Glimmers Of Brilliance In A Vanilla Experience
Far Cry 5 could and should be one of the best games of 2018. Set in the fictional Hope County in Montana, USA and boasting a gorgeous backdrop of lush woodland and forestry, Far Cry 5’s setting is one of intrigue and beauty as you complete missions and progress through the religious cult storyline. The wildly popular series has glimmers of brilliance here, fuelled by the unpredictable, adrenaline-soaked gun play that’s been the staple of this series since the first game launched back in 2004. Unfortunately Far Cry 5 has a plethora of issues too numerous to ignore, both technical and built into the core gameplay, making it one of the best and worst games in the series.
The game’s opening is arguably one of the strongest in the series’ history. Surrounded by religious zealots, you assume the role of a custom silent character – either female or male depending on which you choose – as you infiltrate the heart of Hope County to arrest the leader of a dangerous religious cult named Joseph. Once there, things predictably don’t go to plan and what ensues is a moment of chaos, sparked by a flurry of gunfire and explosions, as you’re separated from your group and lost in the wilderness, alone. After a brief introduction that sees you become accustomed to the controls and undertake a few basic missions to liberate a tiny island used as a tutorial to give you a flavour for the style of gameplay, Far Cry 5 opens up its expansive map with 3 distinct regions to explore and liberate.
The game looks great, with an impressive array of lighting effects
It’s at this point where Far Cry 5 loses some of its early honed direction with a slightly watered down approach to its religiously driven tale of cultism. While you can complete the regions in any order, the game does point out the preferred way of completing these for the optimum Far Cry experience and in some ways you can see why. Joseph’s three children, Jacob, John and Faith, all have a distinct flavour to their areas complete with unique enemies and design patterns used to shake up the basic gameplay rhythm. John’s region is made up of a series of farms and rolling hills with the basic set of enemies you’d expect from the Far Cry universe. Expect to fight basic soldiers, sharpshooters and flame throwers with nothing really out of the ordinary here. Faith’s region is the largest and arguably the one you’ll spend the most amount of time in, with a region full of zombified enemies under the hypnotic spell of “The Bliss”. The third area is the shortest but also the most challenging with many enemies armed to the teeth led by battle hardened Jacob. Once these three regions are liberated, Joseph’s stronghold unlocks and a final on-rails mission brings the tale to a close.
Liberating each area is fun and for the most part enjoyable but when the missions dry up, it can become a little tedious and grindy. Each main antagonist has a target of around 13,000 resistance points to hit before their final mission and most enjoyable experience in the region is unlocked. While there are a number of different ways to accumulate points ranging from liberating strongholds, saving civilians and destroying structures, these simple tasks reward you with a maximum of 400 points for the larger outposts down to 50 for saving a civilian. The bulk of point accumulation coms from completing main and side quests, that give between 900 and 600 points respectively, varying in length and difficulty. You’ll almost certainly run out of main quest lines to complete on your travels and while these are genuinely interesting and exciting to complete, there’s also a feeling of fatigue late on as the missions tend to become quite repetitive given the nature of the 3 region structure the game has. Expect the usual array of fetch quests, collecting a certain number of item and destroying enemy strongholds and personnel to take up most of your game time. The side quests on offer are the usual array of simple tasks you’d expect from a game like this making for quite the unsurprising experience. There’s never a moment here where you’re pleasantly surprised or graced by a memorable mission with a largely formulaic rhythm to large portions of the game.
The guns all feel great to use and distinctly different from one another
Thankfully the guns feel great to use; snipers feel distinctly different to rifles and side arms feel less weighty than shotguns giving a good balance between the various weapons you can use. At a distance, gun fights are intense and tough with numerous instances of being pinned down, surrounded by enemies making you really feel like this is a dangerous, inhospitable world. When you take the action up close and personal, flaws with the AI rears its ugly head, destroying the immersion with some of the worst AI we’ve seen in a game released this year. Even on the hardest difficulty, the soldiers have some genuinely baffling logic given to them. It doesn’t help that a lot of the enemies have very distinct and obvious attack patterns, revolving around running from side to side before taking cover and firing at you. If you constantly move and decide to attack using melee and hand to hand combat, enemies can’t cope and its here the flaws are the most apparent. During our play time enemies ran up and down metallic stairs repeatedly while we crouched on top of a nearby car, another time we sprinted behind an enemy as they tried to find us for a solid 50 seconds and a few times we exploited these flaws by standing at the top of a solitary look-out tower,, picking off enemies as they lined up to climb and reach us.
During the brief moments of tranquillity you’ll experience in Far Cry 5, you really get a feel for just how beautiful this world truly is. Next to the feel of its weapons, if there’s one thing Far Cry 5 excels with it’s the graphics. Water physics are beautifully rendered, shadows and lighting realistically depicted and the various smoke and haze effects helping to immerse you into the world. That’s not even mentioning the staggering detail put into the skin and character models which are among some of the best seen in a video game this year too. There’s an incredible amount of artistic flair put into the world but because of the chaotic structure gripping large portions of the game time, there aren’t many instances during your 15+ hour time spent playing the campaign where you can really sit back and admire the incredible job the art team have done crafting this fictional world.
Far Cry 5 also has zombies, because of course it does
While bugs and glitches are an inevitability in this day and age of “bigger is better” in video games boasting expansive maps and increasingly complicated worlds to populate, the sheer number of technical hiccups and bugs are really inexcusable for a game of this magnitude. Some of the glitches are pretty humorous – we slammed a door on a key character and they subsequently flew across the room and ended up wedged in the wall while they spoke to us – but others are not just annoying but also game breaking. From mission points not spawning to freezes and crashes causing hard resets and unnecessary deaths, Far Cry 5 is a very glitchy, buggy game. At the time of reviewing, the game had been updated with the latest patch – 1.5.0 – which has apparently reduced the number of bugs so we can only imagine how bad the game was prior to the updated version we played through for this review.
If Far Cry 5’s main campaign is uninspiring and reasonably run-of-the-mill, the same cannot be said for the Arcade and multiplayer modes which are easily the most favourable highlights of this shooter outside of a few crucial missions showing off the potential of the campaign. A plethora of imaginatively created maps can be played ranging from simple outpost skirmishes to fully fledged journeys through Egypt, horror-themed swamps, outer space and even a recreation of Inception’s five dream levels. Some of these are really well designed too and help to increase the overall play time of the game once you’ve exhausted your time with the main campaign. The map editor itself is relatively straight forward to use but even if you don’t want to make your own map, the featured range of levels available are more than enough to satiate your desire for more Far Cry fun.
Far Cry 5’s setting and ideas are never truly fleshed out enough to make it anything but an average experience
When it comes to Far Cry 5 and Ubisoft games in general – what you see is what you get. Far Cry 5 is ultimately a very average, disposable entry in the series’ history which is a real shame because there’s some serious potential here for it to be the best entry since it first launched back in 2004. Outside of a few key main missions that show some promise and imagination, Far Cry relies heavily on its conventional structure and feel of its previous games. While the series has done with the archaic structure of climbing radio towers that fans had lamented in previous iterations of the series, most of the game just feels very mediocre and formulaic in delivery. A decent arcade mode and satisfying gunplay do help make this is a solid entry nonetheless but up close and personal, the enemy AI may well limit the fun you’ll have playing this one. With Ubisoft moving ever closer to their desired “games as a service” model, Far Cry 5 feels like a very vanilla experience; a simple, unremarkable game that ticks all the boxes but never innovates beyond the basic confines of is series making for a fun but largely forgettable Far Cry game.