Have you ever thought of your mother as being manipulative? Has she ever pointed out how much it costs to raise a child? Complained about how much she gave up in order to have you when you don’t visit enough? Used her dying wish to plunge you into a civil war in a third world dictatorship?
Kyrat itself is beautifully created, full of stunning views, amazing locations and its own fully formed religion and history. It’s also packed with things to do and, very quickly, the map will start to fill up with the wide variety of activities we’ve all come to expect from an Ubisoft game ranging from liberating enemy compounds, climbing seemingly endless towers to uncover more of the map (and more activities) or hunting various rare animals to virtual extinction. This is in addition to the main story and side quests doled out by a range of characters.
So packed is the map that you’ll often find yourself finishing a particular mission only to find yourself immediately, and accidentally, caught up in another side mission to help the locals fight against wild animals or other random activities. The main story missions are possibly the weakest part of the game but the majority of the side activities are incredibly addictive and the side quests, such as helping two backpackers with Dick Van Dyke cockney accents test their latest drug recipes, are entertaining enough that it’s very easy to quickly lose track of time and play for longer than you expect.
After his opening introduction, Pagan Min barely appears in the game, relegated to just a voice on a radio and thus becomes too distant a threat to care about...
However, it’s the sheer denseness of the activities that hides the fact that Ubisoft are manipulating you just as much as Mrs Ghale is her son. In the same way as Ajay you’ll get swept up in the constant flow of activities without ever being given time to think and, as a result, you’ll be half-way through before you realise that FarCry 4 suffers the same problem as most of Ubisoft’s games since the launch of the new generation: Ubisoft are possibly second to none when it comes to creating amazing worlds and interesting settings but seem to have lost the skill of telling a compelling story once you get there.
As annoying as FarCry 3’s extreme sports loving rich kid Jason Brody was you never doubted why he did what he did. He wanted to save his friends and as the game progressed you were left in little doubt as to the humanity he sacrificed to achieve that goal. By contrast Ajay Ghale, despite having a more sensible reason to be there in the first place, lacks motivation. After his opening introduction Pagan Min barely appears in the game, relegated to just a voice on a radio and thus becomes too distant a threat to really care about.
After early promise of a culture clash between the Americanised lead, who thinks of himself as AJ Gale rather than Ajay Ghale, and the country he came from it’s never touched on again and indeed Ajay never really seems to connect with or care much about his heritage or homeland. Both leaders of the Golden Path are in their own ways as bad as the man they are fighting and neither seems to connect with Ajay on any level where you can understand why he would risk his life one way or the other to support them.
Throughout the game he remains a cypher with no real personality or character progression and his sole motivation is apparently to liberate the north of the country in order to reach his mother’s home and scatter her ashes, an objective undercut by the fact Pagan Min is quite happy for you to scatter her ashes and even offers you a lift at the start of the game.
What made FarCry 3 so compelling was Vaas holding a mirror up to the player and demonstrating what you were becoming, but whilst Troy Baker does his usual great job voicing Pagan Min he just doesn’t have the material to work with and you never fully develop the same connection. Picking off Min’s lieutenants as you progress is similarly badly handled and much like the Templars in Assassin’s Creed Unity they are introduced too shortly before your final show down with each of them for them to ever really develop much more personality than the faceless guards you kill in order to reach them.
There aren’t too many games where you can go from helping the CIA with an assassination, to reliving the mythical origin story of a country, to running around tripping on LSD in the space of an hour’s play time; and that wide range of activities means that even if there’s something you don’t enjoy you’ve got plenty of other things to do.
FarCry 4 is a lot of fun, whether you’re tossing wild animal bait into an enemy stronghold and watching guards get eaten by tigers or riding an elephant and over turning jeeps in order to hijack a convoy, but in the end it’s a game that doesn’t have an awful lot to drive it on and as a result ultimately outstays its welcome.