FBT returns to the world of Far Cry for the fourth ti - Eagle! Eagle!!
*Spoilers! This is a playthrough review*
Ajay’s plan to return his mother’s ashes to her homeland of Kyrat is violently interrupted by Pagan Min, it’s despotic ruler. ‘Inviting’ AJ to dinner, Min claims - despite having stabbed a solider with a pen for shooting not stopping AJ’s bus and stabbing a fellow dinner guest with a fork - that he’s a nice guy and he knew AJ’s mum and dad. Popping out to answer a call, he suggests we tuck into some Crab Rangoon and when he returns, we talk it through.
Slipping out, AJ meets The Golden Path, a rebellion established by none other than his dead dad whose goal is to usurp Min - but their leaders are at a stalemate; Saban wants Kyrat returned to traditionalism while Amita is looking to the future. Once peace is restored, Mum can be laid to rest. Can’t she just sit on the mantlepiece like everyone else?
Essentially Nepal, Kyrat is incredibly beautiful; snowy mountains, rivers, valleys and woodland, it’s isolated but busy and a massive step up from FC3; if you just look at it. But the gameplay is so shamelessly FC3 reskinned it even has the crappy ending. Actually no, it has a far worse ending, with an obvious story we have to drag ourselves through to reach.
Once AJ’s free of Min, we’re trapped by the Golden Path(s). Amita and Sabal are both manipulative, awful characters with Amita having ambitions to turn Kyrat into a drug-capital to fund its resurgence, while Sabal wants to Kyrat returned to a time of strict religious worship. They each offer solutions to missions, and who you pick sways power to their leadership leading up to the final choice; in short, we’re choosing between child labour or child marriages.
FC4 thinks we’re navigating a provoking narrative where you wrestle with what freedom means, but we’re not. We’re the most docile hero ever. AJ just blindly follows the GP, never questions them or his own history; that’s AJ’s only strength, his lineage, the influence he has but he never uses it. It’s obvious what both Sabal and Amita are up to but AJ never forges his own (Golden) path or influences, he just picks one then changes his mind. He is literally just a mascot and it’s infuriating waiting for him to catch up.
Compounding AJ’s inaction is the fact that the Sabal versus Amita choices have no visible impact; say you pick Amita. Doing it her way should result in better-armed troops or supplies while suffering morally dubious missions like protecting child-labourers in the poppy fields; yet you see investment and modernisation. You should be conflicted, torn, eventually abandoning her for Sabal but nothing ever changes to bring home the impact of your choices; reasserting a temple’s importance for Sabal should have more impact than Amita stressing we just set back women’s lib; we need to see it, understand what we just did to the people of Kyrat. Worse, it never impacts Min, who just maintains an amused commentary on AJ’s actions. The only unpredictable thing in FC4 is Min. I wanna hang out with him instead.
Min seriously challenges Vaas as top dog in FC’s rogue’s gallery. It’s not just his bored calls to AJ (asking if he left because of the Crab Rangoon, if he reads Kanye's twitter or if AJ thinks Dennis Rodman would accept an invitation to Kyrat), or his threatening eccentricity - at dinner, he takes a pinch of Mum’s ashes and tastes them. He knew Mum better than most and was excited to have AJ visit (greeting us with “You and I are gonna TEAR SHIT UP!”). He seems to be actually protecting AJ, prodding him into realising he’s on the wrong side; Min might not be the right side either, but he wants AJ to figure that out himself. Its rage-inducing that we barely scratch the surface of a complex bad guy up there with Ryan, The Joker, GlaDOS or The Illusive Man.
Much like FC3, the secondary characters are all top-notch, but unlike FC3 they’re all wasted and undermined. De Pleur, Min’s enforcer has a lovely chat on the phone with his daughter while torturing someone, and Noore runs an arena (betting how long people last against animals) but turns out to be a human-rights investigator whose family Min is holding hostage; yet both are little more than cut-scene characters. Why is everything story-related kept out of AJ’s reach? Then there’s Yuma Lau …
The general of Kyrat’s armies and an ex-Triad, Yuma hits the same beats as both Vaas and Citra did in FC3; she’s obsessed with Kalinag from Kyrati folklore much like Citra was and she has Vaas’ hatred; she despised AJ’s mum for her influence over Min, and now has AJ to torment. Except … she doesn’t. We see her in two cut-scenes and one boss battle. She’s reduced to a teenager’s hot-Asian fantasy – someone this dangerous and we get seduction scenes? Utterly, frustratingly wasted.
Hallucinogenic vision-quests worked in FC3 as a ceremonial rite, but FC4’s Shangri-La and Kalinag segues are pointless; we portray Kalinag as he rids Shangri-La of what looks like Sesame Street’s Big Bird going through a goth stage then face off against Yuma as Kalinag – the fight should be dependent on how we’d progressed through Shangri-La, tie them together to show AJ understood it’s meaning whereas Yuma missed it but no; we even fight the tiger that we control in Shangri-La, surely there should be a connection there? Nope, it’s just an unconnected, crappy mini-boss fight that undermines what we learnt about Kalinag.
And it’s not just Yuma who uses mind-altering drugs. Two twats pop up to grind the game to a halt as AJ’s drug dealers, giving him visions in which we have to survive Kyrat while tripping to unlock power-ups. We also have to contend with the return of CIA stooge Willis who fulfils the same role he had in FC3; padding. Willis is assessing Min’s threat to the US – there could have been a great little sub-plot or narrative choice here, force us into an alliance with Yuma who also wants Min gone. Just gonna ignore all the possibilities there? Well okay then.
Eventually we secure the region and storm Min’s end of Kyrat, and just like FC3, everything resets on the other side of the border. It’s the same crap again. Amita and Sabal bitch about each other, AJ does inconsequential missions, it all looks the same. Against my wishes, I’m gonna go kill Min and get the first easyJet out of here.
Before I can reach the palace though, I have to chose which child abuser I like. I go with Sabal. I would have chosen Amita