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There Be Mammoths: Far Cry Primal Review

There Be Mammoths: Far Cry Primal Review

I’ll be honest. I went into Far Cry Primal expecting more of the same, and while I have no gripes with the Far Cry formula, after having invested countless hours into FC3 & FC4, I really wanted something different, something that would reinvent the formula, and feel fresh. Something that would pack a bloody punch.

Well, I guess that that was too high an expectation. Not to say that the game isn’t fun, it absolutely is. However, it definitely is more of the same. Oh, wait, before I go the “cool way” of hating on video games, let me talk about the good. And, BTW, I’d recommend this game, it’s enjoyable, and as far as any gamer looking to have some fun is concerned, the game doles that out aplenty.

What concerned me was the lack of innovation in the game, and that it didn’t push any technical boundaries. Remember when Far Cry 2 & Far Cry 3 came out, and people started knowing about the game engine, the DUNIYA Engine, with all it’s insane fire effects, zebras, and crocs and the sorts. There’s none of that here.

Sorry, I digress, the positives first.

The Stone Age is an excellent setting, and well replicated (in my limited knowledge, not that I was there back then). It feels raw, and wild and dangerous. With huge open spaces, it feels like big creatures live here. And they do. The woolly mammoths are a sight to behold. Packs of them roaming the land makes for an almost serene moment, until they trample and squish you to a pulp, that is.

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The initial moments are a sight to behold. Behold it too long and you’ll be trampled by a mammoth.

Separating one from the pack, then chasing it down is exhilarating. Even more so when a sabertooth or a boar joins the hunt. Then it quickly turns into a triple threat match, with you trying to tickle them to death with pointy sticks, while they try to chew your head off with even pointier teeth. Anyways it feels fair, and is good fun. It’s tough, no doubt, but as someone who’s a sucker for punishment (much like Anastasia, albeit only in video games), I enjoyed being wary of my surroundings, it really pulled me in to the game.

Speaking of fun, the gameplay is a blast, it’s different enough since they took away the guns. So now, it’s all up close and personal. No longer can you ward off threats from a distance. It gets pretty tense, specially at night when the wolves come out. It feels really atmospheric, and I really enjoyed that. The in-game audio stands out as well, with the ambient sounds bringing the world to life. Be it the throaty rumble of a sabertooth lurking nearby, or the chitter of insects and birds, or the howling of the wolves, everything feels natural, and downright terrifying at moments.

The new bevy of animals do stand out. However, while they are a threat at the start, once you start taming them, things gets a lot easier. But then again, animal husbandry was the more popular career option during the Stone Age, right up there with farming, collecting reeds, and extracting shale stone.

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Exploring is fun, until a saber-toothed foe creeps up on you!

The story is, once again, mediocre. But then again, the story has never been the strongest facet in the Far Cry franchise, so who cares right? Well, no, I care. I’m sorry, but the gripe train starts here. If you’re a fan of the series, feel free to press the eject button, and go buy the game. It’s fun nonetheless, and you’d have a blast. However, if you’re a fan of Video Games, and tend to keep high expectations from them, then do saunter along.

So yes, the story. It’s not the best. While the various tribes, or factions, the Wenja, Udam, and Izila, are succinctly distinct, be it their clothing style or architecture, none of them have much to add to the story, other than the good old territorial pissing. Your character, Takkar, is often asked to kill warlords belonging to the other factions, and pretty soon, you’re killing folks, without really wondering about the rationale behind it.

Not that I am complaining about killing things with my newly crafted club, but after the fiftieth time or so, once the blood dries up and is a permanent decorative feature on your club, the fun starts to wear off. And it doesn’t help that the characters, who are quite colorful and interesting, are mere quest givers who leave no lasting impression, giving you no real reason to care about them.

Finally on to the graphics. And, before you start off about how its the consoles that can’t handle it, take a look at The Witcher III. I agree that Primal is adequately bug-free (Ubi does learn its lessons), however, that comes at the cost of the same old graphics. Not to say that the game is not pretty, but it’s as pretty as the previous Far Cry, and the one before it. And worse than many other shooters available right now.

Seriously, if us gamers stop demanding for more, both the PC and consoles will suffer from a stunted growth in visual fidelity. The Division is a prime example. The E3 2014 demo was running off an Xbox One. So why did they have to downgrade it, instead of optimizing it for both the consoles. And why the downgrade on PC? Well anyways, not impressed by the graphics. But, as long as we keep throwing money at them, they’ll see no reason to step their game up.

So getting back to Far Cry Primal, it’s a good game, go buy it if you’re into the franchise. The Stone Age thing is definitely worth looking into. The gameplay is solid, and is based on the well established Ubisoft formula. However, if you’re looking for a good story, and an immersive world to get lost in, look elsewhere.

Reviewed on the PS4 version of the game provided by the publisher.

Feature image credit: Far Cry Fan Art

And for more cohesive reviews, keep checking back at Gaming Central.

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