Review: Far Cry 5
The Far Cry series has become synonymous with over-the- top action ever since the third instalment propelled the franchise into the hearts of millions of adoring fans way back in 2012. If you’re planning on picking the new game up so it can deliver a captivating story to get stuck into, you might be disappointed. However, if you want a gorgeous playground to blaze across with a mate, you’re in for a treat.
The game leaves the exotic locales behind in favour of Hope County, Montana; a rural state over-run by a fanatical religious cult and its charismatic leader – Joseph Seed. You are placed in the shoes of a silent deputy sheriff, tasked with arresting Seed and putting an end to his reign of terror. The story certainly makes an impression in the early stages, providing all the psychotic intrigue we’ve come to expect; unfortunately Seed never quite lives up to his villainous predecessors, lacking the memorable moments or quotable lines that made Vaas so captivating.
In many ways, Hope County is the best character in the whole game. Whilst it is beautiful to look at the picturesque spot is far from a paradise. The wild and unpredictable environments can send even the most routine missions off the rails, with the possibility of bumping in to an enemy patrol or overly-ambitious grizzly bear always keeping you on high-alert. This un-scripted danger is what conjures up Far Cry 5’s most entertaining situations; it can make for a truly fantastic co-op experience when you and a pal botch a stealth mission, alert enemy reinforcements and end up smashing through a small town with a combine harvester – something which has definitely never happened to me.
While the game is a blast, it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. Ubisoft have stuck very closely to the formula that has proven successful in the past; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if things had been shaken-up slightly. The way in which you progress through the campaign has been tweaked though, giving you much more freedom in the order you tackle the various regions. A further change is the move away from the one-man army approach employed in past instalments, placing far more emphasis on the “Guns for Hire” system, giving you access to a colourful cast of characters with a range of abilities (including a friendly bear named Cheeseburger – need I say more?). The caveat to this – certain allies are ridiculously over-powered and can often eliminate nearly every enemy, with minimal input from the player.
In the build up to the game’s release, the footage shown seemed to hint at a campaign heavy in social commentary; especially in terms of the obvious religious themes that show-up around every corner. But to be truthful, Far Cry 5 doesn’t quite deliver on the narrative it seemed to promise. The series isn’t known for its powerful stories, but when dealing with an issue so current and controversial, you can’t help but feel like Ubi missed an opportunity to make a real statement here. Instead we get a tale that feels like it wants to say something impactful, but doesn’t know how to word it.
My biggest gripe may seem petty at first glance but stay with me – the decision to leave your character as a silent protagonist. When a game seems so intent on engrossing you and engaging you with the world, not giving your deputy a voice is baffling. When you have a deranged religious fanatic tying you to a chair and promising to ‘rip out your sin’ with a selection of pointy tools, having your avatar just sit there with less to say than a Chesterfield fan this season, can seriously yank you out of the experience.
Far Cry 5 feels at odds with itself; on one hand it wants to make a mature point about the state of the world and make you listen to what is has to say, on the other it wants you to feel like a child in the worlds biggest toy-box. Trying to blend the two was a herculean task, one which it ultimately fails to do. But I can’t deny that pissing around in a world designed to accommodate the craziest or slightly psychotic ideas my sleep deprived brain cooks up does leave a beaming smile on my face. This game is like a Friday night down the pub – it starts off with a quiet drink and topical, intellectual conversation; but soon descends into a loud, drunken mess where nobody cares what’s being said, as long as it’s a damn good laugh.