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Review

Far Cry Primal Review

Orosome.

For a game that’s set some ten thousand years before its modern counterparts, Far Cry Primal feels incredibly familiar. In the coming days you’ll no doubt see words like “reskin” and “mod” being flung around as commentators look to sum up Primal in as few reductive syllables as possible, but even though it has a lot of common ground with other games in the series, Ubisoft Montreal has managed to create something that feels surprisingly substantive, even if it isn’t entirely refreshing.

Severing its ties with Rook Island and the war-torn nation of Kyrat, Far Cry Primal takes us back to the very dawn of humanity. Battling against harsh elements while walking in the shadow of ancient beasts, it’s a brutal chapter in our existence. Tribes rise and fall with only the strongest and most cunning being able to survive in an endless cycle of bloodshed.

As Takkar, players are dropped in right at the deep end. After tracking a herd of mammoth, you and your tribesmen go in for the kill, only to be thwarted by a sudden sabretooth attack. With the hunters having been routed in all the commotion, you barely manage to escape with your life. Stumbling across another lone survivor from your scattered tribe, you emerge from a network of caves into the land of Oros.

At first sight, this patchwork of vast plains and towering mountains looks like a prehistoric paradise, unscathed by the destructive influence of mankind. At times it can be a real beauty to behold even if it is a little barren in places, brought to life by an abundance of greenery and some brilliant atmospheric lighting. However, as you start to travel beyond the bounds of your newfound settlement, a truer, more brutish picture comes into focus.

Aside from playing host to a menagerie of mythic predators, Oros is occupied by three warring tribes. In the north there is the Udam, a bestial race that feast upon the flesh of their enemies. Meanwhile, towards the southernmost reaches of Oros, reside the sun-worshipping Izila who revel in burning their captives alive. Caught in the middle of this blood-soaked sandwich are the Wenja, a small tribe of hunters who have been pushed to the edge of extinction. With Takkar’s arrival comes a new hope for this broken band of stragglers. Intent on building a future for the Wenja, players will guide him as he travels into the heart of Oros.

Compared to previous games in the series – most notably the last two – there’s much less emphasis on story in Far Cry Primal. Although the Udam and Izila help to create a sense of conflict, any form of scripted narrative takes a back seat as players interact with the world around them. That’s not to say Primal is without its memorable moments, but these often stem from the player’s own experiences as well as a handful of characters. Although earlier Far Cry games may boast far more compelling antagonists, Primal’s supporting cast is arguably the strongest in the series, despite having far fewer lines of dialogue.

With the story somewhat sidelined, playing through Far Cry Primal can often feel like pursuing items on a shopping list. With no twists or revelations to uncover, most of your time in Oros will be spent gathering the resources required to build and improve not only your settlement, but Takkar’s expansive arsenal of weapons.

Naturally, you’d be hard-pressed to spot a cache of AK-47s lying about during the stone age. Instead, players will make use of Takkar’s trusty bow as well as an assortment of melee weapons and projectiles. With guns out of the equation, this has a considerable impact on the way in which battles are carried out. Although players can still employ a mix of stealth and ranged attacks, there will be times where hand-to-hand combat is quickest, most effective means of defeating your enemies.

FarCryPrimal-RIL2

Although it can feel clumsy and all over the place, you’ll soon grow accustomed to charging through groups of foes, bludgeoning them in rapid succession. Of course, hunting predators will often require a change in tactic, forcing players to utilise their surroundings while employing some of the game’s more advanced mechanics. For example, the grappling hook can be used to reach higher ground while taking control of the owl companion lets you locate and tag targets from above. A number of the game’s predators can even be tamed, converting them into AI partners that can be controlled using a handful of basic commands.

However you achieve an objective, whether stealthily from afar or riding a fearsome saber tooth, this will contribute towards the aforementioned shopping list. As you move across Oros, the map will light up with all sorts of blips and icons, each one indicating a collectable or side mission. Even after completing the bulk of Primal’s story-driven, there’s much more to see and do, stretching well beyond the allotted six or seven hours it usually takes to beat a first person shooter.

If you really dig the world and mechanics then that’s great, but even then some of these optional activities can feel like little more than filler. That’s mainly due to the way in which they mimic the many side activities players would carry out in Far Cry 4 and its predecessor. From skinning a variety of exotic beasts to clearing out heavily-guarded outposts, Primal gets more and more familiar the closer you reach its end-game.

It’s also a slight shame that, for the first time in Far Cry’s history, Ubisoft has decided to completely ignore multiplayer. Instead of playing catch up with other big-name shooters, Primal’s diverse change in setting and game flow could have produced a truly riveting online experience for fans of the series.

FarCryPrimal-RIL1

That said, what the game currently has to offer is put together really well. Although not the best looking game available on new hardware, Primal manages to pack in an incredible amount of detail, especially when it comes to character models. The audio team also deserve a pat on the back. Although fairly minimalist, Jason Graves’ soundtrack manages to adapt perfectly as your adventure unfolds.

Even more impressive is how Ubisoft created its own language for the peoples of Oros. It’s a reconstruction of the language of the time, and one that’s delivered consistently well thanks to a talented cast of voice actors including Elias Toufexis (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) as Takkar.

What’s Good:

  • Oros and its many inhabitants.
  • Faster, more visceral gameplay.
  • Prehistoric dialects.
  • Becoming the Beast Master.

What’s Bad:

  • Slow start.
  • Side content feels overly familiar.
  • Lack of firm narrative can be disorientating.

Branding Far Cry Primal as a cheap reskin would be harsh. Although largely formulaic, there’s enough here for both fans and newcomers to sink their teeth into, not to mention a wonderfully realised depiction of the stone age. However, beneath this wildly altered aesthetic, for better or for worse, Ubisoft is still playing it safe. Personally, I found Primal to be far more entertaining than Far Cry 4, but even then it’s hard to overlook the series’ systematic regurgitation of ideas and concepts.

Score: 7/10

Version tested: PlayStation 4

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18 Comments
  1. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Good review. To be fair even if this scored 10/10 across the board I wouldn’t be getting it. As much as I enjoyed far cry 4, I was incredibly bored of the formula by the end. With far cry still being in the title of this it’s fairly obvious it’s going to contain many of the same, stale gameplay mechanics.
    I’m not sure what ubi can do about that too be honest, I just think the franchise needs to be allowed to rest in peace for a decade or so.

    Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 11:16.
    • Tony Cawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      Aarrgghh, auto correct changed to to too now I look even more thick than usual!

      Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 11:17.
      • wonkey-willy
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        Is that even possible?

        Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 11:28.
      • Tony Cawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        Yeah I use SwiftKey on my phone so just swipe the words and sometimes forget to check it used the word I actually meant.

        Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 12:08.
      • 94jdh
        Member
        Since: May 2010

        I don’t think wonky-Willy was referring to the autocorrect ;)

        Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 13:00.
      • Tony Cawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        Ah, gotcha. Well now I definitely look even more thick than usual!

        Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 13:19.
    • Forrest_01
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      This one does still interest me (mainly as there aren’t many games set in this kind of time period), but after playing many Ubi games, I do know what you are saying Tony – Can’t help but feel that if they have removed the ‘Far Cry’ heading though (possibly just leaving it as ‘Primal’ or something) that a lot of these recurring issues could have been glossed over by the fact that it could have been treated as new IP.

      Hell, they did it with The Crew – It was pretty much Assassins Creed in cars, albeit with a lot less stealth… & stabbings. It did have a bit of rain though.

      Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 11:35.
  2. Lyts1985
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    Far Cry seems in danger of going the same way the Lego games have – same stale, recycled gameplay mechanics, activities, and tasks as its predecessor(s) with the only draw of a new setting. Before I’d even got half way through 4 I was starting to feel the deja vu and fatigue but plodded on nonetheless…

    That said, much like the Lego games, I’ll probably pick this up regardless as they’re solid games and I’ve always had fun playing them, at least until that inevitable fatigue sets in – plus, the setting intrigues me.

    Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 11:35.
  3. JustTaylorNow
    Member
    Since: Oct 2011

    I wasn’t expecting much from this game, far cry 4 was boring & felt very familiar from far cry 3. I just hope they do this what they doing to Assassin creed, let it rest for a while, reinvent the series.

    Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 11:36.
  4. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    I didnt get very far with Far Cry 4 as it was more of the same, and as much as I like the caveman idea here, if it’s more of the same again I won’t be picking it up. I’ll wait for Horizon: Zero Dawn for my dose of bow and arrow action.

    Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 11:51.
  5. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    As usual, representing the more casual gamer, I’m the exact opposite of most of my TSA friends, and as a result, I’m all over this one, ha! Loved FC3 & 4 too! Sorry!

    Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 12:54.
    • Pixel_nme
      Member
      Since: Mar 2014

      I enjoyed Farcry 3 and 4 loved 3,my copy of Primal should be arriving tomorrow.

      Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 15:43.
  6. DividSmythe
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    I’m glad I said I’ll wait until it’s £20 or less before buying this. I only recently platinumed FC4 so I’ve had my fill for a while.

    Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 13:00.
    • aphex187
      Member
      Since: Mar 2010

      It’s £23.99 on PC :)

      Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 15:06.
  7. Steelhead
    Member
    Since: Oct 2013

    I received far cry 3 from PS plus, and was very glad I hadn’t paid properly for it. Just a jumbled mess of a game. Doesn’t seem like much has changed so will be giving this a miss.

    Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 13:51.
    • Forrest_01
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      Yeah, if you think that FC3 was a jumbled mess, probably best to leave it there. It was actually one of the more coherent Far Cry games.

      For what it’s worth, I thought Far Cry 3 was really good. I am yet to play FC4, but hear it’s pretty much just more of the same, which is why some were a little disheartened by it.

      Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 13:59.
  8. Steelhead
    Member
    Since: Oct 2013

    Yeah, I generally ignore the series tbh. Only read the primal review as I’m currently pinned under a sleeping one year old and I’m getting a bit bored.

    It sounds as though the series has some serious potential. They just need to cement all of the fun bits together more effectively. Then again the series seems to be doing well, so what do I know?

    Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 14:05.
    • Steelhead
      Member
      Since: Oct 2013

      That was meant to reply to Forrest_01. Never mind.

      Comment posted on 22/02/2016 at 14:07.

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Far Cry Primal
  • Developer:Ubisoft Montreal
  • Publisher:Ubisoft
  • Platforms:PS4, XB1, PC
  • Release Date:23/02/16 (PS4, XB1)
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