“Far Cry 4” review

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“Far Cry 4” had a lot of flak being flung at it even before it was released. First, people thought the promo image was racist because the villain was believed to be white. Then we were told he was not. Many were then upset that the main character was white. We were then told he was not.

Personally, I’m just glad the game is good.

As Ajay Ghale, you attempt to scatter your mother’s ashes in her homeland of Kyrat, a war-torn country under the terrible grip of the decadent king Pagan Min.

Here’s the thing. This game is really fun and well put together. I wasn’t actually that worried about this game compared to “AC: Unity.” One reason is that first-person shooter games are notoriously hard to screw up. It’s been done before, but “FC4” is not one of those times.

The game runs smooth and seamlessly for such a large, open-area map. Normally, FPSs are titles that I choose to get on the PC for the precision controls and the graphical quality that they provide. In this instance, I chose the PlayStation 4, and I was not disappointed by the power the system displays. Everything renders well, the gunplay is not at all difficult or hard to work with and it’s been a very enjoyable experience thus far.

For those curious about the gameplay, it is almost identical to that of “Far Cry3.” There is hunting, crafting, open-world exploration, multiple side-missions, collectibles, spiritual trips to take and all sorts of fun to be had.

What this game seems to have ramped up on is violent animals. There was no shortage of them in the previous game, but they seem to be on steroids and all attack at the same time when you least want it. While trying to kill an eagle, a rhino will come up behind you and toss you like a rag-doll into a leopard that will maul your face off.

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Riding an elephant is just as fun as it sounds, and it’s just as satisfying.

Also, story seems to be lacking in this game. Not that it was particularly fantastic in the last game, but it certainly seems quite flat in this title. The decisions between the two leaders of the Golden Path, the army that Ajay allies himself with to stop Pagan Min, are practically interchangeable and there really aren’t any consequences worth noting in the game. Neither of them are appealing characters purely because their methods or passions are so set in stone, they’re really quite flat.

The same goes for Min. While he’s fun and a good hook of a badguy, Min is sadly typical in this era of antagonists. Ever since the Joker became a video-game character we’ve been hard pressed to make characters that are like him. Over-the-top villains who lavish themselves in excess and pride themselves on their apparent insanity and unpredictability. Min seems to have no real motivation other than greed, which doesn’t really lend a sense of urgency to stopping him.

Kyrat is full of things to do, people to see and kill with a myriad of beautiful landscapes and temples to explore. Will you feel like you’re having a good time? Undoubtably if you enjoy wandering about and killing enemies left and right from outpost to outpost. Will you really feel like you’re doing anything for this world? Not really.

“Far Cry 4” is such a weird game because it’s so well made and so fun to play, but simultaneously oddly empty inside. It’s like a great amusement park you love, but while visiting it you realize that no one is manning the rides and while the park is full of people, they’re all the same people and nothing is really happening but you riding the rides.

For a game like “FC4,” which is a single-player wonderland with a large focus on story, this is just a little disappointing. For a game like “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” a single-player game used to cloak a large and expansive multiplayer experience, this isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s almost expected. But think of what it would be like if “Halo” was like “Far Cry 4.” You’d feel just a little cheated wouldn’t you?

I’m not saying that “Far Cry 4” is cheating you, but I am saying that it’s so close to being a fantastic game, that’s it’s disappointing that it isn’t. “FC4” is worth your money, no doubt, but I’m very excited to see where the series goes after this because if this is an indication of where it’s heading, then we’re in for something really special next iteration.