10th Dec2014

‘Far Cry 4′ Review (Xbox 360)

by Phil Wheat

far-cry-4-header

It’s safe to say my history with the Far Cry franchise is a little… spotty. As a PC gamer back in the early 2000′s I loved the original Far Cry game. It came at a time when I was heavily into first-person shooters and, for me, the PC was and still is, the best way to play an FPS. So when the Far Cry series moved to consoles I was a little less then enamoured with the results.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Far Cry 2 but the rest of the games left me cold. That is apart from the Wii iteration, Far Cry Vengeance. On a console full of shovelware and kid-friendly titles, Vengeance was a joy to behold – even if it did look like a step backwards graphically. Of course more recently we had Far Cry 3 – a game which, despite trying my damnedest with, I just could not enjoy. However the download-only spin off, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon? Now that’s another story! I absolutely ADORED Blood Dragon, mainly because of it’s retro-stylings and movie-heavy influences. It remains the only Far Cry game since the original that I have completed and which I will replay. Which, in all honesty, is why I was more than willing to give Far Cry 4 a shot.

Then I remembered why I don’t get on with the Far Cry games. All that bloody jungle…

On the plus side, graphically the game looks superb, it’s hard – for someone who doesn’t have an Xbox One or PS4 – to see how the current gen consoles could top the graphics on show here. Maybe better shadows and shading perhaps? And there’s a great story being told; after all, who doesn’t love the idea of a power-hungry mad man running his own island. Plus the stealth mode feels a lot more satisfying this time round – maybe it’s because so much of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (the Far Cry game I’ve played the most) can be achieved by storming in guns-a-blazing? Whatever the reason, I found myself relishing the opportunity to sneak up and kill the enemy with the uttermost silence and stealth… And thankfully that’s do-able from the get-go, there’s no need to wait for stealth levels etc. which is a situation more typically found in these types of genre titles.

The negatives? Well aside from an rather odd sensation when trying to “climb” (or jump as it is the only option) up cliffs and ledges, Far Cry 4 insists on a rather hefty 3.7Gb install(!) on the Xbox 360 and then there’s the oddly perturbing fascination with having everything, even the single player campaign linked (or at least having the option to link to) to Uplay and Ubisoft’s online services. Oh and did I mention cut scenes that feel like the go on forever – maybe I’m impatient but I do like a cut scene that keeps to under a minute or two! Fair enough tell your story, but don’t let it be at the expense of letting people actually PLAY the game! Then there was the level design in the early stages – may be its me, but I don’t like having to back track through wades of jungle because I happened to chose the low-ground and now can’t climb to the high ground where I need to be to continue my mission.

Speaking of missions, it seems someone at Ubisoft listened to those gamers and critics that complained about the previous games’ ridiculously too-open, open world format and whilst Far Cry 4 features a similarly open environment, there are now some limitations on just how long players can ignore the main mission parameters and just explore the vast open landscapes. Thank god. In all honesty that’s my one bug-bear with many of todays FPS games – there are seemingly no “missions” anymore, the idea of an open world to explore has opened up games for much longer lifespans (after all you can spend weeks just wandering around the jungles of game such as Far Cry 3 and Just Cause 2), but at the same time those that like structure and enjoy tension in their FPS titles have been left on the sidelines – or maybe it’s just me.

An improvement on the previous retail game, Far Cry 4 still doesn’t scratch my FPS itch the way that Blood Dragon, and to a lesser extent, the original Far Cry did. Ubisoft, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board for this franchise and maybe leave all that jungle behind while you’re at it?

Far Cry 4 is out now from Ubisoft on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

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