Far Cry 5 Review
The Far Cry franchise has brought us many games of varying quality over the years. While Far Cry 4 is not as popular as Far Cry 3, as an American-born Indian the concept of an actual Indian being the established protagonist of a game blew me away. To my knowledge there is not a single other AAA game that features a protagonist from the Indian subcontinent, which, if you’re not Indian yourself, you may not have noticed. 1 billion people! I learned a lot about my heritage and my family’s ancestral home, even presenting Rakshasa (a take on the Hindu God of war, Kali) as a boss battle later on. I’ll admit my excitement let me overlook a few of the game’s problems and focus on what I loved about it. The removal of those rose-colored glasses for Far Cry 5 resulted in a somewhat less satisfying feeling upon finishing the game.
Far Cry 5 drops you in to one of the most exciting game openings in years. I will be avoiding spoilers in this review, but even if you’re not intending to play this game, watch the opening scene. It’s about 20 minutes long but well worth it. In addition, check out Amazon’s live-action short film prologue to the game, it is one of the best live action adaptations of a video game ever.
As previously stated, I am an American. I have some experience with places like Hope County in real life (I lived in a small town in rural Kentucky for a year) so I’ll speak to the authenticity of the settings. Ubisoft obviously put in the work to get them exactly right. I believe that Hope County is a real place. Everything is spaced out the right way, the roads are in the right condition, there are run down sheds full of tools all along the water — it is perfectly like real life. Ubisoft sent scouts to Montana when they worked on this to get a feel for the local flavor and personality of the area, and their hard work paid off. The music even has that local flair you’ll find deep in the Mountain States, taught guitars, whining violins and soft harmonicas overlapping into something that feels like the homeland. I’d give some of the Peggie songs a listen. Haunting as they are, they are definitely bops.
They player begins with a bare-bones character creator to make our protagonist, an unnamed Rookie from the Sheriff’s department of Hope County. You, the Sheriff, and the Deputy accompany a US Marshall who has come to take Father (the antagonist) into federal custody; the church (see: cult) he runs is now known to be responsible for the disappearance of a group of film students who were attempting to document cult activities. You arrive at the compound of the Project at Eden’s Gate, which is a hell of a name for a cult, and your attempt to peacefully arrest Father goes awry. You’re stranded in the deep country of Montana, 50 miles from the nearest town, and must defeat Father, destroy the cult, and rescue the Sheriff before he catches up to you. Now I know what you’re thinking: why don’t the police, or national guard, or FBI, or US Military show up? Ubisoft was asked that same question:
“You’re stranded behind enemy lines in cult-occupied Hope County, Montana, and nobody’s coming to help you. Eden’s Gate, a veritable army of fanatics, has finally made its move and locked down the area, leaving you and every Hope County resident in cult territory. Now you’re standing alone against deadly odds in Big Sky Country, with no bars on your phone and only one way to stop the madness: take down Joseph Seed, the self-styled prophet of Eden’s Gate, and free Hope County from his campaign to save souls by force. And if you’re going to survive long enough to do that, you’re going to need to make some friends.”
Sort of a non-answer, but in any case cult has shut down the cell towers and internet and locked down the roads leading out of the county. For those that aren’t American, Far Cry 5 just has an unfeasible premise. If a U.S. Marshall went missing on a potentially dangerous arrest in Montana, the idea that the U.S. army wouldn’t break into cult territory and blow them away within 24 hours is laughable. And then there’s Nick, a companion who has a plane and could easily fly to a city to get help from the FBI even if he couldn’t get a signal from his phone or radio. Surely people in neighboring counties noticed the armed, robed men blocking off every road with an artillery truck? It’s Far Cry. Don’t think about it too hard or you’ll hurt your head.
Far Cry is famous for having a charismatic villain be the star of the show rather than the protagonist, and that trend certainly continues in Far Cry 5. Father, formerly known as Joseph Seed, is so maniacally faithful in his own power that the player will begin to wonder if he actually is an avatar for God. You’ll be gunning down a seemingly endless supply of Peggies (cultists) to reach him and his three siblings, John, Jacob and Faith before they take over the entire county. Dealing with the three of them before reaching father just isn’t very fun, unfortunately, and out of the three only Faith seems to have any real personality.
The gunplay is excellent, better than it’s ever been. Each weapons feels great to hold, but personally I play all Far Cry games exclusively with a bow and arrow. This series, despite the focus on gigantic guns, has the best-feeling bow and arrow physics in all of gaming, even better than Horizon Zero Dawn. The wide selection of weapons available from the start is a blessing, and the vehicles feel better than ever to drive. Despite all that, there’s something stale about the scenery, despite how accurate it is. One might argue that the recreation of middle America is so accurate it has looped back around to being boring to explore.
The characters, both heroes and villains, range from memorable to human potatoes. The companions are mostly flat characters with one defining trait each, with the exception of Nick, just by way of him and his family having a major quest centered around them. Jess is a lone wolf who’s a tracker/scout/ranger. Grace is a cold, unfeeling sniper hardened by war. Sharky likes to explode things. It’s mostly that all the way though.
The animal companions make for better allies, though; Cheeseburger the bear is so named because he loves cheeseburgers, despite them being quite bad for bears. Something humans have in common with bears, I suppose. Peaches is a sassy cougar that jumps on enemies and rips their necks out. Boomer, who is a good boy, is your faithful canine companion that jumps on enemies and steals their guns. I mostly stuck with a combo of Boomer and Jess unless I needed a companion’s specific talents.
Verdict: 7.5/10 — If You Like Far Cry, It’s Just like the Other Far Crys
Far Cry 5 is what it says on the tin. At a time when it was desperately needed, this would have been a great place to make a statement about alt-right shit heads, and Ubisoft just didn’t. There’s nothing groundbreaking going on here — this game takes a lot of features of the previous games and perfects/streamlines them but offers very little that’s new. You will get to travel around a beautifully rendered open world recreation of rural Montana, blow shit up, use cool guns, handle probably the best feeling in-game bow and arrow ever, and hunt some crazy animals with your friend Cheeseburger, the diabetic bear. Joseph Seed holds the plot together single-handedly with sheer charisma. If you enjoyed the others, get this one. If you didn’t, don’t.