Far Cry Primal Review
I sit down to write this review with an intimate understanding of what it means to be ‘primal’… Apparently.
The Nova breakfast show in Sydney ran me through a series of challenges to test my primality (not a word) and see if I am worthy to play this game.
First there was spicy ribs eating.
Then there was egg-on-head-smashing
And then a good ol fashion M&M/bug-eating sit down
Each of these were designed to test just how man I was. As a result, I can comfortably say, I would not last long in a prehistoric Far Cry Primal universe.
Ignoring the fact that at no stage in Far Cry Primal was I required to smash eggs on my forehead, I am reasonably confident my hand-craftiness, and Mammoth control wouldn’t see me last until sunset.
However, as a character in the game I was right at home.
The Far Cry series has never been afraid to delve into an untested world, from African deserts, to the Himalayas, each new game creates its own unique experience.
Far Cry Primal is no different.
Set in 10,000bc you are a caveman, operating in cave times – which means one very significant thing, guns are out. Yes, you have a bow and arrow, and can throw a spear, but for the most part it’s all about close-quarters fighting.
Meaning for the first time in my gaming experience I was set the task of felling a mammoth with a spear. Turns out it’s possible.
Is this shift away from guns a good thing? It will depend on what you like. I found it to be largely frustrating. I’m an ol school gun slinger (no, I’m not) and entering a battle with a flaming club was not my idea of a perfect time.
Making matters worse, you are regularly taking on 4 legged foe who you can barely see over the long grass, meaning you have to alter your combat strategy; stay low, silent, and at times burn out the grass. It’s a shift in thinking, but that’s exactly what the game wants.
Primal also goes full-magic. Far Cry games have previously dabbled in out-of-body experiences, but now via the majesty of of drinking your own blood mixed with that from a rat, you will be able to step out of your own mind, and into that of the beasts within the game. Owl control, sure. Tiger – why not. It’s the strength of the game and a truly engaging take on the animal kingdom.
(As an aside, I have since attempted to combine my own blood with that of a rat, with a view to commandeering the mind of the neighbour’s cat. It did not end well. So do not try this at home.)
Beast taming is how you will approach liberating campsites, and progressing through the vast map. It’s a unique take on the standard Far Cry fare. Despite your best stealth intentions these liberations tend to rapidly descend into a messy melee fight, with club swinging, grass burning and beast attacking. It’s very good, but does lack some versatility.
I also can’t help but feel a well-placed AK-47 would make my life a lot easier.
The Primal map itself is vast, and stunning. In particular at sunrise and sunset. The lighting effects through the grasslands, over the water and mountains, and beyond the animal kingdom are beautiful.
Keep in mind there are no towns or infrastructure there is an element of same-ness about your travels, but what is there is expertly crafted.
Primal’s strength is also in its atmosphere. Stalking through the jungle, hearing the distant howls of various extinct predators is haunting. While rounding a turn to be confronted with a herd of Mammoths is a site that will genuinely elicit a gasp.
Another element I like is that survival is more than just not dying – it’s in maintaining your quality of life. If you get cold you have to warm up. Your flaming bow-and-arrow will burn out (as it’s made of wood) and there are distinct benefits to operating in light or darkness.
But is the story strong enough to hold all this together? I will say, largely yes. But it’s not the strongest of the Far Cry series.
Instead of speaking English, characters largely interact by grunting meaning you’re constantly reading sub-titles to follow the story. (Unless you are a Rugby League player, then you can probably understand clearly).
The villains are also a little weak– with the bulk of your determination to finish the game coming through the challenge of the hunt missions and Beast Taming.
Far Cry Primal is a very very good game. It is also unlike any on the market at the moment. Those familiar with previous Far Cry games will have no drama jumping into this world and getting underway, while those who are new will be overawed, and then enthralled by the vastness of the open world.
The Beast Master component is the strength, with melee combat a bit weak and frenetic for mine.
But mostly the sheer impressiveness of the animals and the feel of the universe will keep you coming back.
I still want a gun, though.