I’ve spent many an hour with the Far Cry series. From the humble Instinct beginnings, through the open worlds of Far Cry 2 and the outstanding Far Cry 3, and even taking in a bit of the 80’s with Far Cry Blood Dragon, I’ve played the lot. Far Cry 4 is therefore something I’ve been looking forward to seeing.
But has Ubisoft delivered us something better than the rest? Something deserving of the Far Cry name but at the same time taking the series on a step further?
Set in Kyrat, a hidden region of the the Himalayas, Ajay Ghale has returned to his birthplace in order to fulfill his mother’s last wish; to have her ashes scattered over her homeland. But Kyrat is a war torn region, one that sees the crazy, self appointed tyrannical king, Pagan Min rule over each and every citizen that may still be present. And Pagan Min quickly takes a bit of a liking to old Ajay, subjecting him to a bit of abuse, a bit of love and a bit of his crazy crazy ways.
It’s thanks to Pagan Min that Ajay will get to take in the remotest of remote Himalayan places, discovering small factories, smaller villages and even smaller caves, all frequented and filled with loot, hidden masks and just the right number of NPC’s to stop things from getting boring. As with all decent open-world sandbox style titles, Far Cry 4 is gifted a main story campaign that would eat up many hours of game time by itself, but if you put it alongside the numerous side missions, jollys around the countryside and general huge scale of exploration on offer, Ubisoft have thrown us a game that could well keep us going right into 2015 and possibly beyond.
In fact, Far Cry 4 is so massive, both in style and size, that I’d guestimate at near on 100 hours will need to be placed in its open arms if you even wanted to think about completing every single thing on offer.
It is that sheer size however that makes it come across as a little intimidating. The Himalayas are a daunting place for even the most hardened of explorers, with exploration possible both on the ground, in the air and through the many lakes that are dotted around the mountain sides. Those mountains also make traversal a little tricky, especially in the first few hours of the game as one wrong step or misplaced turn of a vehicle steering wheel can easily see you sliding down the cliff face, eventually ending up miles from where you wanted to be. Once you manage to get yourself airborne (and I’ll let you figure that out without ruining any story for you), inspecting the areas below you are much easier…and much much quicker.
But, and yes, there’s a but, as take to the air too much and you won’t be able to go out on the hunt….either for Pagan Min’s guards or indeed the wildlife that covers much of Kyrat. Much like the hunting that took place in Far Cry 3, it’s a pretty essential part of the game as without the clean skins that you’ll get from a decent kill, you won’t be able to upgrade your tools, your pouches or indeed your money bag. And without a big money bag, you won’t be able to carry much Kyrati cash which in turn will see you struggling around with a rather useless weapon instead of the fully customised semi-auto beast that you could otherwise have.
Additionally, Far Cry 4 runs with a rather complex but simple to use skill tree which gives the chance to upgrade your senses, your health, your skills and your all round game, but it’s only by exploring each and every nook and cranny, liberating every outpost and climbing every telecommunications tower that will see you be able to make the most of your skills. It’s all well and good flying high and getting where you want quickly, but in the long run, it may just be safer to slum it on the ground.
The campaign Ubisoft have given us is seriously big and without ruining stories or spending many many hours making this review stupidly long, can’t even begin to be told fully. The best way of finding out about it though is by going out there, purchasing Far Cry 4 and getting involved for yourself. You seriously won’t regret it, especially if you are a fan of any of the previous games in the series or are a bit of an open world adventure type.
Far Cry 4 also gives you the chance to take in any, or all, of the campaign with a friend – co-op style! Aside from the very rare occasion when I haven’t been able to access the Ubisoft servers, this works near on flawlessly and it’s a joy to take in the story or hit an Outpost with a friend in tow. In fact, some of the harder Forts that need conquering are near enough only doable when you have a friend alongside you. Matchmaking with randoms can sometimes be a little tricky but on the whole it works and if you have a friend with the game, then it’s a great addition and is no doubt the way the series should continue to go.
Aside from the campaign, and Ubisoft have delivered us a multiplayer experience that is something you really should take in. Take five players and cast them as Golden Path members, throw in five more kitted out as the Rakshasa and you’ve got the beginnings of some lively competitive action.
Split across three distinct modes, the Battles of Kyrat multiplayer will be familiar to nearly everyone who has played any competitive action across any recent Triple A title. Outpost sees you spend time seizing or defending Outposts, whilst ‘Demon Mask’ gives you the chance to recover a number of Masks that have been dotted around the map. ‘Propaganda’ gives the Golden Path the opportunity to crush the Rakshasa or you’ll be thrown onto the other side to attempt to help Pagan Mins truth prevail.
All of the above modes will see you take in the action as either a Golden Path member or as part of the Rakshasa and as is the way with any multiplayer options, you will also be able to jump in with ‘Quick Play’ or create your own match ups with your own rules. Those who are regular to these TXH pages will know that I’m not a massive fan of online multiplayer lobbies, but even I have to admit to being drawn slightly to the Far Cry 4 offerings. I think it may be down to the limits of 5v5 giving my old aching bones a chance to last longer than I would do in a game of CoD or Battlefield.
Oh, and if that’s not enough for you to get your hands on with, then there’s a very extensive map editor available, giving you the chance to create your own Kyrat or download creations others have come up with. Some of the options in the editor are pretty bewildering, and so I preferred to play it safe and take in the missions others had set up for me already and they were a great way of passing the time in shorter, more hardcore bursts.
There is absolutely no debating that Far Cry 4 is very very good. But whether it’s a great deal better than its predecessor is up for debate. It’s not perfect; the AI driving is a bit of a joke and it’s slightly annoying that a pop-up will always appear to ‘heal’ even when you don’t necessarily want to, but other than that, there’s very little to find wrong with it. As long as you can grind your way through the first few hours, understanding that once you are able to fly in the skies the whole damn thing will become a lot easier, then you should definitely like what you’ll find.
The third game in the series took things to another level and 4 has built on that, giving us an experience that is quite easily on par with that which we encountered with Jason Brody.
Whether that is good enough is down to personal taste.
For me, it is!