Far Cry 5 — a video game review

far-cry-5

I live in the South. By which I mean the southern United States. I’m willing to bet that Ubisoft considered setting Far Cry 5 in my neck of the woods. I’ve lived in Arkansas for nearly 20 years now, but I’ve lived in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee, and I’m originally from South Carolina.

This video game would have been right at home in any of those locations.

  • Religious fundamentalists/certified whack jobs?
  • Mountains, lakes and rivers?
  • Lots of guns?
  • People who like to hunt and fish?
  • Rednecks?

As Jeff Foxworthy points out, no region holds the redneck monopoly, but popular media likes to place the majority of this demographic in the American South. This could be an accurate assessment.

I consulted the Modern Survival Blog to see if Montana had a high percentage of doomsday preppers. This was an important part of the game. Montana did rank #8 in preppers as a percentage of the population. That’s pretty high on the list. However, even Arkansas ranked higher.

I believe Texas wasn’t chosen as a setting because the Eden’s Gate cult story line—which is the central story arc in the video game—had too many parallels with that of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.

Montana was probably the best all around choice because of its mountains, for starters. Mountains were important in Far Cry 4 for climbing, BASE jumping, and wingsuits, and this continues to be an important element of the game. Montana also has a lower population density than the other states I mentioned, with plenty of beautiful countryside and a variety of wildlife that includes eagles, elk, bison, mountain lions and grizzly bears.

Famed daredevil Evel Knievel was also from Montana. Clutch Nixon, the daredevil referenced during the game through his many insane stunt challenges, was probably based on Evel.

Ubisoft Montreal has developed many games I’ve enjoyed playing, including the following franchises: Prince of Persia; Assassin’s Creed; Watch Dogs; and, of course, Far Cry. The company has become a trusted brand to me.

In the spirit of full disclosure, however, I admit that I played only the beginning of Far Cry 3, and then lost interest in the game for some reason. First-person-shooters are often frustrating for me. Chances are, I didn’t play long enough to get the hang of the controls or to get caught up in the story. I didn’t have the same issue with Far Cry 4. I enjoyed that game, from its Himalayan setting to the main villain Pagan Min. The exotic setting and culture were part of my attraction to the game.

Far Cry 5 is an even better game.

It’s a good-looking game. The game environments are all expertly rendered, from the mountains, woods and valleys to the rural communities. To call the graphics “realistic” is probably not saying enough. It’s more of a hyper-realism, where everything is in sharp focus and you don’t have tunnel vision.

I’m probably easier to impress than some younger players, but I’m still entranced by the way the wind blows the grasses and the limbs of trees, or being able to swim underwater. This is fantasy realism, I should add. I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t withstand the level of punishment that my Deputy character suffers during the campaign, and I know that it takes more than a little first aid to recover from bullet wounds.

This is an open-world game, like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, which I just finished playing recently. Your player character can go anywhere within the confines of the very large Hope County map, by car, boat, on foot, or in a plane or helicopter. There is an impressive amount of space to explore in this game.

I’ve grown to prefer the open-world games, I think. I’m playing Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare now, and while it’s impressive in its own right, the progression is as structured and confining as a cattle chute. The game God of War was that way as well. A beautiful game with a ton of oh-my-gosh moments and fantasy set pieces, but ultimately highly-structured and predestined. You just aren’t allowed to wander around.

Some of Far Cry 5 is a little predestined, story-wise, it seems. But, more on that later. This isn’t about the gameplay. When you’re playing the game, you can travel wherever you like, completing whatever missions or side projects are available to you, or else spend your time hunting and fishing, or take to the air. I spent some time flying around in my wingsuit, with no real goal in mind, and I loved piloting the planes and helicopters.

Hope County, Montana, is under the control of the Eden’s Gate leader, the religious zealot Joseph Seed, known as The Father. His worldly domain is divided between his family members: John, Jacob, and Faith Seed. You—as “the Deputy”—have to wrest control from the Seeds of the areas each are over before facing off against Joseph Seed in a final boss battle. You complete missions in each area until you have enough mojo to topple the sub-boss and then that area of the map is irrevocably yours. If you’ve played other mission-based games with a territory map, you understand what I’m talking about.

The Seeds are also manufacturing a drug called Bliss that they use to keep their followers in line. This allows druggy dream-like sequences not unlike those in Far Cry 4. Also similar to the Scarecrow or Ra’s al-Ghul sequences in the Arkham games. In a game mostly grounded in reality as this one is, these moments can be refreshing.

The controls immediately feel familiar in this game, and the vehicles are easy to operate. Driving a car or truck never felt completely natural to me because too often I’d be looking out a side window rather than watching the road. But, that happens sometimes in real life as well. In the game, you can set your car to drive on autopilot if you have a set destination. There are also fast travel points available after you’ve unveiled them. I didn’t use these much when I still had portions of the map to defog, but I used them extensively later in the campaign.

You don’t have to fight alone in the game, at least not always. There are dozens of willing recruits who can join you on missions. After you get further into the game, you also gain several specialists, including both an airplane and helicopter pilot, a sniper, a demolition specialist, a guy named Hurk who seems to have been modelled after the actor Danny McBride (especially his Kenny Powers character), a mountain lion named Peaches, or a bear named Cheeseburger. Trust me, I can’t make this stuff up. Each character has their unique strengths. I racked up a ton of cultmember kills with all of them.

There is a crafting system in the game, but I like how it was done. You never really have to go around looking for particular flowers or ingredients. If I passed something that had that pick-me vibe while I was travelling the map, I would pick it. Mostly, I gained everything I needed by looting prepper bunkers and houses and dead cultists.

I never took advantage of the feature called Far Cry Arcade. I’ll spend some time with it when I replay this game in a few years. Probably. I understand you can even build your own levels that other players in the world can also play. There’s some sort of co-op as well, but you guys know that’s never been my thing.

I enjoyed playing Far Cry 5. A lot. In fact, I was well on my way to a sixth platinum trophy when I finished the campaign.

Here’s the predestination part I mentioned earlier.

To keep from spoiling everything, I’ll reveal no details here. I completed the final boss battle with Joseph Seed. It was exciting and was followed by a cinematic, adrenaline fueled semi-epilogue that was as impressive as it was devastating. Afterward, I felt like it was such a “downer” ending that I was certain I must have killed a few too many innocent bystanders during the campaign, or made a few other bad decisions along the way. Certainly, this was the “bad” ending.

I went online to look it up and found out that, no, this was the “good” ending. There were two other alternate endings that were worse.

This affected me so negatively that I decided not to continue playing at the moment. I don’t really have that many more trophies to earn before getting the platinum, but I didn’t feel motivated to continue after finishing the story. I’m a story guy. If this had been a paperback book, I probably would have thrown it in the trash afterward. It felt like a lot of time spent in pursuit of a goal that wasn’t worth achieving. Well, that’s what it was, I guess.

I’ll go back later, of course. The story isn’t as important to me on a second playthrough. But, I’d be negligent in my duties if I didn’t forewarn you. Maybe it’s not that important a detail to you. For me, it was a lot like reading Stephen King’s Cujo. Not watching the movie; they fixed the ending there, but in the book the kid died. Really. Sorry, SPOILERS. No one wants that. Happy endings may not be realistic, but in fiction, when you have a choice, go for the happy ending. That’s all I’m saying.

I’m not selling my copy of the game, so that’s as ringing an endorsement as I can give any game. Plus, as the price continues to fall, I’m getting tempted to buy the sequel Far Cry: New Dawn. Also set in Hope County, but some time later it looks like.

Firewater’s No-One-Is-Coming-to-Save-You Report Card: A

A

No hesitation. A great game in spite of the ending. It looks like the ending was necessary for the sequel game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.