Saturday, April 7, 2018

Far Cry 5 review

    This is easily my favorite of the past few Far Cry games. I eventually warmed to Far Cry 3, I loved Far Cry 4 with some caveats, I hated Far Cry: Primal (to the point I didn't review it), and I've really loved Far Cry 5. I will say, though, this is a game which had the misfortune to be released at a time when everyone is trying to make everything about the Trump election. There's some digs against Trump in the game which are hilarious but they're good-natured South Park-esque digs while the politically discourse lately is far more angry.

    The premise for the game is you are a nameless, voiceless Montana Deputy who you can make a character for. You and the US Marshal's office have been called in to arrest Joseph Seed, leader of the infamous Eden's Gate cult that has recruited a good half of Hope County, Montana into its ranks. This attempt, clearly based on the raid on the Branch Davidians, goes horribly wrong and you find yourself waking up a few days later to the county under the cult's control. Cut off from the rest of the United States, you must build a resistance to take back the county.

Yeah, this will go well.
    I've seen a lot of reviews attempt to unfavorably compare the game's "commentary" to Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. The thing is, W:TNC didn't have any political commentary on the present, it just so happened to state killing Nazis is a good thing and the fact America has a racist past/present it has yet to confront. That's not commentary on the present but a rather universal theme which just so happened to be politically relevant (unfortunately). Far Cry 5 has a lot of political commentary on it but it's not the commentary which Polygon apparently wanted and missed out on some very interesting themes.

    The big thing, for instance, is the fact Far Cry 5 is a love letter to rural Americans. You know, those people who voted roughly half the "correct" way but have been demonized as a vast collection of MAGA-hat wearing racists who have ruined this country. I say this as a left-leaning frothing crazy liberal who lives in said area that is demonized--so you can imagine I'm a bit sympathetic to the game. This is a game where the doomsday preppers and poor working class of America aren't the bad guys and it seems like this burned out the brain cells of a lot of reviewers.

Peaches is the best Cougar ever.
    Far Cry 5 is a story about the monster truck and Nascar loving gun-toting rednecks of Montana getting attacked by an evil cult and fighting back. It's the kind of game premise which eagerly adopts themes from "Red Dawn" and doesn't exist in the easy political spectrum of "city folk good", "country folk stupid." Given the amount of flack the game has taken from both sides of the political spectrum, the fact it's got black rural Americans working alongside white ones makes it a reminder of an America I grew up loving. Because, honestly, can't we all join together against the comically evil drug-addled terrorist organization?

    Honestly, I feel bad about killing the Eden's Gate cultists at time because they're such an entertaining bunch of evil doers. John, Faith, Jacob, and Joseph are hilariously over-the-top parodies of how cults recruit people. The sad fact is, they're not actually that far from some of the cults which exist in rural America. People I've actually had to deal with and are prepping for doomsday with lots of guns. It makes me wish there was an arrest option for them like in Battlefield: Hardline or a non-lethal set of takedowns like in Mafia III or Deus Ex.

    Still, the game is fun and has a lot going for it in making sure you experience all the various facets of it. Like previous Far Cry games, taking various outposts away from the bad guys is a big part of the game but there's also a variety of other missions. The game encourages you to use a variety of vehicles and missions. It also replaces the "Tower Mechanic" of previous games with simple exploration ala Fallout 3 and New Vegas.

Montana is absolutely beautiful.
    Indeed, the game feels like Fallout at the best of times where you're wandering around the beautiful Montana landscape and stumbling across ambient storytelling like the cult having murdered a family along with their pets, a father begging his daughter to come back from the cult only to be murdered, or a bunch of doomsday preppers who built a big bomb shelter stocked with food only to get murdered for it. You'll use everything from cougar bait to Molotov cocktails to SMG to carve your way through the baddies.

    The story sometimes goes off the rails, like the fact you're captured like eight times by the Eden's Gate cultists in order to get some face time for the bad guys, but this is a small price to pay for good storytelling. I was particularly fond of Faith, the lone female cult leader, and actually came to sympathize her before the end. Joseph, himself, seems like the least interesting of the quartet and that's a shame. The ending of the game is also confusing and poorly-done but it's hardly the first game which threw in an unneeded twist at the end.
Faith is an awesome character.

    Still, this is just a plain fun game and that is the standard by which I judge my games. There's endless number of things to do in the game ranging from riding planes, helicopters,and  jet skis to shooting down all of those. You can fish, hunt, and blow things up with the best of them. This is the definition of a wide-open sandbox game and there's very little "filler" like collecting feathers (okay, there's some of that too like bobbleheads and comic books but that's just standard in these sort of games).

    The tone of the game is a bit wild but that's to be expected from Far Cry games, to the point they're sort of their own genre nowadays. One mission can have you find out about how the Father murdered his own newborn daughter because she was born disabled, convincing himself it was God's will, while another mission might include punching insane drug addicts into a fire pit while on super-powered meth. I was hoping for some more Assassins Creed and Watch_Dogs references but, sadly, there doesn't seem to be any and I doubt the three universes are still the same by the end.

     Gameplay wise you have a higher reliance on companions, more lethal enemies, and more lethal A.I. I died a lot during this game compared to Far Cry 3 or 4 since there's a lot more enemies in body armor or guys who can shoot you in the head. You also don't have multiple health bars but just one with med-kits being the only way you can heal in combat (you do have natural regeneration this time around). The lack of towers to climb means exploration on foot and talking to the locals is a brilliant idea and benefits the game tremendously. Your A.I. companions aren't gamebreakers but I really enjoyed when my pet cougar accompanied my sniper in wiping out attacking enemies during outpost assaults.

Yeah, five cops can take on an army. Smart, US Marshals.
    Do I have any complaints about the game? If there are, I have only a few nitpicky ones. The hunting in the game is nerfed with crafting no longer being a major part of the game. This is a shame because I feel like if there's a game where you should hunt cougars, bears, or moose to make weapon sheaths then this is the one. I also don't much care for the Skill Perk which requires you to use a bunch of weapons and achievements to get Perks versus just accumulating experience period.

    In conclusion, this is pretty awesome all round. It's a work which has a political stance but it's one which isn't "Trump bad" as its sole statement but a more universal theme about radicalism, gun culture, freedom, and extremism. There's even the somewhat questionable but still perfectly valid idea that it's sometimes best to leave alone situations which could potentially explode. It's also just a game where you can experience Good vs. Evil gameplay in a story which is just plain silly. You can have both as Far Cry the series has shown repeatedly. Play Far Cry 5 for the fun and don't worry about the politics.



  1. Excellent review. I was on the fence on this,one since I hated Primal so much,and was worried this was l message fic on a stick, but it looks like its playable and fun.