Farcry 4: The Good, The Bad, The Facepalm

So I had actually written a pretty long rant about this game but I decided I better rethink some points and make it something people can read instead of just a bunch of frustrated garble. First, let me say that I did actually enjoy Farcry 4 despite what I'm about to make it sound like. I'm not calling this a review per se, as I'm not going into the details I typically do in a review. Also there are going to be major spoilers throughout in here so if you haven't played and don't want to read those, turn back now. I'm realizing now just before I post this that what I have here is still just a pretty long rant after all. Aaaanywhoo....

Let's start with the good

You star as Ajay Ghale (Ah-Jay Gah-lay), the son of a former guerrilla fighter and you've just arrived in Kyrat (Kee-raht) to spread your mother's ashes as per her last request. Kyrat is a tiny country nestled in Himalayas and it's gorgeous. Anyway you're on the bus enjoying the view out the window when you're stopped at a checkpoint and all hell breaks loose. Guns fire, people are killed, your passport is lost and on top of that the leader of this fictional land has just bagged your head and kidnapped you. Welcome to Farcry 4.

Alright this is a great opener and upon experiencing it I wanted more right away. Not one to be disappointed I was soon sneaking out of my current predicament when I ran across a guy who said he'd rescue me as long as I kept my head down. So naturally I bailed out the door running through gunfire and dove into a car where I was whisked away to a safe house on the other side of the country. Turns out the folks who rescued me are called "The Golden Path" and they're the very group of organized militants that my father Mohan (Mow-haan) founded before sending my mother and I to the USA to be safe from the oppressive rule of one, Pagan Min (Pah-gahn Min).

Before I continue, please forgive the parentheses. This is just to show the Kyrati cultural pronunciation of these names. Which is probably the best level of depth Farcry 4 goes into because characters in the game from different parts of the world all say these words and names differently. Neato, okay read on.

I was soon introduced officially to the leaders of the Path: A man, and my rescuer, named Sabal (Sah-bahl) and his equal in leadership, a lady called Amita (Ah-mee-tah). They have some differing views but ultimately want one thing in common and that's the removal of Pagan Min from power. Of course I say I'm no soldier but I'll help in any way I can.

This all works pretty well for a while as a plot line and feels pretty solid. I enjoyed learning the ways of Kyrat's people and seeing the land and villages they live in and cultivate.

Ajay is soon taking up arms against the royal army and loosening the hold Pagan has on Kyrat. He meets various NPC's and provides them services and so on, liberating outposts and rescuing hostages and destroying the propaganda machine spouting Pagan's narcissistic rhetoric 24/7. It's all very "Yay I made a difference" in it's feel and that's great.

Now the Bad

The problem comes from the fact that soon Ajay starts seeing the reality of the situation in Kyrat. Pagan is a bad man to be sure, but who are these Golden Path guys anyway? Do they stand a chance here? As a player I knew the answer was no they don't. But Ajay never comes to that conclusion. Not really. He learns that Sabal isn't the guy he claims to be, though he does want to preserve the traditions of the Kyrati people. By any means he feels he must, which is key. Amita? Well she's as self centered as Pagan and wants to bring Kyrat to modernity by selling vast quantities of heroin around the world.

So the pan is on the stove and the plot is getting thicker by the minute. Soon though some undesirable chunks of genuinely noxious shit start showing up in the bottom and what it eventually boils down to is that nothing Ajay has done matters because regardless of who goes into power they're going to be just as bad as the maniac there now. I'll go into that particular point in a bit.

All along Ajay's travels he'll meet quest givers that provide him with missions to complete for various rewards. Some of which are pretty fun. Yogi and Reggie have four fun, silly drug trip quests to play out. The issue arises when you find out that they have done absolutely nothing for you. They are padding for play time. At the end Ajay is rewarded with a peace pipe that sits in his family home. You can interact with the pipe and it will transport Ajay to a random [useful?] location on the map. That's all it does.

A good quest line came when Ajay met Longinus. This guy, as far as I can tell, came from Farcry 2. He's African, he quotes the bible a lot and mentions giving malaria meds to a guy who really needed them some years back. That's a pretty cool character to add here. Longinus sends Ajay on missions to find conflict diamonds and bring them to drop points in trade for weapons and upgrades. This is perhaps the most useful line there is in Farcry 4. It lasts for six missions. It's really too bad because Longinus could have just turned out to be a supplier to Ajay and the Path throughout the game. But instead he just decides to leave and never be heard from again. Bad.

Of course there are a ton of missions to do overall in Kyrat but almost none of them are any use. The absolute best quest line in Farcry 4 is the Shangri-la line where Ajay is transported to the ancient consciousness of Kalinag (Kahl-i-nag), a seeker of Shangri-la. They are beautifully written and the set pieces are fantastic as well as providing a whole different play style. But that's all it is. It's just something cool to do, there's no reward for completing those missions. Fun and awesome? Yes for sure. Yet ultimately it means nothing at all. Which is bad.

Face, meet Palm

The whole game is like that. It's fun, it's got excellent music and voice acting. Kyrat is wonderfully built and believable. Most of the world traversal feels pretty seamless, the weapons are satisfying to use. But nothing Ajay does matters in the least. These are ending spoilers coming up so you know...

Remember when I was talking about Sabal and Amita? Well here are the deets guys.

Forgive this low res image of Sabal. I had apparently not taken a screenshot of him and had to find an image online.

Sabal: A leader of the Golden Path who looked up highly to Mohan Ghale. He respects tradition over all else and will stop at nothing to preserve it. If Ajay chooses to set Sabal on the throne, Kyrat will be run by none better than Pagan in the first place.

A character I didn't mention earlier is a 13 year old girl named Bhadra (Bah-drah). She's the living personification of a goddess. The "Tarun Matara" (Tah-roon Mah-tah-rah) as it's called. Sabal forces her to marry him if he's crowned king of Kyrat to secure his position and all who oppose him die.

Amita: Wants to do away with tradition and turn Kyrat into a drug state. Much like a stereotype Columbia. She's only in it for the power and the money and will grow poppy fields as far as the eye can see to be worked by slaves ripped from their homes to produce heroin in enormous quantities under penalty of death. It's also suggested that Amita has Bhadra killed to "protect her". "Don't bother searching for her, she won't be coming back" is what she tells Ajay.

As if that's not bad enough, in order for Ajay to make the decision of who goes into the big chair he is sent to outright murder either Amita or Sabal.

What the actual fuck? The pay off for playing this whole game, that's 50 plus hours by the way, is for nothing to change at all! After choosing my own ending I looked them all up to see what the hell was going through Ubi's collective brain cage when they decided this was the right way to end the game.

As I said way above, Ajay's goal is to spread his mother's ashes. "Take me to Lakshmana (Lahk-shmahn-ah)" it says on the urn. Ajay and most likely the players themselves will find this to mean a location. Sabal promises early that helping the Path will lead Ajay to Lakshmana and it's part of why Ajay agrees to help. There's a whole "secret" ending if the player chooses not to kill Pagan Min and instead just have dinner with him and spread his mother, Ishwari's (Ish-whar-ee) ashes together. Pagan takes Ajay to Lakshmana which turns out not be a place, but a person. Namely the daughter of Pagan and Ajay's mother! Ajay's father, Mohan killed Lakshmana when she was only two years old. Ishwari then killed Mohan because he murdered her daughter and escaped Kyrat with Ajay to America.That's super messed up but it's probably the best ending you can get as a player. It completes the main goal and gives Ajay the hard truth and seals things up nicely.

Now I get it, these kinds of things rarely work out well. And with the way Farcry 4 plays out you know as the player that no choice you're given will turn out being a good one. The plot playing out as it does is actually pretty amazing in its own way. No happy endings sucker, this is guerrilla warfare and nobody is right. But I just can't get over the fact that one can put that much time into this game trying to make a difference in this fictional and beautiful place only to have it be a complete waste of time. Kyrat is ruled by a tyrant in any case and the only way to get the truth out of the ending is to find the secret one. Now that secret just happens to be not killing the guy you're supposed to kill at the end of the game but it's still not a choice I bet a lot of people make after playing as Ajay for so long.

A Thought

So I go on and on about how nothing Ajay does makes a difference etc. and how obviously angry that made me by the time I was done playing. However I can't really tell if I had that reaction because Farcry 4 was actually overall poorly written, not giving the expected pay off from going through the intricacies of every little step it takes to get through the story leaving me throwing my hands up and walking away. Or, if it was actually written perfectly and at the end of it all I was left fuming because that's just how one is supposed to feel after this games completion. Either way I look at it though the result was the same in that I was left unsatisfied and I uninstalled almost immediately.

Conclusion

Alright so, I spent 55 hours doing all these quest lines and getting very little out of it. I was really frustrated by the time I was done and I came to dislike every character except Bhadra and Longinus. Not because they were all bad characters, they were all interesting. I didn't like them because even though there wasn't much to them, they were written well enough to be genuinely bad people; thus they were not likeable.

Bhadra is a young girl but she's wise well beyond her years and she makes that evident when Ajay meets her. She only comes into play a few times which makes her intriguing and she suggests a much deeper role than Ajay ever sees. Longinus was a warlord and I presume he comes right out of Farcry 2. He's out to atone for his many sins in Africa and help people who need it. He's eccentric, misguided and on the tipping point of sanity but it's all he knows and he's good at what he does. Except for these two, all the characters in the game are relatively shallow.

I had fun with Farcry 4 even though it frustrated me greatly by the end. I hesitate now to call it good because no choice you're given as a player will mean a single thing. But I don't really want to call it bad because it still kept me interested, even the busy work. So I'm going to call it what it really is: an entertaining waste of time. I'm certainly glad I picked this up on a good sale and I can only recommend you do the same. Even better, just watch the cut scenes on YouTube. If you ask me, the Golden Path should have just called up Rico Rodriguez.

System Requirements for Farcry 4 are as follows

MINIMUM:

    • OS: Windows® 7 (SP1) / Windows® 8 / Windows® 8.1 / (64-bit only)
    • Processor: 2.6 GHz Intel® Core™ i5-750 or 3.2 GHz AMD Phenom™ II X4 955
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 or AMD Radeon HD5850 (1 GB VRAM)
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 30 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX-compatible (5.1 surround sound recommended)
    • Additional Notes: Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, optional controller (Xbox 360 Controller for Windows recommended)

RECOMMENDED:

    • OS: Windows® 7 (SP1) / Windows® 8 / Windows® 8.1 / (64-bit only)
    • Processor: 2.5 GHz Intel® Core™ i5-2400S or 4.0 GHz AMD FX-8350 or better
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 or AMD Radeon R9 290X or better (2 GB VRAM)
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 30 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX-compatible (5.1 surround sound recommended)
    • Additional Notes: Supported video cards at the time of release: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 or better, GeForce GTX 700 series; AMD Radeon HD5850 or better, Radeon R9 series. Note: Laptop versions of these cards may work but are NOT officially supported.