Far Cry has always impressed me, from the feral roots of Instincts on the original Xbox to the lush, open world of Far Cry 2, and the crazy but effective antagonists in Far Cry 3 and 4.
I was not that excited about the release of Far Cry 5. After playing an early preview build I felt that there was not enough that felt fresh and exciting.
However, in the days after release I can see how well Ubisoft have done. It is the best Far Cry game yet.
You take control of a rookie deputy with a small group heading out to Hope County to arrest the barbaric cult leader, Joseph Seed. The Father - as he is more “affectionately” known – is not quite the psychopath Vaas Montenegro was in FC3, but I did prefer his role as an antagonist to that of Pagan Min in FC4.
The Father doesn't feel as terrifying as an individual, but the power he has over his followers and the lethal ideals that his group will carry out on his behalf is every bit as chilling.
The nameless hero follows the local Marshall and Sheriff into the heart of the cult regime to the church where the Father is holding a service. You soon end up alone, running in the hope of saving yourself. With a little help, you set about ending the Father's reign of terror.
Anyone who has played a previous Far Cry game before will feel at home. The story and progression system is closer to Ghost Recon Wildlands. You work your way through a few secondary antagonists to catch up with the Father. The project at Eden's Gate might not sound terrifying and brothers John and Jacob don't quite live up to the glamour of the father, but Faith and her hallucinogenic drug 'Bliss' present some impressive (if slightly bizarre) sections of the game.
Individually none of the Seed family feel like much of a threat, but as part of the bigger picture, Eden Gate is every bit as memorable as Pagan Min's solo performance. The AI is pretty impressive and usually does a great job of handling itself, but with co-op available throughout you can always take a friend with you if you need someone to blame.
Graphically I couldn't ask for more. Gravel, wood and stone are among the most impressive you'll see in any video game and the One X produces native 4K at all times, a fantastic example of the console’s power.
I did not feel let down by the audio. The sound effects are very good, there is the usual top-quality voice acting and a deep, engrossing and realistic atmosphere surrounding everything you do.
The story will last you quite a while and the beautiful presentation of Hope County will leave you wandering away from the beaten track time and time again as you postpone your current mission to carry out side quests. There is a great variety in locations, missions and the people you meet which means it is nearly impossible to put a time limit on things.
Far Cry Arcade is presented as an 80's Arcade game cabinet. You will find a few dotted around towns, or simply through the main menu. There is a wide selection of options for customizing maps and modes to create mini-quests for the Arcade. Other users can challenge your levels for a little extra XP and you are often given a wide selection of the curated mini-levels to try out, while still being encouraged to move on and try more.
It all combines to form an impressive package. Many game franchises shy away from innovation in the hope of retaining fans, but Far Cry 5's shortcomings feel very much intentional. While there is little innovation there is a nearly perfect blend of the best bits from previous games with snippets of genius from other titles.
Far Cry 5 is my favourite of the Far Cry titles so far. It is crazy and varied but deep and intriguing and it will be some time before I walk away from Hope County.
Far Cry 5 took me by surprise. It's as big, beautiful and bizarre as 3 or 4, but the fifth installment has been refined to create my favourite Far Cry experience to date.