Published on April 10th, 2018 | by Ian Goodwillie0
Far Cry 5
It’s not the best of the series, and its antagonists are largely uninspired, but Far Cry 5 is a solid run and gun from Ubisoft.
Okay, so Far Cry 5 is another installment in another Ubisoft franchise. It’s not that I only review Ubisoft games (Assassin’s Creed Origins, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Watch_Dogs, South Park: The Stick of Truth). It’s just that they have a lot of game releases. It’s almost statistically impossible to not review their games. Well, if you’re the kind of person who sets out to review new video games.
Far Cry is now in its 14th year with this edition being the fifth installment in the main franchise. Far Cry 3 is arguably the best of them all.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, a standalone expansion of Far Cry 3, is arguably the best of the entire franchise. It’s insane in the most beautiful way possible. And where does Far Cry 5 fit in all of this? Let’s just say the championship belt for ‘Best in Franchise’ that Far Cry 3 and Blood Dragon hold together remains unchallenged. That being said, it’s not totally irredeemable.
The first thing to know about the Far Cry franchise is that each entry is, in reality, a standalone game. Unlike Assassin’s Creed, the Far Cry games do not fit together as part of one large, ongoing story. Each Far Cry story places the protagonist in a wilderness environment, facing down its inherent dangers while trying to oust a despot/fanatical leader. This time, you’re in Montana facing off against cult leader Joseph Seed and his family.
The first major problem is the game’s antagonist. The Seeds come across as stereotypes of a media trope. You’ve seen this style of fanatical cultism depicted in movies, TV shows, and video games before. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with leaning on established tropes in storytelling, the game does nothing to build on those tropes or make them unique to the game. The Seed Family is toothless, banal, and uninteresting, as are the grunt members of their cult, Eden’s Gate. There’s not as much tension as there should be because the antagonists simply don’t feel threatening.
They’re caricatures, not fully realized characters.
That being said, the Seeds and their family are at least engaging enough to make you want to unseat them from their place of power in the fictional Hope County.
Like the antagonists, the structure of the game is all too familiar. Fight the thugs. Do side quests. Free sections of the map. Defeat head guy for that region. Repeat. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that but Far Cry 5 does little to improve on the model.
The end result is this game feels all too familiar from moment one, despite the fact that the Far Cry franchise has never had you play as a Sheriff’s Deputy facing off against a cult leader in rural Montana before. And that is truly a shame since there are more than a few positives to Far Cry 5.
The world developed for Far Cry 5 is outstanding. I’ve been to Montana. This looks and feels like Montana. It’s an incredibly gorgeous part of the United States that offers fantastic terrain to face off against Eden’s Gate in. You deal with wolves and bears while trying to handle the Seed’s armed soldiers. Some of the most interesting moments of the game happen in the woods when you encounter a bear and cultist duking it out. Do you kill the bear and handle the cultist after or vice versa? Or do you just let nature take its course and walk away?
The game also offers a lot of options for upgrading, enhancing, and customizing your character, which always adds dimensions to the gameplay. It’s not unique to this franchise by any stretch of the imagination but it’s always a welcome component.
Far Cry 5 is kind enough to give you in game helpers, as well. You meet a wide swath of non-playable characters who are part of a larger resistance against the Seeds. Many of them can be hired by you as backup in fights. And while this mechanic is not specific to the Far Cry franchise, it is useful for once. These characters actually know how to take cover, stay out of sight, and kill your enemies. Do they sometimes stand in a fire without moving until they burn to death? Yes. Yes, they do. But they also take out bad guys and revive you when you get gunned down.
Beyond the game itself, there has also been some talk of the timing of its release. Far Cry 5 was announced soon after the election of Donald Trump in an era of religious fanaticism and the advancement of alt-right ideology. Some have criticized Ubisoft for capitalizing on real world tensions but the reality is that the development cycle for new games is a long one. They could not have predicted that their new game would have, to a limited extent, be a reflection of reality in even a modestly accurate way.
The crew at Ubisoft are not able to see the future. Unlike the writing staff over at The Simpsons, apparently.
Far Cry 5 is by no means the best of its franchise, and it definitely does not reinvent the first person shooter genre. But you do play a story engaging enough to keep you invested while fighting droves of cultists in an incredibly well rendered environment.
It’s just one of those games that you run and gun your way through, and have a good time doing it.