Reviewed: Far Cry 5

Reviewed

Far Cry has become somewhat of a yearly expectation; a franchise favorite that always seems to sell well, despite players knowing what they’re going to get for the most part. Maybe it’s this consistency that keeps us coming back or maybe it’s the slight tweaks and improvements from title-to-title that makes this nearly yearly release worth it. Far Cry 5 aims to continue the growth and make its mark with the “larger than life” villains that have made Far Cry such a compelling franchise to watch year in and year out. There was somewhat of a break between Far Cry 4 and 5, however with primal landing in between the two mainstays, Ubisoft had a promote the latest title a little bit differently than the previous titles. The concept is a bit more extreme, the location a bit more close to home for some, and the concept a bit more on the nose than usual. Does Far Cry 5 deliver on quintessential Far Cry experience and still expand on the original premise, or is it just a game where you’re killing some simple Montana folk?

Far Cry 5 starts out pretty similarly to what we’ve come to expect from the series, the silent protagonist who find themselves in an isolated area, forced to fight for not only their lives but the lives of loved ones. There is a bit more player customization this time around, with the option to pick basic cosmetic options like sex, skin tone, hair and clothing the players are given a bit more control. Character customization doesn’t have much of an impact. The customization choices don’t seem to play any role in the single-player portions of the game and are just options to help players stand out a bit more in multiplayer.

The campaign for Far Cry 5 is presented a bit differently this time around. Ubisoft certainly put in the effort to decentralize their quest systems and relied much more heavily on exploration and communicating with the NPCs scattered rather densely around rural Montana. To make the gaming experience feel a bit more natural, Ubisoft has removed the requirement to climb towers as we saw in Far Cry 3 and 4 and eventually became a very repetitive experience. In a somewhat ironic turn, however, the game still feels like it’s following the “Ubisoft recipe,” the exploration didn’t necessarily feel like a Far Cry game at the start, but it did do a great job at reminding me of another recent Ubisoft title, Assassin’s Creed Origin. Both games seemed to want to crack the exploration mold a bit, and they ended up doing so in a way that’s very familiar to one another.

Questing in Far Cry 5 does feel more natural as the players expand. There’s also a refreshing collection of things to do that aren’t connected to the primary quest lines. Clutch Nixon, a local Dare Devil, has set various stunts records and timed races for players to get through that are both satisfying as well as frustrating as all holy shit. The fishing mini-game is also a lovely way to unwind and relax with the game or just a calming filler in between missions. It’s a well-executed change of pace that adds a nice flow to the game that isn’t in another Far Cry game. While fishing is a mini-game, there’s quite a bit to do with it, and it can easily keep a player occupied for hours on and off during a play-through. It’s possible to fight a massive fish for 8 to 10 minutes, reeling them in, only to nearly snap your line and have to give it some slack, which allows the fish to put some distance between the two of you. Sometimes the only way you’re going to catch the fish is to tire them out. Similarly, there are also hunting quests that the player is sent out.  While fishing, death-defying stunts, and a carefully executing hunting excursion are a welcome break to capturing outposts and playing missions, not all of them seem to hit their mark. A lot of side quests don’t seem to fit, not really; for the lack of a better term. The story of a cult leader running amuck in Montana is a fairly serious topic, yet a lot of the side quests seem to do their best to detract from this. Hurk senior for instance, is a mouthy hillbilly who is running for local political office and uses the player to, let’s say pack the ballot box.  These missions don’t add much lore to the world and other than giving you access to our old friend, Hurk Jr. there’s not much to offer. Not all of the side quests feel out of place, but you’re likely to find a couple throughout the game that doesn’t feel like they fit the experience that Ubisoft tried to craft. While this was likely a conscious decision during development, these kinds of quests that feel like they’re trying to break the tension just don’t hit the mark and has a tendency to feel forced and in some cases, insulting.

The main quest is quite engaging, the villains the player has to deal with are all charismatic in their ways. The Father, Joseph Seed is a fascinating character who sets himself apart from the stand-out cast of villains like Vaas and Pagan Minh from previous entries in the series, where these characters have a menacing presence to them. Father Seed, however, has a twisted warmth to him that we’ve not seen in a Far Cry game before, as a character he very quickly identifies as a fatherly figure, both in a literal and more figurative, religious sense of the word. Joseph Seed very much plays the role of the disapproving father for our protagonist. There’s a lot of mystery that seems to surround the man and his family that’s kept vague. Unfortunately, a lot of the mysteries surrounding Father Seed are just not addressed beyond the character’s flowery speech and biblical flare. Other characters, like Faith, are interesting, but ultimately her segments feel pretty disjointed from the rest of the experience. By itself, her portion of the game is perfectly fine. It’s beautiful and serene in its experience, but when it’s connected with the rest of the game, it feels like a weaker experience compared to the rest of the game. Some of the quests and mechanics in this these parts of Far Cry 5 feel a bit nonsensical at times. Bears will randomly turn into wolverines or cults into deer, as an example. It’s meant to expand on the hallucinogenic and vision quests of the previous titles in the series, but it all seems like it’s been laid on pretty thick this time around.

At first glance, the weapons selection looks deep. Players will open the weapons menu for the first time and see a plethora of weapons to choose. What won’t take long to recognize however is that lot of these weapons are the same with different skins applied to them. It feels like one of the more shallow weapons experiences in the Far Cry series, which is a particularly odd feeling since Montana being a very second amendment friendly state would have a ridiculously robust collection of firearms, everything from the useful to the utterly ridiculous. It’s a small point of American culture that Ubisoft seems to have entirely missed. Not only do gamers love a wide selection of hardware. The people Ubisoft is portraying seem to have skipped the fact that small-town America enjoys their options when it comes to guns. There are only two AR-15 style weapons in the game. One is a marksman rifle, and the other is automatic. There are different skin options and even a couple of “unique” weapons, the problem? They are all the same firearm with a different paint job. With the number of options and hardware available for the AR platform, it seems a bit ridiculous that these supposed preppers are all going to have the same firearms uniformly across the county. It’s a small, but noticeable problem with the game that I just couldn’t get beyond. All the cultists use the same weapons as the local militia factions and the AK-style rifle no one seems actually to carry regularly, and you’ll likely have to buy before you can even try it. There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had with the bow and the slingshot, but it’s a novelty that wears thin after a few hours. I continually changed my load-out to keep things fresh, but halfway through the game, I’d already used all the weapons I’d unlocked. There are custom boss weapons and the re-skinned, “improved” weapons that cost significantly more money, but share all the same stats as the previous hardware that’s unlocked, there just isn’t much to look forward to after the mid-point of the game where weapons are concerned.

Far Cry 5’s progression system’s a pretty standard affair for a Ubisoft title, which if you’ve played the latest Assassin’s Creed, then you’ll be right at home with the basic premise. Players collect points and accomplish goals to gain yet more points so you can add or improve skills that your character has already. Most of them are pretty useful; some aren’t at all. An example of this would be an early upgrade that allows the player to hold their breath longer while swimming. It seems useful, but you’re likely not spending too much time swimming, what with boats being available all the time and the ability to navigate around these bodies of water entirely. There are a few quests that require the player to swim, of these missions I did, the upgrades weren’t necessary to be successful. While it’s an excellent option to have, it’s a bit of a waste of a skill-point early on, when it can be used to unlock something better, like a health upgrade, parachute or wing-suit that helps the player get around the world, or save themselves from a clumsy death.

The audio and soundtracks for the game are phenomenal, a lot of the music was made especially for it, which added a tailor fit experience. The music that plays when players enter the menu system is a beautiful track that is surprisingly relaxing for a shooter like this. I found myself just hanging around an area to finish the song or cruising around in a stolen cultist pickup, just listening to tunes and run over deer, enemies and the occasional pedestrian that had the misfortune to run out in front of me while I was at top speed. It’s a secondary aspect of the game but adds a believable soundtrack to the experience that fits the location well. Sound effects were also made with care, audio queues from locals and cultists alike are interesting to eavesdrop on, and the sounds of combat echoed through the valleys and the hills throughout the game that adds a feeling of distance and scope to the title. While it’s pretty similar to previous Far Cry titles, especially Far Cry 4, it seems like there was a little more care taken this time around in using audio queues to top the experience off, granting it some unexpected depth.

While Far Cry 5 is fun and pretty immersive experience, it’s not all gravy. The game’s got some pretty peculiar hangups, quite literally. The collision system in the game can get pretty wonky at times. The effect can be as hilarious as it is frustrating at times. For some reason, hopping out of a vehicle will sometimes cause it to rocket forward at top speed as if it were ass-ended by a big rig going full speed. Other times, a loose fence post or sign that’s on the road will cause a vehicle to flip end-over-end, half the time exploding and killing the occupants. Funny when it happens to enemies chasing you, but maddening when you’re the one sitting in the middle of a fiery wreck. As a general rule, it’s recommended that if your vehicle starts taking impacts from absolutely nothing, put some distance between yourself and the vehicle, then just watch it for a few seconds. It’s likely to go careening wildly off into the forest, lake or even launched into the sky like some redneck version of a Space X rocket. Other than these laughable collision problems, the game doesn’t seem to experience any wide-spread bugs. There is one particularly filthy little bug that has to do with the parachute and interacting with uneven terrain. When a player pulls the chute around the time, they would have hit the ground, cliff, hill or what have you, instead of dying the player falls through the map and takes a very slow descent into foggy, white oblivion. It’s stable, and after nearly 40 hours of play, I’ve not experienced a single crash on the PC, which is excellent compared with some of the earlier Far Cry titles.

Ultimately, Far Cry 5 doesn’t break the mold, it barely even flexes it most of the time. Fans of the previous Far Cry games would likely enjoy this game quite a bit, if you haven’t played one for a while, it may be something you’re interested in picking up. Gamers that are a bit bored with this brand of open-world shooter may want to skip this installment for now. While it does switch some basic game mechanics up, it’s nothing wildly experimental and does not deviate too far from the what we’ve come to know as the Far Cry franchise. While it’s not going to add much to the experience that players haven’t seen in a Ubisoft title before, it does an excellent job at refining and honing some of the more repetitive aspects of the game. There are however some shortcomings with the latest installment that may have some players attention span waning after 20 hours of playtime. As a long time fan of the Far Cry series, I think this game’s worth the investment, but if you’re bored with the standard brand of “Ubisoft” open world experiences, this one’s likely going to be a pass for you.

Leave it in 2014

Editorials

2014 wasn’t a bad year. We had some ups and downs just like we do every year. With any luck and a small amount of vigilance hopefully we can recognize the good and bring it with us into the coming year, while exiling the bad and leave it where it belongs. 2015 is a fresh start and we should really use it like that. While we as gamers should remember our mistakes, lest we be doomed to repeat them, we need to be able to address them before we can improve. This little list will include a few things from 2014 that we as a community can most certainly do without in the coming year and beyond.

Freemium Fever: This one really has to take a back seat in gaming, it’s even become such an apparent money trap that South Park decided to do an episode dedicated to “freemium” games. Now I am 100 percent certain that free-to-play games on mobile devices are going to be just as big in 2015 as they were in 2014, if not even bigger. There is a simple truth that many people need to acknowledge about these types of “games.” Most of them really aren’t that fun. I’ve given these kinds of games more than one chance and they’ve always gotten uninstalled a few days after trying them. The majority of them are mind-numbingly boring and terribly designed in my experience. On top of that, these games are developed to get people’s money, that is plainly obvious to most of us by this point, I would hope. The games are designed just well enough to produce some odd, addictive behavior so people can’t stop playing them while leaving them unsatisfied so they have to keep pouring money and time into them. They’re little more then heavily monetized Facebook games.Morrigan_HoDA

These mobile games are basically gambling, except without the small possibility of actually being re-reimbursed for all the time, energy and real-world money people have dumped into these things. If you look at it from this point-of-view they’re actually worse than going to a casino, which is also throwing away your money! I am not against the idea free-to-play models all together, what I am against is how most companies implement them. They are simply designed to milk money from the consumer with virtually no new game mechanics, ideas or entertaining hooks. There is no storyline, there is no “end” of the game and there is no benefit to actually playing money to play it because you never truly “win.” EA has been particularly abusive with this kind of gaming. Games like “Heroes of Dragon Age,” have players dumping real-world money into the game to compete in tournaments to win things that aren’t worth anything. There are even players who’ve been known to dump thousands of dollars into this game only to have those investments be ultimately worthless. EA updates the game so that players need to basically start from square one every once in awhile. We can’t forget that EA will also removed or make items obsolete in these updates as well, meaning there is a pool of wasted money for users.

Most of these freemium games don’t appeal to hardcore gamers as it is, but that doesn’t seem to matter much. Freemium titles are the “future of gaming” according to EA so we can all put a sock in it apparently.  Calling these things “Video Game,” really seems to be a bit of a stretch in many cases. When freemium games are compared to other PC, console and handheld games there is a clear difference between them in quality, scope and design. They are thinly veiled attempts to separate people from their money through addictive and repetitive behavior. So while we certainly can’t stop companies from making them, we can sure as hell stop playing them, or at least spending real money on them. Freemium simply isn’t worth the money people have spent on it. If you’re going to game save up all those micro-transactions for something that’s actually worth investing your time and hard earned cash into.

Yearly Franchise Releases: I’m looking at you, Ubisoft! Stop all the damned madness, it’s not working! Gamers are still buying these releases for some reason, but then most of them end up on the internet bitching about the product immediately after playing it. Assassin’s Creed Unity was a train wreck that could have easily been avoided had developers spent just a wee bit more time on it. Not only that but you launched another AC title at the same time which is just ridiculous. It’s fine if you want to invest in these franchises and release them relatively frequently, but a small gap in these launches may be in order here. Gamers would rather play a great game every once in awhile rather than a mediocre title regularly.

Assassin’s Creed Unity could have been a much better game had you waiting. Far Cry 4, while a good game could have been great had the developers spend just a little bit more time on it. The game was full of bugs and lacked a lot of story depth in a game that has the potential to be brimming with it. The community is taking notice to the bullshit embargoes that are being put on Ubisoft titles as well. Sure it could be so a game doesn’t get content leaked or so a review isn’t unfairly released that skips the content only available online. The reality is most of this  content in itself is supplemental and reviewers will still manage to get a solid core experience. Many professional known reviewers have done a wonderful job at informing and compensating for those facts in the past and I see no reason as to why this would suddenly change now. This development cycle is clearly and noticeably hurting these money-making franchises; franchises that many gamers really love(d) and we’re being taken advantage of because of it. Ubisoft has some of the best franchises that consumers are really starting to criticize regularly and with good reason. Their tactics have even got gamers worried about titles like “The Division” that won’t be out for easily another year or more.Monochrome_Institutional_Black_CMYK

Other developers are also guilty of this kind of development cycle and gamers are catching onto that too. Activision’s latest addition to the Call of Duty franchise has sold significantly less copies than it’s predecessors. This is actually somewhat ironic since Advanced Warfare attempted to add some new mechanics to the franchise for the first time in quite awhile. The popular EA Sports games are plagued with problems upon release that drive gamers crazy. Many FIFA and NFL fans can’t help but trash the releases as they come out. As far as the Madden series goes, there are quite a few sports gaming fans who wish more than anything that another developer could make an game using the NFL trade mark and it’s teams. Don’t even get me started on the NHL games either from EA. These things have been terrible for years and only seem to be getting worse as years go by. At least EA Sports has somewhat of a good excuse in saying they are trying to keep up with new rules, players and changes that actually happen in real life with these sports. Granted just about all of these things can be patched into a game after it’s been released, but there’s a half-assed excuse for it. Ubisoft isn’t the only one to pull this kind of shitty predatory development on the gaming community, but they’ve certainly been the worst in 2014.

Graphical Manipulation: To put it bluntly Ubisoft has had a horribly track-record in 2014 and they’ve done a superb job at earning it. This is another great reason why the community finds the company to be untrustworthy recently. Watch Dogs was a highly anticipated game and for good reason. It boasted being the first real next-gen open world sandbox game that brought a slew of new mechanics, ideas and of course gorgeous graphics. The problem was that these “amazing graphics” were nothing more than a “bait and switch” marketing technique that tech savvy gamers caught onto very quickly.

Watch Dogs was meant to be a PS4 launch title, but got delayed only weeks before the release of the new console. The game resurfaced a few months later with a new trailer, which people in the community seemed to be more than willing to pick apart, especially after it’s questionable delay. Most gamers immediately noticed that the graphics were very scaled down. Ubisoft denied this ferociously, despite there being plenty of gamers and websites who published screenshots and videos of the original trailers comparing it to the newly released videos. These bits of media had shown a discrepancy in the game’s graphical quality moving forward in it’s development. Well Watch Dogs was released and wouldn’t we know it? It didn’t look as good as was originally advertised. Ubisoft still denied that they made any real changes to the quality of graphics in the game… That is until someone spent a lot of time looking at the installation directory of the PC version of the game. They uncovered the original files that made the game look like it had during it’s initial preview and announcement. Now that they’d been caught red handed their story changed a bit. Suddenly it wasn’t them saying they made no drastic changes to the graphics, it was that they had to change it due to stability issues within the game. After much testing and re-testing of these “modified” graphics people re-instated, most of them discovered that Ubisoft was at least partially telling the truth. The problem was that most gamers experienced the same level of instability from the original graphic settings compared to the modified versions. TotalBiscuit did a wonderful job and illustrating the bait and switch tactic that Ubisoft pulled with this game and if you haven’t seen it, I’d strongly recommend giving it a look. It may be old news at this point, but it’s something that consumers should be on the lookout for in the future. This is especially important because Ubisoft pretty much got away with this kind of deceitful marking scot-free.

These kinds of tactics shouldn’t be getting used to sell a game.index Any game, let alone a triple-A title should be able to make it on it’s own and without having to be drastically doctored from test footage to release. It preys on the consumer’s inherent desire for the next thing in gaming, while delivering a shoddy and second-rate product. It rewards a company for underhanded marketing tactics and ultimately leaves gamers with a inferior product that could have easily been avoided had the company been honest. Sure, it’s entirely possibly that the developers found an instability that may have caused problems for gamers when it was released, however it’s something they could have been honest about. Watch Dogs would have still sold a boat load of copies and most likely Ubisoft would have still turned a profit from it. The fact that they tried to hide it is the biggest problem that I see with this, especially once they had been caught in their own lie. The company essentially stuck their fingers into it’s ears and repeated the same lines over and over despite the facts that were uncovered. Hopefully this experience with Ubisoft and their deceit will stay firmly embedded in gamers minds for years to come and each of us look at all up and coming titles through a more critical lens.

#GamerGate: Jesus Christ where does one start with this total fucking explosion of stupidity, self-entitlement and blatant across-the-board hypocrisy? At this point if you’re a gamer then you know about #GamerGate. If you have thought critically about it, then you also probably know how utterly fucking stupid and pointless it all is. What started as a few people being dickheads to a female developer for a game they didn’t like then judging her based on the choices she made in her private life leads right into some less restrained writers who felt they held enough of moral high ground to lecture the gaming community. These writers basically came to the laughably illogical conclusion that the entire gaming community was responsible for what a small subset of Chud did.

As if it weren’t enough of a mess already people started boycotting writers, entire websites and leaking emails that showed a somewhat orchestrated opinion from the gaming media regarding what has now been know as “#GamerGate,” since sometime in August. To take it a step further Social Justice Idiots and ill-intending morons began doxing people from both sides of this “movement”. If you were publicly in support of or against #GamerGate and you had a relatively large following there was at least a small chance you were a target of doxing. If you’re not aware of what “doxing” is, it basically means someone releases a bunch of your private information to the web for people to do whatever the fuck they want with it.

#Gamergate has done nothing good for gaming any way you slice it. It has consumers distrusting more Gaming Journalists than they trust these days as well as made gamers look like some woman-hating hobby where the cavemen come together to collective bash women. #GamerGate is the digital equivalent of two unruly mobs with different opinions meeting in the streets and fighting to the last man. If you approached the topic with any sort of rational middle-ground you were automatically marginalized by everyone. It is nothing more than a movement of extremism from both sides about something that honestly doesn’t matter at all, here’s why.

At the end of the day people are going to play and support the games they are interested in. As long as those games are making money developers are going to continue making them. People are still going to criticize many games because they find it “offensive” or “wrong” in some way and they’re going to be loud about it. It’s happened with books, music, movies, TV and you’re damned sure it is going to continue to happen in gaming. Try to remember that people have every right in the world to say they don’t like something. This doesn’t give them any real direct power to change it. They are simply complaining about something that they find offensive, which for the most part is a largely subjective experience. What one of us finds offensive others may not. What someone else finds totally acceptable may be the reincarnation of Hitler to another. As long as it’s not infringing on someone’s personal freedoms then there isn’t anything wrong with the content we choose to expose ourselves to. I support peoples’ right to contact developers of all forms of media that someone finds to be distasteful and be given a chance to plead their case. I also support the developer’s right to choose not to change their own creation. It is their ultimate right and final say what happens to content they are making and paying for the development of. When it’s all said and done that’s really all there is to it. Consumers are left with a choice to buy the games or not. If it doesn’t sell well, it won’t continue to be made moving forward. In capitalism the most effective way to vote is with your wallet.

This same concept goes for sites and writers whose consumers find the content to be done poorly or have an obvious bias. These people also have the right to contact their advertisers to request them to pull media. Those advertisers also have every right in the world to tell those people to take a hike. Everyone has different views, different values and different “triggers.” These same people can easily go somewhere else to get the same information. Large websites don’t hold a monopoly on information. It’s not rational or acceptable for the entire world to walk around on eggshells, worrying they could offend anyone or everyone with facts or even a simple opinion. The world doesn’t work like that and it never will. If it does one day, God forbid; we’ll lose all true artistic freedom as well as technological vision and social advancement. Can we just leave this embarrassing, self-entitled bullshit known as “#GamerGate” in the past where it belongs. I along with most other gamers are sick of seeing it and most of us are well passed the point of actually giving a shit.

I am sure I missed things that people would also love to leave in 2014. I just figured I would cover the big ones for myself. Things that stuck out to me as either trashy, poorly implemented or just downright embarrassing for either companies or the community itself. Feel free to chime in with something I may have missed, since most likely there is a lot out there we’d be better off not carrying into the new year. I am sure that 2015 will unfortunately have no shortage of sad moments in our favorite hobby, but lets hope for the best and move forward.

 

 

 

Far Cry 4: Reviewed

Reviewed

The Far Cry series has had quite an interesting life so far. What started out as a narrative-driven FPS revolving around a Jungle island and weird, aggressive monkey-like super mutants turned into a much more down to earth franchise about various protagonists fighting to save countries in the throes of revolution.  This has been the theme of the Far Cry series since Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 4 has continued this direction and scope of game play pretty well. Far Cry 4 certainly stays true to what has become of the Far Cry series, but does it add anything new to the series that is worth hanging onto and does it improve on the ground work laid by it’s predecessor?

The first thing players will most likely notice in Far Cry 4 is the location. To put it simply, it’s gorgeous. Kyrat, a small fictitious country in the Himalayan Mountains is a land covered in lush green forests, snowy hill-tops and colorful open fields. Visually this is the most strikingly dynamic, as a well as beautifully designed landscape in the Far Cry series to date. Far Cry® 4_20141227234719The landscape varies from location-to-location and is quite diverse even within those individual sections. The Mountainous regions are impressive, covered in blindingly white snow the blows through chasms and gullies that one may expect to see at the top of the world. The less mountainous regions are covered in everything from old tall trees and fields full of violet poppy flowers to old stone ruins littering the countryside. While the land is stunning, below lies an unruly populous and a vicious monarch. Kyrat as a country feels like it has a long and storied history and you’re simply the most recent chapter of it. There is even a feeling that there will be much more to come after you. The way characters speak of the future of Kyrat as well as the past that’s shaped it helps to bring a kind of weight and morality to your actions. While this kind of sentiment is definitely found in Far Cry 3, it’s not to this amount. There are even more exotic locations in the game that really display the depth of it’s beauty that shouldn’t even been mention, lest it give too much of the story away. Most everything is great to look at and while some aspects of it’s design could have used some added work, they are largely insignificant and players won’t be dwelling on it unless they suffer from some extreme rock-related form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Pagan Min, the self-appointed “King” of Kyrat is voiced by the talented Troy Baker. He does a good job at a follow-up villain in Far Cry 4. Pagan Min as a character had a tough act to follow after Far Cry 3’s strong antagonist, Vaas. While not nearly as crazy, Min certainly brought a smooth, cunning and charismatic aspect to characters that seemed to be somewhat lacking in the other Far Cry games. Min has a uniquely calm and evil aspect to him that leaves the player wondering what he is going to do next. He is easily the type of character that is likely to shake your hand as he is to put a bullet through your head. Many players may find themselves in a odd “love/hate” relationship with the character, as he brings quite a bit to the table and is a great addition to the villains in the Far Cry franchise. Ajay Ghale, our fearless protagonist isn’t much more than a generic centerpiece. Far Cry® 4_20141227014228Ubisoft does just enough to get you investing in who he is to carry the player through the story. He’s full of great one-liners though and his family’s history is compelling enough to keep the player wondering in Ajay’s past. While he’s not brilliant, Ajay is definitely the most impactful protagonist in the series to date. Ajay’s allies and the leaders of the Golden Path are frankly are difficult to relate to. Both Amita and Sabal come across as uncompromisingly strict assholes in many scenarios. Neither of these characters are straight with you, despite being the most important person in their revolution. Unfortunately players may be found struggling to make a decision on who to side with. This is not because they both offer something important that players may want or feel aligned with, but because they come across as incredibly untrustworthy and manipulative characters. Ironically enough, the villains are much more relatable. They make no attempt at hiding their true nature and what their goals are with Ajay. The enemies are simply more trust worthy because they do exactly as they say and in many cases come across as being much more human than the characters that claim to be on your side. Characters like Paul De Pleur are compelling and interesting. They seem to have many different sides to them with unseen motivations that affect their actions. While these do not necessarily impact the story it certainly adds to it’s development. The problem here is that none of the friendly characters have any of these in depths qualities which ultimately hurts their motives. There are a few characters that manage to be completely off the wall, untrustworthy and yet fun as well. Keep a close eye on Yogi and Reggie.

Far Cry® 4_20141226203110The lesser NPCs in the game are pretty generic. They look good with quite a bit of detail in their design, body language and even their audio queues. These characters really help to fill to the world with “living” people. There is a lot of repeating actions and dialogue that is difficult to ignore however. If the player isn’t looking too hard it’s something that won’t bother them, however if they happen to be the type of gamer that’s looking for an in-depth, comprehensive world that has new things to offer from every NPC at every turn, it may be something that bothers them. That said there is a whole lot of detail in each model. Min’s soldiers range from the young to the old, with clean shaven baby faces, to grizzled and scarred complexions and facial hair. Whether friend of foe though, they all seem to be somewhat worried about the wildlife in the area and with very good reason.

Almost all of the animals that exist in Kyrat are aggressive in one way or another. Some much more than others, but if the player pushes their luck with them they may find themselves on the wrong end of a horn, claw or talon. These animal models are absolutely stunning! Whoever did the design and modeling for these beasts deserves a pay raise. The wild cats especially stand out. Tigers and Snow Leopards had some real love put into their designs. After killing one (because that’s the only way in hell you will get close to them.) the fur looks fluffy, thick and as if each individual hair stands on it’s own to make a fine, shiny coat for the animal. It’s fun to watch a tiger stalk it’s prey through the tall grass, or a Black Eagle plunging down to pick up a wild boar and carry it off.  Other animals like the Rhino and Elephant are designed with equal amounts of care put into them. Their movements are fluid and the signs that they are about to become aggressive are hard to miss. Players may find themselves making the mistake of getting too close to watch them while they lumber about and get attacked, but it’s well worth it just to see them moving around and watch their mannerisms. These animals help to create the illusion of a stable and beautiful ecosystem that most other games can’t compete with.

The game’s audio is pretty solid. The music is a good mixture of modern electronic and historically Asian influenced music mixed together. It’s enough to fill in some of the down time while the player is driving to a mission or is quietly scouting an outpost looking for a good point to attack without intruding on their concentration. Enemies will yell some pretty entertaining and unique things at you while they are looking for Ajay or even actively shooting at him. The weapons audio is great as well and melee combat has a satisfying “Thud” or “Shink” sound to it that lets the player know their attacks have hit the intended target.

Quite a few of the weapons are pulled right from Far Cry 3. This isn’t exactly a bad thing since that game had some really great guns. Some of these are nice to see again, but it would have been nice to have a few more new guns, if you’ve played Far Cry 3 then you pretty much know what to expect for the weapons and upgrade system that is available in Far Cry 4. It seems to work really well and there’s not reason to fix what ain’t broke, but a few more additions would have been nice. Players may find that they become comfortable with their “favorites” too. While this is fine, to get the most out of the game and play around with different tactics players should really look at trying different weapons regularly. They may find themselves pleasantly surprised when using something new. Far Cry 4 does a great job at giving players options, especially where tactics and weapons are concerned. It’s really difficult to get bored of the combat too with so many options. You can go in as a quiet assassin, knifing anyone you come across, or a ranged ghost filling your targets full of arrows like the Kyrati hunters of old. Players can run into an area full of enemies, loudly gunning them all down, throwing led and their aim out the window as they plaster Pagan’s guard with bullets. In some cases players can even use the wildlife itself as a weapon. There is no shortage of available weapons or tactics however and that should keep most players easily entertained.Far Cry® 4_20141227202612

The ability to traverse the world has certainly improved as well. Players may remember unlocking the “Wing-Suit” in Far Cry 3 and it’s reappeared in the latest game, giving players a bit more maneuverability and a way to avoid simply plunging to their deaths so easily. Far Cry 4 has also introduced a grappling hook. This allows players to climb a steep cliff faces and swing from ledge to ledge without too much of a risk of death. This grappling hook is a nice addition to the game that gives a player very specifically added mobility. While it’s not usable in many situations, it is certainly indispensable when the player wants it. The hook also helps to give them game some vertical scale since players can now explore some of the cliff faces for items or even use them as a vector of attack. While it’s not necessarily a game changer, players have certainly gotten creative when using the grappling hook to their advantage and it’s a nice addition to the Far Cry series.

Unfortunately the game does have more than it’s fair share of bugs. Players may run into the occasional clipping glitch that causes them to get stuck in a wall or firmly lodged between two objects in the world. The game also appears to suffer from diminished “polish” as players progress. While it may have been a coincidence, a vast majority of bugs I ran into were in the last 20 percent of the game. These bugs include odd graphical problems that seemed to cause a blue lighting effect filter over the entire game while outside that could only be fixed by restarting. A more noticeable as well as annoying bug that caused me to be unable to steady my sniper rifles by holding by breathe also came up quite a few times. While the option was available to use it simply did not work when I pressed the key to activate it. I attempted to correct this by changing scopes, rifles and even reloading my previous checkpoint however I could not resolve this problem until I restarted the game all together. All of these bugs I experienced in the last section of the game which seemed to be strange. It simply could be poor timing, however there were noticeably more problems for me as a neared the end of the game.Far Cry® 4_20141225205113

All-in-all Far Cry 4 is a decent game. If you love exploration and a good FPS that gives players choice and flexibility in how to tackle an objective then you’ll most likely enjoy Ubisoft’s lately installment in the Far Cry series. There are however a few issues that made the game frustrating. The glitches seem to be a symptom of nothing more than a lack of consistency and a rush job that could have easily been avoided had the game be delayed for even an extra month or two. While the content that is there is good, it does repeat itself a lot and it does limit the game to some degree. With all that said though, the combat is satisfying and there are some wonderfully well represented characters in the game that should stick in your mind for a long time to come. The environments are breathtaking, expansive and are rewarding to explore. For me, the experience was overwhelmingly positive and despite it’s flaws I had trouble pulling myself away. As long as you’re not expecting Far Cry 4 to reinvent the First Person genre or even the Far Cry franchise then you’ll most likely be very pleased with the time spent in Kyrat.