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Far Cry 4 Review

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Graphics:

Being a modern game, you can expect the graphics of Far Cry 4 to be vibrant and very well detailed. Being an open-world game, you can also expect some blemishes because not everything can be perfectly polished. Ideally the quality would outweigh the issues, but in Kyrat, issues are rarely small.

Starting with the good stuff, the textures and models are almost uniformly amazing. Many of the vistas are decidedly beautiful as they are covered with lush plant life or weathered rock. Look too closely though, and some of those blemishes start appearing. For example, grass is typically just 2D sprites arranged to give a 3D illusion. Of course, this is how many games do it, and considering the sheer amount of vegetation that is rendered at once, it is a very fair tradeoff. There are also times a close look may reveal a lower resolution texture, but this is not very common. Present, but uncommon.

The world also does an excellent job of blending nature and man-made together, which is actually useful. It is much easier to go off-roading when the only distinction between the road and the ground is the lack of trees, and the worn appearance. I did experience issues with structures only partially loading though, like half a radio tower standing in the distance, or parts of a mountain missing.

Character models are generally very good, especially for the main characters. Other models are still good, but those named characters stand out and far ahead. Many animal models have the benefit of fur covering their bodies, and not just the flat fur of a texture, but tessellated fur. Visually it does add to the animals, but at times looked a little thin to me. Also at times the hair seems to blur together, giving an aliased appearance, which is not appealing to see, but that would be the tradeoff of what is still a pretty cool technology.

 

 

 

Lighting too is spectacular and really does add to the realism of the game. Light rays streaking through the air and leaves shimmering under the sun do a lot to make the world come to life. Unfortunately the compliment to light is severely broken.

When they work correctly, shadows add just as much to the game as the lighting does, but all too often the shadows break in ways that tempted me to just turn them off. At times I would enter and leave complete darkness just by looking up and down. Other times I would enter caves or buildings only to have the shadows of trees fill the screen and race by. Eventually the darkness of the unlit structures would engulf me, but not until I was already well removed from the sun. All I can say is that I hope a patch or driver update fixes this.

 

Water is good, although at a distance, its repeated surface is apparent. It does look good, but much of the water looks calm and all in the same way, and without much in the way of natural disturbances. Rapids and waterfalls look like animated textures running over the environment, lacking depth. Water interaction is nice. Stepping in it gives an obviously animated texture, but it fades in and out, which actually gives it some nice life. Driving and boating through it throws it up rather well, so no complaints there, save one experience. For some reason one time I was on a jet ski, the water was flowing over me instead of under me. Not sure what was causing that, but it did only happen once.

 

 

Fire has been an important part of the Far Cry franchise for multiple games now, and still plays a healthy role here. The flames do lack some definition to them, in my opinion, but the effect fire can have on the environment is impressive and gives it life. The ground is left scorched and vegetation burned away. Characters flail around while burning and explosions are very satisfying.

Like other recent Ubisoft games, Far Cry 4 features multiple NVIDIA technologies, like Enhanced God Rays, which help make the lighting as good as it is, and HairWorks for the dynamic fur. Other technologies include HBAO+, Percentage Closer Soft Shadows, and TXAA. I will talk more about these when I address performance and that will be just after I list my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 980 4 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

If you skipped over the specs, remembering them from prior reviews, you may want to look again. Thanks to Dave and NVIDIA, I have a new NVIDIA GTX 980 to play with. With its graphical power I was able to run the game at its highest settings with everything turned on and up, except for motion blur, as a personal choice. I was able to run it at these settings, but the experience was not what I would call smooth. Although there were plenty of times it ran nicely at 60 FPS, or at least the high 50s, it also would stutter severely, dropping down to the 20s. Luckily this did not impair my experience too much, but it did not improve it. The game stuttered most often while driving or flying, but it would stutter anywhere and anytime.

 

Those NVIDIA technologies I mentioned above each have their own setting and each one I had turned on. In fact the highest graphics pre-set is named NVIDIA, because these technologies are what differentiate it from the Ultra preset. With HBAO+, vegetation like the grass is actually able to cast shadows on the ground, and it does add to the graphics quality. Honestly though, I barely noticed it during my playthrough. The effect is present, but as this is not a game built around shadows, like a stealth game, it and the percentage closer soft shadows do not stand out as much until I started experimenting with the settings.

By the way, experimenting with the graphics also revealed a bug for me, as the settings were not necessarily changing when I told them to. Only by changing to different presets was I able to make sure specific settings were being turned on and off. Sometimes when I would go back into the settings after making a change, I would find the setting was not what I left it as.

 

Anti-aliasing always seemed to obey the settings I picked, at least in theory. For about half of the game I ran at the highest setting of TXAAx4, but then I started experimenting because of all of the aliasing that was still present. I ended up leaving the setting on MSAA, which gave largely the same visual improvement, even though it lacks the temporal filter. Only under close examination could I notice a difference between the settings.

Overall the graphics are good, but plagued with technical problems. The shadow issue is impossible to ignore, but lower settings can reduce the stuttering. But then, having to drop to the Medium preset on a GTX 980 to completely remove the stuttering is not a good solution.




  1. Far Cry 4 Review - Introduction
  2. Far Cry 4 Review - Graphics
  3. Far Cry 4 Review - Story
  4. Far Cry 4 Review - Gameplay
  5. Far Cry 4 Review - Additional Media
  6. Far Cry 4 Review - Conclusion
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