Cinematic and polished

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By Alexander O. Cuaycong
and Anthony L. Cuaycong

FAR CRY 5 will not come as a shock to those who have been following the series since its inception in 2004. Characterized by open-world gameplay and satisfying gunplay, each of its releases has consistently strived to be bigger and badder than the previous one. And while its iterations don’t stray too far from its tried-and-tested formula, every new addition brings good things worthy of praise, Far Cry 5 included.

In Far Cry 5, players take on the role of a deputy sheriff sent with a task force to arrest an influential preacher in the fictional county of Hope County, Montana. Said preacher is named Joseph Seed, a charismatic and dangerous man who leads a doomsday cult of rabid followers that turns on members of the task force and hold them hostage. Cut off from outside help and on a rescue mission, the lead character must engage in guerilla warfare against Seed’s followers and ultimately take down the radical.

Right off the bat, Far Cry 5 doesn’t hold back. From its cinematic intro sequence to the heart-pounding chase scene right after, it presents its premise with polish. And the gameplay proves extremely engaging; the graphics are lush and beautiful, and players will be hard-pressed not to stop and admire the foliage nearby even as their character sprints through jungles and highways. It runs smoothly at a constant framerate while still remaining detailed and gorgeous, and even when dozens of enemies spawn or explosions and fire effects happen, the game engine doesn’t so much as register a hiccup; it remains buttery smooth for the duration of the lengthy campaign.

Creditably, Far Cry 5 manages to snag the best elements of its immediate-past predecessor while still retaining its own identity, doing away with minor nuisances and showing significant improvements in quality. The tone and pace might still be the same, but story progression feels much more rewarding, emphasizing choice above everything else. Instead of going through a linear set of activities as in previous titles, players now are now free to do any number of side-quests in one of three regions. Each successful mission rallies resistance against the cultists, and adds in friendly safezones and shops that players can peruse. After a certain number of missions, players will eventually meet the regions’ “boss” characters, doing away with them in dramatic set-piece fights.

Contrived? Perhaps. All the same, Far Cry 5’s campaign is given a more dynamic touch by well-crafted scenarios that serve to advance the plot. Some players might prefer bombing cultist shrines and granaries, while others may want to go for a stealthy approach and intercept convoys instead. Refreshingly, the game never forces players’ hands; gone are most of the required action sequences, and there’s never a wrong way to approach any given situation.

Meanwhile, Far Cry 5’s upgrade system has been revised, making it more approachable and less punishing. Players are likewise given the option of hiring AI companions ranging from generic gunmen to a pyromaniac with a flamethrower to a killer bear by the name of Cheeseburger. Combined, they produce a wonderful, if leisurely, experience. Admittedly, they also lead to imbalance; the story brings about a sense of urgency, but the game itself takes time to develop. Even as the cutscenes are top-notch, even as Seed and his accomplices are charismatic, easy-to-hate villains, and even as the sheer variety of options is stunning, the singular lack of urgency is, if nothing else, jarring.

That said, Far Cry 5 is an outstanding title that packages freedom of choice with a compelling narrative, loads of eye candy, and considerable action on demand. While not perfect, it’s far and away the most polished game in the series to date, an easy pickup for both newcomers to and veterans of Ubisoft’s franchise.