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"Far Cry 5" is Ubisoft's latest entry in the long-running first-person action adventure series, featuring tons of explosions, profanity and intense villainy. The hype train, fueled by tantalizing previews of realistic and surprisingly non-exotic Montana landscape, had reached a fever pitch by the time the game was finally released on March 27.
So does "Far Cry 5" live up to the anticipation, clawing itself to a place at the very top of the "Far Cry" franchise? I spent some quality time with this new release in order to find out -- and it's certainly safe to say at the outset that "Far Cry" fans won't be disappointed.
"Far Cry 5" Basics: Cuss Words & Violence Galore
I made the first of many mistakes with "Far Cry 5" by turning on the subtitles before the game even started. Instead of getting to enjoy the immaculately designed intro sequence and its excellent voice acting, I was too busy counting the astounding number of curse words jammed into every line -- an error I later rectified by re-watching the intro without the subtitles.
From there, the story is relatively simple. You're a rookie sheriff's deputy tasked with arresting and detaining Joseph Seed, the leader of a cult called "Project at Eden's Gate" that has taken up residence in fictional Hope County, Montana. You and a team of officers fly in on a helicopter to the cult's main compound, and -- without introducing any spoilers -- things don't quite go the way they were supposed to. Instead of arresting Joseph Seed, you're forced to flee, now trapped in the cult's territory without hope of rescue.
I was pleasantly surprised that, for the first time in the series, "Far Cry 5" allows you to choose your own gender, and while your character doesn't have any voice acting attributed to it, the sound design of certain physical actions represents the chosen gender. This personally provided me with a more intimate and immersive experience.
The introductory area is Dutch's Island, and the initial task of freeing this area is essentially all the tutorial you'll need for the game. While your ultimate goal is to take down Joseph Seed, you first have to tackle his three siblings, each of which controls a certain region of your map. The order in which you tackle these siblings (John, Jacob, and Faith) is entirely up to you, but the framework is the same throughout: rescue civilians, destroy cult properties, complete missions, and liberate cult outposts. Once you accomplish these tasks in the different regions, you'll unlock boss battles that drive the primary plot.
Familiar "Far Cry" Gameplay
There are a variety of ways to play "Far Cry" titles and still achieve your goals, which I found rather freeing, as I personally have a terrible time with hitscan objectives. For me, sneaking up on enemy outposts and performing stealth take-downs until there was only one man standing was the most satisfying and successful way to play.
If you prefer to rush in guns a'blazing, "Far Cry 5" rewards that attitude, too. And if you like the social aspect of playing a game co-op, this "Far Cry" entry, for the first time, also rewards that attitude, as you can now play co-op all the way through the game.
Also new to the series is the "Far Cry 5" Arcade Mode, which is essentially a map editor that allows you to make and play custom levels. Though, to be honest, I was far more interested in my own survival within the main game than playing around in the map editor.
The series is known for its hunting, and although the importance of that mechanic is downplayed in this particular entry, I still got a kick out of chasing down wolves and deer for skins. I also spent ludicrous amounts of time in its fishing minigame.
And as far as traveling the map goes? I'm not sure flying has ever felt so good outside of an actual simulator. I could spend hours exploring the map in a floatplane and practicing my take-offs and landings, without actually accomplishing anything.
If that's not enough for you, you'll probably have a great deal of fun with the "Far Cry 5" Prepper Stashes, which are environmental puzzles that offer delectable goodies and not too much of a challenge. Or, play around with the Guns for Hire system, which consists of helpful allies you can unlock to fight alongside you. Guns for Hire also allows you to tinker with your game style, and approach hazardous conflicts in new and interesting ways.
Boring Bad Guys and Contrived Quests
"Far Cry 5" captivated me first, and captivates me still, with its absolutely stunning visuals. I was blown away by the Montana landscape and how masterfully organic it feels. Granted, my PS4 struggled at times with rendering everything the way "Far Cry 5" clearly wanted it rendered, but I never minded because it was so darn beautiful when it did.
What's strange, however, is how bland the cultist enemy designs often are. I seemed to encounter the same enemy time and time again, which was a let-down considering how much effort had obviously been put into just making flowers look nice.
The "Far Cry" series has never been afraid to rely on violent themes and chaos to propel its plot and gameplay, and "Far Cry 5" is no different. It's safe to say this is not a game catering to children, and some of the adult humor even struck me as on the tasteless side.
The writing for the side quests is also questionable at best, and more than once I found myself shaking my head at contrived character writing and uninspired events. I was particularly put off by a quest that required me to kill drugged animals while an AI shouted in my ear about how he loved all of them, but that they needed to die now. This was sprinkled throughout with an impressive selection of profanity.
Should You Buy "Far Cry 5"?
There is a lot of game here. "Far Cry 5" is big and bold, and while the main mission may take less than 30 hours to play through, there are plenty of distractions to extend your actual in-game time. Re-playability may be low, but that's where the Arcade Mode can potentially come in. If the level archive grows the way Ubisoft surely hopes it does, there will be endless extra content for you to sink your teeth into for many hours to come.
Ultimately, it's a "Far Cry" game through-and-through, with plenty of crass violence to push you through. It's not going to win any awards for its story or writing, but if you love "Far Cry," this is a title you need. If you're new to the series, but enjoy beautifully-crafted open worlds that give you ultimate freedom and don't mind curse words, it will undoubtedly be worth your money should you take the leap.
Are you already knee-deep in "Far Cry 5" and love or hate everything it has to offer? Let us know in the comments section below. Set up a "Far Cry 5" Deal Alert to be automatically notified when there's a price drop if you're interested, but perhaps not quite sold on the game just yet.
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