Gaming is a bigger part of my life than I like to acknowledge. It always has been. I was part of the ‘Atari Console’ generation and I often like to imagine my twelve year self being given access to today’s Steam catalogue. Compared to the ‘shoot some coloured squares at other coloured squares’ gaming experiences that obsessed me at the time, I suspect modern games would have quite literally blown my mind.
I have, however, quite a narrow gaming taste. I don’t have the appetite for spending a lot of time learning new game engines, so while I like to spend time perusing the Steam store I inevitably end up back at the games I’ve already spent many, many hours playing; Civilisation, Football Manager, Fallout and Far Cry.
My typical gaming cycle goes something like this:
- Finish work on a Friday. Think ‘I really feel like distracting myself with a game’.
- Spend an hour looking through the Steam store for something to buy (reading hundreds of reviews)
- Give up looking and decide to stick to the games I already know
- Start playing. Get completely obsessed.
- Continue playing every night for the rest of the week, often staying up to 3am.
- Get to the end of the week feeling completely physically broken through sleep deprivation.
- Get really angry with myself for wasting so much time on a game and vow I’m not doing it again.
- Uninstall the game.
- One or two weeks pass.
- Finish work on a Friday. Think ‘I really feel like distracting myself with a game’….
And so it’s gone on for much of my adult life. It bothers me a little, but not to the point I’m willing to invest in changing. I only have so much energy to expend on changing my own behaviours and there are other aspects of my life that are in far more need of focus than this, at least right now.
So it came to be that last week I purchased Far Cry 5. Having invested large amounts of my life on previous releases (see comments above), I was excited about Far Cry 5 when it came out a couple of years ago. However I’ve held off all this time from buying because of reviews. ‘Weak story line’…’Poor Characters’…’Repetitive’…’Poor Mechanics’….
So after fifty hours of game-play, completing all the story missions and finishing the campaign (including both the ending options) my conclusion and honest recommendation is that if you enjoyed playing the previous Far Cry releases, you’re gonna enjoy this one too. It’s Far Cry. Everything you like or dislike about it is still there.
Visually it’s incredible (I played the PC version); the environment is lush and the daylight simulation as you move through the day is amazing. As with previous versions, it’s up to you how the play the game…focus on the story, pursue the side missions, clear outposts, explore the open world and kill bad-guys that you come across…or all of those things. The ‘Guns For Hire’ feature has had an uplift which is both good and bad (see below) but it adds another angle to how you want to play the game; orchestrating an outpost takedown from a high vantage point while instructing your two side-kicks where to go and who to target is an interesting twist.
There seemed to be a better open-world balance of animal attacks in this version; in previous episodes the high-volume of getting bitten by something got a bit annoying, they seem to have toned it down slightly in this version. I found that I didn’t craft at all…the feature’s there but there’s not really a need to do it. Most of the uplifts to your ability etc. are through perks and while you can craft explosives, you find plenty by looting the bodies of your victims…and there are many.
Flying aircraft is better in this release, particularly helicopters that have a mounted machine gun; great for attacking convoys. There isn’t a huge variety in weapon types, but again nothing too removed from previous versions.
Not so good points
The main downside for me was the cut-scenes and ‘weird’ missions that you get when you’re captured by members of the Seed family (the main protagonists). Previous versions of the game have had similar slight, strange, hallucinogenic challenges to get through, but I found them too long and a little tedious this time around.
The other thing that I’m not sure about was the Guns for Hire uplifts. Undoubtedly it’s great; all the companions (you can have up to two at a time) are characters, even the more generic soldiers, and have accompanying dialogue that fits their personalities. Wandering the open world can get a tad lonely so it’s kind of nice to have people running around with you.
I did find however that it made some of the challenges, for example taking outposts, a lot easier and I found myself starting to rely on having air support rather than being forced to think through a more challenging solo-based approach. To be fair, you have the choice whether to use Gun for Hires or not and you can switch them on and off so it’s not a big deal.
All in all, I enjoyed this just as much, if not more, than previous releases in the Far Cry series. Yes I’m sure I could have spent the fifty hours doing something more productive. But there’s nothing more satisfying than a chain takedown to clinch an outpost liberation and a no alarms bonus 🙂