Right now, Far Cry 4 reviews are popping up all over the internet. It is, by all reports, a great game. Unfortunately, we can neither confirm or deny that assessment. More troubling, given the launch state of Assassin's Creed: Unity, is that we can't tell you how it performs on PC. The reason is simple: we haven't yet received code.
If you're getting a sense of deja vu, it's because exactly the same thing happened with Unity. For Far Cry 4, Ubisoft held a console review event; giving multi-platform outlets the chance to have their reviews in place for today's embargo. We, naturally, need to play the game on PC. Last night, we were informed that code wouldn't arrive until Tuesday, the date of the game's launch.
Ubisoft are, of course, free to restrict pre-release access to their game in whatever way they see fit. We aren't entitled to review code, and could still offer a judgement—albeit a less timely one—without. However, it's a disappointing development when it comes in the same week as Assassin's Creed: Unity's launch. That game has since caused Ubisoft's share price to drop as much as 12.8%, and yesterday its more spectacular bugs caught the attention of the BBC.
In that news post, a Ubisoft spokesperson clarified the way the company was approaching reviews. "The nature of games themselves and the way they are being reviewed is changing, as evidenced by games like Assassin's Creed Unity, Destiny and The Crew—games that have significant online components," she said.
"Having the online elements available and having populated worlds is essential to creating a representative and complete experience for reviewers. Achieving this prior to launch is incredibly complex, which is why some games are being reviewed much closer—or as was the case with Destiny, even after—the game launches."
The difference, to my mind, is that Destiny is an MMO. Assassin's Creed: Unity is not. Far Cry 4 is not. They have online elements, yes, but they are not predominantly online games. As the gap between high and mid-range PC specs widens, as system requirements become increasingly more demanding, and as pre-order bonuses are marketed more aggressively; to also restrict reviews to being conceivably days after a game's launch is a worrying trend for consumers.
We asked Ubisoft for an official statement, which you will find below:
"The reason why we did not provide review code until now is that there is a title update which won’t be available before Monday prior to launch. However, we will officially communicate on the title update prior the release of the game so consumers are aware."