Video Game Review: Far Cry Primal

When the Ubisoft swirl comes on screen, a lot of expectations flare up inside a gamer’s head. Unfortunately for Ubisoft, none of these expectations are particularly positive. The Canadian developer that once stood for creativity, polish and technical achievement has been reduced to an infamy usually reserved for Electronic Arts. Shockingly, Far Cry Primal is an exception to the trend of season passes, micro-transactions and generally unfinished triple-A games that have infuriated gamers in the recent past.

Far Cry Primal is a spin-off of Far Cry 4, which was a sequel/spin-off to the phenomenal Far Cry 3. Despite the similarities to both previous entries, in terms of the formulaic conventions, gameplay and game engine, Primal feels unique and worthy of exploration in its own right.

When Far Cry Primal was announced, proposing that the open-world exploration and action of the modern Far Cry releases would be blended with a pre-historic setting, many (including myself) were rightfully skeptical. While the story is stereotypical, drab, and at times, almost cynical, the lush world is anything but. Takkar’s journey to rebuild the community of the Wenja will not be the reason you pillage opposing tribes’ caves and bases, instead, it’s the fidelity and polish extended to the lush environments and scenery.

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If you’ve played any of the previous entries in the series, you’ll feel instantly at home, as the game uses similar controls, animations and mechanics. That being said, the game’s most compelling element is an expansion of the elephant-riding that made a big buzz in the 2014 release. Now, as a “beast master”, you’ll be able to tame wild predators ranging from the infamous badger to sabretooth tigers and bears. Once tamed, you’ll be able to mount atop the exotic creatures, ride through the open world and use your companions to do your bidding.

While there is a semi-optional side mode that will have you build up your cave and community, adding settlers and developing resources, it seems somewhat lacking, especially when compared to the similar feature in last year’s arguable game-of-the-year, Fallout 4.

Furthermore, if you’re expecting the same breadth of arsenal as in previous Far Cry games, prepare for disappointment. The game focuses on melee weapons and the bow and arrow. Of course, it wouldn’t be accurate to have Ak-47s and rocket launchers, but greater variety of tools could have helped keep combat feeling fresh for longer throughout the experience.

While Far Cry Primal succeeds as a spin-off, I sincerely hope that Ubisoft takes a one or two year break from the franchise, so that it can successfully navigate away from the “Assassin’s Creed syndrome” that comes with annualizing releases. Primal is worth your time if you’ve got enough to invest in a tourist experience in a primitive world.

- Steve Nadon

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