Here’s a review for the 2014 release of Far Cry 4 after I picked it up on sale for $20. Once a game goes on sale a lot of people ask “is it worth it?” or “does the game finally work well enough for me to play?” Taking these two ideas into account I’m going to try to review this game for bargain hunters and gamers who just want a good experience from the start.
Far Cry 4 came out for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on November 18th, 2014. This game builds on the open world and story-driven nature of Far Cry 3, a game which I found very enjoyable to play despite its problems and lukewarm story. I came into Far Cry 4 hoping I would get more of the same and unfortunately for me, I was right. Instead of taking their gaming and honing it to a perfect shine, Ubisoft went the route we take as kids – if something is good, more must be better! Ubisoft cranks the Far Cry knob up to 11 and I feel the game is worse for it unless you really like checking off boxes. If that’s you, this game will probably last you a long time.
While the overall gameplay of Far Cry 4 falls flat, it runs on Dunia Tech which is capable of some great visuals. Traveling around the fictional Himalayan country of Kyrat, you can come across a beautiful sunrise, snow fluttering in the air and of course environmental fire thanks to combat. A core issue I ran into was with wildlife and respawn rates. Ubisoft mentioned that in Far Cry 4 there would be an actual food chain with bigger and bigger animals eating each other. On the map you’re shown where specific animals should be more concentrated. You need to know where specific animals are since Far Cry 4 requires specific numbers of animal skins for upgrades. I like to upgrade as much as possible during the early game so I can enjoy the story without needing to constantly chase down a wild bear or two later on. For me, the animals rarely ever seemed to spawn where their icons on the map indicated they would. This caused me to constantly run around trying to get new groups of wildlife to spawn over and over again.
This brings the second open-world issue into play, respawn rates of items already in play. I had a great moment where I blew up a truck. It flew over my head, crashed into some more trucks blowing those up which happened to take out two rhinoceros which I needed to skin. I turned away from the rhino carcasses to finish off the few enemies left and when I turned back around the whole scene was gone. There were no blown up trucks, no enemy bodies and no rhinoceros to skin. This happened again at random times throughout the game and really took me out of the world. What made matters worse is that I could assault a large base, cause a ton of carnage at the entrance and when I returned, the trucks and wreckage would still be there but for some reason items like these rhinoceros that were like 50 feet behind me would disappear at random. It always seemed to happen for something I needed like an animal skin or vehicle I parked for an easy escape.
Every gamer who has played a few open world games knows you have to deal with some open world jank. Far Cry 4 might be tolerable if the rest of the game was solid but like I said at the start, this game was made for gamers who like to check off boxes. There are always more towers to climb, animals to skin, perks to earn, and side missions to do yet the country you’re in doesn’t seem the right size to contain all this. Everything is jam packed next to each other causing breaks in gameplay. Trying to stealthily hunt a snow leopard for that last skin you need? Good luck because I bet your posse will always be 10 feet away shooting off their guns in the air, getting into a fight with random guard patrols or getting into a fight with an eagle. Speaking of eagle’s, main villain Pagan Min should have just employed hundreds of eagles instead of all of those human guards. Those winged pests come out of nowhere and attack you when you least expect. The guards have horrible accuracy while the eagle’s swoop down with pinpoint accuracy as they claw out your eyes.
At the start of the game, I unlocked all the towers and upgraded my character as much as possible before progressing the story. But by the middle of the game, everything felt by the numbers. You go to the story icon on the map, pick which one of the two Golden Path leaders you want to fight for and then either rescue people, assault an area or find the hidden object. If the missions were fun and the stealth improved, this would be a fun open world to tool around in but I seemed to have more fun in Far Cry 3. The most fun I had was trying to only use the grenade launcher while flying a gyrocopter and raining down explosives to the enemies below. I did this because I found out it took way too many bullets to pump into a car before it exploded; even with the .50 caliber vehicle mounted guns that you think should chew through almost anything. The stealth aspects of Far Cry 4 are also just ok; don’t come in here expecting a Metal Gear Solid or Hitman-style game since it is hard to know when and why you were out of cover. Ubisoft also added rock climbing element, but only on very specifically marked areas, I feel this was another wasted opportunity on their part. Just give me rock climbing gear and let me make my own fun!
Overall I found Far Cry 4 to be more of a chore than a game I wanted to keep playing because I liked it. I held out some hope that maybe the story would make it all worth it but it didn’t. The biggest thing Ubisoft fixed was making a better antagonist and not killing him off halfway through the game. Playing out all the different endings to the game I ended up feeling bad for Pagan Min. He’s a bad guy but the Golden Path leaders you are helping really didn’t give me any hope that I had done something good for the people of Kyrat. As it stands Far Cry 4 is entirely skippable unless you are really itching for a new first person shooter with a ton of side quests. The fun high points were few and far between and having heard all the great things about Far Cry: Blood Dragon I feel I should have played that instead.