Thoughts on Far Cry 4

PlayStation 4/Xbox One/Windows

The Far Cry series of games have never really troubled me until now. Having a Wii U as my main system for a few years kind of limited me when it came to any Ubisoft releases aside from a couple of dodgy Assassin’s Creed ports and a yearly dose of Just Dance. I was also possibly the only person in the UK to ever buy and actually play Watch Dogs through to completion on Wii U as well. 

With that in mind it’s actually not surprising that Ubisoft never saw fit to release any more of their top rated franchises on the platform.

Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent here somewhat. Far Cry 4 is the order of the day here so let’s start with one of the least important things in the game. The story-line.

So the game begins with you arriving in the fictional Himalayan country of Kyrat where you meet the sadistic ruler of the land, a rather nasty piece of work called Pagan Min. The whole reason for your spontaneous visit to Kyrat is apparently to scatter your late mother’s ashes. However, for no apparent reason you soon find yourself caught up in an ongoing civil war between Pagan Min and a group of revolutionaries known as the Golden Path.

You’ll then spend the next 15 hours or so helping the aforementioned Golden Path in their quest to overthrow the tyrannical ruler and bring peace and hope to the land. Or rather that’s what Ubisoft probably intended you to do. The fact of the matter is and, as the title suggests, I’ve spent a good 20+ hours on this game and I don’t think I’m anywhere close to finishing the story.

Far Cry 4 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

You see I just don’t care about it. Likewise, i don’t really care about the main protagonist either. They’re both just an annoying distraction from the overwhelming amount of extra activities and side quests that are included right from the get go. Take a look at the map and it’s as if the programmers couldn’t bare to leave an inch of the vast world without a sprinkling of icons or things to discover. The main story certainly plays second fiddle to the additional content in my eyes. 

In order to reach this multitude of side quests and activities, and indeed the main story missions, you’ll need to start exploring the world around you. And what a world it is! Honestly, it’s one of the most gorgeous and well realised worlds that I’ve ever seen in a video game.

Everything about it feels alive. From the way the trees and bushes sway gently in the breeze to the way the water in the lakes ripples and shimmers naturally, reflecting the light of the sun as it shines down. The way elephants and rhinos meander along the dusty roads and across the rustling grass while eagles soar dangerously close overhead. It all helps reaffirm that this is an actual living, breathing world that you’ve been thrown into. No matter how you choose to traverse the land, be it by car, on foot or even on an elephant you’ll constantly find new surprises around each corner.

There are caves full of loot to explore, settlements to strip of collectables, mountains to climb, vast lakes and rivers to dive into and heavily guarded fortresses to conquer. And on your journey to discover all of these places you’ll find plants to pick, wildlife to hunt, vehicles to steal.. the sheer amount of things to do in Far Cry 4 is ridiculous.

If you find the time to take on a few missions you’ll find they’re fairly typical of the open world genre. Head to location A, speak to person B, travel to location C and carry out mission objective D. Rinse and repeat. If you’ve played the likes of the Grand Theft Auto, Assassins Creed or Watch Dogs franchises you’ll know the drill well. 

An elephant taking a strong dislike to a vehicle in Far Cry 4.

I do have a few gripes with Far Cry 4 though. The first of which has infuriated me on more than one occasion. Namely, the healing system. Now in order to restore your health if things get a little heated during a mission you have to hold down the triangle button. This causes your character to begin healing himself by bandaging his wounds, pulling projectiles out of his skin, etc.. The problem is though that it takes around 5 seconds to restore one block of health, during which you can’t use any of your weapons. This is perfectly fine if you’ve managed to get yourself away from all the enemy gunfire but bloody infuriating if you’re stuck out in the open with enemies shooting at you from all angles. 9 times out of 10 you’ll end up dying and failing the mission because of this infuriating mechanic. Yes you can craft healing syringes using the plants you collect throughout the world but you can only carry so many of them at a time. If you run out at a crucial moment and need to restore some vital health it’s more than likely you’ll end up dying while you’re sat there desperately holding down the triangle button. If only they’d gone down the route of other similar games where your health gradually restores fully over time.

My other major gripe with the game is the way the local wildlife can sneak up and attack you during missions. Say for example you’ve stealthily made your way to the crest of a hill that overlooks a large enemy outpost. You’re crouching down with a sniper rifle, carefully scoping out your targets when all of a sudden a pack of wolves appear and begin attacking you from the rear. In a moment of panic you spin round and blindly fire a few rounds from your gun. In that very instant all your stealth work and planning go out the window as the enemy outpost is alerted to your presence. They raise the alarm, reinforcements show up and any chance you had of liberating said outpost are over. Very annoying!

Those issues aside though I’m genuinely loving my time with Far Cry 4. It’s certainly a game with a lot to offer and an exciting place to spend a couple of hours. I’m looking forward to giving both Far Cry Primal and the forthcoming Far Cry 5 my undivided attention later this year.

Originally published January 14th 2018

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