For: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Do I simply talk about the rollicking fun nature of it with its free form “here’s a grenade launcher, a helicopter and a heap of baddies” style of play? Am I perhaps best to point out its narrative strengths, the unwitting return of the son of a revolutionary, under the pretext of spreading his mother’s ashes in her homeland, suddenly captured by the man his father sought to destroy and given the offer to “Tear shit up”? Or do I base my review on the game world of Kyrat itself? Full of mountains to climb, dangerous animals to run screaming from like a little girl, or the vast open spaces to explore that never stop surprising?
The most obvious thing to point out about this game is that it’s fun. A very important consideration, I would suggest. It’s a sandbox adventure in the style of its forbears, this time sharing slightly more in common with the Just Cause series. Not that this is a bad thing mind you.
As with previous instalments you can choose your style of play or make it up as you go along. Stealth, sniper, ride in on the back of an elephant, fly in with your wing suit or helicopter, it’s all there and it’s all fun. Of course you have the usual outposts to take over, towers to climb, and assassination missions to bungle through like you know what you are doing, just like the last installment in the series.
This time around though there is simply more going on. Every time you set out on an adventure you will undoubtedly stumble across something to do, be it saving some villagers from a honey badger attack, hijacking a military supply truck or simply an encounter with one of the many animals that wants to trample you or snack on your face. Sometimes this becomes a little overwhelming when multiple things happen at once while you’re just trying to get from A to B. Say for example, you expend all of your ammunition in a panic because an eagle decided that your face looked more delicious than the pig it was eating and then the wolves that were chasing you caught up because the rhino you skirted around a moment before charged the jeep-load of soldiers you were shooting at and is coming after you so you are forced to make a hasty about turn… (pause for breath). I’m not even joking: controller-hurling moments like this occur frequently. However, I’d be hard pushed to say that they detract from the game to the point that I stop enjoying it overall.
The newly introduced karma system is well implemented if slightly unnecessary. Save some rebels from the military, gain some karma points that go towards absolutely nothing of value. Save some villagers from imprisonment, gain some more karma points that go towards absolutely nothing of value. So on and so forth. It’s a nice idea to add variety to your adventure but doesn’t serve any other purpose apart from providing busy work.
The drop in drop out co-op play and a map editor for the console editions extend the list of things to do as well.
As far as story goes, it’s there only to move you around the map to the next encounter. It’s well-paced and the characters well fleshed out. Pagan Min is an excellently conceived and executed villain in the Hansom Jack vein: a sarcastic prick who makes you laugh and angers you at the same time. Then there’s the two rebel leaders who offer binary moral choice missions that allow you to determine the outcome of the war. There’s also a host of other smaller characters such as Yogi and Reggie, the two stoners who drug you up a couple of times for the psychedelic sequences, the DJ who offers plenty of “humour” over the radio as well as a cast of other miscreants who provide comic relief, and McGuffins to keep things moving.
Being offered binary choice missions gives you a somewhat shallow reason to replay and overall the story has about the same level of depth as every ‘80s action movie. It’s there to offer context to the mind-blowingly glorified violence that you are about to participate in. It serves its purpose and still manages to entertain. That’s a thumbs up in my book.
As far as Kyrat goes, it’s an amazingly beautiful game world. It has been lovingly crafted and then filled with all the denizens you could imagine, and an endless number of ways to destroy them. There are mountains to climb with your grappling hook, cliffs to jump off with your wing suit, rivers and lakes to swim in, forests to get lost in, and all manner of vehicles to drive carelessly around in, from bongo vans to hovercrafts. It seems as though this world was intended for its inhabitants to run amok in.
Having the map divided into two sides in much the same way as Far Cry 3 did, helps with pacing and further intertwines the story with the game world, and it’s the game world that’s the stand out for me. It’s endlessly fun to just wander around and get into mischief. Fill a jeep with C4, park it at the top of a hill overlooking an enemy encampment and release the brakes. Ride an elephant around and throw cars off the road like toys. Parachute off a cliff into an enemy outpost with a machine gun. Lure a bear into the middle of a town and watch everyone soil themselves, hunt honey badgers with land mines… and the list goes on. There’s just so much you can do.
Ultimately, the fun nature of the game, the story that plods along unlocking fun stuff to do and the expansive world you have to play in, make for a very entertaining game. Not totally without its faults, but pretty close to perfect. This is a well balanced game with plenty of content to amuse everyone. JAMES BAKER
Rating = 4/5