Far Cry 4 – the Save Game review
Over the last decade, Far Cry has carved out its own niche within the first person shooter genre of games. It has become famous for its wide open worlds, flamboyant characters, and over the top violence and mayhem. The latest installment, Far Cry 4, trades steamy tropical jungles for Himalayan mountainsides, but otherwise, promises to build on the success of its predecessors. Does it succeed? Let’s find out.
Kyrat is a troubled land. The people are held under the thumb of the self-appointed king, Pagan Min. They’ve had all their treasures of worth taken, and their religion has banned as well. To make things even more horrid, they have to deal with constant attacks from angry wildlife such as eagles and honey badgers, or as I like to call them, the evil spawns of Satan inserted by the Devs to torture us until we cry. Make no mistake: Kyrat is a brutal and harsh land, filled with threats from both man and nature that you must overcome with an arsenal of weapons, vehicles and elephants. Yes, elephants. You take on the role of Ajay, a former son of Kyrat, travelling to his native land in order to fulfill his mothers last wish of returning her ashes to Lakshmana. This drops Ajay into the middle of a civil war, in which the very future of his people is placed into his hands.
The main story missions involve working for the Golden Path revolutionaries, and will often have Ajay having to make decisions regarding which of the two leaders’ ideas he wants to follow: Amita, who believes that Kyrat needs the drug trade in order to finance itself after the war, and Sabal, a traditionalist who believes that the religion and traditions of Kyrat’s past are needed to steer them into the future. Ajay has the choice of which mission he wants to do after hearing both of their ideas, and the consequences of each mission have ramifications for the game world. A few of the story missions also involve Ajay working with Willis Huntley, the CIA operative who helped Jason Brody in FC3, making Far Cry 4 the first in the series to have an actual connection to a previous entry.
Aside from the story missions, there are numerous side quests that Ajay can undertake for a long list of colorful characters. There’s Longinus, a born again African warlord, Reggie and Yogi, a drug manufacturing duo that send Ajay on some psychedelic trips, and Hurk, who after blowing up a ton of monkeys in FC3, now feels he has to atone to the monkey gods by securing monkey idols. Each of these missions lead to some cool weapon unlocks for Ajay, and can extend the campaign to over 35 hours of game time.
While not a direct sequel, Far Cry 4 does bring along a number of game-play aspects from Far Cry 3 that players will recognize. You reveal areas of the map through the liberation of radio and bell towers, which will unlock free weapons, and remove the droning propaganda being broadcast to all the radios in the area. Outposts also make a return in Kyrat, with their liberation providing you with new safe-houses to fast travel to, cabinets to buy weapons from, and numerous optional activities for the area. One of the activities to make a return in FC4 are the hunting quests that allow you to upgrade your packs to carry the most amount of weapons and ammo possible. Unlike FC3, however, these hunting quests now require different weapons in order to complete them, which can make for some interesting experiences, such as trying to kill a rhino with a shotgun while it is rampaging on a bridge full of cars. Pay attention to the intro for the honey badger hunt, as it is clear that the developers knew just how annoying the furry little bastards would be. Another honourable mention in the animals that hate and want to kill me file are the eagles, which will swoop down and attack you with no warning at all. I once saw one of these eagles swoop down and pick up a pig in its talons. So I used my bow and shot the pig out of its claws on principal.
Another returning hallmark of the series is the freedom to complete each mission in a number of different ways. Trying to take an outpost? Why not throw some bait near a guard to draw some wild animals, giving you a distraction to disable the alarm? If an animal is caged in the outpost, shoot the cage to let it run wild. You can go in guns blazing or pick the guards off one by one. How you wage war is completely up to you, and with the plethora of weapons and customizations on offer, you will not be starved for choice. Combine that with special take-down skills, and you become a veritable death dealer, laying waste to all who come before you. The explosive and fire arrows make a welcome return, allowing players to go all out Rambo (well, those of us who are old enough to remember anyway), The only downside being that you can no longer craft the arrows yourself. Instead, you must rely on buying them after unlocking a perk. Another awesome weapon is Hurk’s harpoon gun, which is pretty self explanatory. It’s a gun that shoots giant f-ing harpoons. It’s pretty awesome.
With a great depth of content to keep the player engaged in Far Cry 4, it was disappointing that most of the characters you meet and interact with come off really flat. Both of the leaders of the Golden Path did not appeal to me at all, and my decisions were based more on what I wanted to do, and my own moral compass, rather than them persuading me one way or another. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed Longinus, with his quoting of gospel that would often relate to the struggles and missions he was giving Ajay. Hurk was also a fun addition to the game because… well, it’s Hurk, and anyone who has met him in FC3 knows what to expect. The best though, in my very humble opinion, was Rabi, who despite only being in one cut scene, provided more comic relief than I have seen in most shooters. The only downside was that after driving around Kyrat for awhile, you’ve heard all the things he has to say.
My biggest concern about the characters in Far Cry 4 was whether or not the writers could create a main antagonist who could stand up to Vaas from Far Cry 3. After the awe inspiring performance of Vaas, whom I believe to be one of the most memorable video game villains of all time, Ubisoft knew they would be hard pressed to craft a villain who would live up to the new standard. Rather than trying to match his brutality and insanity, they decided to take a different path and create a villain who is sinister for a whole other reason. With his calm sense of brutality and sinister veneer, Pagan Min is a man who can go from stabbing a someone to death with a pen, to being concerned about the blood he got on his shoes. While Ajay does not get a lot of face to face time with Pagan, that does not mean he is out of your mind. Sporadic calls from Pagan add extra nuance to the character’s mindset as he taunts Ajay about his achievements.
Visually, Far Cry 4 is very impressive. I played on a PS4, and found the system well up to the task, with a massive draw distance and a lot of tree foliage. The detailed ruins in places like the Sleeping Saints give an authenticity to the world. With plenty of animals and NPCs roaming around, Kyrat is a world that feels truly alive, especially when you stumble upon a gunfight between the two factions who are both then attacked by a honey badger. There were a few moments when I just stopped and admired the sunset over the mountains and took in the view. Mind you, this does look even better when you’re shooting over the countryside in a wing-suit or Buzzer mini-copter. The world is very big, and while you are restricted to the southern part of Kyrat to start with, you can travel around to any part of the map without a single loading screen. You also have the opportunity to roam the fabled land of Shangri-La, taking on the persona of a warrior who freed the land from the grip of demons. Not only does Shangri-La boast the most stunning visual landscapes of the game, but you also get your own tiger sidekick that can turn invisible, and a bow that slows down time, making the strictly melee and bow combat a bit easier for those who tend to employ a run and gun strategy.
Overall, Far Cry 4 is a game that ticks all of the boxes. With lots to do, and hundreds of collectibles to find, it will take many, many hours to finish. It has the re-playability bonus of being able to make different choices, and see just how it changes the game world. Besides some weak characterizations, and a rather uninspired soundtrack, Far Cry 4 is a solid shooter with satisfying gameplay and stunning visuals. I give it an 8 out of 10, and recommend that you pick yourself up a copy.