well as the strong drug culture in both. You also have similarities in the actual plot itself, in both games you escape a tyrant and become involved in local liberation resistances and slowly tear down the regimes imprisoning the indigenous people of the area. The means in which you weaken the tyrants are similar too, wait no, they’re exactly the same. In both games you have opportunities to destroy convoys supplying weaponry to various fortified outposts, again this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it can become slightly tedious and predictable. However shortly after meeting the main antagonist Pagan Min he disappears and the only real interactions you have with him are over radio broadcasts and towards the end of the game. This dilutes the story and Pagan Min becomes somewhat of a background character which makes him far less intimidating and frightening than Vass from Far Cry 3.
However Far Cry 4 does bring a lot of new original material to the table you’ll be happy to hear. Transport is always an issue with open world strategy games and a lot of games don’t handle the problem as effectively as possible. For instance in Far Cry 2 there were only 2 modes of transport, the standard car or jeep like vehicle and gliders dotted around the map. Now this might not sound that bad to some people but in an open world RPG the map is usually huge and having very limited modes of transport can become tedious and dangerous! When a mission brief tells you that you need to travel from one side of the map to the other and the only way to get there is a car, most familiar gamers groan. Not only because the travelling time is monotonous but actually getting there alive when everything with or without a pulse wants to kill you is a task in itself. But alas the era of driving through war torn countries is over with the introduction of the gyrocopter, winged suit and elephants. You’re probably wondering whether that last one was a typo, well it wasn’t. The producers have completely taken advantage of the animals indigenous to the region and it is absolutely breathtaking. These new modes of transport add completely new elements to the game whilst keeping it fresh and exciting. I’m not entirely sure how you acquire the ability of riding elephants with no prior training but you’re essentially sat on top of a mobile wrecking ball. Once mounted you can travel in style and leisurely meander at your own pace and explore the wilderness or you can flip cars, smash down buildings and cause more localised deaths than the black plague , the choice is really yours. The winged suit and gyrocopter address the problems its predecessors did not whilst allowing you to travel from one objective to another without having to fight half of Pagan Min’s Royal army. The introduction of the gyrocopter also aids you during missions especially where the threat in question is an armed convoy, if you enjoy explosions, fire and a feeling of invulnerability then I suggest stocking up on grenades, rockets and molotov cocktails and taking the gyrocopter out for a spin. You can take the war to the air and unload your explosive arsenal and drop your ground shaking instruments on enemy bases, patrols or my personal favourite, unsuspecting enemy vehicles. It also allows you to admire the incredible scenery from above and appreciate the efforts that went into making Far Cry 4 so aesthetically beautiful.
As I briefly mentioned before, the developers have really taken advantage of the new ecosystem and its wildlife. The vast mountainous regions of the Himalayas lay home to some of the world’s most dangerous predators which are something Far Cry has really tried to emulate for a realistic feel. The newest edition to the franchise includes the Honey Badger, Yetis, Ghost Bears, Snow Leopards, Elephants, Tibetan Wolf, and the Asian Rhino, all of which are lethal in some way or another. Very few games really capture a realistic, challenging player verses environment feel but the Far Cry franchise have consistently nailed it from the start creating a dangerous environment full of man eating beasts just to tip the scales even further from your favour. These new editions combined with Far Cry 4’s evolution in weather systems really does set the bar high for this game in terms of open world RPG feel. Far Cry 4 has introduced interchangeable weather systems including fog, rain, snow, blizzards, storms which all come into play depending on where you are on the map and how high in the mountains you are which is pretty impressive and adds to the PVE (player verses environment) feel that so many games fail to deliver effectively.
In terms of customisability which was first introduced in Far Cry 3 with the application of colour schemes and add-ons for your weapons it has only got better in Far Cry 4. One of the key elements to any RPG is the ability to personalise your gaming experience and this is evidently something the developers were keen to emphasise. With the abundance of innovative colours at all ends of the spectrum and mods galore this really is a gamer’s wet dream.
In short Far Cry 4 is heaps of fun from an open world RPG perspective and visually it is outstanding however the story isn’t great and the game is full of thematic flaws that might bother those loyal to the franchise.
- Said the king
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