Published on March 27th, 2018 | by Sean Warhurst0
Far Cry 5 PS4 Review
Summary: Far Cry 5 is precisely what it says on the tin – It’s a Far Cry game through and through, and if you weren’t a fan before then this isn’t going to be the title to make you change your mind.
Cult Classic? *Groan*
There’s a moment during the opening hour of Far Cry 5 where, after climbing a radio tower in order to restore communications across the island, the grizzly old guerilla fighter guiding you chuckles and reassures you that you won’t be having to constantly perform theses tasks in order to unlock areas on your map.
It’s a clear jab at Ubisoft’s often criticised open-world template and the elements they copy and paste across their games, such as the aforementioned tower climbing, and it also serves as a way for Far Cry to announce that it’s consciously taking a different approach to the genre; you can almost hear the game screaming “This ain’t your Mama’s Far Cry!” against a cacophony of screeching guitar solos.
The thing is, though, that it kind of still is your Mama’s Far Cry, God bless her cotton socks.
Although the backdrop of having to contend with the machinations of a separatist religious cult in rural America is one brimming with potential, after the initial novelty of the opening few hours wear off you soon realise that the formula is essentially the same as in the previous entries, albeit admittedly more refined and stripped back to provide what is probably the tightest gaming experience the series has seen thus far.
Far Cry 5 sees you taking on the role of a Deputy tasked with assisting a U.S Marshall with the apprehension of Joseph Seed, an evangelistic preacher who has effectively seized control of a small county in Montana.
Things go decidedly pear shaped and you soon find yourself cut off from the rest of the world and on the lam as Seed’s followers, adherents to his bizarre doomsday cult Eden’s Gate, hunt you down mercilessly. Thankfully, as is often the case with these games, there’s a small contingent of rebel forces who take you under their wing and put you to use fighting the good cause.
These people are lost and they’re not only looking for a leader to unite them, but they’re also looking for hope, and if that last line sounded corny and cliched as shit to you, then congratulations! You’re as aware of this tired trope as everybody else is.
It gets a bit tiresome playing the interloper who rises up the ranks to become the saviour of what ever little slice of the world the game happens to be set within, and although Far Cry 5 probably handles this the best when compared to the previous games, it just feels redundant having your character be some magical outsider who unites all these disparate forces and overthrows a despotic ruling force, as if all these organised forces fighting the conflict prior to your arrival were like Bonnie Tyler and just holding out for a hero to come and save the day despite clearly being more than capable themselves.
The actual narrative crux of the game, which sees you attacking different areas overseen by Seed’s lieutenants, is more than enough to propel the player forward and there are quite a few unique moments throughout the missions that make Far Cry 5 feel like a more concerted attempt at introducing variety to mission structure and objectives.
I enjoyed the plot for what it was but, after the exhilarating opening sequence and promises that things were going to be different this time around, it was a bit of a letdown once the realisation sank in that, yes, there were some small tweaks here and there to the staid foundations of the series but the core support struts still remain the same as ever, which means the cycle essentially still plays out as: Assault a stronghold – Free Hostages – Recruit Fighters- Run Missions – Rinse and Repeat.
Now this could be taken as either a good or bad thing depending on your feelings on Far Cry’s core gameplay loop. Me? It usually takes me a few hours to get into the swing of things but then I’m on board until the end and it was no different with Far Cry 5.
Each zone has its own unique feeling, such as the area presided over by the cult’s drug maven Faith being home to the hallucinogenic plants used to create the brainwashing drug Bliss; the player suffers visual and auditory hallucinations whilst exploring these areas, with some apparitions even taking corporeal form and attacking you when your guard is down.
The other areas are home to John Seed, a shady real estate lawyer, and Jacob Seed, who’s responsible for the military training Eden Gate followers receive. Making your way through the game you’ll notice subtle touches such as the musical propaganda changing to suit the climate, with Faith’s area playing more ethereal music and others employing heavy, industrial renditions espousing the good word of Joseph Seed.
The ability to hire a partner makes a return after being absent from the series since Far Cry 2, with the added twist that this time some of your partners are animals. Wanna buddy up with a bear and lay waste to a stronghold? Well, now you can. Having a constant buddy even when playing offline adds a nice push and pull dynamic where you’ve consistently got to balance launching an offensive against maintaining the safety of your partner, lest they get knocked out and you lose access for a short amount of time.
You can hire regular fighters to aid you in your quest but it’s the specialists you’ll gain access to after completing certain missions that’ll become your go to guys. Initially you can only have one buddy but, as you open up the perk system by performing challenges, you’ll soon be able to have a small squad working behind you. Each specialist has their own unique personality and motivations for joining the fight, animals included, and filling out my squad with a wisecracking redneck made for levity in even the darkest of moments.
The AI is serviceable but there were more than a few times where the pathfinding went haywire and my buddy would sprint off into the trees away from the conflict, and other times where they’d get stuck on a ladder in a climbing loop or die immediately upon exiting a vehicle. It wasn’t frequent enough to impact upon my overall enjoyment but it did force me to change my tactics on the fly more times than I would have liked.
There’s a surprisingly small selection of guns available, not that these things really bother me; as long as one of each main category is represented I’m usually okay with it and Far Cry 5 more than ticks the boxes in this respect, but I know there has been some disappointment expressed online at the limited variety.
There’s a fair amount of customisation options to play around with, from different clothing options to building your stable of Helicopters and other assorted vehicles. The crafting system from previous games has been removed entirely, with upgrades and the like now exclusively associated with the perk system, which is a welcome change as fair as I’m concerned, as having to collect fifteen bison testicles to craft myself a bigger ammo pouch isn’t exactly one of my fondest Far Cry memories.
Now, with the customisation comes something that has definitely become a bit of a dirty word among gamers – The dreaded looming shadow of the Microtransaction!!! Da Da Dunnnnh!
Far Cry 5 allows players to purchase Silver Bars and use them to acquire cosmetic upgrades and, honestly, I don’t see any real reason for this currency’s existence other than to nickle and dime players. You do have the option to grind out gameplay and collect the items that way but they’re obviously priced at a rate in which dropping a few dollars definitely seems preferable to dedicating hundreds of hours of gameplay… Far Cry 5 is admittedly a super fun game but I doubt it could sustain my interest for the required amount of time it takes to get that cool ass biker helmet.
Graphics and Audio
When playing on the PS4 pro, even though it’s locked to 30fps, Far Cry 5 is absolutely stunning to look at and you’ll find yourself just contentedly exploring the countryside in awe as you take in the visual splendour on display. When in the air you’ll notice a few instances of pop-in but the seamless nature of the open world and the visual fidelity that’s maintained is to be commended.
I generally don’t really care about the music in the Far Cry games but the soundtrack here actually caught me off guard with how many familiar golden oldies were tossed into the mix. Whether it was a weepy ballad playing whilst I was holed up defending a church or the Cocaine fuelled classic Disco Inferno blaring from the speakers as I assisted a mentally unhinged redneck with a flamethrower, the music always seemed to somehow fit the scene.
The cast perform well, although there’s never going to be a more memorable antagonist than Vaas, and Joseph Seed and his family of Justified cast members unsurprisingly fall short of this high water mark.
Far Cry 5 may not be the coming of the Messiah that the marketing materials will have you believe, with the promise of a bold new frontier in gameplay quickly giving way to the usual rhythm of rallying a ragtag group of freedom fighters and overthrowing the ludicrously evil regime, but when taken as a refinement of that core formula then Far Cry 5 succeeds as the most streamlined and immersive entry in the series yet.
By trimming the fat Ubisoft have sidestepped a lot of the issues that plague their open world games, and progression and discovery both feel much more dynamic and natural here; the combat and other gameplay elements may remain essentially the same but when they’re as tight and polished they are here, then hey, who’s complaining?
Far Cry 5 is precisely what it says on the tin – It’s a Far Cry game through and through, and if you weren’t a fan before then this isn’t going to be the title to make you change your mind.
Far Cry 5 has probably the best mission structure and objectives in the entire series and you really feel like you can breathe a little removed from the massively overblown objective lists of other similar games; not every side-quest hits the mark (Fishing, anyone?) but most feel like Ubisoft actually crafted engaging little deviations from the main campaign rather than simply filled the world with generic NPC fetch quests.
With online co-op (Something I unfortunately couldn’t explore prior to writing, ditto the currency system due to it still being offline) and an absolutely gorgeous and lavish environment to raise hell in, Far Cry 5 is an easy recommend to fans of emergent FPS gameplay.
Toss in Far Cry Arcade, which is basically a Map Editor that allows for some trippy, perspective skewing creations as well as no doubt soon to be endless recreations of Goldeneye maps, and a DLC map that looks as if it prioritises having a blast above all else, and Far Cry 5 stands comfortably as the pinnacle of Ubisoft’s open world formula.
Primary Format – PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Game Genre – First Person Shooter
Rating – MA15+
Game Developer – Ubisoft Montreal
Game Publisher – Ubisoft
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst