Available: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Download Size: 24gb
Released: 18 November 2014
Next up on my list of games on the review hit list was DragonAge Inquisition but my mother always told me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And yes, some of you may be saying that this counts as saying something and hell if I’ve already crossed that line I might as well throw myself bodily across (it’s an awful awful game, don’t play it.) But it meant I started Far Cry 4 in a positive frame of mind and before I’d even started playing, it had a tick in the pros box because at least it wasn’t DragonAge.
The introduction is impressive and show cases a lot of the good things about the game. The graphics are nice as is the environment. I enjoyed exploring it and immediately after starting the game it was fun to spend a little while just looking about. There are lots of ways to navigate the world, you can drive, cycle, air glide, swim or grapple hook about. Or, if you invest in a particular development skill tree, which you should immediately and as soon as possible, you can even ride elephants and smash stuff up. Of course if, like me, you’d seen someone riding an elephant in the gameplay and, like me, tried to ride one before investing in that particular skill, you’ll end up on the less friendly side of the elephant smashing. I thought the first elephant that wouldn’t let me ride him was suffering technical issues and the second I thought was maybe just having a bad day but the third time trunk met face met ground I just got annoyed. Smash me once, shame on you, smash me two or three times and fine be that way!
Now that I’ve mentioned the levelling up system, let me go on to say it’s actually a fairly good one. It manages to balance useful things like extra health or quicker healing times with awesome things like assassinating targets by jumping on them from the ledge above. So I found levelling up actually rewarding and as the difficulty is at a point where you need to spend the skill points wisely or find yourself face down and bleeding on the grass more often than not, I actually put a lot of thought into it. For example, whether I’d regret not being able to mix healing mixtures after the novelty of assassinating unaware enemies while shouting “death from the sky!” wore off (it never did.)
In terms of atmosphere, the game feels very relaxed and never really takes itself seriously. At first I really liked that, I can respect a game that doesn’t mind throwing the rules of physics to the wind as long as it looks and feels awesome to play. But after a while it really started to lose me. I think there’s a difference between not taking the story too seriously and not caring at all and I think Far Cry sits on the wrong side of that line. The story is flat and unengaging and I found myself hammering what would normally be the skip-the-cut-scene button in an attempt to bypass the half assed narrative and get back to fighting tigers and bears. The only thing less impressive than the storyline was the character development. I understand the reason you go to the island but the motivation for almost every decision beyond that is almost non-existent. The main aim of the playable character Ajay is to help a group of rebels overthrow the current ruling body in Kyrat because… just because.
The more I played the more I thought about Assassins Creed II which had everything I could list in the pros column for Far Cry 4; beautiful graphics, a rich contextual world to explore, free flowing gameplay. Then on top of that it was a champion of storytelling and character development. Ezio had a strong personality which included a few loveable character flaws and there was an arc of development as he matured across the game. In comparison, Ajay displays the full emotional spectrum of a wet flannel and even occasionally handles like one if he isn’t standing exactly where the game has decided when he wants to loot/ stab/ climb an object he is facing. It feels like the developers found themselves with half a game and no time or money left and then released it anyway. Obviously hoping that during those times when you took a break from the immediate action in the sandbox and narrowed your eyes suspiciously at the cobbled together excuse for a story, they could have an eagle attack you for no reason and against any hope of doing anything other than scratching you up a bit to distract you with the shiny shiny graphics.
Overall I’d say Far Cry 4 was fun to start with but as soon as I started to scratch the surface and look for the meat of the game, for something I could really engage with, it fell flat and the only impression I was left with was that I really wanted to play Assassins Creed II again.