Thursday, 15 January 2015

FARCRY 4: Gamertroll Review - PS4 (Vr R), Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Look at you. Mr fancy pants. You're the son of the great La De dah freedom fighter Mohan Ghale and as such it is your Kyrat, apparently. Saving Kyrat from the pink-suited lunatic dictator Pagan Min is your duty - blah blah blah. Moving on from the sarcasm, It's not an abnormally terrible premise on which to base a game, but if you're anything like Gamertroll you'll enjoy the experience more when you don't stop to examine the preposterous protagonists too closely and concentrate solely on doing things your way.

After all, 'Doing things your way' has long been the shiniest feather in Farcry's cap and this new edition to the series continues in this successful tradition.

There's no denying it, Farcry 4 (henceforth FC4) is a Magnificent sandbox. The mix of FPS exploration and shooting is incredibly satisfying. The many incidental diversions and side quests found throughout Kyrat are worth investigation also, none really seem superfluous to the whole package.

No sandbox FPS would be complete without a host alternative transport methods and from the humble grappling hook and the ubiquitous cars, trucks and motorboats, right up to the crazy buzzer gyrocopter, FC4 has things covered In that department too.

Real thought has clearly gone into making the exploration of Kyrat enjoyable. Many locations really make you work hard to get to them, sometimes with long winding ledges and mountain climbs required. The gyrocopter can't operate in the low oxygen high altitudes so you will have to get inventive if you want to find some of the highest roosts.

Farcry 3 always seemed to Gamertroll to be a next gen game trapped in the extended lifecycle of the last gen. There can be no greater confirmation of that assumption than FC4: It's pretty much Farcry 3 looking how Ubisoft originally wanted it to look and move. To that end, the bespoke 'Dunia engine' does a sparkling job of bringing Kyrat to life. The Shadows, glare and motion Blur on the held weapons alone are a fantastic testament to the graphical pedigree. 
Great, but not perfect of course.. you'll still notice the odd tilted puddle textures and grass suspended above the ground with criss-crossing lines of foliage textures. At times there's even noticeable straight line constructs in natural environments. Perhaps the the whole bar has been lifted to such a degree that these little mistakes become more visible. Whatever the case, you're definitely more likely to be impressed by the visuals than disappointed.

Further enhancement is added by the campaign's hugely appealing online Co-op: Whether you go on a hilarious hunting jaunt or just wander from one random encounter to the next, two players make this addition a solid gold winner.

Taking these things into account we are looking at a powerful index of positives to support the purchase of FC4, but that's not to say there's nothing wrong with it.

From the outset you'll realise that the people of Kyrat are some entitled piddlers, who all think it's the divine will of the Gods that your character has to risk life and limb sorting out their beautiful but fucked-up country. If the task wasn't so much fun, Gamertroll might have snapped the disc the first time he met the squabbling faction leaders baying for help.

Not only are the population of Kyrat needy, but bloody stupid too. The moment you save them in a gunfight, they will promptly leap directly under a vehicle or a passing elephant. No, that's not quite accurate, they pause to think and scream out in mock hysteria, then leap under a passing elephant. Their driving isn't much better and you can often happen across some pillock doing a 259-point turn, only to finesse the manoeuvre by stamping on the accelerator and crashing into a nearby building or stationary vehicle. It's hard to believe any of the Kyrati population manage to reach puberty without being killed off prior by falling backwards out of chairs, closing cupboards on their heads or some such idiocy. Joking aside, it's shit A.I. that Farcry has had for a long time which arguably should have been addressed here. No joy.

It's also unfortunate that the advances seen in graphics resolution are not echoed in practical environmental function. For example: the game world is still not half as realistically destructible as you'd expect. No advancement can be seen here at all in fact, and while foliage still burns as previously seen in Farcry 3, trees still won't fell. More ludicrously, C4 can't destroy ramshackle huts or rusty old gates and you won't be blowing holes in the ground either, it's all still scorch marks. Shame.

The Guy on the radio is only ok too. He is humorous at times but hasn't enough dialogue and the game has a nasty habit of repeating the last minute of his broadcast every time you jump into a vehicle with a radio. You might find yourself walking just to get away from him.

Then you have the whole 'tinpot spiritualism' slant to the all the scrawled messages scattered about for the player to discover. They fail to match the quality of the stunningly realised environment. Gamertroll usually reads every incidental document found in a game such as this. Pausing to read and enrich a story line is usually a beautiful marriage of two artistic mediums, not so with FC4. The hocus pocus, shammy Karma bullshit writing is boring. The player frequently finds scrolls written by superstitious peasants that quite frankly would serve better as ass-wiping material. You're best off Pressing back back back and avoiding the wasted time reading them. Ubisoft themselves clearly spent no time writing them. It is however, important to state that later gameplay sequences referencing Shangri La do much to redeem the situation.

2014 has been a year for broken games and Gamertroll is pleased to report that FC4 emerges as one of the better releases. Yes, you can get stuck in clipping errors and have to quit your game and yes, you will also doubtless discover an NPC stuck waist deep in the ground at some point, although nothing is 'Assassin's Creed: Unity broke' here. Phew!

Another commonly applicable gripe is that the player can't pause during cinematic cutscenes. Guaranteed the only time in 4 hrs that you see a clip where Pagin Min begins some entertaining monologue: somebody will ring the fucking doorbell or burst into the room demanding a conference on domestic chores. For this reason alone, unpausable cut-scenes deserve to be left firmly in our gaming history.

Now to a niggle that was particularly annoying, but being forewarned of the mechanic in advance can help you avoid it. After 38hrs of play Gamertroll threw his pad down in frustration over being detected during bungled outpost attack and for the first time was shot and killed before picking the pad back up.. Imagine the shock in discovering that FC4 rewards you for dying! It respawns you right before your failed attack with all your meds and ammo. Don't waste your time trying to escape an abortive attack people - it will only cost you ammo and travelling time.

FC4 also sees the return of PvP multiplayer in a number of modes. Despite the spectacularly entertaining Co-op campaign, the Multiplayer modes are still the stale fart in Farcry's wardrobe. Even with the map editor, they are to be avoided.

It may appear that I've over examined the negatives in FC4, but that is only because it's a strong enough title to survive those criticisms. Make no mistake, Gamertroll loved FC4, even sticking with it after earning the platinum trophy. It's worth every one of your hard-earned pennies.
It's by no means the game of the year but certainly one of the best.

Solid is the word for this game, Solid graphics, solid 'bang for buck' all round. Got a window in your gaming schedule? Get Farcry 4 in.

Gamertroll got a Platinum trophy, but the game was still only 67% complete.

Gamertroll taking a fort with a mate in Co-op. Top laughs all round.

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