Far Cry Primal Makes Good Use of a Smaller Budget
I love Far Cry 2 and 3. I've played both of those games to death, multiple times, on different platforms.
Far Cry 4 has always eluded me. I own a copy, but I always get about four hours in before I can't escape the nagging feeling that I'm just playing Far Cry 3 with a fancier graphical layer delicately laid on top of it and driving mechanics that I don't like as much.
I'll have to get around to it someday.
I bought Far Cry Primal in last week's big Far Cry sale on the Xbox One.
It also has a weird stale vibe at times...but overcomes it through smart application of new assets, good acting, and game mechanics.
If you were playing a drinking game with this article where you took a drink every time I wrote "Far Cry", oh man, you'd already be so hammered by now.
Primal was the last full game in the franchise, and it came out two years ago. It's set in 10000BC, on a map that was redesigned based on the assets from Far Cry 4.
It's kind of a Far Cry game but without guns and vehicles?
That's a slight oversimplification. But the whole thing feels a bit strange after pouring days of my life into Far Cry 3. But it's strange in a fun way and I think I like it?
The game has some striking moments, visually, particularly in the way that it handles volumetric lighting. But at other times, I can't shake the feeling that I'm just looking at animations, textures, and models from the last two Far Cry games...because I am.
The animal skinning animation is where this becomes super apparent. It's the exact animation from Far Cry 3 just laid onto a different character model.
I thought this would ruin the game for me. But there's so much else here to love.
I'd never have realized that this was Far Cry 4's map if the internet hadn't repeatedly told me two years ago. The colors, the foliage, and the overall look of the game are vastly different.
I love the fake language Ubisoft created for the characters in the game. The motion capture acting for the other characters in the game is exceptional. I can't fathom how hard it was to correctly emote while speaking in an entirely new language, but the actors do an incredible job.
The linguistics of the game are let down a fair bit by the English subtitles, which are written in a crude style that reads a little too much like bad old movie caveman dialogue. But the rest of the story is executed so well that I can't hate it...
Except for the part near the beginning where Takkar, the main character, almost instantly finds the new lands that he and his expedition spent months searching uselessly for. That part was pretty funny.
Mechanically, the game shines in the same way that other Far Cry games do. It's still a fun blend of questing, collecting, and fighting. The weapons are fun to use, and the crafting system is faster than in any of the previous games. I hope that some of these improvements carry through to Far Cry 5.
So yes, Primal is a game that was made entirely on the asset package of a previous game. And it often shows. But it also has a lot of original work, and somehow manages an aesthetic all its own even while hitting me with the same animations I've seen a hundred times.