Far Cry 5 game review – An epic open world shooter – Metro.co.uk

The US becomes the battleground in the latest Far Cry, that tries to mix a political message with open world action.
There’s a character in Far Cry 5, an aircraft pilot you can instruct to bomb whatever you like in rural Montana, who while doing so bemoans the fact that the only way to fight the violence of the game’s religious cult is with more violence. He doesn’t seem to be saying this ironically, and we don’t think it’s the developer trying to make a point, but it does help verbalise one of the fundamental problems with trying to tell a serious story in an action game: the violence is a lot more fun than the talking.
It’s well over a decade now since the original Far Cry, but the series never entirely hit its stride until Far Cry 3 in 2012. Since then the exact same formula has been used in four different games: spin-off Blood Dragon, Far Cry 4, Far Cry Primal, and now this new numbered sequel. None of the games have any narrative connection but they all feature a giant open world wilderness, a charismatic bad guy, and an invading army that needs to be rooted out by destroying their outputs and liberating sections of the map bit by bit.
Far Cry 5 throws out a few of the series’ more overfamiliar elements (there’s a joke about climbing a radio tower at the beginning that the developer no doubt thought was hilarious) but in most respects it follows the formula very precisely. But while that sounds like it would be a criticism it’s really not. The Far Cry games have always been one of the most entertaining open world shooters around and this is probably the best one yet. Even if it is a bit sad that you have to prove the main villain wrong: every problem can be solved with a bullet. At least in this video game.

The set-up is exactly the same as Far Cry 3, in that a paramilitary organisation, in this case a vaguely anti-globalist doomsday cult, has taken over and at the beginning of the game has almost complete control of a whole county in Montana. This is clearly absurd, especially as the only official response is to send in four people (one of whom is your own mute, customisable character) to arrest the cult leader Joseph Seed. Seed is relatively menacing but he’s barely in it for most of the game and it’s his three siblings you deal with most of the time, via some very dull cut scenes – the majority of which involve you being captured and then miraculously escaping.
Each sibling controls a third of the world map and one of Far Cry 5’s key improvements on previous games is how much freedom you have to pick fights where you want. There’s almost no structure to the story missions and you can tackle them simply by turning up to a hotspot and working out what needs to be done. If it’s liberating an enemy outpost then it works in the same way as ever: you can go in all guns blazing or take a stealthier approach and knock out its alarms first, so reinforcements cannot be called.
Outposts make up a relatively small percentage of the total missions though and the game’s great virtue is just how varied and interesting the other ones are. There’s a lot of relatively straightforward sieges, vehicle battles (including helicopters and planes), and hostage rescues, but also more puzzle-orientated sections – where you’re trying to work out how to get into a stash of equipment – and various excuses to hunt the local wildlife. But it’s the side missions that really impress and they can range from climbing a mountain peak to helping a film director finish his movie, swimming around a water treatment park, and investigating rumours of alien landings.
Which you missions you do and when is almost entirely up to you, with the only definite goal being to accrue enough ‘resistance points’ to destabilise an area. And this all works excellently well. The gunplay is solid enough to make up for the fact that most things boil down to a firefight in the end, and there’s a wide range of perks to unlock which do everything from give you the ability to booby trap cars to take along up to two ‘guns for hire’ with you.
The perks are unlocked by completing in-game achievements, such as getting kills with each different weapon and character, and work well to encourage you to use the full variety of your inventory – which includes various forms of explosives, throwing knifes, and homeopathic power-up potions (why they picked on homeopathic medicine we don’t know, but it’s another example of the game’s so-subtle-you’re-not-sure-it’s-actually-intended satire).
The guns for hire are the other big new feature, and while you can recruit ordinary people to help you out, each with their own simple specialities, there’s nine story characters that have more unique abilities – such as the guy with a plane in our opening paragraph. Three of them are animals though, and having a cougar and a grizzly bear running around murderising bad guys for you is hard to get tired of.
A gun for hire can also be a human player, if you want to bring someone in for co-op. Although they’ll only retain their character progression in their own game, not story progression. The co-op is very welcome because the big problem with the guns for hire concept is that the artificial intelligence is pretty terrible. Characters, both allies and enemies, are always wandering off and crashing vehicles, while even proper story allies have a painfully short number of phrases they constantly repeat.

For a Ubisoft Montreal game Far Cry 5 is otherwise not too glitchy, although we did have a few missions were an in-game event wouldn’t trigger properly and we had to start again. And while it’s not a bug there is an issue where the default weapons the enemies have are really all you need for the majority of the game, which undercuts the desire to unlock and customise other ones. Especially given the game is extremely easy and a lot of it can be beaten almost on autopilot, literally when you have guns for hire in tow.
The only other issue is the weird tonal shifts, which have always been an issue with the series. The Far Cry games always feel like they should be funnier and more outlandish than they are, and this one in particular is held back by trying to make some serious points but being too afraid to upset Americans by saying anything interesting about gun control or religion. It beats about the bush so timidly you’re often not sure whether it’s even really trying or if you’re just reading more into it than was intended. Although we chose to take the fact that most of the good guys are unlikeable, survivalist gun nuts as an intentional satire.
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There are more obvious jokes in the game, but because of the inconsistent tone they always fall flat. So it’s no wonder the developer has reserved the DLC for less serious fair, such as missions on Mars and in Vietnam. In the meantime though you can make use of Far Cry Arcade, which allows you to design your own maps – including using in-game assets from other Ubisoft games – and create your own mini-game. The editor seems quite powerful and it’s interesting that so far a lot of the uploaded examples try to turn the game into more of a survival horror.
Narrative missteps and some technical issues don’t stop Far Cry 5 from being thoroughly entertaining throughout, and it has much to teach other games about varied side missions and open-ended gameplay. It’s a far cry from having any coherent political message but as a video game this is one of the best open world adventures around and shows how large-scale innovation isn’t necessary if the smaller details are interesting and new.
In Short: The best Far Cry yet and one of the best open world shooters of any kind, with an impressive variety of missions and non-linear structure.
Pros: Large open world is used to the fullest, with a huge range of interesting and varied missions. Solid gunplay and welcome co-op options. Perk system and vehicles work well.
Cons: Almost pointlessly easy at times and artificial intelligence can be laughably bad. Some noticeable bugs and overpowered starter weapons. Timid storytelling when it comes to real-world issues.
Score: 8/10

Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC
Price: £54.99
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: 27th March 2018
Age Rating: 18

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