Far Cry 4 – PS4 Review

November 27, 2014

It’s a couple of hours into the game and you’ve just started to open up the map. You’ve finished a few missions, have an idea of the game world, and now you’re looking to cause trouble. You come across a patrol, triggering an instant side mission, and you quickly dispose of them with your bow and arrow. Well, your bow and arrow and a couple of Molotov cocktails. Well, your bow and arrow and Molotov cocktails and leopard you lured to the patrol. Well, your bow and arrow and the leopard you lured and set fire to using a Molotov cocktail, before flying away in a makeshift helicopter. It’s moments like these where Far Cry 4 clicks, combining creativity, ridiculousness and some animal cruelty into one massively entertaining package.

Far Cry 4 builds upon the formula established in Far Cry 3, which itself was a more positive reconstruction on some of the more banal elements of Far Cry 2, into what is probably my favourite representation of the series to date. The exotic settings the series is known for is retained, but this time shifted to the Nepal-esque fictional country of Kyrat. Open-world exploration and gunplay is still a major focus, but the opportunities for having more fun traversing and experimenting with the landscape have been expanded. The wingsuit is unlocked fairly on, which is absolutely as fun as it sounds, alongside a built-in parachute. Clumsily cobbled together helicopters also provide new ways to approach enemy camps and targets, although they tend to get a little unstable at higher alitudes. And if all else fails, you can hunt an elephant and ride it into battle.

However, underneath all of the craziness, there is a more serious tone to the game, which may be unexpected after seeing the purple-people-eater main antagonist, Pagan Min, on the cover. Your character, a young man named Ajay Ghale, has returned to Kyrat after growing up in America to spread his mother’s ashes. Shortly after entering the country, he’s accosted by its ruthless leader, Pagan, a man who sees no problem offering to help Ajay over a Crab Rangoon dinner while horrifically torturing rebels in the next room. Ajay is rescued by Sabal and Amita, bickering members of the Golden Path rebel forces, who inform him that his parents started the rebellion, and he can now help shape it.

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Despite the colourful characters, Far Cry 4 is very particular about making the morality of the situation as grey as possible. At various times, you can choose to side with either of the rebel leaders, with your choice affecting certain mission objectives and cutscenes. But there is no ‘right’ choice. Sabal is a traditionalist, who places his men’s lives above all else and wants to retain Kyrat’s heritage, but he can also be savage and manipulative, never hesitating to refer to what ‘your father would have wanted’. Amita, on the other hand, is the ultimate pragmatist – she has the country’s best interests at heart, and wants to bring Kyrat into the modern age, but this can mean melting down priceless artifacts for money, to capturing heroin poppy fields from Pagan to use to her own ends. Ultimately, in a gameplay sense, your decisions do not affect the landscape of Far Cry 4 very much, but in a storytelling sense the ambiguity is well played. You might even feel empathy for Kim Jong OMG himself, Pagan Min, by the end, who remains largely absent until his presence has the most impact.

There are 32 campaign missions that will take a good 15-20 hours to fight through, but the scope of activities to do in Far Cry 4 reaches far beyond them. A large variety of animals roam the forests of Kyrat, for you to hunt for pelts and craft into upgrades. A multitude of side missions exist, from hostage rescues to propaganda missions, to more fully-fledged storylines like helping a priest gun-runner atone for his past sins. Mysticism is also a major element in the game, woven into the main story and in the ‘Shangri-La’ side missions, which thrusts you into a fantastical landscape full of colourful dust clouds and supernatural enemies, providing some memorable stealth sequences (alongside the ability to sick a magical tiger on them).

The gunplay itself can be challenging, as often you’re asked to contend with waves of enemies that outmatch your arsenal, carrying flamethrowers, heavy machine guns, mortars and more. However, you quickly find that you have some tricks up your own sleeve, such as the ability to throw bait looted from animal corpses to lure predators to the battle. Sometimes this can result in a tiny honey badger distracting your opponents, to other times a massive Bengal tiger wiping everybody out, depending on the area you’re in. Most of the weapons feel great, although some of the handguns feel a little more ineffectual than perhaps they should be, given their importance as your sole weapon in transport. You can also introduce a friend via co-op to create some even crazier situations, teaming up to take on larger animals, or just messing around with helicopters and grappling hooks.

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Progression will be familiar to anyone who has played the last game, or Assassin’s Creed or Watch Dogs for that matter. You can explore wherever you like, but new areas on the map highlighting missions and places of interest are only unlocked after freeing ‘bell towers’ broadcasting Pagan propaganda. You scale these buildings in a manner not unfamiliar to Ezio Auditore, before soaring off the top via zipline or wingsuit like a true assassin.  At times you’ll be required to delve a little into one of the side missions before unlocking the next stage of the storyline. There’s always stuff to collect or craft to expand your arsenal and abilities. If you’re not a fan of the Ubisoft game formula, or for a significant change from Far Cry 3’s general set-up, you may not easily get into Far Cry 4.

What everyone should be able to agree on is that Far Cry 4 looks gorgeous, whether you’re playing on a next-gen system (current-gen? Are we at that stage yet?) or PC. Kyrat itself is superficially similar to one of gaming’s most famous open worlds, Skyrim, with its mountainous ranges and snow-capped peaks, but the infusion of Indian and Asian culture, with shrines to discover, palaces to visit and towns to rescue, makes it unique in its own right.

Personally speaking, I’ve had far more enjoyment out of Far Cry 4 than with any other Far Cry title to date. While its gameplay obviously bares a strong similarity to the previous instalment, the ambiguous storyline and unique setting help set it apart. That, and the sheer fun you can have with the gunplay and missions. Everything has been finely tuned to keep you invested in Ajay’s adventures in Kyrat, and what has resulted is the most addicting and impressive Far Cry game to date.


Flaming leopards | Fun gameplay, addictive exploration | Interesting, ambiguous storyline with cool mysticism thrown in


Adheres to the Assassin's Creed/Watch Dogs/Ubisoft formula

Overall Score: