Far Cry 4 Review: Kyrat Is Beautiful Despite The Storyline Being Devoid Of Life
Things cannot be more hectic when visiting Kyrat. A place of beauty and wonder in its wildlife next to the Himalayas is strife with rampant corruption, fear, and despotism all at once.
Far Cry 4 truly creates a believable environment in the tiny city of Kyrat in Nepal, one that is incredibly vivid and stunning in detail.
- Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
- Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
- Xbox One version tested. Review copy purchased by the reviewer.
Far Cry 4 brings back everything players loved about Far Cry 3’s game mechanics and adds a newer location where players can also play the entire title with a friend in cooperative mode online. While sticking to the formula paid off to create an incredible game in some ways, the storyline’s lackluster plot and characters really have us struggling to care about anything more in terms of the overall picture.
As Far Cry 4’s main protagonist Ajay Ghale, you are on the bus towards Kyrat to fulfill Ishwari Gale’s (your mother) wish to have her ashes scattered on the tallest mountain. Along the way your bus is ambushed in a firestorm and a helicopter descends to reveal that you were actually expected. Unfortunately, Pagan Min is who was expecting you – the corrupt and sarcastically cruel King of Kyrat that wants to invite you to a little dinner party at his compound. After viciously attacking his own soldiers for going against his orders and shooting an entire bus, all the while sarcastically pointing out the difference between ‘stop’ and ‘shoot,’ he has your head covered and you are rushed to the compound in a dinner of intense discomfort.
From this point, you embark on a daring escape and eventually have to make your way to The Golden Path, where you end up joining the resistance. It is the premise of the resistance where you become involved, and sadly where most of the plot in Far Cry 4 is all but lost in a lackluster storyline. There are various objectives given by The Golden Path but none that have any real meaning to the storyline. The storyline in itself has very little interesting characters aside from Sabal and Amita – the two clashing leaders of The Golden Path.
One of the most disappointing elements of the storyline is that a majority of Pagan Min’s interesting origins and a lot of his motivations along with his entire presence is almost missing for the majority of the game, which uses Pagan Min for the boxart and a bulk of its marketing. This was a surprise to me, and ironically a bulk of Far Cry 4 lends itself into feeling like Far Cry 3 minus the more intriguing main protagonist who actually voices his reasons for going against the antagonist of the story - primarily the sudden killing of his friends on vacation.
The storyline felt more real with Far Cry 3 (though nowhere near perfect) and unfortunately Far Cry 4 just terribly fails to deliver in the storyline department, which completely undermines a bulk of the gameplay mechanic in terms of some believable purpose.
For what is left besides a terrible storyline, the gameplay mechanic of Far Cry 4 through its 18 hour storyline in terms of the hard difficulty is almost a copy and paste from Far Cry 3 with some additions. One of the most noticeable additions include the karma system – which rewards you with either better Guns For Hire upgrades and reduced costs at Trading Posts. Karma events and Mani Wheels help gain karma points along with certain side-quests in the mission structure itself. The missions themselves are a mix of memorable missions and entirely forgettable ones when it comes to Far Cry 4. The main gameplay mechanic and mission involves taking over outposts, invading fortresses, destroying opium farms, and anything else that Sabal and Amita come up with in terms of choosing how the resistance moves.
You can either be stealthy as a Tiger or be like the Elephant and be a charging 3-ton carnage of power. The mission approachability is still there from Far Cry 3 and with tougher enemy A.I.’s compared to any of the previous games, it is definitely more rewarding in terms of the payout. The economy of Far Cry 4 is as vibrant as ever after picking certain missions for The Golden Path. After taking down outposts or doing missions that may involve overtaking an opium farm and converting it or destroying it for certain moral choices, the economy sees a real change similar to Far Cry 2 and 3. This was an intensely great aspect that Far Cry 4 managed perfectly in terms of creating a believable system of trade/sales.
The experience progression and skills are also identical to Far Cry 3, which is not a bad thing. Skills are divided between ‘The Tiger’ and ‘The Elephant,’ each with their own focus. The Tiger focuses on stealth and striking with skills such as Handgun Takedown, and Death From Above. The Elephant relies on strength and healing with the most noticeable skills being Unyielding Strength which really improved damage calculation and death from battle. Players can upgrade their equipment through skinning. Players can skin nature for their own benefit and can use skins and what not to create and craft different equipment, items, and weapons through recipes that can be found throughout Kyrat. I used Bengal Tiger Skin to create a Heavy Ammo bag half-way into the game which allowed me to keep honing my brute-force playing style of attacking the soldiers like Rambo.
At the core of the gameplay, the progression along with similar weapons and equipment to Far Cry 3 hardly impacts the game negatively when you combine it with the huge map and exploration adventure that Kyrat is comprised of.
Besides the side-quests and the varying play styles that you can do throughout this open-world exploration/adventure title you can make use of the environment in more ways than just crafting. You can skin animals, and toss them at Pagan Min’s evil lieutenants and just watch a Snow Leopard or Black Bear attack. I had quite a blast after ambushing the frustrated soldiers trying to fight off a Black Bear, and then being chased by the very wild animal in turn. Perhaps one of the most offered features is not just using nature and the wild beasts against soldiers, but also using them for yourself in terms of riding elephants into a compound. I got onto an elephant myself and rushed into a compound – but unfortunately the elephant threw me off and started attacking me. So much for my good karma.
Far Cry 4’s online cooperative play is very fun and smooth. We were able to play through scheduled play-sessions for the competitive multiplayer and online cooperative mode. These modes performed admirably well with little lag. There were some disconnect issues that had me concerned but in the large number of playthroughs, nothing stuck out too bad.
The drop-in and drop-out with 2 players is great, and a part of me wishes it had been 4 players for some serious carnage. Not sure why Ubisoft did not include this with Far Cry 4 but decided to give the 4-player go ahead with Assassin’s Creed Unity, but it would have definitely made the online more fun.
As for the competitive multiplayer, I can attest to the fact that it remains entirely linear and rather feels like a sad add-on than a competitive multiplayer that is fun or memorable. The multiplayer has the same style as Far Cry 3 but now with vehicles that can be used, so it fares slightly better if anything. I definitely feel rather than wasting time on the competitive multiplayer, the Far Cry 4 team at Ubisoft Montreal should have focused on doing a 4-player online cooperative campaign storyline mode that is a lot more fun and useful in terms of player progression and community more than anything.
Far Cry 4 has so many hectic elements that are completely incredible when you look at the vistas of Kyrat and all the possibilities of play styles – from Stealth gameplay to brute force gameplay if you can avoid all the bullet fire. The title’s storyline suffers tremendously despite the morally dark choices you can make in the storyline that has little plot-twists for certain missions and side-quests, but aside from that it completely falters in doing anything memorable or replay-worthy in terms of the storyline or purpose of the missions. You cannot help but feel the journey is empty and without meaning. With all of its problems, Far Cry 4 is not a game worth its price in full but it is definitely a game that provides an ample amount of fun and exploration/adventure despite the lack of a real storyline identity in its footsteps through the Himalayas. If there is one thing Far Cry 4 did right it is nailing the one element that the Far Cry franchise has always done so well: giving players a bunch of weapons, a great environment with tons of bad guys, and letting them figure out how they want to wreak havoc for their own pain and gain.