Kyrat is not a place you should want to visit on vacation.
BECOME A KYRATI MASTER
Far Cry 4 is stunning, mysterious take on open world shooters. Though it falters at times with weak characters and an unfocused plot, don’t let that hold you back, as the world of Kyrat is living, breathing, and full of opportunity.
SETTING THE SCENE
The game places you in control of Ajay Ghale, who has returned to the fictional setting of Kyrat to, at her wish, spread his mother’s ashes. Ajay is thrown directly into the action when his bus is hijacked by the country’s crazy king, Pagan Min. Right from the get-go, it’s clear that Kyrat is absolutely beautiful, capturing the perceived essence of a Himalayan setting. I could practically feel the cool air breeze through the room, with the perfect mix of sunlight beaming on me. Ubisoft Montreal is to be commended on their execution of the setting, from the size, to the density of never feeling like the world was too spacey, to the liveliness of the wildlife.
Unfortunately, the game’s many characters are poorly executed. Ajay is never seen, and his voice does him no good in establishing anything memorable about his persona. Personality is non existent. Min is criminally underused. He’s on the cover of the game and is arguably one of its biggest selling points. He has various cutscenes throughout the game, but they can be counted on one hand. He largely feels absent. There are 32 main campaign missions, with dozens upon dozens of side missions to undertake. In between the campaign missions (but still not nearly enough), Min’s voice will appear on a radio in your vehicle. These exchanges are largely meaningless with regards to the story, but it was nice to know that he was there. Troy Baker voices Min and performs admirably, as usual. Seriously, when is the last time I reviewed a game that didn’t have Troy Baker or Nolan North on the cast list? Beats me. Min’s personality rivals a villain from a Batman game or movie. He’s eccentric, he is animated, and he’s one you pine to see more of. Not to mention, there were striking similarities to The Joker in both appearance and persona (Baker voiced The Joker in 2013’s Batman: Arkham Origins). There are actually a few cracks from a radio commentator in-game that bring attention to this.
Aside from Pagan Min, I am hard pressed to remember much else. Ajay’s father established a rebellion called “The Golden Path” a few decades back. In The Golden Path, there is near civil war thanks to the uprising of two leaders, Amita and Sabal. As your game progresses, you are forced to make decisions that will align yourself with one over the other. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see the balance of decision making with typical linear missions. Not only that, but that the decisions held some weight and meant something in the end. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but be sure to look up or play through the multiple endings to the game. You’ll certainly be surprised with one of them – an early game decision that felt so BioShock to me. MAJOR kudos to you, Ubisoft Montreal.
LIONS & TIGERS & ELEPHANTS, OH MY!
The map in Far Cry 4 certainly bears resemblance both in style and in substance to one of the game’s sister series, Assassin’s Creed. As you progress through campaign missions, you will unlock a limited number of fast travel points and fortresses where you can trade and sell goods and weapons. The game encourages you to and rewards you for playing side missions, whether that’s a mission to save a hostage, one to liberate a settlement, or a few other variations of quests you can undertake.
The game features a ranking system that enables you to spend points to upgrade many aspects of your character, including abilities, health, and more. You can also upgrade and purchase weapons. If you’re like me and stuck to the campaign for the most part, you’re going to have to get by on skill and grinding it out. By the end of the game, I feel as if I got really good at shootouts. Again though, the game rewards you majorly for undertaking side missions. The main story campaign by itself lasts approximately 12-14 hours.
The headline of this portion of the review mentioned Elephants. That was a feature that Ubisoft touted early on when promoting the game. Boy did it deliver! The ability to ride an Elephant is something that you have to unlock through the perks and upgrade system. I unlocked it relatively early on and was able to use it for a bunch of side missions. One in particular gave me a choice – I could try to jump on and control the Elephant myself, or I could shoot the lock off of a cage of Elephants being held captive, at which point they would stampede and give me help that way. If you kill a certain animal, you can take its skin to craft items that give you more perks, such as more room to carry ammo. You can also use the meat of the creature to throw into the center of unsuspecting enemies, which lures a random Tiger or Bear out of the forest to maul the victims closest to it. There was a lot of satisfaction in watching this play out. Much like capturing a Shark in Far Cry 3, these specifics animals made Far Cry 4 feel like a completely living, breathing environment. Lots of games run into the trouble of making open worlds too big without enough NPCs – here, that is not the case.
Far Cry 4 is at its best when it’s explored to the fullest. I encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone. If you normally stick to the main campaign, run some side missions. If you normally are in it for the online gameplay, get back to the story. That’s the beauty of FC4. Have fun in Kyrat, but don’t drink the water.
+ Stunning visuals and sounds make you feel like you are really in Kyrat’s Himalayan inspired setting.
+ Pagan Min is a villain worth remembering. The perfect mix of brutality, intensity, and mystery.
+ The map is full of characters and animals, with no shortage of side missions to conquer and check off your list.
+ Different ways of navigating the map are a joy to experiment with.
– The plot is actually very good – unfortunately, it’s unfocused and plays too much of afterthought.
– Criminal under-usage of Pagan Min.
– Characters are forgettable and some are simply awful.
Far Cry 4 was reviewed on an Xbox One. It is also available for PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
All photos used were taken from screenshots from our playthrough.
What is a hindsight review? It’s an article in which a Geekiverse writer reviews a game that they have never played before and is outside its launch window. It offers a fresh perspective and shows which games in your backlog are worth playing through.