FAR CRY 4
ELEPHANTS AND WINGSUITS IN THE HIMALAYAS
FAR CRY 4 PLATFORM: PS3/4, 360/One, PC CATEGORY: Open world FPS DEVELOPER: Ubisoft Montréal PUBLISHER: Ubisoft DUE: November 20, 2014
As great as the previous Far Cry games were it's hard to deny that Far Cry 3 was a break-out hit that pushed the series further forward than ever before. Not many people could have predicted how successful that game would be or how high of a bar it would set for its inevitable sequel. So you'd have to assume that the process for laying the ground work of Far Cry 4 would be a labour intensive study of what worked and what didn't in the last game and what needs to be added this time around. But it wasn't.
“It's a super funny story, our game director [Alex Hutchinson] actually wanted to be able to ride an elephant in a game,” explained Cedric Decelle, technical director of Far Cry 4. “So we started to do some research about where in the world are elephants, but also a wide variety of animals as we have a lot of gameplay tied to the animals. It also had to have a good diversity in visuals and show gamers something new, something completely different and something that would be culturally rich. So we sat down and started looking around and were looking at Nepal, Bhutan, India – but the Himalayas had everything we want. The elephant, an amazing variety of other animals, and you can start at the beautiful world at the bottom of the mountains and work your way to the top so you have a wide variety of things to see.” MOUNTAIN MEN >> As relatively easy as the process for finding a new location may have been for the Far Cry 4 team one thing was never going to be simple – out shining the true star of Far Cry 3. Vaas Montenegro, expertly acted by Michael Mando, was a living nightmare whose demeanour was closer to a tormentor than an outright enemy. He was the kind of guy that would stab you in the stomach, twist the knife and ask how you're feeling. More than a run-of-the-mill sociopath spouting off witty one-liners Vaas felt like a creature of the island. As deadly as the wildlife that roamed around, he let you know that you were a toy to be played with and ultimately a commodity to be sold, nothing more. “Vaas was something obviously very good for Far Cry 3,” said Decelle. “We knew what we had, I mean we stumbled upon it, but when we had it we knew. The way we develop characters for Far Cry is the way we found Vaas. We go out and write super-strong scenes and we send that out to the actors and see their performance. And when we get the magic and it's working the way we want it to work we go with that. So often the character will morph and change.”
Taking centre stage as the new antagonist in Far Cry 4 is Pagan Min, portrayed by prolific videogame actor Troy Baker. Though he's still an unhinged maniac Pagan is a very different beast to Vaas. He's a gentleman with grand ambitions and a connection to the player's character, Ajay, that you'll learn more of as the story progresses. Born Gang Min, Pagan is the son of a British expatriate and Hong Kong drug boss before who outgrew his family business. Changing his name to Pagan in honour of a 19th century Burmese king that killed his father to assume the crown, he began funding his own private army before fleeing to Kyrat in the 1980s to forcefully install himself as king. And a king like that is bound to have plenty of dukes and dames under his control, which is where you come in.
“We wanted to explore [the Himalayan region of] Kyrat fully,” said Decelle. “It's has a really rich cultural base and we get inspired by places like that. And we wanted to put in a villain that would kind of mix that up. Pagan Min doesn't give a shit about the people or the culture; he came here to rule and installed himself as the king. He has his own vision of the future and wants everything his way.”
“In the world of Far Cry the basic gameplay is to shoot people,” said Decelle. “Yes you explore and find things, but what you spend a lot of time doing is shooting people. So we needed an environment that allows you to do that. Obviously a villain in that context needed to be a ruler, maybe rule the country with other villains around the place for you to kill.”
“On the other side you have the rebel leaders that have a clear vision of Kyrat and care about the place so as the player you start to choose between the two factions. You make choices that will lead you to new missions with different objectives and experiences.” GET IN THE GAME >> If you're familiar with Far Cry 3 you're going to transition into the new game fairly easily. The E3 demonstration had me taking over an outpost, a regular occurrence in the previous game, in three different ways – by stealth, gyrocopter or elephant.
Being a bleeding heart animal-lover I chose to leave the pachyderm alone on my first attempt and went stealth.
The first new toy I got to use was the grappling hook, which is fairly automatic and involves simply looking up at a surface it can cling to, shooting it and climbing. Getting over the wall to the outpost I immediately started taking down guards with up-close melee attacks and silent crossbow shots. Hiding behind buildings and avoiding the laser sights of the nearby snipers I did okay for a while but eventually revealed my position. The alarm was sounded and I had to resort to grabbing an assault rifle but it wasn't long before I couldn't fend off the reinforcements any longer and it was back to the loading screen. In all the stealth was what I expected but probably not the best choice for someone whose first-person stealth skills are a little rusty. Next up was the gyrocopter, which I choose to hand control over to one of the developers so as to save myself further embarrassment. Showcasing the jump-in-jump-out multiplayer I remained in control of Ajay while my co-op buddy joined as a 'gun-forhire'. Essentially they are a mercenary who can help when I need them and leave when I've had enough.
Flying through the outpost I hung off the side of the gyrocopter launching grenades and trying in vain to line up shots. Eventually we were shot down in the middle of the base and had to work together to survive. Reviving each other became common practice as enemy forces closed and overwhelmed us.
Again, I feel that with time I could do better, but what excited me more was the prospect of two players going full stealth and clearing out a base like silent predators. As fun as the gyrocopter is a two man stealth mission sounds like it could be a awesome. NEVER FORGET >> The elephant was my last attempt at salvaging some pride. Bathing nearby I walked up to one of these not-so-gentle giants and climbed on its back. We were immediately in sync and charged the enemy gate, smashing it down and charging a nearby soldier. The poor bastard was crushed in a second as I unloaded a few rounds from my rifle into nearly guard towers. Again the alarm went off and a jeep burst into the outpost with a couple of extra soldiers and a gunner on the back.
Still aboard the beast I charged the jeep and flipped it over, killing a few of the men before jumping off to gun down the rest. My trusty elephant went on a rampage, taking down more soldiers before being shot to death itself. Seeking revenge I took over a nearby gun turret and took out a few more guys before a helicopter circled the outpost. From there it was a losing battle and soon enough I joined my giant grey beast companion in videogame heaven. PICK UP AND PLAY >> Gameplay-wise, Far Cry 4 feels very similar to Far Cry 3, but then again if it ain't broke don't fix it. That's not to say that there isn't plenty of new content, but you'll know what you're getting yourself into if you're familiar with the series. Regardless of whether you're a returning fan or new to the series Far Cry 4 will keep you up for hours as you discover new locations, liberate more outposts and wonder quietly what you could have done differently to keep poor Dumbo alive.
"Oooh yes, that's a nasty mole alright. Here, lemme just cut that out for you."