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Far Cry 4 review

AT A GLANCE
  • The world is gigantic, luxuriantly decorated and full of distractions
  • The firefights mash together AI and terrain features in brilliantly silly ways
  • Causing mayhem in co-op is predictably hilarious
  • Higher peaks aside, it doesn't build on Far Cry 3 in any memorable way
  • The ‘edgy’ plot and characters are interesting at first, then tiresome
  • The middle-of-the-road PvP multiplayer will probably be forgotten

You think you’ve never been to Far Cry 4’s Kyrat before, but you have. Many times, in fact. Level the Himalayan backdrop, strip out the regional touches - wandering sherpas who’ll sell you rocket launchers, tumbled statues of the Buddha, those godforsaken Honey Badgers - and you’re left, basically, with Far Cry 3’s Rook Island. Which was, in turn, a tropical reincarnation of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s expanse of towers and strongholds. Seven years on from the original Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft Montreal’s battle-proven blueprint for open world games is beginning to show signs of combat fatigue. While an entertaining, hectic shooter, Far Cry 4 feels a bit too much like a sequel for the sake of it.

The game’s greatest strength is once again its explosive volatility, backed up by hefty, lumbering gun handling and movement that encourages players to hang back and radar-tag groups of foes with a phone camera, before deciding how to dispose of them. You won’t always have the luxury, however. A sample scenario: crossing a bridge in my jeep, I run into an enemy courier (you can nobble these guys for Karma, a new flavour of XP that unlocks special perks such as summonable reinforcements and shop discounts). Popping my sawed-off shotgun out the window, I blast the guy clean off his quadbike, then stop the car and get out to loot the corpse, which begins to slide into the river.

As I'm rushing to intercept it, however, a rhino reduces my car to scrap metal. So I jump into the river. Scrambling up the opposite bank, I discover that the rhino has barged into a shoot-out between the local rebels and Kyrat's Royal Guard. Fortunately, I'm able to commandeer a nearby gyrocopter and carpet-bomb the whole sorry business with Molotov cocktails – which doesn't stop a hidden archer putting an arrow through my ear. 

Far Cry 4’s occasional brilliance lies in how it slops together all these variables without completely losing coherence - exploration is once again pegged down by the process of claiming radio towers and bases, gradually tilting Kyrat’s balance of power your way. It’s saying something about how compelling this side of the game can be that even the sporadic glitches, such as AI path-finding problems, feel like valuable additions to the chaos.

Litter bug

Far Cry 4’s approach to loot can be mystifyingly awful. Besides cash, ammo and weapons, you’ll happen upon miscellaneous rubbish such as sporks, switchblades and condoms. These simply fill up inventory space (bigger loot bags can be crafted from animal skins, as in FC3) till they’re flogged to a merchant. Perhaps this is a cunning critique of how other games stock ‘impoverished’ regions with treasure, lying around waiting for an industrious hero to pocket it. Perhaps it’s just a way of nudging you back to a base after a period of exploration. Either way, having to offload the stuff continually is annoying.

The world’s gleeful messiness also makes it a great fit for co-op, which becomes available a few chapters in. Story missions (many of which take place in areas outside the main world) aren’t available in co-op, but you’ll still get to assassinate base commanders, gather herbs for healing syringes, hunt animals for their pelts, nuke propaganda centres and topple walled fortresses. Co-op partners can’t stray further than 150 meters from each other, but don’t worry - plenty of things can happen inside a 150 meter area. Mortar strikes, for example.

This unpredictability notwithstanding, there’s too often a sense that you’ve been here and done it all before. The game’s niggling perfunctoriness is reflected in its choice of villain. Savagely over-played by Troy Baker, Kyrat's dapper despot Pagan Min is a tribute to Arkham Asylum's Joker - that’s to say, he’s a prancing, aimless cipher. Min does have a backstory of sorts, but it's both easy to second-guess and swiftly forgotten amid the pop culture allusions and sniggering anecdotes that pepper his dialogue (much of which, like that of the Joker, is delivered by radio).

Having gate-crashed your arrival to Kyrat, he merely squats in his fortress at the top of the world map, a bowling pin waiting to be knocked over. The same goes for his four lieutenants, each a spicy but insubstantial study in depravity, who are equivalent to mid-bosses - you’ll face them in creatively themed chapters that experiment just a little beyond the game’s well-honed mixture of stealth and shooting.

More Info

Release date: Nov 18 2014 - PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC (US)
Nov 20 2014 - PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
Genre: Shooter
Franchise: Far Cry
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs

Shout out in particular to Yuma, the ex-Triad boss and obligatory Scary Sexy Woman who - during one of the game’s druggy bits - crawls across a ceiling towards you in a fairly pointless nod to Trainspotting. Immediately afterwards, you’re plunged into a workmanlike survival horror level in search of the materials for a grappling hook, then asked to sneak through a prison camp with naught but a handful of C4. It's a refreshing switch-up but, as with the other boss fights, it's more of a change of mood than a real departure from the roaming, killing and looting that occurs in the world itself.

Perhaps Min would be a stronger character if he had a hero as potent as Batman to define himself against. Sadly, protagonist Ajay Ghale is a stunted hybrid of pre-set persona and blank tablet, who spends most of the game being lectured about his destiny. Ghale, you see, is the son of the founders of Kyrat’s Golden Path resistance movement, now headed up by embittered progressive Amita and devout chauvinist Sabal (the political split there intrigues, but isn’t really explored). The campaign asks you to follow the orders of one or the other at points, but the narrative branches thus created merely take you to the same areas in different orders with slightly different combat criteria... and they all end in the same place, a gruelling tussle for Pagan's palace.

The story does have one redeeming quality - it’s soon forgotten, as you scale and hijack radio masts to expose the locations and side missions immediately around them, and roll over Pagan Min’s bases to unlock fast travel points and trading posts. Base assaults are an excuse to cram all of the game’s tactical gambits, AI quirks, critters and terrain considerations into a tiny area. Structured but very receptive to experimentation, they’re as interesting as you want them to be.

A cavalier sort might charge an elephant through the front gate (war paint is optional, but encouraged), then lay waste to the defenders with a light machinegun. A hands-off player might prefer to toss a hunk of pigmeat over the wall, luring nearby predators. Or you could sneak past the guards, disable the alarms and drop C4 everywhere, like a guerrilla poltergeist.

Sadly, the PvP multiplayer doesn’t exhibit the same sense of organised chaos as solo and co-op, meaning it’s likely to sink without trace. That’s despite a flurry of neat touches, such as wingsuits for all participants, radio masts that can be disabled to wipe out the enemy’s radar coverage, and a new playable faction, the Rakshasa, who get summonable bears and eagles in place of heavy weaponry. Not quite Call of Duty classique, then, but the modes boil down to ‘capture this, blow up that’, and the running and gunning itself doesn’t stick in the memory (those squeal-worthy, ‘DIY’ healing animations aside). Still, perhaps fans will rectify this once the generously featured map editor is updated to support PvP - it contains the lion’s share of all the soldiers, animals, buildings and vehicles from the campaign.

Dodgy though the plot may be, Ajay’s struggle to make sense of his inheritance suits a game that’s battling for a place in a world handed down to it by Far Cry 3 and other open-world action franchises. The result is hard to score because, that whiff of over-familiarity aside, the failings are easy enough to side-step - all you need do is head off the Golden Path. But the best open-worlders are those that balance their emergent odds and ends against a strong narrative thrust. Without a story as breathtaking as those forested vales and icy crags, Far Cry 4 rings a little hollow, and doesn't fully achieve the spiritual heights this series is capable of.

Far Cry 3 remains the series’ peak, but Far Cry 4 is a lovely-looking, accomplished offering that suffers from lacklustre writing and an odd lack of purpose.

This game was reviewed on PS4 at a review event.

34 comments

  • LegendaryFrog - November 19, 2014 6:02 p.m.

    More of the same is okay by me where Farcry 3 is concerned, really looking forward to trying this out.
  • pl4y4h - November 15, 2014 4:08 p.m.

    I just realized how heavy ubisofts presence has been this past couple months. They might burn themselves out if they aren't careful
  • gamescrack - November 17, 2014 1:47 p.m.

    Far Cry 4 pc game is an upcoming action-adventure first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One video game consoles, and Microsoft Windows. Download Far Cry 4 crack: http://farcry4-crack.blogspot.com
  • Jackonomics2.0 - November 15, 2014 12:42 p.m.

    So is this like the New Vegas of Far Cry? Ubisofts needs to get their shit together.
  • shawksta - November 15, 2014 12:14 p.m.

    Hey Ubisoft Your starting to become like EA Stop that.
  • _--_ - November 14, 2014 12:59 p.m.

    --another once glorious franchise --bi-annualized --by gaming satan
  • usmovers_02 - November 14, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    Barely a mention of the ASTOUNDINGLY powerful editor and you actually said that MP map editing will be patched in at a later date... this is misleading as it is not true. They said they MAY patch it in. Big difference there. Ubisoft has been trying to get away from PvP map editing since FC2 and has finally done it. There is absolutely NO confirmation that Ubisoft is even WORKING on adding PvP editing back into the game. This review also doesn't mention the lack of deathmatch or team deathmatch. Nor does it mention that MP is only 5v5 and that there are no dedicated servers. Customers NEED TO KNOW that Ubisoft is gimping the MP to the extreme. This review is so lacking it's almost irresponsible. People make purchasing decisions based on these reviews.
  • Bloodstorm - November 16, 2014 5:35 a.m.

    Most of these issues are probably not even issues for Gamesradar, as their reviews are often written for console versions of the game. The map editor is probably even less of an issue for most users as most likely never touched it. I've not played the first Far Cry, but I've been with the franchise since the second entry and multiplayer has always been a throwaway addition. The only part of FC2 multiplayer that was at all fun was some of the wacky maps people made, but even then it was just a flash in the pan. For me, I'd rather Ubisoft actually move away from PvP entirely. The meat of the franchise is in the campaign, and the addition of a cooperative partner is a move in the right direction. If they focused more on making Far Cry a stronger single player and cooperative experience (4 player co-op would be amazing) I don't think the majority of their fanbase would even miss what has always been very mediocre multiplayer.
  • usmovers_02 - November 16, 2014 9:45 p.m.

    With FC1 on consoles and FC2 the MP community was VERY active and lasted YEARS. You are absolutely right that the MP was average to bad. But the insanely powerful editor made up for it. I TOTALLY think it's amazing that they're finally supporting SP map editing. But why does having SP editing mean we can't ALSO have MP editing? And FC MP WOULD be good if only Ubisoft would listen to fans that have been shouting the solution to their MP problems at the top of their lungs for years. Instead we've been ignored and we get people like you that just want us to go away completely. Fortunately over at the official forums there's been an explosion of fan anger towards Ubisoft regarding this decision not only from an insane amount of map editors coming out of the wood work but from pure SP fans showing us support. So you've got your awesome mode. I'm happy for you. I enjoy the SP as well. But why does you having your mode mean I can't have mine? Stop telling fans like me to go away.
  • Bloodstorm - November 17, 2014 4:33 a.m.

    Don't mistake me wanting them to focus on the campaign component meaning I wouldn't like them to do multiplayer right, I just think that at this point, they've shown that they really have no intentions on doing good multiplayer, so I'd rather see them focus all resources on what they do do well. The industry has a problem thinking they can't sell a package without competitive multiplayer, but they never do anything innovative enough to actually pull people away from the MP juggernauts.
  • noah364 - November 16, 2014 8:10 p.m.

    I highly doubt that the map editor will significantly influence anyone's decision to or not to buy Far Cry 4.
  • jettejoop - November 14, 2014 12:35 p.m.

    The game looks great, look forward to test it
  • ObliqueZombie - November 14, 2014 12:01 p.m.

    4/5radar
  • GR_LucasSullivan - November 15, 2014 5:46 p.m.

    20-4/5-teen
  • Divine Paladin - November 14, 2014 8:12 a.m.

    So Bayonetta 2 is GotY, then, it seems. Good to see Far Cry 4 will please fans. I'm not touching it because I've been Boycotting Ubisoft since AC Revelations was announced. Seriously, I knew something like Unity's awful launch would happen the moment they confirmed annualization (since Brotherhood could've just been a quick sequel for fanservice rather than the first in annualization). Given, that means I've missed games I wanted ZombiU and Rayman Legends, but they're farther down my backlog anyway. Under, for example, Bayonetta 1+2
  • GOD - November 14, 2014 8:45 p.m.

    Nah, Dark Souls II GotY! Also despite Unity's bad launch, I have a coworker who got both new ACs and after giving up on Unity til it's patched he said he's really been enjoying Rogue.
  • Divine Paladin - November 15, 2014 12:26 a.m.

    DSII is cursed by the fact that it came out so early in the year that most people forgot about it. Had a rerelease been shown by now or a big DLC hit then I would probably agree, but somehow Bayo2 exceeded all expectations (it got a perfect GameSpot score!) and came out at the sweet spot before it's too late to be considered but not too early to be forgotten (like Infinite was last year*). But yeah, oddly enough Rogue is doing pretty well. I expected it to be hot garbage, honestly. Good to see for once last-gen gamers didn't get shafted. Still ain't touching it though. *Infinite was also just third in overall quality last year, but I believe had something as overhyped as TLoU launched that early it would've lost too, at least when faced with GTA as competition.

Showing 1-20 of 34 comments

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