Posted on December 3, 2014, Phil Hornshaw Far Cry 4 Review: Content is Kyrat’s King
Far Cry 4 might come from the school of thinking, “If it ain’t broke, reuse it.”
There’s a lot from Far Cry 3 that falls into the “ain’t broke” category, and Far Cry 4 has all of it and more. It’s a game that provides you with capital-C Content — collectibles and side quests and campaigns and multiplayer matches and procedural events and hunts and more and more and more. Far Cry 4 exists to keep you busy, and busy is what it will keep you.
To keep it simple: If you liked Far Cry 3, you’ll like Far Cry 4. If you like hunting a million animals, liberating a million outposts, climbing a million towers and shooting a million dudes, then you’ll enjoy what Ubisoft has put together here despite the shortcomings of either this game or its predecessor.
But as a singular experience, Far Cry 4 is a mess. It’s everything but the kitchen sink, although you’ll eventually acquire a homestead where you can put in a water pump and a pig sty. It’s so desperately packed with crap to do that all that crap becomes meaningless. The game strains at the seams to hold it all in, and while it definitely manages to accomplish “fun” along the way, it also stretches player patience at times, feeling more like running on a hamster wheel than losing yourself in a world.
Far Cry 4
Platform: PC (reviewed), Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Release Date: Nov. 18, 2014
It’s in attempting to make any sense of all the stuff Ubisoft has packed into the fictional Himalayan country of Kyrat that Far Cry 4 really starts to fall down, although the game makes a valiant effort at doing so anyway. You’re Ajay Ghale, a Kyrati native who grew up in the U.S., ostensibly returning to the country to scatter your mother’s ashes. It’s not exactly a fun idea, since Kyrat has been under the rule of a military dictator since before Ajay was born, with armed insurrectionists already years into their attempts at an overthrow.
It’s in its storytelling and campaign that Far Cry 4 quickly becomes lost and confused, struggling to figure out what kind of game it wants to be.
Things go weirdly almost immediately — apparently Ajay was met by the rebels, known as the Golden Path, upon entering the country. Before he gets too far, he’s intercepted by the dictator, Pagan Min, himself. Pagan knew Ajay’s parents and had some kind of relationship with his mother, but before he can tell you more, Pagan leaves the room to take a call while a lackey starts torturing your Golden Path buddy.
And then it’s off to the shooting gallery, with the ashes getting mentioned every once in a while as if scattering them is actually on anybody’s mind at all. Ajay gets “saved” from Pagan by a Golden Path raid and quickly inducted into their ranks, and you spend the rest of the game fighting Pagan’s Royal Army goons and completing various missions for various people. It’s in its storytelling and campaign that Far Cry 4 quickly becomes lost and confused, struggling to figure out what kind of game it wants to be.
What it clearly does not want to be, at least in terms of the story being told, is Far Cry 3.
In terms of mechanics, everything that was great from Far Cry 3 has been salvaged, but Ubisoft’s teams have taken some big steps away from the criticisms levied at the previous installment of the series, which was full of big ideas poorly executed. Far Cry 3 had hoped to be a satire of violence in games at points, a critique on tropes and stereotypes of heroic white dudes saving the day for beleaguered natives, and a comment on the mostly male attitudes of exoticness and having adventures in someone else’s everyday life. It failed to really satirize any of those points, however, and instead just wound up being those things.