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    Far Cry 4 A Bit Of Déjà Vu ? Preview

    A CRITICISM THAT’S often levelled at Ubisoft is that its games are designed by the numbers. In some cases, we’d disagree, particularly when it comes to the publisher’s downloadable library. With the likes of Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, though, it’s hard not to see an element of that. Consider the mechanics that both series now share hunting, climbing puzzles and so on due to their success in previous games, for example. Or, the fact that Far Cry 4 seems to be trying to give us another Vaas in the form of the unhinged Pagan Min. It’s indicative of a design philosophy that prioritises pandering to popularity over creativity, relying as it does on a cut and paste cross-pollination of mechanics that makes games feel like they’re designed by committee. The thing is, as much as we hate that kind of soulless design philosophy in principle, we can’t honestly say that we care that Far Cry 4 seems to be taking that approach.

    One of the best things about Far Cry 3 was the freeform approach you could take to liberating outposts littered throughout the game’s world the fact that you could silently take out an entire camp unseen, create chaos by manipulating the game’s wildlife, strap C4 onto a vehicle and send a ball of flame careening into your enemies, or mix and match those disparate techniques as you see fit.

    Ubisoft is well aware that people liked that aspect of the game, so, sans that aforementioned design philosophy, it’s focused on making that a key part of Far Cry 4. Not only will outposts return along with new tools to conquer them but Far Cry 4 will feature four fortresses controlled by antagonist Pagan Min’s key henchmen. These fortresses are effectively giant outposts, intended to provide us with the same kind of enjoyment, but on a larger scale. Sounds good to us.

    If we’re looking at successes that have influenced Far Cry 4’s development, we also have to consider standalone DLC Blood Dragon. It seems that, in that success, Ubisoft detected an appetite for the ridiculous. It’s scratching that itch by including reality-bending missions set in the mystical realm of Shangri La in Far Cry 4. In these missions, unlocked by discovering ancient artefacts, or ingesting hallucinatory substances, you will be accompanied by a white tiger that you will help you take down strange, masked enemies in this otherworldly plane.

    In fairness to Ubisoft, it doesn’t look like Far Cry 4’s solely about trying to repeat or emulate what’s been done before. For one thing, its world looks far more diverse than in the previous game, encompassing tight mountain paths, forests and bleak, snowy vistas. With its Himalayan setting, the verticality that the sequel brings to the party also looks like it could change things significantly, necessitating as it does the use of a grapple to scale steep climes, as well as bringing the wingsuit front and centre when it comes to navigating the game’s environment.

    Perhaps the most interesting addition, though, is the fact that you’ll not only be able to explore Far Cry 4’s open world in co-op, but that your friends won’t have to own the game in order to join you. As long as you’re both PS Plus subscribers, your friend can download a free app that will let them jump into the game with you. Unsurprisingly, single player campaign missions will be locked, but much of the fun to be had in the Far Cry games lies outside of the main campaign anyway. Whether taking down outposts in coordination, or trolling your friend by shooting open a tiger cage just as they stroll in front of it, we can see plenty of potential for laughs.

    If Far Cry 4 focuses on the series’ strengths and can add one or two new elements to the formula, then it’s going to be hard to be too down on it. We don’t expect the game to be particularly surprising or original, but, providing it gives us more of what worked last time around, we don’t expect this to stop the game from being plenty of fun to play.

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