Friday 26 December 2014

Far Cry 4

Back in 2004 I loved Far Cry. From hunting boar, shooting birds out of the sky, taking out bad guys with my machete or simply just going for a dip in the shark infested waters of the mysterious unnamed island, I played the hell out of it. After releasing Far Cry developer Crytek left the series in the hands of Ubisoft, who, after ruining the series with the truly awful Instincts and Vengeance, saved the series with 2008's Far Cry 2. I believe Far Cry 2 was, and still is, the best of the series. Taking place in Africa and featuring some pretty realistic survival gameplay in terms of guns jamming and having to take Malaria medicine, it was a thrilling and dangerous experience. Far Cry 3 didn't do much for me though, and now we have yet another entry in the Far Cry series. However, does it make its own mark on the franchise like Far Cry 2 did, or is it simply more of the same as what we saw in Far Cry 3. Sadly, the latter may be true.

Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and out now for Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC comes Far Cry 4, a game that, while better than Far Cry 3, is essentially just more of the same. This time the action takes place in Kyrat, a fictional area of Nepal. The region is ruled by the brutal iron fist of Pagan Min, a ruler on one side of an ongoing civil war. You play the role of Ajay Ghale, a guy born in Kyrat that has returned to spread the ashes of his deceased mother. However, he's got some pretty rotten luck as in doing so he's pulled into the civil war that is tearing Kyrat in two. With Pagan Min gunning for him and an entire region of mountains and jungles to explore and discover, it's up to you to decide which side you'll fight for- Pagan Min or the freedom fighters. Sadly though the story in Far Cry 4 is one of its worst elements, as it often comes across as edgy for the sake of being edgy, as if the writer based most of his research for Pagan Min on Tyler Durden and The Joker. This failure in story extends to the characters that populate Kyrat too, as I found myself completely uninterested in them, their struggle and why I should care about them. 

Right from the opening scene the visuals jump out at you. The game can be faulted as being too similar to Far Cry 3 in many areas, but not in the graphics department. Not only are they highly detailed and incredible looking on PS4, Xbox One and PC, but the world of Kyrat is also incredibly varied and different. There are lush jungles, high mountain regions that give stunning views of the Himalayas, small sleepy towns and houses made of wood and stone, and deep rivers and lakes that glisten in the blazing sun. This level of detail of course extends to the wildlife of the region too, which includes Elephants, Snow Leopards, Rhinos, Wolves and, naturally, Honey Badgers. Though not everything is out to get you, the wildlife is that extra piece in the puzzle that leads to Far Cry 4's world feeling incredible alive and vibrant. Though the map is the same size as Far Cry 3's, Ubisoft Montreal have squeezed in far more interesting areas and sights here. Very little space here is wasted, though that's pretty much the best improvement on what Far Cry 3 did previously.

At its heart gameplay is, well, the same as Far Cry 3. With the open-world ahead of you and a huge array of weaponry at your disposal, as Ajay you'll need to complete missions across Kyrat. They come in many different forms. From simple assassination missions in which you can pick off your target from the mountains using a sniper rifle, to more visceral hostage rescue missions that will have you reaching for your machine gun. There's a bevy of mission types to undertake, but if you've played Far Cry 3 you've done it all before. Completing missions will allow you to upgrade your weapons and even Ajay himself. From giving Ajay a better resistance to enemy fire, to allowing him to hold more grenades in his belt, there is something to strive towards in Far Cry 4, even if it all feels painfully similar. Gunplay remains pretty standard for the series too. It's incredibly fun at times, but I must say, I miss the realism of Far Cry 2. Granted having your gun jam every few minutes got a little annoying, but it added an extra layer of danger to an already perilous situation. Sadly, even beyond the lack of gun jamming, Far Cry 4 never really quite feels that dangerous. That in itself kind of destroys a feeling of true adventure.

But Far Cry 4 does have some pretty great moments, some of which come about when Ajay goes on various mystical quests into the legends of Kyrat. It sounds pretty trippy, but in Far Cry 4 you'll also explore the fabled place of Shangri-La. Alongside your magical pet tiger, these missions are a breath of fresh air in the game. But aside from those missions, my best moments with Far Cry 4 were unscripted and outside of the main story quest. It's true, I got the most out of Far Cry 4 when I discovered my own story, journey and path through the game. I congratulate Ubisoft Montreal on creating a game that lets the player carve out their very own adventure, but next time lets hope the main quest is a little more up to snuff.

Far Cry 4 is a little too Far Cry 3 for my liking and gets a 3/5.


Denis Murphy 

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