The Far Cry games are among some of my most favourite games yet as the series edges closer to reality it becomes slightly uncomfortable to play. Originally when you were on a B-Movie version Of The Island Of Doctor Moreau in Far Cry Instincts that straddled the Original Xbox and 360 things were simple. Bad guys, you with your animal powers and the ability to take them down in multiple ways was a recipe for endless fun. As the series progressed and the supernatural elements disappeared you realised you were causing some significant humanitarian damage to different parts of the earth. In saying that the game always pulled you through with memorable antagonists like Vaas and Pagan Min and Far Cry 5 is no different with the Joseph Seed cult/preacher character. Yet in this day and age is the ability for sadistic violence enough for fans of the series?
The game is set in a fictional area of Montana, rural, middle-America smack bang in the area where us Europeans immediately start humming duelling banjos and making Deliverance references. It is a stereotype but strangely enough, it is the first time I can think of Modern America being the subject of the stereotype. It generated a lot of heat when it was first shown and the feeling of moving through Montana is both familiar and jarring. It feels like a one-off setting for a game rather than the whole setting and this takes a while to disappear. Technically there are a few graphical glitches and pop-in that a launch day patch should resolve.
You play a Deputy tasked with investigating Joseph Seed and his religious cult Eden’s Gate. Needless to say, things go very wrong very quickly and you are left fighting for survival in the typical Far Cry formula of unlocking vistas and levelling yourself up. What’s new this time is your companions. From the Dog to the sniper and the crop-dusting pilot who can drop airstrikes there is a motley bunch of supporting characters to choose from. It certainly makes this game have a different feel to the previous games but ups the ability for comedy violent situations even more.
In keeping with modern games, Far Cry 5 is made for streamers and YouTubers. Explosions go off, your dog attacks enemies while fire explodes behind them the plane carpet bombs a sniper tower all while you sit and watch. It could be Commando the Movie if Schwarzenegger had never left his home cabin. It is perfectly set up for people to do interesting walkthroughs and take down outposts in a host of different ways. If you learn the guards patrol patterns it is entirely possible to go from one guard to another and stealthily take down the whole place. Hit share and bang you have streaming gold. If only it had been so easy back in the days of the original game.
Your wingsuit is still a good companion and now skill upgrades are more tailored to feats you accomplish in the game rather than solely XP and crafting. Travel a good distance in the wingsuit and upgrades become available. It is just another quality of life that makes you keep coming back for more as you grind towards your next milestone.
Added to this is the new Arcade mode which wasn’t available to reviewers. It will allow you to edit your own maps with assets from Ubisoft’s other big games like Assassins Creed. Personally, I can’t wait to set up a picture-perfect version of Crusade Area Jerusalem and see how those annoying Templars deal with automatic weapons. More likely though it will be a showcase for other players who are more creative and have more time on their hands to extend the life of the game beyond the 30hrs or so it will take to complete the story. You can of course team up and do the whole campaign cooperatively with a friend online. Again this seems set up to encourage streaming and let’s plays and this is to be expected in games now.
I still have to come back to the title of my review and opening paragraph. With the current climate and gun arguments in America a game like this that has so much unscripted material and potential that some elements are a bit too close to the bone. It is to be applauded that Ubisoft keeps pushing the boundaries by making a western developed country the setting but the political message of the game is not what it appeared to be on the reveal. On reveal it looked to be a commentary on the growing conservative popularity in America yet when playing it falls into the typical video game traits with a crazed boss and his four henchmen acting as sub-bosses in typical video game fashion. If Seed had been as charismatic as Vaas or Pagan Min in this setting then the message could have been difficult and I haven’t reached the end yet so there is still time for this to develop further. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel this is a missed opportunity to go darker from Ubisoft in this setting. As it is the comedy explosions and violence you can set up and your well acted and often funny companions take the sting out of what could have been a dark exploration into this modern America. As it is we have the same Far Cry formula and level of Ubisoft polish as well as the promise of genuinely interesting divergences in the season pass from Zombies to Vietnam and Mars. Far Cry 5 is looking to be in your console’s disk tray for the foreseeable future.
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