Within a few hours of Far Cry 5, I realized that this game would be much better if I did not have a story.
Since its discovery nearly a year ago, Far Cry 5 has sparked controversy. While most shooters have players pointing their weapons at zombies, demons or Nazis, Far Cry 5 takes place in Montana, and his enemies are American citizens who bear a strong resemblance to the stereotypical image of a modern young white supremacist . The first piece of art for the game was a recreation of The Last Supper, but with hipsters from the South brandishing pistols and knives and a tablecloth that was an alternate reality version of the American flag.
In the following months, the developers of Ubisoft Montreal have hesitated to establish a true parallelism between the game world and the real world. And after playing a few dozen hours of the game, the reason for his reluctance is clear: Far Cry 5 has nothing to say about race in the United States. It does not have much to say at all. It is a big and silly action game with an artificial brightness that implies depth. But it would have been better if it was just a great silly action game.
Far Cry 5 takes place in the fictional city of Hope Valley, Montana, which is conveniently isolated from the rest of the world; he first realizes that he has reached Hope when his smartphone stops working because there is no connection in the valley. The county is invaded by an end-of-the-world religious cult called Eden's Gate. They believe that the world will end and they are preparing for the collapse, which mostly means accumulating weapons and kidnapping new recruits in a place free of government intervention.
It does not have much to say at all
You play as a sheriff's deputy who is part of a team sent to Hope County to arrest the father, the charismatic and creepy cult leader. Things, of course, do not go according to plan, and your group is separated, leaving you to become the starting point of a resistance against the Gate of Eden.
This configuration fits perfectly with the typical structure of a Far Cry game. The series is all about territory. You start out as a newcomer in a place full of bad people, and slowly you take control of the areas for the good ones. As you explore Hope County, you will rescue the townspeople, reclaim worship positions and, in general, annoy the armed fanatics of Eden's Gate by ruining your plans. By doing so, you will open up new skills and equipment, and the citizens of Hope County will begin to fight, giving you support in the battle. Seeing the map turning slowly in your favor is very satisfying.
The structure works particularly well due to the new more open nature of Far Cry 5, where you can face the game as you want. Hope County is divided into three regions, each of which is supervised by one of the father's trusted lieutenants. The goal is to create enough havoc to start a confrontation with the three leaders, before passing on to the boss himself. But the way you proceed depends largely on you. Most of the actions you take will eliminate the problem to some extent: you can claim cult control farms and gardens, help citizens with mundane tasks like finding trucks or lost comic books or just run around the city destroying all the reserves of oil of the sect. Every little bit helps.
At best, Far Cry is a series about great movie-style action pieces that leave you free with lots of toys and a little direction. It is also a game where distraction is part of the attraction. Every time I went out with a particular goal, I would stumble over something-a little skirmish in the middle of the street or a very angry turkey that would not leave me alone-and I spent so much time dealing with that that I almost forgot what I was doing. I started doing. Hope County feels dynamic and alive, a place where all kinds of exciting and strange scenarios can occur. Once, when I was climbing into a quiet cabin in the woods, a flaming helicopter unexpectedly fell from the sky, destroying the house before I could even verify it. I also loved the new feature of "firearms", where you can recruit key characters to help you in the battle. It's kind of like the Fallout companion system, and I spent most of the game with a fallen-eared dog named Boomer by my side. He would alert me to the danger, look for weapons and let me caress him whenever I wanted. He is a very good boy.
But this funny and unbridled side of Far Cry 5 also feels totally at odds with its substance, particularly the inevitable analogies that invite the scourge of white nationalism from the real world. A look at the game is like a look at the cable news: tattooed and well-armed white men who use force to dominate a society they feel has left them behind. Hope County is like a war zone. Simply walking down an isolated street, you can hear shots in the distance. But everything is superficial, and Far Cry 5 never treats any of these issues in a remarkable way.
The game completely avoids talking about race. Some of the cult members are black, although the members are overwhelmingly white, as are all their royal leaders. The game has nothing to say about white supremacy or American extremism of any kind, except, possibly, that the murder cults are bad. At one point, when a member of Eden's Gate tries to explain why the apocalypse is unavoidable, he shouts: "Look at the headlines! Look who's in charge!" But it never goes beyond some sincere phrases. The little political discussion that exists inclines towards satire, as a secondary mission that makes you look for what is very clear, but never explicitly described as, the Donald Trump pee tape. These poor attempts at satire are a discordant change from the serious tone that the game tries to create with its moments of history.
The fun and unbridled side of & # 39; Far Cry 5 & # 39; does not agree with its essence
A series such as Far Cry does not necessarily have to weigh policy explicitly (it was understood well without doing so), although choosing to ignore politics is as much a political option as any other. And in Far Cry 5, a game that directly evokes some of the most malign elements of American culture and politics, feels particularly false. By using the images of today's American agitation, he creates the illusion that he has something to say, and then refuses to say anything. It makes me wonder why they got upset, beyond the impact of a marketing campaign. And even if he takes the developers of Ubisoft Montreal seriously and believes that this was always a game about the dark nature of religious cults, he also fails in that regard.
Even after fighting Eden's Gate for dozens of hours, I have no idea what they stand for, apart from the fact that they really hate sin and love weapons. I know the first ones because the seven deadly sins are spray painted around the city, in cars and buildings and sometimes even in bodies hanging from trees, and because one of the leaders of the group, an elegant television evangelist, literally records the Names of the sins in the skin of the people One of the first things that someone told me in the game was "Fuck you, sinner". It is not especially subtle. It is also disturbing because most of the cult members are presumably normal people who have been brainwashed. Crushing the undead does not stop me, but I often stop and think about exactly who I am killing in Far Cry 5, and I do not feel well. (The game even tries to turn the cult members into zombie-looking cannon fodder at certain points, where you fight the group members who are drugged and abandoned).
I love Far Cry games; There is something particularly entertaining about exploring the limits of your open worlds, whether using an airplane to bomb supply trucks or creating an explosive chain reaction that can level a complete fertilizer plant. But I could never get over the tonal dissonance in Far Cry 5. Every time I found myself having fun, the story showed its ugly head, and I found myself trying to ignore it completely. Instead of completing the missions required to progress, I go out and do something completely different, such as exploring an unexplored forest footprint or fishing for an hour or so. It was much more pleasant. But, eventually, I would have to go back on the road, and I almost felt like I was playing a different game. It's hard to take anything seriously when at one point a lecture is given on the evils of revenge, and the next someone asks you to help them kill a drugged cow.
These two sides of Far Cry 5 – the half-hearted attempt at a serious story and the bombastic action game – never gel. And that flaccid, almost non-existent exploration of politics, race and religion is at odds with the action, to the point where it departs from experience. There are many exciting things you can do in Far Cry 5. The option to turn history off should be one of them.
Far Cry 5 is now available for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.