Far Cry 4 - Critique
The Himalayan country of Kyrat is a mythical place of faith, secrets, lies and great beauty, and it is also one of the best realized spaces that I have ever been able to explore in a video game. Kyrat is a colossal, dense and visually diverse place that one feels at the same time inhabited, torn and ancient. Far Cry 4 capitalizes on all the strengths available to make it an amazing open world full of action and adventure in first person, while unfortunately failing to offer really attractive characters.
His most notable dud is Ajay Ghale, the main character, both hollow and ambivalent. American son of Kyratis rebels, he returns to his birthplace in the Himalayas to disperse his mother's ashes and finds himself involved in his parents' revolution. A human and intelligent premise that justifies the path full of pitfalls Ajay takes through Kyrat, unfortunately this hero is not as interesting as the things he undertakes.
It's the versatility between exploration and first-person combat that is Far Cry 4's greatest strength. I've climbed cliffs in search of treasure, explored religious monuments and rescued hostages with need help. All while venturing into the Himalayan mountains, I stole oxygen masks and snowmobiles to survive and took advantage of unstable environments to bury my enemies in snow. Long-lost letters told a tragic story that I always wanted to know more about. A collection of business cards launched me on the trail of a serial killer, and stunning vistas allowed me to admire Kyrat's spectacular lakes, mountains and other landscapes. This is all marred at times by low-res textures and lower viewing distance on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but Far Cry 4 is comparable to Far Cry3 in terms of visual rendering and turns out to be beyond expectation in regarding older generation consoles.
I loved discovering every square inch of Kyrat because the region has always offered me attractive opportunities. Freeing her from the oppressive government that dominates her was always the center of the plot and the heart of the action. As in Far Cry 3, the towers occupied by the enemy mix sequences of platforms and puzzles, all with a sense of progression that is always very fulfilling. Climbing to the top gives you a wider perspective of the world, highlighting remarkable places, while unlocking new objectives.
Freeing outposts is more difficult in Far Cry 4 than in its predecessor, but the result is more satisfying. Take the stealth approach and you can turn off alarms one by one to avoid enemy reinforcements, and use bait to attract tigers, bears and other animals, in order to occupy their attention. The counterpart of these actions is the Hunter, a new silent enemy armed with a bow and able to charm animals to fight alongside him. This creates another unexpected variable that made me think even more seriously about how these excellent combat systems worked in synergy. Additionally, enemy forces sometimes attempt to reclaim their territory, challenging you to let go of what you're doing and push back waves of ruthless soldiers. It also encourages taking specific strongholds which, when under your control, put an end to enemy attempts to regain control. Struggles with the Royal Army thus place an even greater emphasis on the outposts, one of the franchise's most alluring attractions.
These encounters highlight the importance of improvisation in Far Cry 4. The unpredictability of a randomly occurring situation often results in catastrophic but still quite unforgettable moments, like when I blew up a bear. with C4 to protect the mercenaries I had called in to take an outpost. I once threw grenades from my personal helicopter and watched the fire trap close on my enemies just below. Another time, I rode an elephant, had him break down a door and run a van over on a man.
Battles at the outposts - especially those around the four largest fortresses owned by government officials - are really great when a friend joins you for a two-player co-op game. Adding another player to Far Cry's combat versatility leads to some hilarious and often hectic new moments. Multiplayer co-op also introduces new tactical possibilities, like having one player blast the front door, while another sneak in from behind to stab distracted guards. You can, if you are patient and skilled, use the Far Cry 4 Map Editor to create your own solo outpost missions. When you're first starting out, most of the best missions feature familiar objectives, with a nice variety of settings to craft both complex and expansive levels. I don't see myself doing much, but I will surely get into some community-created maps between two co-op outposts.
Far Cry 4's multiplayer competition manages to concentrate as much in terms of freedom, size, and surprises as it does in co-op and campaign modes. The 5v5 multiplayer competition, called Far Cry Chronicles, sees two asymmetrical factions clash in different ways, all exploiting large, open environments according to their particular advantages. In the classic faction, The Golden Path, we play more according to the tendencies of a classic Far Cry player, i.e. aggressively, with guns, explosives, vehicles and traps. But the Rakshasa, the other faction, use supernatural powers inherited from Shangri-La, relying on invisibility and different types of arrows for their bows.
I love the Rakshasa style: teleportation, whether it's to move, run away, or instantly take down an opponent, is a great tool. Calling on a tiger, or a bear, to guard an area also works wonders. Far Cry Chronicles also has a strong economy, with in-game coins for each success achieved, to be spent on new weapons, accessories or skills, like more efficient stealth, for example, faster movement capabilities, or a closer connection with the animals invoked. The cards are not all successful in these Chronicles, and the game modes are basic, nothing special, but still effective. Still, what borders on the miraculous is that the heart and soul of Far Cry 4 has found its place in a mode that is not at all competitive. I'm telling you: don't miss out on multiplayer, and this just because that's not what you're playing Far Cry for. He is really good!
The secondary supernatural story set in Shangri-La stands out from almost every other objective, online feature, and other stuff in Far Cry 4 though. Like a miniature Far Cry 3: "Dragon's Blood" trickles down throughout Far Cry 4, the stunning psychedelic aesthetic of its crimson foliage and golden skies absolutely opposes that of Kyrat, just like the foundation of his fight. This story is, by design, linear, but it introduces enough new and interesting ideas to create its own identity as it goes. Teaming up with a fierce tiger, slowing down time, and shooting five arrows at once to take down frightening demons, is a huge change of pace. The myth is episodically explained, and when I didn't fully understand the legend, I couldn't research the next part of this weird and wonderful world that is Shangri-La fast enough.
All of these missions feed off of Far Cry 4's brilliant economy, and everything in Kyrat has cause and effect. Hunting and butchering animals let you craft holsters to hold more weapons, or purses to carry more cash. Taking control of enemy territory creates fast transport points and unlocks side quests that promise huge payouts. Destroying propaganda posters unlocks new missions and also earns experience points. The experience unlocks new skills like deadly aerial attacks, damage resistance, and the ability to ride elephants, activities that are both exciting and actually useful. The game also presents opportunities to become a better hunter - timely stings to use then show the positions of animals and enemies, or double the damage you deal.
Far Cry 4 borrows a lot from the way the player progresses in Far Cry 3 (most skills are direct transfers from it) and then adds some additional rewards. Karma-related events unlock new gear, purchase discounts, and grant experience.
Half of the campaign's main missions are intense, memorable, and benefit from Far Cry 4's flexible combat system. These quests typically explore the fascinating history of Ajay Ghale's family, or the ethically mixed future of the Ghale faction. , The Golden Path, as well as the dark places where your choices can take you.
The leaders of the Golden Path, Amita and Sabal, and their bickering form the emotional basis of this part of the story. They are certainly united in their common goal of dethroning the contemptible King of Kyrat, Pagan Min, but their personal opposing philosophies cause multiple problems for the country. I have often hesitated as to who to side with during solo missions: both had strong ethical arguments as to why you should, for example, requisition an enemy opium farm to finance your revolution or, on the contrary, destroy in order to free Kyrat from the hold of the drugs. When the story unfolds, and missions become available, what makes the difference depends on who you choose to lead this revolution. When Amita and Sabal aren't involved, the cast of the mostly poor characters in Far Cry 4 lowers the level of interest in the campaign.
The less interesting half of the story concerns Pagan Min and his lieutenants. I barely remember what the missions were or what had to be accomplished to complete them. Pagan Min is a formidable character, thanks to an excellent, joyfully sadistic and twisted performance by actor Troy Baker. But above all, Min is clearly misused. He makes a thunderous entry, followed by a minimal presence throughout the 15-hour campaign of Far Cry 4. Too bad ... Worse, his seconds do not have time to become interesting before disappearing from the story suddenly and confused.
When I was done with a story that I had both loved and hated, I still continued to wander through Kyrat. I discovered new temples. I found more diaries from Ajay's father to learn more about the struggles of the Golden Path uprising. I was wondering if I had made the right choices for Kyrat, a country I didn't want to leave, a place I will continue to fight for as long as he continues to give me reasons to do so.