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Far Cry 4

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Nov. 18, 2014 (US), Nov. 20, 2014 (EU)

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Xbox One Review - 'Far Cry 4'

by Adam Pavlacka on Nov. 25, 2014 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Far Cry 4 is an open-world, first-person shooter that delivers the most expansive and immersive Far Cry experience ever.

Buy Far Cry 4

"What gun would Jesus choose?" asks an arms dealer as he waxes poetic about various weapons. Incorporating Bible references with a firepower sales pitch may seem a bit incongruous, but in the world of Far Cry 4, it works. This is a game that revels in the idiosyncrasies of its characters, pokes fun at the very tropes it employs, and is at its best when you simply ignore the story and start exploring. In short, Far Cry 4 is an incredibly enjoyable experience because it encourages you to break the rules.

Built on an enhanced version of the Dunia Engine 2 that powered 2012's Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 immediately feels familiar to anyone who played the prior game (or its spin-off, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon). Far Cry 4 uses a similar mission structure, similar narrative structure and even a similar upgrade system. On the surface, one could almost accuse the game of being a quick cash-in with new assets and a by-the-numbers story filling in the blanks. If you did that, though, it would be obvious that you hadn't spent any time with the game, as there is an emergent world to explore once you scratch beneath that surface.


Having the freedom to explore as you see fit isn't something that is common to action games. Typically, if you try to stray off the main path, the game world is devoid of content. Far Cry 4 addresses that issue by providing a wide variety of independent missions and populating the world with various people and animals, all of which have their own AI. The result is a world where unexpected interactions can happen at any time.

At one point in the game, I was making my way to a radio tower when I was ambushed by two enemy soldiers. One rushed me, and I took him out, while the other hung back and started sniping me with a rifle. Just as I spotted the sniper, a wild dog rushed in from the side and attacked, killing him. I had no control over the dog and didn't order him in. He just happened to be there and saw the sniper as a threat.

Instances like this happened throughout my playthrough, sometimes favoring me and sometimes favoring my opponent. The unpredictability of the animals in Far Cry 4 is one of the major selling points, though it does mean you have to stay on your toes. In one case, I came across an enemy outpost that had a tiger in a cage. I decided to shoot out the lock and let the tiger loose to cause havoc. Instead of attacking the enemy soldiers, the tiger wandered around the base — and decided I was a better target.


While there are some natural barriers to be had in Far Cry 4, those are mostly at the edges of the map. How and where you maneuver around inside is up to you. Once the introductory act has been completed, you are given access to a basic helicopter (more like a flying go-kart, to be honest) and the resulting freedom to explore is invigorating. On one playthrough, I decided to ignore the suggested route and went north, flying as high as possible. At maximum altitude and with the stall alarms going off, I managed to fly just high enough to jump out onto a grassy plateau only to find a sherpa's yak farm. Normally, this is an area that wouldn't be explored until later on, but if you want to go off the beaten path, you can.

The campaign story is decent enough, though it seems to be there to serve as a guide through the game for those who are too timid to explore. Yes, you're part of a rebel force trying to take out evil dictator Pagan Min and free the land so all can live happily ever after. There are sub-bosses to beat, morally ambiguous leaders and a drug-induced mind trip that makes the mushroom land of Far Cry 3 look like child's play. My personal exploits were much more impressive, simply because I was the one driving them. It's like the difference between a regular book and a choose-your-own-adventure book.

Interestingly enough, the team behind Far Cry 4 seems to have realized that the story was second fiddle to the gameplay, as there are a number of meta references littered throughout. One of my favorites was uttered by the "Radio Free Kyrat" DJ as he was ostensibly describing Min's speeches, but he could easily be discussing the script of almost most any AAA shooter.

"Who writes this stuff?" the DJ asks. "Do you have to have a PhD in bullshit?"

"It has to be soul-crushing writing thousands of lines of the same shit," he follows up.


If the little mentions weren't obvious enough, Far Cry 4's "short game" alternate ending makes the intention crystal clear. Right after the start of the game, Min asks you to wait at the dinner table while he wanders off to interrogate a suspect. Most players will use this as a chance to bolt, and the main adventure starts. If you wait around for 10 minutes, however, Min returns and apologizes for the delay. He then takes you to your sister's shrine, so you can lay your mother to rest (the whole point of the campaign), before asking if you got it "out of your system," so you can both go "shoot some goddamn guns."

By putting the focus on the action and giving the player an incredible amount of choice in how you attack the world (head-on, stealth, calling in AI support, bringing along a co-op partner, etc.), the team behind Far Cry 4 made the right choice. That's not to say everything is perfect. The occasional AI glitch appears, and the frame rate sometimes drops down into the high 20s (though it does stay near 30 most of the time), but any issues are easily overlooked when you're having fun. No matter what anyone says, stampeding through a gaggle of enemy soldiers while riding on the back of an elephant is a blast.

In addition to the campaign mode, which can be played solo or in co-op, Far Cry 4 also supports a five-versus-five multiplayer mode, with three game types. What's here isn't going to blaze any new trails for competitive multiplayer, but it's a nice addition to the single-player game, especially if you enjoy team-based play.


The custom map editor and browser are likely to be more attractive than multiplayer. Currently limited to single-player game modes, the map editor allows you to create and play Assault, Extraction, Hunt and Outpost missions. Custom maps can be published to the world, so it's kind of like an unlimited supply of levels. Granted, not every user-created mission will be great, but with an integrated rating system, the cream of the crop should rise to the top.

Modern shooters promise a lot of spectacle but little depth. Everyone has the same experience in Call of Duty and then promptly forgets the campaign as they move on to the next game.

Far Cry 4 excels because it provides the depth that so many other shooters lack. It is not revolutionary, and it doesn't push the boundaries of the genre, but you know what? Far Cry 4 knows that in the end, all players want to do is "shoot some goddamn guns" and have fun doing it. Far Cry 4 delivers that in spades.

Score: 9.0/10



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