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LTTP: Far Cry 4 (PS4)

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LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

I bought Far Cry 4 because of Giant Bomb’s praise. I am all too familiar with Ubisoft’s open world games including their Far Cry franchise — in fact it was Far Cry 2 that forever changed my perception of the French publisher’s open world games. I expected to climb towers to open up new areas. I expected countless collectibles and enough interlocking systems to occupy me for hours. But despite all that baggage (and for less than $15), I was willing to see what all the fuss was about.

I didn’t expect to be so enamoured with the protagonist, Pagan Min. He was charismatic, ruthless and well mannered dictator who served as my primary adversary during my time in the fictious nation of Kyrat. Since the player, Ajay Ghale, had no discernible personality to speak of, it was easy to find Pagan likeable. He reminded me of Joker which I’m sure was no accident by the clever people over at Ubisoft.

I wasn’t taken by any of the other featured characters in the game. They were all shitty people who did nothing but use Ajay Ghale for their own gains. Some were more transparent than others but they all wanted Ajay to do their errands and get his hands dirty. I was surprised Ajay didn’t end up winning over the Golden Path and ruling Kyrat for himself. Pagan Min was the only person who didn’t ask Ajay to do anything — in fact, all he did was ask Ajay to wait in a room and eat.

I didn’t listen to Pagan and the result was 30 hours of skinning animals, riding elephants, gliding through the air in wing suits and murdering hundreds of Pagan’s royal guard. The tools available to me was extensive. They went out of their way to include nearly every popular firearm found in a modern era Call of Duty title. Despite all the choices, I settled with a silenced Skorpion SMG, an M4 assault rifle, a handheld RPG like the one Arnold used in T2 and a bow and arrow.

I extended my stay in Kyrat by several hours by sticking with bow and arrow and challenging myself with long range silenced kills. I was fixated by the Rambo-like approach to liberating outposts. If I screwed up, I went in guns blazing but I tried to tackle stealthy situations with an arrow in the back.

I was most engaged with Far Cry 4 during the first dozen hours of the game when I was still hunting animals for their pelts. When I needed a specific pelt, I checked the map for their stomping ground, went there and scoped out the place in silence because if I stormed in, I could scare them off. I used my bow whenever it made sense to get clean kills and double the number of pelts I could recover. I felt challenged and immersed in these situations. Chasing down a wounded tiger that can quickly do a 180 and chase me down instead was more thrilling than dismantling the biggest fortress or outpost filled with armed guards.

The wildlife in Far Cry 4 were more terrifying than any human because they can strike from anywhere. I still looked up in the sky for an eagle any time I hear one shrieking in my vicinity. A pack of wolves, a wild boar or a tiger attacked me while I was lurking on the fringes of an outpost picking off unsuspecting guards. I lured them away from me by hurling a chunk of meat towards the outpost but sometimes it was just easier to take it out the pesky thing with my knife or bow.

I’ve been wondering why I enjoyed the interactions with the wildlife so much in Far Cry 4 and the answer is quite simple: it was short an sweet. It didn’t overstay its welcome and unlike the human NPCs in the world, there was a convincing believability to them. I was desensitized to the thrill of liberating outposts by the sixth one. The satisfaction of solving the radio tower became wore down to nothing more than a routine checkmark on the long list of things I could do in this world.

By the twentieth hour, Far Cry 4 had become a form of digital whittling for me. I played it for something to do to pass the time and occupy my hands. I had a long road ahead of me and I may have kept going with it if I didn’t double check the Trophy list. Turns out I didn’t need to collect every single thing and then I weened myself off in-game checklist and worked towards wrapping up my time with Far Cry 4 with a Platinum Trophy. I still haven’t gotten it yet because of the co-op requirements but I did check out the multiplayer offerings because of it.

There were interesting ideas hidden away in the multiplayer. I enjoyed how it was essentially two eras clashing with one another. The mighty assault rifle vs the bow & arrow and his trusty tiger. I may have actually enjoyed it if it wasn’t a lag filled mess with frequent host migrations.

Far Cry 4 was just as I imagined it would be. It didn’t really offend me in any way but it didn’t actually set my world on fire either. It was just there as a thing to fiddle with.

It was okay

Ratings Guide

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