Sunday, 30 November 2014

Game review: Far Cry 4

Far Cry 3 marked a big jump forward in the series and it's understandable that Ubisoft does not want to stray away from that formula, which is to take the player to paradise, a veritable heaven on earth — and then unleash hell in the form of a madman with his own small army. In Far Cry 4, you get more of the same mayhem you loved in Far Cry 3, but instead of the sunny blue waters, you now have the cold blue mountains. Did we mention, this game is set in India?

Story and world



Welcome to Kyrat, a beautiful little country nestled deep in the Himalayas. Don't fall off your chair yet, adding Kyrat to your summer travel itinerary. Firstly, it's fictitious; secondly, it's run by a megalomaniac despot Pagan Min.

You play Ajay Ghale, a NRI who has returned to India on the final wishes of his mother to scatter her ashes. Things go horribly wrong for him as he has a pretty scary face-off with Pagan Min. Luck's on his side though, as he is rescued by the rebel group, called Golden Path, in a very cool car chase sequence with some cheesy Bollywood music playing on the car radio, as Pagan Min's men are trying to blow him to kingdom come. As they say, right out of the frying pan and off the mountainside.

The story for most part is okay, with a signature ham attached to it. Just a device meant to acclimatize you to Kyrat, to make you hate the bad guy and to introduce you to all manner of characters. From brave Golden Path members to mad hatters all strewn about the place — all of whom have one purpose in the world: to keep you on a steady supply of missions and things to do and blow up. The interesting part is watching Ghale's background unfold as he finds out the truth about his parents. There's no NRI coming back to India love story unfolding in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge style here — just visceral first person shooting action from beginning to end.



As an Indian playing Far Cry 4, there's a lot to connect with the game and the world of Kyrat, which feels part rooted in north and northeast India as well as parts of Tibet and Nepal as inspiration points. What's interesting is the art style, which employs colorful Indian rangoli art, combined with minimal typography. Little touches like loading screens have "Ek Minute" in Hindi, and many of the conversations or threats are in Hindi too.

You will notice the choicest Hindi profanities thrown in parts. All in all, Far Cry 4 is like being home. Of course, Kyrat is not without it's tropes, meant to make the world more palpable for western audiences. Like monkey heads, lots of elephants, incense and other elements, which mostly brings Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to mind.

One thing is for certain though. Pagan Min is a refreshingly mad villian, who should make it into your villains hall of fame scrapbook. Highly entertaining.

Gameplay



Far Cry 4 is a sandbox shooter, which means you can explore the country of Kyrat from edge to edge. Which you can set about doing either on foot or in one of the vehicles, including killer rickshaws and in some cases on the backs of the local fauna. There's even a whimsical gyrocopter. Driving in Far Cry 4's mountain roads are as tricky as driving in North India, so if getting behind the wheel lets you see the game over screen so often, the game has included a helpful autodrive option so that you can enjoy the scenery or shoot enemies without distraction.

If you play through the game's straightforward campaign, Far Cry 4 will get over pretty fast. However, Kyrat throws in a lot of distractions. Taking over the various enemy outposts is a lot of fun and you can do this either in stealth or with carefully planned mayhem using assortments of guns and gadgets at your disposal. Full guerilla tactics. In addition to that there's a wealth of side missions for you to complete, including a weird Shangri La like hallucination mission.



Being an action game and all, there's lots and lots of guns. You can either go silent tribal style bow and arrow, or fill up your arsenal with some of the home made, souped up guns of the region. Not to mention the sheer destructive power of the elephant. You level up roleplaying game style and you earn money, which in turn buys you a lot more implements of destruction.

For those who have played Far Cry 3, you know the drill. It's more of the same, though Ubisoft has tightened the gameplay and experience. Though you will not get bored, after the Himalayan odyssey feeling wears off, you're just left with a feeling of deja vu.

Graphics



In this department Far Cry 4 will make your collective jaws drop. Ubisoft has just created a stunning, beautiful Eden that borders on the mythical. If there was a heaven, it would look like Kyrat, minus the mad despot of course. There are times where you will stop to just admire the vistas, or auto-drive just to idly look at the great mountains whiz by like giants. With mists hugging the distant peaks and sunrays shining down, the grass gently sways in the wind.

While the game does look decent on older generation consoles, everything truly shines on the next-generation consoles, but it is the PC version that takes the cake, especially if you have an Nvidia card for which the game has special settings. Be wary though, like most of the releases this gaming season, Far Cry 4 does have a few bugs, which no doubt Ubisoft is hard at work fixing.

Worth a mention are the stunning character models, which are some of the best we have seen. Just take a look at the picture below of Amita, a Golden Path warrior and judge for yourself. Kyrat sure has some beautiful people. Even Pagan Min has a certain whimsical charm about him.



Note: Far Cry 4 has a deep muliplayer and co-op system, something we were not able to test. So this is primarily a review of the games single player. You can, however, play through this campaign with a few friends in co-op.