Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4. Available on Amazon.

It’s a phenomenal game from Ubisoft’s Montreal studio: an energetic open-world playground that brims over with emergent potential. The fictional sub-Himalayan dictatorship of Kyrat that serves as the setting is a living, dangerous thing. Your actions can affect it, but life there continues on with or without your input.

Fundamentally, it’s Far Cry 3 at a higher elevation. The earlier game’s archipelago is replaced with a sub-Himalayan landscape that is all thundering waterfalls and craggy cliffs. Local wildlife is both abundant and dangerous, and its only friend-or-foe differentiation is: Can I kill and eat this? (Most of the time, the answer is yes.)

Tiger attack?

There’s nothing in video games that quite manages to match the experience of a tiger attack interrupting your full-on assault of an enemy outpost. Especially when you can turn the many complex layers of artificial intelligence to your advantage by leading the pursuing big cat into the heart of your firefight, then slipping away to watch the chaos unfold.

Climbing and Rappeling

Kyrat’s mountainous setting creates an opportunity to introduce items like the grappling hook, a smartly deployed tool that you use to rappel up and down vertical inclines and swing across chasms. It’s legitimately thrilling to swing out over an open space, launch yourself into the air, and land on a nearby rock outcropping.

Far Cry takes flight!

The wingsuit and parachute from Far Cry 3 return, and they’re handier than ever now thanks to the makeshift launches enabled by the more uneven terrain. They’re joined by a new, single-person “Buzzer” helicopter. Along with the grapple, these are all important enhancements. Far Cry’s unique flavor of open-world chaos depends on equipping players with the right set of tools. Vantage points matter a lot, and these new elements help to open up the tactical game significantly.

Stop already with the “Story”

It’s just too bad about that cancerous story, always eating away at the heart of the game with its poorly conceived characters and overeager messaging. There’s so much fun to be had in Far Cry 4, and none of it has anything to do with the writing. Ubisoft would do well to get out of the way of its own narrative aspirations for future Far Cry games 😀 – or at least give them a serious re-think – before the series finds itself trapped in a pit of its own making.

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