All Ajay wanted to do was fulfill his deceased mother’s final wish of having her ashes spread on her home soil. Instead, he gets tangled up in a bloody civil war that forces him to take arms against the evil empire. This is the underlying premise of Far Cry 4, the latest in Ubisoft’s hit shooter franchise.
I’ve experienced my fair share of unpleasant moments with past Far Cry games. The stealth sequences in Far Cry 3 forced me to give up the game towards the end, and I thought that the humour of Blood Dragon wore out its welcome long before the game ended. However, I keep coming back in hopes that Ubisoft will finally push their open world franchise to its full potential. Is Far Cry 4 the game to do it?
Once again, the series throws you into the wilderness, though this time you’re in a fictional Himilayan region. You’re surrounded by mountains, which opens the door for some interesting traversal options, including grappling hooks to scale tall walls to squirrel suits that will let you glide in style. You can even spec Ajay in a way that allows him to ride elephants! All of this looks gorgeous and mostly runs smoothly thanks to the graphical bump that the PlayStation 4 provides. Only in very specific spots on the map or when there are a ton of dead bodies around will the game hitch somewhat.
There are no shortage of ways to move around, though I actually like traversing on foot. Even if I’m traveling a long distance, the world is so full of life that I want to explore every nook and cranny of it. Random gunfights between the warring sides will break out. Treasure is strewn about everywhere. Wildlife of all sorts are roaming the fields and mountains. You might even find some cool caves or secrets by veering off the beaten path every now and then.
Since there’s seemingly so much to do, I love just loading up the game and wandering around to see what the world has to offer. Eventually though, the time comes when I’ll want to move the story forward. There are about 30 main missions and many side missions to work through, so there’s no shortage of things to keep you busy. The big difference for me between this and its predecessor is the difference in how they handle stealth. In Far Cry 3, there are a few forced stealth missions that were so infuriating, I prematurely gave up on the game.
Far Cry 4 does not repeat that mistake. There are one or two missions that require stealth, though they’re not as rigid as those in the previous game, making the process of getting through them far less painful. I much prefer the approach here, where stealth is always an option should but almost never mandatory. Generally, I would always start stealthy by picking guys off with a sniper rifle or bow from distance. Sometimes I would clean house without alerting a soul, but if I did, I loved knowing that I could just pull out an automatic and start spraying.
If there’s one thing I miss between the transition, it’s the story stuff. Yes, all of the characters in Far Cry 3 were jerks, but Vaas as a villain was fantastic. Also, there are a number of memorable moments in that game that stick with me to this day. Here, the story is mostly wallpaper. Pagan Min is sort of in the Vaas role this time, but he doesn’t hit nearly as hard (unless you sit down and listen to him). There’s a conflict within your own camp, though the resolution for that was very binary and didn’t seem to make much of an impact. The game also relies a bit too heavily on the drug-induced gimmicks of the last game, which I think have worn out their welcome.
While it’s not perfect, Far Cry 4 is a notable improvement over its predecessor and a great game in general. I got a good 30 hours out of it before completing the campaign and there’s still tons for me to do should I so choose. If you decide to pick this one up, it’s probably going to be a while before you pull yourself out of the vast world of Kyrat.