Far Cry 4: A Comprehensive Review
Welcome to Kyrat
Oh, Kyrat. Such a lush environment full of adventure. It is truly a place where the legends of Shangri-La and the spirits of a Nepali-type culture come to life. Characterized by wandering, aimless Sherpas in the shadows of mountains so high that no man can ever hope to conquer their snow-covered peaks, I found myself innately drawn to this fictitious world that so naturally emulates an existing land located on the other side of the world.
And then I was carried off of one of those peaks that took me forever to climb by a golden eagle, and my perspective forever changed.
Welcome to Kyrat, children.
Keep An Eye On the Wildlife
What a magnificent creature, the eagle. Such a perfect predator! So perfect, in fact, that it's perfected the art of carrying off live human beings. Yes, you heard that correctly. The eagles can snatch up people.
Circumstances regarding the local wildlife are similar in Far Cry 4 to those in Far Cry 3. In both environments, you not only have to worry about the people who hunt you for sport, but also about the lurking, bloodthirsty creatures on whose territory you are infringing upon. An interesting addition to Far Cry 4 is the elephant, on which you can ride into battle. It is a truly epic experience, and I invite all brave enough to partake in a little digital live action elephant warfare.
The honey badgers ain't no joke, and neither are the Asian rhinos (those things can literally barrel into the side of a car, kill everyone inside of it, and continue on with their day as if nothing ever happened). The badgers will seek you out if you come within a certain radius of them, and they're deadly- especially if you're in the middle of something that requires you to remain quiet. I have run into this issue several times when I am staking out a fortress (more on this later) and here comes a honey badger- and you know those guys don't care whatsoever about you or your mission.
The demon fish are awful as well, and will attack you on sight. They're the Kyrati equivalent of piranha with equally large appetites and equally nonexistent moral compasses. They're just one extra hurdle in terms of the wildlife in this game, which serves to complicate your life in unimaginable ways. The Tibetan wolves and dholes are equally vicious and will hunt you in packs. Whereas they're easy kills, things become a little more complicated when you're being jumped by several at once.
Kyrat forces you to plan better than the environment of Far Cry 3 does. You can identify the animals in your surrounding locations using the hunting syringe, and this is extremely helpful when plotting your path during missions. I invested heavily in the hunting syringe because I happen to be terrified of water in real life, and the prospect of swimming with large, toothed, carnivorous fish makes me enormously uncomfortable. Another convenient characteristic of the hunting syringe is that it allows you to see people, which is especially helpful because the outlines of these people are visible even if they're hiding or are on the move. Knowing the location of everything that wants to kill you is at any given moment is super advantageous.
How Not to Breach a Fortress
Warning: the video to the right is live action and therefore laced with profanity. Proceed with caution.
The fortresses were probably the toughest parts of this game and for good reason- they're the palatial homes of Far Cry 4's "commanders", or important characters that you experience throughout the game. These tough guys include Paul De Pleur, Yuma, Noore, and the great Pagan Min himself, whose fortress is of course the toughest of them all. When I first started playing the game, I wasn't exactly interested in completing any of the fortress missions because they seemed too damn hard to do on one's own without the possibility of a co-op partner joining the ruckus. I mean, taking down an entire fortress is really an intense experience and I didn't really think I was up to the challenge because my character is flawed and I lack patience.
After completing one of the main missions, I realized that the first fortress was actually weakened by my success. This particular mission involved Paul De Pleur, and it was his fortress that I went after first. The game will notify you once a fortress has been "weakened" by events that occur during a mission, meaning that it has suffered both human casualties and structural damage, including damage to some of the alarms inside of the fortress. It is ideal to breach any fortress after it has been weakened, but if you're really after a challenge you're able to attempt when the fortress is at full strength. This means more guys and the maximum number of functioning alarms.
Some of the fortresses also house dogs, which will alert to your presence long before the guys do. It's advantageous to use bait- which can be picked up from animal carcasses- to distract the dogs and perhaps eliminate them if it's in your best interest. But the human enemies will react to a dog carcass immediately upon sighting it, so if you need to bump Fido off make sure you're doing it in a place where his body will be hidden from view; you cannot move dog bodies like you can people bodies.
All in all, fortresses require you to be patient and plot your moves. There's questions about where to hide bodies, the paths that your enemies will take, the strength and class of your enemies, and the locations of enemies that are stationary and don't move. It's really all about planning and less about the executing, because that's the easy part.
Ponder Your Choices
Another one of the cool things about Far Cry 4 are the characters that you experience along the way. Most of them have fairly interesting back stories, such as a family that was kidnapped or a former aid doctor turned corrupted drug lord. Similar to Far Cry 3, you'll have the opportunity to make decisions that alter the course of the game, either for better or for worse.
There are two other characters that you'll spend a lot of time around: Sabal and Amita, who are like the quintessential married couple who fights all of the time and whose members spend equal amounts of time plotting the other's violent death. The two of them each want different paths for Kyrat; Sabal wants to return the land to its traditional practices and eliminate the drug corruption within its borders, and Amita wants to preserve the drug corruption in order to rebuild Kyrat. Each presents their arguments to you at various stages throughout the game, and you must decide which to support.
I am a stick in the mud, and so I supported Sabal every step of the way. I just could not support Amita in her mission to fund schools and road reconstruction with heroin, despite the idealism of it all. I won't spoil the outcome of the game for anyone, but just make sure to investigate each decision with a figurative magnifying glass; there are some points in the game that will make you regret the things that you did, and you'll see these mistakes come to life. So just be prepared!
The Challenges of Getting Around
If you're anything like me- a perfectionist- you'll try to complete every side mission and collect every artifact possible, which is a feat unto itself. Some of these things, such as masks or journal entries, are stuck into the most inaccessible crevices that you might possibly imagine. And you'll really have to work to get to these locations because most of the time, there's only one way to get there.
I found myself doing a lot of climbing and at times it was so utterly exhausting that I almost gave up. ALMOST. For locations that I needed to reach in the mountains, there was literally only one way up and at times I just couldn't find it. These little paths are high up and difficult to access and your chances of dying by falling dramatically increases in a lot of these situations. Oh, and your chances of being picked off by an assassin eagle increase as well.
On the downside- literally- some of these items are located underwater. This is anxiety provoking to say the least, because the objects are often stuck in vehicles and in between rocks on the floor of lakes and ponds, so you'll run out of air if you're not using a breathing syringe. On top of drowning, there are devil fish, sharks, and alligators waiting to pick you off and eat you for lunch. These were the locations I saved for last because I just couldn't handle it- it is so scary to try to maneuver Ajay into the correct position so that he can pick up a mask and to the immediate side of him, you can see some sort of predator approaching. This is another situation in which the hunting syringe comes in handy so that you can plot your moves without being digested.
There is nothing more obnoxious or frustrating when you've worked to the point of exhaustion to get Ajay up the side of a mountain peak or down into the depths of a lake in which you can't see the bottom and you die. YOU DIE. For whatever reason, you perish and you have to start the attempt all over again. Talk about complete and utter frustration. I can't delve much more into this because I'm afraid that I'll throw my laptop, but the lesson you need to take away from this paragraph is that perfection in this game comes at a very high cost; seek it at your own discretion.
The Cultural Component
I didn't exactly learn about this, but I thought it was important to include. I've been entertaining a personal fascination with Nepal and Mount Everest for quite some time now, and I was thrilled when I discovered that the Nepali culture shaped the fictional Kyrat and its diverse inhabitants. The terrain was inspired by the real-life Nepal, as well as the ancient architecture of the buildings and temples. Little tokens of the culture are displayed throughout the game, including prayer flags, visits into the mythical world of Shangri-La, and turnable mani wheels. It was utterly fascinating to see such a vibrant, colorful culture brought into the spotlight by a video game.
Another staple of the Nepali culture is the Sherpa, which is an ethnic group that is most likely well-known for the role its people play in the various ascensions of the imposing Mount Everest. At various points throughout the game, you will run into the Sherpas who are very much like wandering general stores. I was delighted to meet my first one, who called me "friend" as if he had known me for years. These characters are not entirely accurate depictions of the real life Sherpas, but their fictional personalities seemed to emulate the unabashedly open friendliness that the real people are rumored to be well known for.
Shangri-La- an imaginary Himalayan paradise of sorts- is represented as well, and it is terrifying. Characterized by vibrant reds, a horde of ethereal demons, and a friendly tiger, Far Cry 4's take on this mythical world is an entirely new environment to explore. You'll play a different character in these missions, and one who was supposedly important to the legends of the Kyrati culture. But it's the story line that really takes over here, and it involves a sort of "paradise lost" mentality. It was highly enjoyable, but often panic-inducing for reasons you'll hopefully find out on your own.
I am not exactly well-versed in all of the aspects of the Nepali culture, and I don't know whether or not Far Cry 4 represents an accurate depiction of Nepal. But it was nice to see something that I could draw a relation to, unlike in Far Cry 3 which could have taken place in any tropical location in the world. The prayer flags- which can be seen at some locations on Everest- and the mani wheels were entertaining to seek out. Overall, I'm just a poor broke gal trying to eke out a living and I'll never visit Nepal, so I'm pretty happy that I got to see some 3D version of it even if it wasn't entirely realistic.
Overall, A Great Game
Far Cry 4 was certainly chock full of thrills, interesting things to discover, and fun little surprises along the way. It also boasts a Co-op component and a DLC addition that features the fictional Yeti, neither of which I've had the opportunity to try. But overall, it was well worth my time even if it was a little tedious at some points.
Invest, and kiss the next 30+ hours of your life away!