Ajay Ghale flung himself to the ground, attempting to conceal himself as best as possible in the thick undergrowth. The local militia were loyal to King Pagan Min, Kyrat’s tyrannical despot, and didn’t really need a reason to discharge their AK-47s. His heart pounding, Ajay waited until their blood-red berets disappeared from his vision.
Slowly, crouching as low as he could, he snuck away from the trio, and waited until he was a safe distance away to take in the stunning beauty of Kyrat. Welcome to the world of Far Cry 4, Ubisoft’s latest mainstream addition to their overwhelmingly popular Far Cry series of games.
The premise of the games is the same: You are a traveller who’s rocked up at some exotic location – a ‘far cry’ from civilisation – when you are kidnapped by a group of baddies. They could be anyone: Pirates, bandits, brainwashed soldiers serving a despotic king because he rules with an iron fist, you get the drift.
In Far Cry 4, you play the role of Ajay Ghale, a twentysomething young man who’s come home from the United States to lay the ashes of his mother to rest. As he’s travelling deeper and deeper into the fictional Himalayan kingdom of Kyrat – based on the landlocked nation of Nepal – his tourist van is waylaid by soldiers who are scouring the countryside for rebels.
Or so it would seem. Turns out that Pagan himself has come to greet Ajay, and proceeds to kill everyone else on board the bus so that word of his impromptu visit does not reach the ears of his enemies. And because he can, but it’s mostly the first reason.
Pagan wants to offer Ajay a place at his side, and there’s a mixture of sentiment and suspicion involved in this decision. Ajay’s father led the armed resistance against Pagan, and had to flee to the States. His mother worked as a maid for Pagan, feeding information back to her husband and the rebels.
Ajay, though, is free to choose his own path: Minutes after leaving Pagan’s palace, he’s met by the resistance, who’ve long waged a bitter and bloody struggle against the Royalists. They want to recruit him as well, and are hoping that as his father’s son, he can become a rallying cause for those who are oppressed all across the land.
It’s one that seems to work: From hidden cells across Kyrat, rebels ambush Royalist convoys, set fire to poppy fields that fuel his ill-gotten funds with which to buy arms, and rescue civilians who have been enslaved by their own king.
But for every outpost and hamlet the rebels take, Pagan retaliates viciously. In response to attacks on his armed patrols, he attempts to dynamite their places of worship, which he knows will send morale among his enemies plummeting.
He’s also rallying his lieutenants to raise more troops to fling at the rebels, employing a scorched-earth policy to stop them. Every soldier he throws into the fight is only another tactic in an attempt to gain a little more time to eliminate more weapons, be it a crazed shirtless man who flings Molotov cocktails at you or a heavily armed machine gunner.
Fortunately for Ajay, there are many allies who will help him even the odds against Pagan’s madness. The kingdom of Kyrat has been gorgeously rendered, with snow-capped peaks, verdant coniferous forests, and an abundance of waterfalls and cliffs, all of which are teeming with wildlife.
Not all of the beasts Ajay encounters will be friendly, but all of them can be hunted for their pelts, which can later be used to craft extra ammunition bags, while the herbs and plants that grow abundantly in Kyrat contain potent healing and sensory augmentation.
In keeping with the tone of this game’s predecessor, Ubisoft have also brought in ways for Ajay to travel by air, in addition to the myriad number of land and watercraft available.
Unleash hell from above as you fling grenades with one hand while you control your miniature helicopter with another, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, grab hold of a glider and parachute yourself into enemy territory. But all of this barely even scratches the surface: Far Cry 4 is a brilliantly immersive game that surprises you with plot twists at every turn, and is a truly excellent game to download this weekend.
— [email protected]
The Short and Skinny
Name: Far Cry 4
Genre: Role-playing/first person shooter
What it’s about: Ajay returns to his war-torn homeland, and is thrust into a fight he didn’t really want to join, but in reality, has always been a part of
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox360, Xbox One
Where to Buy: Steam Store (PC), PlayStation Store, Xbox Marketplace
IGN Rating: 8.5/10