Developer: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Toronto
Platforms: PS4, Windows PC, Xbox One [reviewed]
Released: March 27, 2018
Copy supplied by publisher
It’s impossible to write a review of Far Cry 5, the latest in Ubisoft’s over-the-top open-world first-person shooter franchise, without talking about the game’s politics … or more accurately, its lack of them. Set in the fictional Hope County, Far Cry 5 exoticizes rural America (specifically, Montana) and its people, who find themselves overrun by a militant religious cult. The game’s marketing would have you think that it has something important to say about the state of gun violence, religious extremism, and pretty much any other hot button issue associated with Trump’s America but for better or worse, Far Cry 5 engages with politics on a superficial, surface level. In other words, the game’s Bible-thumping villains are really just there to give you something to shoot at and not really think about on a deeper level.
But wow, is it ever a fun time.
Far Cry 5 adheres closely to the structure of its more recent predecessors, in that it dumps you into the middle of a beautiful landscape teeming with warfare between rival factions. As an unnamed Deputy United States Marshal (nicknamed “Rook”), you’re tasked with liberating Hope County from the enigmatic Joseph Seed and his cult, The Project at Eden’s Gate. After a thrilling opening sequence that introduces you to Seed and a few of the story’s other main players, you’re pretty much given the freedom to start taking it to the Peggies (the nickname given to Seed’s followers) in whatever manner you so choose. As it turns out, this freedom is both a blessing and a curse, but one that is familiar in most open-world games that attempt to hook the player in with a compelling narrative. Even if Far Cry 5 spun a riveting yarn with well-written heroes, villains, and a thoughtful pondering of some real-world issues, it would be diluted by the fact that you can mostly ignore what’s going on and do anything you want in the game’s richly detailed world. As it stands, Joseph Seed and his “family” of nutjobs come across more as cartoon villains than terrifying antagonists, which only makes it easier to ignore them in favor of going on your own twisted safari adventure … at least, when the game lets you.