'Far Cry 5' review: a new wild world

Monday, 26 March 2018 06:00 AM Written by 

 

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The “Far Cry” series has become one of the staples of the open-world genre. With its latest release, it now has as many entries as “Grand Theft Auto,” but it’s always tried to craft its own kind of open world like Kyrat in “Far Cry 4” or the paradise of Rook Islands in “Far Cry 3.” Now, the series is poised to make a statement on American idealism as it takes the action to modern rural Montana.

 

“Far Cry” usually rises or falls based on the strength of its agonists. Since the main character is always a faceless, voiceless vessel, the action and narrative is almost always controlled by the character trying to take you down. In “Far Cry 5’s” case, players won’t be forgetting the name “Father Joseph Seed” any time soon, even though he’s underutilized.

 

 

Joseph Seed is the founder and leader of Eden’s Gate, a doomsday cult that has taken full control of the fictional town of Hope County. He’s destroyed infrastructure like phones and internet and that mass majority of the population following him and his “righteous path” of pro-guns, anti-sin and antiestablishment. In his eyes, rural Montana is the country’s forgotten land, and he’s gathering his forces to lead them to salvation.

 

Not all of his followers came willingly and had to be converted, which required some kidnapping, torture and a little help from the area’s native drug called “bliss.” The rest of his family does the dirty work. His sister Faith handles the drug manufacturing, his brother Jacob handles the training of their special forces and John handles the torture. Those three family members each inhabit a region in Hope County. These regions must become destabilized in order to get to Joseph.  

 

Joseph Seed makes an impact from the game’s opening scenes, but takes a back seat to the action afterward. His family members become the stars of the show while you attempt to destroy their respective regions. “Far Cry 5” is expertly acted throughout. These mini villains help keep the tension building, but the calm, tense, determined conviction of Father Joseph that looks like it could explode at any moment in any scene should’ve been featured more often than the beginning, end and each time you defeat one of his siblings.

 

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The writing in “Far Cry 5” doesn’t make the conflict clear cut. It’s surprising to see such grounded writing in a series like this one that usually celebrates exaggeration. There are numerous sequences when I questioned my character’s own motives and it became clear just how twisted and convincing this cult was. That fact that that was even explored makes this a must-see plot. Some expertly timed social and political satire gets thrown in making “Far Cry 5” one of the best plots of the year.

 

The game changed the typical exploration formula usually found in the series. The mechanic of climbing towers to uncover the map is gone. You’re free to go where you please, all while uncovering the map as you travel. Each of the three regions has an experience bar that has to be filled to progress the story of that region. That bar can be filled by completing story missions, side missions or carrying out small jobs around the area like destroying fuel silos or eliminating Eden’s Gate VIPs. Completing these tasks triggers automatic encounters with the boss of that region. This makes sure you never forget who you’re up against in that area, and builds most of the character development. Without these encounters it would be easy to get caught up in the minutia of open world quests, but “Far Cry 5” keeps the plot going regardless what kinds of missions you're carrying out.

 

This system would benefit by lowering the XP needed in each region. I completed the main quests of each region, but always had to scramble to find other activities to completely fill the meter. It was always a problem not knowing where to go to find more quests, and always led to some wasted time of wandering around. And there is a lot of nothing to see when wandering around.

 

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As for the action, it’s the same “Far Cry” gunplay fans have come to expect. There’s a whole lot of murdering cult members. As the game progresses, your character will become a more efficient killing machine. It made me wonder just how many people are in this little valley of Hope County, because by I had killed 1500 of them by the end of the game. That’s about .15% of the population of Montana’s most populous city.

 

“Far Cry 5’s” open world is absolutely gorgeous because the game consists of gorgeous nature scenery. Montana’s lakes, pine trees, mountain ranges and rolling hills are a sight to see, especially on a fancy PC or an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro. HDR makes the color in every scene pop. But the nature outstayed its welcome after a short time. There isn’t much else to see other than those nature scenes aside from the occasional cult outpost or landmark. Traveling long distances can be a chore. The cars of the game all feel like the travel at a fraction of the speed that they should, which negatively affects the car chases in the game that are supposed to feel fast. It gets easier once you unlock the ability to airdrop into outposts and wingsuit from A to B.

 

There’s a leveling system in place that unlocks perks like the ability to carry more guns, more ammo, grants more health, faster healing etc. Perk tokens are unlocked by completing challenges in the game. Gone are the usual upgrading of “Far Cry” where you need to seek and kill wildlife to upgrade your gear. The new system is much more streamlined.

 

Speaking of wildlife, companions have become a highly publicized part of this game, especially the dog companion that can help you in your fight against the cult. Boomer the dog only scratches the surface of your companions. You can also recruit a cougar, a bear and a slew of human options. These companions are a huge help on the battlefield. They never get in the way or blow your cover. They’re only there to help, which isn’t always the case when it comes to A.I. helpers. There’s also co-op so human friends can jump in and lend a hand. This is a great feature, but some missions rely to heavily on the need for a human friend. Sometimes an A.I. companion can only do so much. Taking out the driver of a moving vehicle while I drove was too much to ask.

 

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"Far Cry 5" does a lot of things well. It deviated from the typical "Far Cry" experience to set itself apart, justifying itself as a sequel. It avoided the bordem of "Far Cry Primal." It established a new memorable villain in Jacob Seed that will be discussed and dissected for some time. The setting of rural Montana fits the plot perfectly, but isn't as memorable as the characters who reside there. There are few open world games that can match the pure escapism of the "Far Cry" presentation. With a few sanded edges, the gameplay can match that presentation.

 

8.75 out of 10

 

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