This week in Hope County

So, after the mammoth task of getting through Mass Effect: Andromeda over the past year and a half (trying to fit it in around work and family commitments and everything else I wanted to do with my life) I have moved on to a title that’s been waiting on my shelf since my birthday last year…

Far Cry 5

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This is probably one of my favourite game franchises of all time and I was very excited to get into the latest instalment. Shame it took me so long to get around to it.

I first came to this series with Far Cry 2 in 2009. I’m not a massive fan of FPS games to be honest, always having preferred the third person perspective. It’s only games like Far Cry and Bioshock that have broken that preference for me. Far Cry 2 was such a wonderful game with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, a good story that felt like Blood Diamond: The Video Game, and a realistic open world scenario without so much ‘Fast Travel’. When you had to go somewhere, you really had to travel the route (unless you were going to get on a bus, which was a nice touch for me with only a few possible drop off points). Travelling that route could mean running into any number of people who wanted to kill you. Day and night came and went bringing their own inherent dangers and the save game mechanic was also nicely done, much like Grand Theft Auto games. You would find a safe house, go to bed and choose what time you wanted to get up. The only thing that really annoyed me about that game was the malaria situation and trying to find tablets every so often.

Far Cry 2 also had a good Multiplayer option which I spent quite a long time on, and a great map editor feature (back in the days before children when I could pass hours and hours making a beautiful map that probably no-one else would ever see.

I went on to play the third game in the franchise and really enjoyed that one, but I went straight from quite a long time playing that on to the fourth. I think I had burnout by this point. The fourth game, as I recall, was very, very similar to the third and I couldn’t be doing with ‘liberating outposts’ again, elephants or not. That was about four or five years ago now so I felt I was ready to get into this new one. I loved the premise as well and the Montana location was another selling point. Events unfold in the fictional Hope County, a  mix of lakes, lush forests and mountains where a cult has seized control.

I have to say, I’ve not been so hooked on a game in ages. It’s playing havoc with my sleep as I’ve been up past midnight on several nights in the past week. One story mission leads on to another and there are lots of side quests and other things to do and I just find time runs away with me as I do ‘just one more thing’ before I stop.  I’ve barely even touched the map editor feature or multiplayer sections yet. It really is a wonderful location and it’s great to just drive or fly around to see more and more of it. The story is well done and you really get the feel of the world and especially the antagonists.

The weapons and challenges are addictive in themselves as they lead to much needed upgrades. I had to wean myself off my trusty sniper rifle to get on with some of them. Those of you who’ve read my posts about Mass Effect will remember my love for the Assault Turret and sniper rifle which means I can stay as far away from the enemy as possible, sometimes just hiding behind something and letting my bits and pieces of tech do all the hard work.

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As close as I like to get

The Dunia II engine makes for a very smooth experience and there aren’t many bugs that I’ve found so far in the gameplay. I have cleared out John Seed’s territory, which included one of the most frustratingly hard missions I’ve experienced in a long, long time – clearing out his bunker. I haven’t been that close to throwing in the towel since that radio controlled airplane mission in GTA: San Andreas. My teeth start to grind just thinking about that one. I’m well on the way to liberating Faith’s territory now and I like how each Herald has a particular style that impacts in little ways on the general feel of their area.

I’m also really enjoying the Photo Mode feature that allows you to stop play and get a snapshot of your current situation run through filters and doctored in whatever way you want.

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Here I am with a pig in a party hat (don’t ask)
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Here I am flying my plane along the river
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Here I am with a rainbow trout on the hook
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Here I am jumping out of the aforementioned plane

Sometimes open world games can feel a little unrealistic as there are so many places that you can’t access. With Far Cry 5, practically everywhere is within your reach and you can’t drive down a stretch of road without finding something to divert your attention. You can talk to people, enter loads of buildings, find all kinds of items and you never feel like you’re straying off the path either because every piece of business you do advances your ‘resistance’ points and brings you closer to a showdown with a herald. There is so much to see and the graphics are beautiful just as I’ve come to expect from these games. One thing I noticed is that the grass in Far Cry 2 used to move as you walked through it, which I could never quite get over. That doesn’t happen in this version. I don’t know why not. It could be that more effort was put into other aspects of the game.

By the end of Mass Effect, I had levelled up so far that I was practically invincible. I didn’t know if you’ve ever had this experience when you start a new game and you forget that you are starting with a very small margin for error. I died quite a lot in the early stages before I figured out what I was doing.

I might share a few pictures as I get through the game of unusual or well-designed locations or situations. In the meantime, thanks for reading. If you want to read the Mass Effect posts, they’re here.

The Andromeda Experience – 1

The Andromeda Experience – 2

The Andromeda Experience – 3

The Andromeda Experience – 4

The Andromeda Experience – 5

The Andromeda Experience – 6

The Andromeda Experience – 7

The Andromeda Experience – 8

The Andromeda Experience – 9

The Andromeda Experience – 10

 

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