Far Cry 4 review: a true blockbuster that offers chaotic fun but little heart

PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC; Ubisoft; £54.99

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The Independent Tech

Part of the allure of video games is getting to live out a dangerous, exciting life without having to face the consequences. This is made all the more appealing when the virtual world that you inhabit feels like a realistic representation of the real world. The Far Cry series tries to strike this balance of adventure and realism and does so with varying degrees of success.

Far Cry 4 is the latest instalment in the series and takes place in the fictional Himalayan-inspired province of Kyrat. You take the role of Ajay Ghale, an American on a mission from his dead mother to return her ashes to her home country. During this trip things inevitably start to go wrong and you are thrust into a war between revolutionaries and dictators.

Unlike many modern shooters, you aren’t just tied to a single route and there is an open world for you to explore, taking on story missions as and when you desire. This allows the player to really get invested in the environment and the minor characters that you encounter along the way. There is also a great deal to see and do so there is no shortage of opportunity to take a break and go and hunt some boar.

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With open-world games it is often quite difficult to make the main plot line feel focused and relevant as the player could be liberating villages for the past few days and forget some important plot details. The game overcomes this in some clever ways, summarising previous plot points and trimming the fat from the main quests, give the player a reminder of previous events and stopping them from getting overwhelmed with explanation. More impressive still is how the main characters that you interact with seem relatable and human and more than anything you want to make them respect and like you, this makes decisions that you know will upset someone all the harder to make.

Visually the game is absolutely gorgeous with mountains, forests and lakes that from a distance could be mistaken for real. Obviously with a game on such a large scale with the impressive visuals to boot there are going to be compromises. The human villages are... sparse and with the exception of one or two locations, feel underdeveloped and quite empty.

The amount of activities and missions that can be undertaken aside from the main story missions is what gives Far Cry 4 its longevity and appeal. In addition to this, in most missions there are multiple ways to achieve your objective, either by stealth or force or by shooting a beehive to sting the guards to death... There are also co-op centric missions that allow you and a friend to try and take down fortresses together and the usual multiplayer death-match, unfortunately I wasn’t able to try these out due to lack of players available pre-launch.

Far Cry 4 is a game with big ambitions and for the most part it pulls them off, the exploration is fun, the missions are fun, the world is beautiful and the characters are believable and relatable. However the story missions can feel a little repetitive after a while and some of the motivations for your actions feel a little uncomfortable. For those looking for a big blockbuster first person shooter for Christmas but who are tired of the Call of Duty formula then this game is certainly worth a look.

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