Review by TKDBoy1889

Reviewed: 04/06/18

A Far Cry from a masterpiece

Far Cry 5 is the fifth main installment of the Far Cry series by Ubisoft. I haven’t had much experience with this series prior, but I do have quite a bit experience with Ubisoft games in general. A common critique towards the company since they went down the road of open-games is that many of their titles have the same core design and lack deviation, aside from superfluous details and the setting of the game. Does Far Cry 5 challenge this notion? Not really. It’s still a pretty enjoyable title but it’s more of the same open-world action that’s to be expected. Throw in some various grievances here and there, and you have a game that’s fun but a little disappointing.

The premise of this game is that a preacher by the name of Joseph Seed has organized a massive religious-cult-turned-militia that is terrorizing the valley of Hope County in Montana. You are a rookie deputy, escorting a gung-ho U.S. Marshal attempting to issue a warrant for the good father’s arrest. For some reason the marshal thinks that his measly 9mm handgun is going to intimidate an entire militant group packing military-grade hardware. Quite obviously, things don’t go well and your friends are kidnapped by the cult. After a lengthy cinematic chase that you already know is going to end horribly, you wind up getting rescued by a grisly old doomsday prepper named Dutch who tells you that aiding the local resistance against the Seed family will both free the valley and get you to your friends.

So… another story about a raving mad preacher who’s turned a bunch of people into maniacal, brainwashed murderers that are convinced they can cleanse the land. Yeah, not exactly the most original premise. To the game’s credit, however, the setup is pretty solid. With just a little bit of screen time Father Seed really establishes himself as a disturbing psychopath who’s as utterly convinced of his teachings as his followers are. His family, unlike many antagonists, will take you seriously as the game progresses. As you make do harm to his cult and aid the local residents, specific missions will pop up that focus on the family’s attempt to capture you or take you down. Not an original story, but it works and a lot of the more important characters are believable enough. That is, until the ‘endings’ this game provides. Naturally I can’t spoil anything, but at the end the game kind makes the whole time you spent playing feel a little worthless. Good setup, good characters, cliché but decent narrative, pointless ending.

The main story itself starts off strong and then kind of gets set to the side for a bit. After getting a glimpse of how twisted and depraved Father Seed and his followers are, there isn’t a whole lot of narrative for a while except for people reminding you how evil these people are and why we’re fighting to free the valley. You occasionally get some good personality from characters closer to the story such as Mary May and Pastor Jeremiah, who are more charismatic in their role. However, most of the NPCs and quest givers are just there to give random filler dialogue or dispense more quests. When relevant story missions arise, there’s more investment to be had.

After the initial little prologue, you’re instructed to change clothes which leads to a customization screen. This is pretty cool… and it’s also pretty pointless. I like games that let you customize your playable character, but since this game is entirely in first-person there is absolutely no point. You’re not going to see your characters hair style or the clothes they wear, so it has zero relevance. A customizable appearance is good when you can take the time to observe your character and admire how they look. Here, there’s no point. There is no effect on gameplay either, so I must ask what is the purpose? It’s a crying shame too, because some of the outfits available in this game look incredibly cool. I suppose you can show it off to friends in multiplayer, but that’s a bit of a stretch.

Visually, this game is pretty impressive with its world. The setting of a valley in the Midwest is done quite well, with orchards and backwoods towns dotting the landscape. There’s a surprising amount of detail for the setting and looking off into the horizon can be jaw-dropping. Just exploring this game was pretty fun, which is always a plus for open-world games. It’s definitely a sight to behold. Character models, however, are not quite as good. They’re fine for the most part, but they come off as a bit muddied a lot of the time. They are better in cutscenes, but the in-game models definitely could’ve used some work. For the most part the game runs smoothly, although I did once experience a sudden drop in framerate. There’s an occasional oddity with highlighted interactive objects well, where they flash suddenly. That’s a very minor issue, however. There are far bigger issues with the game elsewhere.

This game isn’t exactly a “far cry” from your usual Ubisoft open world. Get it? Thank you, I’ll be here all week. The game actually seems to poke fun at criticisms towards Ubisoft games by at one point having Dutch tell you he won’t be sending you to a bunch of ‘radio towers’ after you actually climb one. Ironically, while Ubisoft appears self-aware it really is the same as a lot of their other games. It’s the usual quests and activities you’d expect. Clear this area, rescue this person, activate this point, rinse and repeat. Sometimes you do all three in one location. You’ve also got hidden stashes you can locate, wild game you can hunt and skin for food, random loot you can use to craft certain weapons, etc. One thing I do like is that there is a little sense of progression as you clear areas out. Liberating more areas from the cult results in not only more safe-zones but can also unlock certain weapons or abilities. It’s nothing new, but it’s nice to see. Like many other open-world games, Far Cry 5 gives you a lot of available side missions and activities at the cost of less substance. There are a lot of areas to explore and clear, but none of them really feel that unique. Aside from a few key areas it feels like rescuing another generic NPC so they can offer another generic “Go kill the stuff here” quest. Loads of content, but not much substance to back it up.

Some of the quests feel rather pointless, even as fetch quests go. After liberating a compound there was a character who asked be to help free his buddies who were each no more than fifty feet away. One of them was literally within the premises. Excuse me, I’m busy trying to take on an entire militia here. How about you help your friend who locked herself in the toilet? Yes, one had to be rescued because she was locked in the bathroom. It was good for a laugh, at the very least. How about the mission when you take back somebody’s plane, and then he decides to have you test drive it by flying through rings over the whole map? Driving missions are among the most annoying, in no small part thanks to how driving is handled in these games. The first-person perspective where you can see the steering wheel and look through the windshield is great for immersion purposes. When just traveling from point A to point B, it’s really nice. When you have to chase, or better yet shoot at a fleeing vehicle, forget about it. The visibility is extremely narrow, the camera loves to go all over the place, and trying to handle a vehicle while aiming and shooting a weapon is just… this is usually an annoying mechanic in games like this, but with the inside view it’s even worse. There is an auto-drive option, but it barely improves this area.

In a lot of segments, you can either be stealthy or go in guns blazing. Stealth is the way to go. Not only is it more fun, but the bigger gunfights in this game are a mess sometimes. The problem is that this is one of those games where enemy combatants love to appear from every single direction without warning. I come to an encounter with just one enemy, open fire, and then suddenly I have two others firing at my back from out of nowhere. If you survive and take them down, two more have joined the fight, and then another 2. Gunfights can drag out a lot longer than they should because of this. Stealth, on the other hand, is fun more often than not. The patience and strategy required as you observe enemy positions and stay out of sight while taking them down in silence makes for more of a fun challenge, as opposed to a tedious. It’s not that big open fights are terrible, they can also be a little fun in scripted battles. It’s the way random encounters in the open can drag out longer than they should that gets tedious.

Unfortunately, Stealth has its own drawback. It’s enjoyable and usually the more interesting approach, but there’s a serious balancing issue in that AI combatant seem almost night omnipotent to when their buddies are killed. If you don’t instantly move a dead body and another enemy even catches a glance from the other side of the compound, the whole entire compound will be on the hunt for you. Some areas, no matter how they are approached the enemies always seem completely aware of their buddies getting axed. They don’t hone in on you immediately, but it can make the situation very stressful very quickly.

Like most open-world games now (And most games in general, really), there is a perk system you can utilize to improve or add abilities. The perk system is nothing new, but it still lends toward a great experience in terms of playing the game how you want. You can unlock whichever perks you prefer first to give you a hand in certain style of play. The one problem I find with the system is how you gain points for unlocking perks. Rather than gaining points through experience from killing enemies or completing missions, you have to complete challenges like using specific weapons, skinning certain animals enough time, etc. It may not sound like a big nuisance, but the problem is that it forces you to play a certain way if you want to upgrade. Instead of gaining abilities just by playing the game naturally, you have to constantly check and see what challenges you can perform. This can become a serious grind at points, because it’s not a natural progression. The perks themselves are pretty good, but how you have to gain points for them is kind of annoying.

Like some previous games in the series, Far Cry 5 also utilizes a buddy system that lets you recruit allies. There are narrative-driven specialists who join after you aid them, and the procedurally generated fighters that randomly appear as you explore the map. The specialists immediately have certain perks to aid you with, while fighters have to kill enough enemies to provide any perks. Aside from that, not a whole lot to the system. If you plan on being stealthy most of the time, there’s no reason to have any backup. On the other hand, they can be quite valuable during bigger action events. They can draw enemy fire, provide support fire, and even revive you if you are shot down. That is, provided they don’t get taken down as well. It’s simplistic but I kind of enjoyed being able to recruit allies. Even though I prefer the approach of stealth there are many points where a massive fight has to occur. This “guns for hire” system is kind of like co-operative play without a buddy, which makes sense as the game’s campaign can be played both solo and with a friend.

I will point out that there are plenty of bugs and glitches to be found throughout this game. Aside from the aforementioned minor visual glitch, there’s been quite a few annoying issues that crop up. I’ve had civilians run up to me like they need help, but then refuse to talk as the game says they are in a conflict. Of course, there isn’t an enemy around for a mile. I’ve come across a companion for hire that needs help, but the game gives me no option to interact with them. There was no choice but to restart in order to get the scripts in the area to fire correctly. A rather common occurrence is NPC dialogue cutting out halfway through a sentence, and then repeating from a certain point. It’s done it for the same sentence twice on occasion. It’s incredibly annoying when it’s story-driven dialogue, and it happens more than a couple times. Once I summoned a vehicle from a garage and it straight-up did not appear. Most of these issues are not too severe on their own, but the frequency of occurrence is enough to add up.

Ultimately Far Cry 5 is a fun but rather generic and flawed game. It throws most of the expected tropes of a sandbox action game at you and many of its designs are solid enough, but it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. It’d still be a great game if it weren’t for several technical issues and annoyances that hinder the more fun parts. It’s another “quantity over quality” game that aims to be massive for hours about hours of playtime at the cost of substance. The world itself is designed incredibly well, and it’s got a nice charm to it with the Midwest valley setting, but it doesn’t have much else to separate it from the pack. It’s a fun game, but not worth going out of your way for unless you love tons of the same content. I was able to appreciate it for it’s beautiful world and some of the more colorful characters, and the gameplay is overall still enjoyable despite its many issues. It just gets tedious and repetitive after a while. I recommend this to people who know what Ubisoft does and enjoy their games, provided you have a tolerance for some glitches.

+Some interesting characters in the main narrative

+The open world is stunning

+Stealth is fun to utilize

+All the expected activities from a sandbox game

-Disappointing ending

-Most of the content feels generic

-Various glitches and technical issues

-Doesn’t really do anything unique to stand out

Final Score: 6/10

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Product Release: Far Cry 5 (US, 03/27/18)

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