Far Cry 4
Nov 29, 2014 // 6 minutes
Just a little foreword a day after having written this. I sort of got overly passionate I think while writing and deviated away from my usual format so this ended up being quite long and perhaps being too much of a criticism piece. Anyway, my next bit will be back to the usual format. What can I say, Far Cry is a series with elements that I’d like to stick around, so long as Ubisoft doesn’t fuck it up.
For the most part, I’m going to assume you’ve played Far Cry 3 or are at least familiar with its general gameplay set up. You go around clearing outposts and climbing radio towers which enable you to unlock weapons and skills that you can use while exploring the world and the dangers it contains which I really enjoyed! I was hoping that Far Cry 4 would be a sequel that is more of the same, but improved, and that’s pretty much what I got. A few minor set backs here and there but still loads of fun!
So, I’ll get what I felt was the weakest part of the game out of the way first which was the story. I suppose the pacing was improved from 3 but honestly, I just couldn ’t bring myself to care about the side characters. They had nothing interesting to them really so I didn’t feel compelled to pursue their side quests beyond the initial ones. As for the main story, you are Ajay Ghale, Player 1 who refuses to die no matter what, who is recruited into the Golden Path, a resistance group who want to free Kyrat from the grip of the dictator of the region, Pagan Min.
The main story has the two heads of the Golden Army put forward a number of choices for you to consider and solve as you work to drive out Min’s army. One side will propose a solution to the current issue at hand that respects the heritage of the Golden Path and stays true to its age old traditions. Contrary to those beliefs, you’ll find the other side is more progressive and interested in shedding the shackles of tradition and the outdated concepts that come with it, for example, arranged marriages. It ’s one of those stories where no matter what side you choose, your ally of choice will assure you that you are doing the right thing.
The only thing is, if both choices are “correct” and lead to driving out Min, and they do, then they aren ’t really meaningful choices at all. There is no point because the end result is the same regardless. You never get to see how their vision shapes Kyrat in the future, as far as I’m aware, so it’s just some different missions and that’s about it. I can appreciate the illusion of choice even so, I never felt like either side were right in the first place. They both disagree but they don’t seem interested in compromise, instead viewing everything as black and white while slinging insults at the opposition behind each other’s back.
Pagan Min however, when he does appear, is done really well. He was always going to be living in Vaas ’s shadow from the previous game as expected but for what he is, he’s a very charismatic, yet crazy character. It’s a shame he isn’t utilized more though because he was, for me at least, the only genuinely interesting character who I wanted to hear more from. He ’s sadistic but also a man of honor. I’m not sure if the intention was for him to be the villain but it was very hard for me to actually feel any hatred for him. If anything, I was more angry at the Golden Path for their infighting over unimportant ideals and not focusing on the larger goal.
The gameplay is very clearly still the strongest element of the Far Cry franchise. It follows the same basic setup as Far Cry 3 of slowly uncovering the map of locations to visit, with treasure to collect and collectables to discover. You can also take on side quests from NPCs who hang out nearby, usually small challenges like assassinate a local commander with a certain weapon and take a photo of his body or reset the outpost and take it on again to earn a high score. Don ’t worry though, it’s just in the form of a mission you can cancel any time but adds a bit of replayability to the open world if you’ve finished the game and just want to clear some outposts to cure some boredom.
The biggest addition for me, hands down, has to be the ability to shoot while driving. It sounds simple but your aiming isn ’t restricted to the front of a vehicle, you can look around in any direction be it out of your side windows, the sun roof or even the back window. There’s nothing more immersive and enjoyable I’ve encountered so far than just shooting at an oncoming enemy vehicle and following through to shooting out of your side window just as you pass them. Or perhaps you’ll find yourself being chased by some enemy guards and shooting out the back of your vehicle only to look back where you’re driving and swerving at the last second so you don’t crash. It sounds like it shouldn’t be fun but the fact that you have to juggle between keeping your eyes on the road and potentially crashing is quite the thrill and I could almost recommend this game based purely on that alone!
So perhaps now you can see a big itch I had when it comes to this game. You have really great fun, even ridiculous at times, gameplay with a story that feels like it’s trying to be a serious fiction about the nature of conflict and what extent leaders would be willing to go for their ideals to be the dominant ones.
I mean, this is a game where you can go hunting for Snow Leopards with an MG42 which really just takes you out of feeling like you’re taking part in a completely serious liberation campaign to free Kyrat. I think at this point, I would love to see Ubisoft get around this issue by having another well-written villain who you side with. Hell, even flip the whole thing on its head. Have the game try to convince you that what you’re doing is wrong by tricking you into commiting huge atrocities. I’d love to play a game like that come to think of it. I ’ll be keeping my eyes out for a Far Cry 5!