Feature Article

Far Cry 4 Review in Progress

Mountains and molehills.

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When it's good, Far Cry 4 is very, very good. It's also familiar: this sequel hews close to Far Cry 3, the game that preceded it. The surprises are few, a disappointment in a series featuring more disparity and diversity between its various entries than most. But there is no denying the sandbox joys of wreaking havoc in a wild world of freedom fighters and fanged felines. The tropical island of Far Cry 3 has been replaced by a Himalayan enclave, where badgers, tigers, and bears threaten to sink their razor-sharp teeth into your flesh. Yet the wildlife is not always foe, but often friend as well. There's endless glee in mounting an elephant and intruding on an encampment of gunners, flipping over their vehicles with the creature's massive trunk and tossing molotov cocktails on your enemies. Having a friend join you cooperatively opens up even more delightful possibilities. Your buddy mounts a rinky-dink gyrocopter and rises into the air while you hang from beneath. You come face to face with a helicopter pilot, aim your shotgun at his face, and shoot. The pilot slumps over and the helicopter crashes to the ground, where a fiery explosion signals the end of this battle of wits, guns, and spinning blades.

I dare you not to grin.

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When it's bad, Far Cry 4 is very bad. The badness doesn't typically overcome the goodness, but it's inescapable. The oft-maligned Far Cry 3 story is a classic when compared to Far Cry 4's mess of embarrassing stereotypes, abysmal dialogue, and contradictory themes. I might have been convinced the game is Ubisoft's parody of its own games' typical narrative excesses, were it not for a freedom-fighter-versus-evil-government plot starring leaders you're clearly meant to identify with. One moment, a young woman hugs you tightly for saving her life; the next, the local radio personality relates the overall cleanliness of his anus. The game occasionally reveals a certain level of self-awareness: I was pleased when I was told that my violent actions proved I had no room to take the moral high ground. But if Ubisoft had hoped to subvert the "save the natives" motif that tainted Far Cry 3, it failed once again in Far Cry 4.

I dare you not to groan.

No Caption Provided
The dialogue makes me want to punch someone. Just... stop talking.
The dialogue makes me want to punch someone. Just... stop talking.

I am still grinning and groaning my way through Far Cry 4, and though the Ubisoft-provided review embargo time has arrived, I am not yet ready to share my final verdict. I am hardly short of opinions, however, and Far Cry 4 elicits strong ones. Given the recent announcement of Just Cause 3's development, I can't help but wonder how much better Far Cry 4 might have been had it fully embraced its sandbox nature and abandoned its ridiculous stoner caricatures and eye-rolling plot developments in favor of even more crazy activities and colossal explosions. I love every chance I get to express creativity purely through gameplay.

I write this after one such display of absolute mayhem, courtesy of my grenade launcher, which is classified not as a primary weapon but as a sidearm, meaning I can fire it even from behind the wheel of my vehicle. On my way to an enemy camp, a caravan of baddies approached, firing weapons as it ran my buggy off the road. Without missing a beat, I spewed a grenade at the road-raging bandits; two vehicles and five individual gunners were blown to bits, and I sped off towards my destination without ever slowing down. Once I arrived at camp, I summoned an AI-controlled comrade to my side and rushed forward, spraying AK-47 fire and tossing molotovs.

As the world burned around me, I flung some meat I held as bait, and a bear roared into view, tearing apart my enemies' flesh as I prepared for the next wave of reinforcements by setting up land mines around the perimeter. Once I triumphed, I rushed to a nearby overhang and leapt off, breaking my freefall by activating my wingsuit and swooshing ahead. Beneath, I spied a small lake. The waters beckoned to me, for demonfish might be swimming in them--and I needed two more demonfish skins in order to craft a larger inventory bag. And so I triggered my parachute, floated to the water, and dived beneath the surface to find the remains of a demonfish a nearby friendly had already killed.

Far Cry 4 allows you to string together one such incredible moment after another. Most of the methods for creating chaos are readily available. Guns and grenades, trucks outfitted with mounted weapons, hunting bows, paragliders, throwing knives, and grappling hooks: these are the tools of the trade. This is a stealth game, a shooter, and a destruction simulator, shining when it trusts you to find new ways to have fun. What happens if you set a tiger on fire and then set it loose on its captors? What is it like to stab a sniper from behind and fling a knife into his buddy's heart, all in one fluid move? Far Cry 4 answers these vital questions.

If only the game had more faith in your ability to find the fun. Far Cry 4 is the most Ubisoft open world game that has ever been. As such, its giant map is covered with icons pointing you to some kind of activity or another: a vehicular race, a drug-fueled visit to Shangri-La, an animal to hunt, hostages to rescue, masks to collect, and so on and so forth. You tear propaganda posters from walls. (Hello, Assassin's Creed II!) You climb towers to dispel the fog of war. (Hello, every Ubisoft open world game!) Insta-fail stealth, and tailing missions? A big world and too many minor glitches? Yup--this is a Ubi game, all right, from the try-too-hard "edginess" to the vast array of collectibles.

Great action is a surefire cure for the winter doldrums.
Great action is a surefire cure for the winter doldrums.

Thus, Far Cry 4 is a needy game, reminding you constantly that there's something to do everywhere you go with pop-up messages that invite you to go do something other than what you are currently trying to do. Did you just liberate that camp? Well, you'll be told it's under attack 10 seconds after you leave it, and the game will move your waypoint to it on your behalf. And if you re-liberate the camp, it'll be under attack again 10 seconds after you leave. Don't want to go back? Far Cry 4 informs you of your failure when you don't.

If you're like me, you'll swear at Far Cry 4 after that scenario repeats enough times. Don't tell me I failed! I just want to go and climb up the sides of mountains, hunt tigers, and hijack convoys (hello, Watch Dogs!). Far Cry 4 can be amazing in the way Far Cry 3 often was: the heated action and exploratory freedom inspires thrilling personal stories for remembering later, the kind that start with "Hey, remember that time…" and end with "...and wasn't it awesome?!" It retains most of what made Far Cry 3 amazing, but the potential greatness is burdened by an even worse story, less memorable missions, and a formula suffering from years of overuse. When I love Far Cry 4, I really really love it. But when I don't love it, I all but hate it. I'll be in a better position to tell you just how that balance plays out in my full review. Look for it on Monday.

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Kevin-V

Kevin VanOrd

Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play bass in Rock Band.
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STrugglingFool

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Maybe make a SP and MP review << LINK REMOVED >>.

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KenTWOu

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>>> and hijack convoys (hello, << LINK REMOVED >>!)


Hello, Far Cry 2!

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meedokicky

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That guy in the thumbnail reminds me of the merchant from RE4. "Whaddya buyin' ?"

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Alucard1475

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It's getting some good reviews...87 / 17 Critics, PS4.

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theteaface

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Calm down everyone. We knew it was going to be very similar to FC3. They wanted to get the game out. It'll be more of the same formula in a new setting. If that's what your waiting for - you'll love it. Regardless of whether it gets an 8/10.

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theteaface

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Oh, lots of people are getting upset!

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deactivated-5794c72c32fd4

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Sounds like an 8.

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Acquire

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I'm hoping the PC version doesn't run like ass. The game has been getting pretty good reviews on consoles. Given Ubisoft's recent less than stellar work on the PC though... I'm definitely going to wait and see other people's experiences with it.

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TEFUKAM

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Anything on the game's optimization on PC?

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wyshouldi02

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I am just not excited for this game :( I have so much trouble getting hyped for games these days, last game I really got on the band wagon for was The Long Dark, and that took a dump on my face. Games very rarely live up to expectations.

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hordicus

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the guy must have so many promo t-shirst he never washed one.

use and trash it, like his reviews...

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JtheGrind

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Well I would have to say your dialogue in this review is abysmal . You try way t to hard to sound smart. You just review ga games man...

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InYourMouf

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<< LINK REMOVED >> And you don't try hard enough to not "sound" stupid.

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Ilayoeli

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<< LINK REMOVED >> check "dialogue" in the dictionary please

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VGjunkie87

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If I want to experience an excellent story I'll read a book. As far as video games the most important elements to me are game-play, immersion/graphics, good adventure/exploration and high replay value. Having a great story and dialogue would just be icing on the cake, just my 2 cents.

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59Hertz

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I'm the opposite. I can't stand just looting and leveling etc especially around a crap story, no matter how good the game-play is.

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CBN16

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So many people are complaining about the Review In Progress articles, but why? They give us an idea of the truth of the game rather than the hyped up trailers and gameplay we find on YouTube. I'm unsure if I will be willing to spend $60 on a game right now, so I want to know about the negatives of the game before buying it.

Those types of videos and articles are what made people so hyped about Watch_Gogs and Destiny.


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ahpuck

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That guy with the "the end is near" sign, I'm going to ask him to go stand in front of Ubisoft's corporate building.

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PowerDingALing

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Funny, I said Far Cry 4 looked like a copy paste of Far Cry 3 months ago, and I got bashed hard for saying that.

Now it seems that everybody thinks the same as me.

Same happened when I said Bioshock Infinite was bad: I got bashed hard and then Gamespot said it was bad in a re-review.

Thing is you can't trust user or public, most people are just dumb.

Well, I still think it's a copy paste from Far Cry 3, more than ever.

And I also think that 60 bucks is too much (even more living in Brazil, it's 130 in our currency), I wouldn't pay that much.

But, differently from many people here, I also think it will be a lot of fun to play.

Downloading it as I write, let's see.

Looks more fun than Inquisition, I was more insterested in it than in Far Cry 4 ( downloading this one too).

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InYourMouf

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<< LINK REMOVED >> People enjoy getting hyped about stuff, especially if they pre-ordered it.

That being said, Bioshock: Infinite was awesome, and if you're bashing these games so hard why are you illegally downloading them?

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PowerDingALing

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> These games? I only bashed Bioshock Infinite. And I'm illegally downloading them because I think games should cost like 5 dollars. When games cost 5 dollars, I won't illegally download them anymore.

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PowerDingALing

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But both of them feels childish.

I miss Far Cry 2, wish they released a modern serious AAA game like that with the technology they have today.

Sorry, missed the time to edit and had to reply own post.

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algoz10

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Downgrade in progress

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the22for4

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since Ubisoft went down in AC U, so this will get 6 on GS and 6.8 on IGN lolzz

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DefconRave

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Getting it on sale then. I actually quite liked the FC3 story for all it's flaws. From what Kevin wrote, the FC4 story sounds like a real mess.

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TheBusterMan

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Check out the EuroGamer review.Seemed fair to me.

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cyborg100000

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I think I'll enjoy this game and feel like I want more of that FC3 experience. It is too bad that the story isn't original though. I don't know why it's so hard for the team to conjure something innovative up, I'd love to follow the whole process of making a AAA video game, I bet good ideas don't see the light of day thanks to focus groups who probably want to keep the story simple... who knows.


I do wish the nagging little side missions and the constant mini-objectives were toned down a bit in favour of more in-the-moment, exploration-style of game-play such as the old Far Cry, Dark Souls & STALKER; I think it makes for a richer, less superficial experience. I felt a little overwhelmed by all of Far Cry 3's side missions everywhere.

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Wil_De

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I always wonder why it seems to be so hard for AAA Game-Developers to offer even a halfway-decent story. It doesn't need to reinvent the wheel. Either there are just no competent script writers available, because the talented people all go do something "proper" OR management has too much say in the matter and butchers every hint of originality, because "focus groups" OR the developers just don't care and write the script in an afternoon.

If the medium of videogames ever wants to evolve as an art form it needs to stop half-assing its story telling. Otherwise gaming and gamers will never be taken seriously. And while not every game is focused on storytelling - the least I expect is for it not to insult my intelligence. But then again, we live in the age, where the lowest common denominator defines the standard.

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InYourMouf

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@wil_de Well just because Ubisoft can't tell a story for crap doesn't mean there aren't developers who can. Bastion, Transistor, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Gone Home, Journey, The Last of Us, Bioshock, Bioshock: Infinite, Red Dead Redemption, God of War 1, Final Fantasy VII, Shadow of the Colossus -- all games with excellent storytelling, some of which (like Brothers) couldn't be translated to cinema effectively.

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penstrol

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Fucking THANK you.
I don't expect every game to reach Bioshock Infinite-like levels of writing and story. So much of the time I'd just be happy with a story that even makes sense. Apparently it's too much to ask.

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chinpinho

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The exact same thing is happening to tv shows lately. (The 100, walking dead ) so many plot holes that it feels insulting.

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Nickplays

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Is gamespot going to be omitting any graphical issues like screen tearing or frame rate drops?

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