REVIEW – After gunning down so many enemies in modern commando/military titles of the Far Cry „survivor” series, we can finally test our bows and spears on our enemies. We are placed in a „primal” world when prehistoric men and woman walked the Earth, they eat paleo for dinner, and tried not to become the dinner of tigers. Don’t worry, this title being a bona fide Far Cry game, besides hunting mammoth and other exotic animals, you’ll have to kill a lot of humans too.
When I have first seen the very first Far Cry game, it was just a demo on E3 with a nice looking exotic island and not much action (or game for that matter) tied to it. To be honest, I was never a big fan of the Far Cry series, yes they looked lovely, yes the action was great, but they always lacked an interesting story, setting, areas to explore, or (besides Far Cry 3) a great villain. I liked Far Cry 4 but got bored with the open world gameplay after a while, which was just more of the same as in Far Cry 3. However, the prehistoric setting of Far Cry Primal caught my eye…
Meet Takkar, the prehistoric man
The main protagonist of the game is one caveman dude called Takkar (who – according to Ubisoft’s artwork – looks almost exactly like the main character, Tumak from the movie 1 Million Years B.C.) At the beginning of the game, Takkar is first seen with his group hunting Woolly Mammoths, for they have gone several days without food on their journey to Oros. After successfully separating a Woolly Mammoth from its herd and killing it, the hunting party gets ambushed by a Sabretooth Tiger. Being cornered to an edge of a cliff, Takkar’s friend Dalso saves him by grabbing him and causing both of them to pummel down the cliff. Takkar survives, but Dalso is left only a few seconds to live. After Dalso gives his last breath to tell Takkar not to stop and to find Oros and the rest of their tribe.
Takkar later meets Sayla, who notices that Takkar is a Wenja. Together they start to gather the Wenja tribe and… and… the story kind of lost me after that. Sure, there are some rival tribes to fight (who have no real motives whatsoever for fighting us). Yes, we have some usual crazy villains and even some even crazier allies, who we have to rally to our ever growing camp. Still, the story is both so minimalistic and full of clichés, that I very soon lost interest in everything in it. It’s basically about exploring the land, getting allies, and killing enemy tribe member. It’s a shame, because there was enough material there, and a whole new world to produce an impressive story – at least at the level of some Rahan comic book, or the 1 Million Years B.C. movie.
Command tigers, owl, bears, and conquer everything!
Fortunately, while the story is pretty much meh, there’s a lot of fun things to do in Far Cry Primal. Yes, it’s the usual open world gameplay, with a big land to explore, main and secondary missions, small villages to conquer, allies to rally to our camp. There are some minor refinements to the usual open world formula, but basically, it’s still the same as in every other Ubisoft titles.
What makes Far Cry Primal pretty fun, however, is that we can tame different races of animals and command them to hunt or take out human enemies. There’s nothing funnier than to control a sabertooth tiger and make him mangle and kill a whole tribe of hostile cavemen and cavewomen. Our faithful pet can even devour some of the enemy corpses – although this scene is not graphic.
Each animal has different attributes, whether it is tagging enemies within a certain radius or scavenging for resources. The first creature you tame, the owl, can be summoned to scout areas such as outposts or bonfires. When you call upon your feathered friend, you assume control of said bird and can stake out an area and tag enemies from a safe distance. There’s a certain radius you can fly around about where Takkar is standing, so it doesn’t eliminate any challenge and only acts as your binoculars, actually.
“It’s the “primal scream” what the series needed.”
Coordinating your attacks from the air becomes crucial toward the end game when players will be tasked to take down large outposts with nothing but some sticks and a giant bear. I forgot to mention that some animals after they’ve been tamed, can be ridden – including bears, which is one of the coolest addition to the game.
Basic combat is also pretty rad. Besides using the usual bow, you may also use spear and caveman ax, sling and other fun weapons, which are finally different, and then the average first person shooter arsenal. Of course, you can surprise your enemy, attack and kill them from behind and you may learn later to jump on them.
A still virgin land
Another familiar aspect of Far Cry series are the lovely visuals depicting a fantastic, wild nature. Previous games have featured lush jungles, craggy mountains, and beautiful (but deadly) islands. The land of Oros has them all. The territory that belongs to the Wenja is set in the middle of a picturesque valley, complete with rivers, waterfalls, and dense forest with trees so tall they almost block the sunlight. Travel north enough and you will find yourself in a snowy, hellish landscape where only the warmest should tread. To the south, red rocky cliffs that burn with fire at dawn.
Day or night, the lighting effects inFar Cry Primal are very suggestive. Stalking prey while slivers of moonlight cut through the trees. Climbing the top of a mountain while the sky turns red, gold, and green. The first time you see the gold glow of a wolf’s eyes on a night while he is advancing towards you will terrify you. It’s a shame, then, that in all of its beauty, Far Cry Primal fails to hide the blemishes of its past like some control problems, or the overused open world elements.
It’s both different yet still the same
While the whole Far Cry frame is familiar, the changes are still welcome. Skill trees are pretty useful and well made this time around, with interesting special skills you can learn. You also have outposts, hunting, and a map that’s bursting at the seams with icons; guns have been replaced with homemade weaponry; the world is alive more than ever before, and the usage of creatures is the type of growth Far Cry needed.
Melee combat will strain your index finger because it boils down to mashing buttons and the survival elements could’ve been fleshed out more. Still Far Cry Primal‘s moment-to-moment gameplay is exceptional, especially when your Sabre-tooth Tiger has just helped you take down a Woolly Mammoth, or you just rode into an enemy camp on top of your tamed but still crazy bear.
+ Tons of stuff to do, lands to explore
+ The taming of animals
+ Cool new weapons
– Story is lackluster
– Open world elements overused
– Gets repetitive after a while
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: TPS, open world,
Release date: February 23, 2016