Far Cry 4 totally flew below my radar, so it was a pleasant Christmas surprise that it was released. I am a huge fan of sandbox games and I feel that scripted events in games belong to the late 90’s/early 00’s. Needless to say I had much fun with Far Cry 3. Lately I have very little time on my hands and play games only very rarely – but for sandbox games like these I cannot help but make an exception.
Before I got the game, I watched a review or two and they all criticized it for being little more than a copy of it’s predecessor. I doubt anyone can disagree with that. Although it has a new story, a new setting and a few new features like the grappling hook, a wingsuit and a lightweight-helicopter, everything else is exactly the same: outposts, radio towers, treasure hunting, the basic gameplay mechanics etc. But the gameplay is so good, Far Cry 3 was too short to do it justice. Far Cry 4 keeps the fun going. It’s all very familiar and therefore a little uninspired – it’s still a fun game. There are three major letdowns, however. All of them have little do to with the gameplay.
First, the game is set in the fictional nation of Kyrat. This is quite over-ambitious: the map is quite large but it doesn’t feel like a nation at all. There are no cities, but only some villages, the largest having some 8 houses. There’s no police, firemen, department of justice, schools, nothing. There are no companies, like builders, plumbers, lawyers. There are no bathrooms. Houses have no beds. There’s a filming company which lets you do some stunt work missions but there is only one TV to be seen in the entire game (it’s in a cutscene). There are candles burning everywhere, even in deserted places (the biggest and dumbest computergame cliché of all time). This is not a nation, it’s merely a small province of a nation and a very, very poor and depraved one.
Second, there’s the story and the many stupid characters in it. I will not spoil anything, but you can feel where the game is headed after 20 minutes of playing. The game’s main antagonist is Pagan Min, a ruthless but deeply closeted druglord dressed in pink. There’s Hurk, a very annoying ADHD treasure hunter. There’s Yogi and Reggie, two British potheads who are so irritating you will probably want to stop playing the game at certain points. And there’s the natives Amita and Sabal. At many points in the game, you can choose between two story missions from these two characters. Ultimately, the choices you make, will give you a different ending to the game. The story missions are scripted and although they are dumb, they are fun and diverse. The option to choose between two missions is supposed to give you a sense of freedom. It doesn’t work but I appreciate the try. Sadly, it’s a choice between stupid and stupid. You can choose to side with Amita, who wants to turn Kyrat into a drug-exporting country that would make Colombians look like amateurs. Or you can side with Sabal, a religious nutcase who thinks prayer and meditation is the answer to everything. Both parties are equally ruthless and ironically, they are no better than the dictator they want to overthrow. Maybe Far Cry 4’s creators want to make a point here, quite a misanthropic one.
The only likeable characters in the game are actually the animals. It just feels so wrong to shoot endangered species like tigers, leopards, rhinos and elephants just to use their skin for a freaking ammo bag. At some point in the game, during the “Fashion Week” sidemissions, you are told that “Kyrat has a breeding program and unlike elsewhere on earth, these species are not endangered here”. Fine, but you can play the entire game without doing these sidemissions and feel strangely guilty about every rhino you shoot.
Third, I hate all missions that take place in a fantasy world, a hallucination or anything like that. Just when I got myself a brand new machine gun, the game puts me in a dream world called “Shangri La” with ugly demons and a bow to shoot them with. If I want to play Skyrim I play Skyrim, but I want to mess around with guns in Far Cry 4 so please let me. I don’t need the spiritual stuff that Far Cry 3 also wanted to push down my throat. I hate that.
Other than that, Far Cry 4 is an enjoyable game, somewhat repetitive, but fun, just like it’s predecessor. To be honest: all things copy-pasted from FC3 actually are FC4’s best features. It wants to show a nation but offers little more than some tiny villages. But if you look past this, and more importantly – past the annoying characters in the story, you can still have much fun with the many ways you can deal with your enemies.
6 out of 10.