Two years after the commercial and critical success of Far Cry 3 and its fantastic, innovative story and design, Ubisoft Montreal is here to provide another serving of the revitalized franchise. Set in the Himalayan region of Kyrat, Far Cry 4 invites players to venture through another exotic land to ride elephants and cripple a monarchy. However, if you decide to invest in this journey, it may seem all too familiar to fans of the previous game and, while that sounds like a positive, most of the charm of its predecessor is lost in an attempt to recreate that experience.
Aesthetics (Story, Graphics, Sound)
Much like Far Cry 3, the appeal of Far Cry 4’s story centers around its primary antagonist, Pagan Min, and his peculiar personality. He is a light-hearted but sadistic monarch who tries to recruit the player character, Ajay Ghale, to his side and therefore keep him and his influential lineage from the Golden Path, a group of rebel fighters. Most of the characters are interesting, such as Longinus and Rabi Ray Rana, and their interactions with the main character lead to some interesting, moral decisions, but they are completely overshadowed by Pagan Min. Troy Baker gives a stellar performance and truly brings the character to life, highlighting Pagan’s unnatural rhythms and emphasizing the subtle psychosis underneath the over-the-top eccentricity and flamboyance. Other than a fantastic villain, however, Far Cry 4 delivers a mediocre plot with some mildly interesting characters and scenarios — nothing that really grabs the player’s attention.
In terms of graphics and sound, Far Cry 4 doesn’t offer anything particularly noteworthy or visually impressive. The game runs on the Dunia engine like its predecessor and its environment still looks great for a AAA title, but it feels too familiar, too standard for its level of production quality. As I stared over the forests of Kyrat and out beyond the snow-peaked mountains, there was a disappointing lack of awe when presented with the open world map. And that’s just with the environment textures and landscape assets; character and animal models have a roughness to their construction and don’t exactly match the level of quality their habitat presents. Weapon effects, like the flamethrower’s flares, are gorgeous though and make certain weapons a treat to use. But that’s only a small portion of its graphical capabilities. The visual aesthetics are, in a word, uninspired for the most part. But the audible aesthetics, especially the sound effects, must be mentioned as they deliver a visceral experience to their counterparts. It’s brilliant sound mixing that brings Kyrat to life.
Gameplay (Combat, Systems, Mechanics)
The strongest aspect of Far Cry 4 is its combat, specifically the design and implementation of its guns. Whether it’s barreling towards a patrol of enemies while launching grenades or silently sneaking around a camp dishing out throwing knives and arrows alike, each style of gameplay is accessible and delivers an equally satisfying challenge. What impressed me the most though is the haptic feedback of each and every weapon; you can feel each shot fired and there’s a distinct satisfaction to hitting a target that’s found in few other games. The quality of the gun play is what sets Far Cry apart from other open world FPS games, along with the flexibility and freedom to approach each mission uniquely. Far Cry 4 supplies that excellence of gameplay shown in its predecessors in spades and turns everyone mission into a thrilling, visceral firefight.
Although, the game is not entirely made up of combat — outside of shooting and stealthing, there’s the land of Kyrat to explore. But unfortunately, it’s a land we’ve already seen. Far Cry 4’s open world activities are incredibly similar to Far Cry 3 and therefore don’t push the boundaries of the series or really try to elevate the genre. There’s a lot of collectibles, a lot of side quests, a lot of assassination missions — a lot of the mundane. In most open world games, I tend to explore and get a taste of what the world has to offer. Yet after exploring Kyrat for a while, I realized I had done this all already in Far Cry 3, like scaling radio towers and driving randomly generated goons off the road, and generally passed on the extra content. It’s a bit of a disappointment to see an open world go to waste with very few valuable side objectives to accomplish.
Along with the theme of standard additions to Far Cry 4, the customization options and leveling system are pretty basic. Gun selection is limited to roughly two options per weapon type with even more restrictions on the weapon mods (minus the expensive “special” weapons that can’t be customized). Choices for leveling and gun building are slim and force you to choose a loadout that you’ll be using for the rest of the game. Some of the options to customizing your character can be further upgraded through hunting animals, but its a mechanic that’s old the second time around.
Far Cry 4 is a competent open world FPS that offers some glimpses of brilliance, but ultimately fails to deliver anything greater than the other AAA titles in its genre. Characters and combat comprise the strongest aspects of the game, while the average graphics and disappointingly shallow side quests fluff up the game’s open world exploration. I would recommend this game to those who are new to the series and to those who enjoy open world shooters, but if you’ve already played Far Cry 3, I would wait till Far Cry 4 drops down in price significantly.
Final Score: 7.5 / 10
Written and Edited by Tim Atwood