Beware serious spoilers for every numbered Far Cry game except the first. You have been warned.
My first column for Eurogamer was published four weeks ago. It was designed to fix NPC dialogue in shooters, and it worked perfectly. Since that day, not one shooter has been released with unconvincing or repetitive barks. You'd think, with such a resounding success still ringing around the internet, I'd be allowed to rest. You can imagine my horror when I received an email on Monday asking what my next column was going to be about.
I have a confession, and it is this: I really like the Ubisoft formula. Items everywhere, side-quests out the wazoo, big mission arrows, the steadily-expanding skill-set - bliss. I don't like every game made with it, of course, and Assassin's Creed shows what happens when the recipe is used too often. But when it works, and when it fits, you get a game like Far Cry 4.
Somebody has left the radio on. As I swerve the truck through the outpost gate, into the precarious wiggles of Kyrat's infrastructure, Royal Army trumpets blare from the radio, obscuring cries about this great nation, these meddling anarchists. It's tempting to toggle auto-drive, settle back and gloat over the cracks in the rhetoric, as the regime labours to play down my recent conquests - fully half of the realm's radio masts mounted and flipped to the rebel cause. But there is, as ever with Far Cry 4, no time. I'm already out of the car, slicing through the underbrush.
Greetings Eurogamers and congratulations for making it through the November assault course of new videogame releases. Everything gets a bit more quiet from here on in and your poor, abused wallet can breathe a leathery sigh of relief.
Far Cry 3 stretched last-gen consoles like no other, but its sequel on PlayStation 4 gives Ubisoft Montreal a chance to unleash the engine's true potential. With its gorgeous Himalayan horizon, our original hands-on at E3 2014 applauded a very well-rounded technical showcase for Sony's console, one which its creative director confirms has 1080p resolution as its target. But with final PlayStation 4 code to hand, does the game deliver a generational leap, and with this peak console resolution in mind, can it do so at a respectable frame-rate, bearing in mind the issues seen this week with Assassin's Creed Unity?
Do you remember that time in Far Cry 3 Jason Brody accidentally set fire to a truck, only to have it careen down a hill into an enemy encampment, crashing into a crudely constructed tiger cage and serendipitously unleashing the trapped beast upon his unsuspecting foes? That one instance he made a daring escape from a pursuing mob, swan-diving off a waterfall mid-explosion moments before being devoured by a hungry crocodile? Or how about that unforgettable evening when, outgunned and outnumbered, he used a Komodo Dragon to clear an enemy encampment, simply because he was all out of bullets?
In Far Cry 4 you can cut the brakes on a car, load it with explosives and roll it down a hill into a mob of henchmen, says Far Cry 4 creative director Alex Hutchinson. Speaking of vehicles for incendiary content, here is your weekly selection of videos from Outside Xbox. Welcome, Eurogamers, and thanks for joining us.
One of E3's big highlights for Digital Foundry - particularly at the Sony booth where demo stations took pride of place - was Far Cry 4. While the hands-on only amounts to a 10-minute appetiser, developer Ubisoft Montreal's open-world Himalayas setting looks every bit as traversable and rife with strategic options as you could hope of the series. But given the series' handling on last-gen hardware, with Far Cry 3 and its predecessor teetering at 20-30fps with tearing, can the PS4 sequel finally deliver a home console experience closer to the franchise's polished PC releases?
Has there ever been a series as tonally diverse as Far Cry? Sure, the likes of Final Fantasy, Assassin's Creed, and BioShock have drastically changed their settings, genres, and flavours to various degrees, but the feelings they invoke remained largely the same. Far Cry, however, went from a light, goofy shooting adventure about aliens on a tropical island to a sombre dissection of the African blood diamond trade, to a satirical take on the modern open-world shooter, to an extraordinarily goofy parody of "edgy" 80s sci-fi culture. Now, with Far Cry 4, Ubisoft has settled on a tonally ambiguous Himalayan adventure that rests in the nebulous place between drama and comedy, light and dark, satire and sincerity. It's not a place often explored by the medium and that makes it as difficult to decipher as its wildly enigmatic cover.