Did you like Far Cry 3? If so then you’ll love Far Cry 4. Yeah I could leave it at that but that’s laziness even I can’t fathom but the simple fact is that Far Cry hit gold with the “third” entry in the series and Far Cry 4 does nothing except refine and polish everything that was great about its predecessor without just being the same old same old.
Given how much there is to do in a given Far Cry title this is one of those occasions where my delayed reaction in reviewing new releases works extremely in my favour. I’ve had three months with this game and with the experience of the last one behind me I knew how to approach this one. I dipped in and out of the campaign missions for the first half of my plauthrough but most of my time was dedicated to the side missions initially because, unlike certain other open world titles, there’s tangible benefits to completing the optional sides of Far Cry. Oh yeah and, they’re fun as hell.
Being tasked to kill a mythical elephant with only a flamethrower? Or a rare Rhino with a shotgun? Exploring the mysterious otherworld of Shangri-la? It’s all interesting and pays off handsomely. What Far Cry 4 does do better than the last title, though it’s not likely intentional, is that the main plot is not quite as gripping as it was two years ago. Sure you’ll get into it and it is well written but for some reason it is easier to let it sit to one side for a few hours and just mess about with a Buzzer and a wingsuit. In a nutshell, you play as Ajay Ghale, returning to the fictional land of his birth Kyrat which is
located high up in the Himalayas. The region is ruled by the self appointed king/dictator Pagan Min and if I had to put my finger speculatively on what makes the main plot less captivating it is him. Min is an intriguing character and played to perfection but he isn’t a patch on Far Cry 3’s Vaas. I mostly played the campaign in 3 eagerly because it meant more Vaas to be honest.
But for any supposed failings in plot of this title, it outshines the past from both a game play and visuals perspective. Remember the hassle when you forgot to craft a healing syringe or six before raiding an outpost previously? Well worry no more as they auto craft this time around. The hassle of bombing around in a vehicle and not being able to take on the militia throwing bullets at you as you go along? Worry not, we have auto drive. They sound like features that make the game too easy initially but this is anything but the case. They’re simply taking out some of the unnecessary challenges. Then there’s the visuals. Dear lord the visuals.
Far Cry as a series has prided itself on looking good since the very beginning but 4 outdoes itself ten fold. It is missing the material that 3 had in that a tropical island will always look gorgeous in HD but you have forest locations, the snow mountains of the Himalayas, character models rendered exceptionally well and most impressive to me is the animal models. You could argue that 3 already had this nailed but Far Cry 4 has you surrounded with wildlife, most of which wants to kill you, and as you play through the game and find yourself greeted face first with an elephant or rhino you could he forgiven for thinking you were playing through an episode of something from Animal Planet. I’ve seen it at high spec on PC and it’s even more impressive.
In all, Ubisoft are doing great work to divert from formulaic shooters with this series and Far Cry 4 is another solid entry. My only question having completed it however is whether you’d be just as well picking up Far Cry 3 and getting mostly the same experience – is Far Cry 4 the definitive title in the series to date? I’ll argue yes, it is, because whatever about the shortcoming in plot compared to the last game, the refinements of play and visuals warrants the step up alone. Certainly in the Top 5 of 2014 without doubt.
Image courtesy of gameresources.forumfree.net