As a general rule, I do not suggest pre-ordering games. It breeds laziness and gives developers a reason to bypass innovation. So what do I do? You guessed it, FarCry4 was downloaded on my Xbox One ready for day-one. I break my own rules, and what do I get for it?
Far Cry 4 takes a very different approach than the previous installments of the series. Instead of exploring a tropical island or sub-Saharan Africa, this time it’s the majestic Himalayas. Kyrat is a fictitious civil war torn country in the grips of the evil ruler Pagan Min. Why are you in this hostile environment in the first place? You know, to deliver your recently deceased Mother’s ashes. This is the first thread that begins to unwind Far Cry 4.
You aren’t on a mission to stop some evil or rescue a fallen comrade. The story is completely missing that driving force that makes you want to continue on. All of the missions you go on seem pointless and without urgency. The pace does eventually pick-up once you begin to explore the country and meet different groups, but you still have to spend a decent amount of time working to get to the point that makes you even care about what is going on.
Far Cry 4 gives you a massive map to explore. Each area will give you access to new missions, animals to hunt for crafting, enemies to beat, and secrets to uncover. Unfortunately there is so much to explore on the map it easily becomes overwhelming. The one saving grace here is the fact that you can filter certain things out of the map allowing you to actually find what you are looking for.
Even then it can be incredibly difficult to find specific locations. One of the glorious things about Far Cry 3 was stumbling into a secret cave or a crashed airplane. You actually had a reason to stray from the roads and paths. Far Cry 4 takes that majesty away by showing you where virtually everything is located for the areas you have unlocked. Now it’s just a matter of caring enough to go and unlock that location.
Progress is made in Far Cry 4 by completing story missions, scaling radio towers, and liberating outposts. This is truly the biggest improvement over Far Cry 3. The shooting, the enemies, the encampments, all are executed so incredibly well. I enjoyed playing Far Cry 3 but found it difficult to care about the encampments or side quests.
Far Cry 4 keeps you wanting to keep going and going. This is not to say that it is easier or simplistic by any means. In fact quite the opposite. Far Cry 4 has ramped up the difficulty, making each victory feel that much more enjoyable. It gives you the feeling that you have actually accomplished something special.
On the other side of the coin we have the story missions. Each mission will be given by a number of colorful characters. You will be helping a group of freedom fighters called “The Golden Path”. Leading the Golden Path are two bickering and unhappy individuals named Amita and Sabal. Each character has very different plans for Kyrat and you are forced to side with one of the other. Each decision you make will affect the story that you follow and the events of the country. I found that I really could care less which person I sided with nor what happened to the country as a whole. All I knew is I wanted to keep freeing encampments and shooting my wonderful bow into a bad guy’s face.
Far Cry 3’s story made you actually care about the outcome of events. Your hero had a soul and a purpose. You do not get any of that feeling here. If it wasn’t for such rock solid gameplay, the story would have completely killed Far Cry 4. You do encounter some fairly loveable and interesting characters as your progress through the story. There are even a few great pieces scattered here and there (won’t spoil it), but there just isn’t enough to push the story to the point you would expect it to be.
A new addition to Far Cry 4 is the karma system. As you travel the countryside you will encounter these little purple markers. Find as many of these as you can and complete these for special karma points. Doing so will grant you weapon discounts at the shops and special weapons. You can also build up your karma by killing special enemies or spinning prayer wheels that are randomly placed across the country side.
When you do locate these special events they will mainly consist of making sure the wonderful inhabitants of Kyrat don’t die. Sometimes a bear or dog is attacking an old woman and sometimes someone from the Golden Path is shooting a gun at a group of Pagan Min’s army. Save your friends and unlock stuff. Too bad this really puts a damper on running a muck in the game. Forget driving your car into a crowd of onlookers or freely lobbing grenades as you stroll down the road. You will accidentally murder someone and lose your precious karma. No more anarchy, no more freedom, instead you have to be a good boy and stay the course and really who wants that?
Far Cry 4 is a truly good game at it’s core. It is nowhere near perfect and in some ways I wish it was different. The story is less than exciting and uninspired. The main character is some joker you really don’t care about and can’t get lost in. Yet, you are going to pick up the game and not want to put it down. The combat is very tight and precise. Your main thrill will be planning and freeing all of the encampments and playing through each of the side missions more than the actual story. There is a lot to love about Far Cry 4 along with quite a few things that will irritate you. It’s not a game of the year contender, but it is a rock solid gaming experience.
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