by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 4th April, 2018
Far Cry is one of the most famous shooter series. Next year will mark 15 years since the first game came out, and after the cult classic Far Cry title, we got numerous sequels, most being a part of the main series along with a couple of spinoffs most of which ended up quite good.
The series' latest expansion, Far Cry 5, landed with a bang. It brought tons of new content, solid graphics along with a capable story, a package that saw mostly positive reviews, from both critics and gamers. And that's the thing about Far Cry games - there isn't a title from the series that can be considered plain bad (well, there is one). Each title has its own unique features and qualities and each one fetched something new to the table.
This is why ranking Far Cry games is a difficult task. When you have a series where almost every game is an enjoyable and fun experience you have to consider lots of different variables when making your picks. You must look at release dates, the popularity of each title, and the general reception each game received. There's also the subjective part since we played each title from the series and no matter how much we try staying objective, our own opinion has to be a part of the final verdict. While picking the best one was harder than we thought, choosing the title worthy of the last place was easier than ever.
This one's easy. Far Cry Vengeance is by far the worst title of the series. After Ubisoft released the original game for the PC, the publisher wanted a console version. And since the tech behind the original was too advanced to be ported to consoles, cuts have to be made and the result was Far Cry Instincts, a remake of the original game made for the original Xbox. The game had a sequel called Far Cry Evolution, also released for the Xbox. And then Ubisoft wanted more money and ported Evolution for the Wii.
And that game was utter rubbish. Not only it featured horrendous graphics and incredibly broken AI, its plot was subpar when compared to the original. The campaign was too short and even though the gameplay was enjoyable (the game used all advantages of the Wii motion controllers), the game's shortcomings led to its demise. It remained one of the worst titles for the Nintendo Wii and by far the worst part of the Far Cry series.
Again, Far Cry 2, even though it is placed second to last on the list, isn't a bad game. Even though the story wasn't detailed or well written, it carried an important message about the senselessness of a civil war. Also, the game featured superb graphics, and it looks solid good even today, a decade after its release. It was the first game to utilize Dunia graphics engine, which was used for every Far Cry game since Far Cry 2. The game was set in Africa, placing the player in boots of a mercenary doing work for two opposing factions in a civil war, with your main goal was the assassination of the Jackal, an arms dealer who supplied both warring factions.
The game was very annoying most of the time, and let us explain why. For instance, you would drive to your next objective, enjoying the beauty of an African tropical forest, closing down on a guard post. Okay, you stop, get out and kill guards, fix your car with a wrench and drive away. Thirty seconds later you realize you missed a turn, having to go back to the guard post and turn left instead of right. Unfortunately, guards already respawned, so you exit the car and burn them with a flamethrower, cursing the game's NPC respawn times. The fire spreads, your car gets caught in it and explodes, leaving you without a vehicle with the objective being a couple of miles away. Now you're on foot, cursing all gods you know and then you close down on another guard post.
Every NPC on the map wanted to kill you, and your car (Or boat) would break as soon as someone would hit it. Also, NPCs would respawn as soon as you walked around the corner, and fast travel points (in the form of bus stops) were too few and far between. On the other hand, the game featured superb gunplay mechanics, vivid and detailed graphics, and excellent driving. It also showed all the futility of a civil war, where warlords keep the conflict going so they can reap more "blood" diamonds, while arms dealers earned more and more money selling weapons to warlords. A vicious circle of death, blood, and human suffering, all for the money and profit.
Far Cry Primal is a divisive title. Some love it and some hate it, and we like the game very much. It was a bold experiment that ended up as a relatively successful spinoff of the main series. Taking the series back into Stone Age (literally) was a bold move, a move that gave the series a breath of fresh air it desperately needed.
Far Cry Primal features probably the best graphics of the entire series. As soon as you completed the prologue and started to roam through its huge map, the game's lush forests would make you stop and stare in awe. Thick and vibrant grass, huge and monolithic trees along with warm sunrays that battled their way through dense canopies and bathed the grass and water with their wholehearted touch dominated almost every scene. The game's temperate and tropical regions were sights to behold, making it one extremely pretty experience.
Primal also features interesting quests, and the title finally saw a proper integration of crafting. Instead of hunting animals until you craft all items, and gathering plants just for healing purposes, in Primal player had to constantly hunt and collect, like our ancestors did. Also, the game introduced animal companions, making missions more exciting, and building your own village gave the player a sense of accomplishment and a feel of progression. Oh, and you can ride a bloody saber-toothed tiger!
A pair of Far Cry console exclusives, the two games were released for the original Xbox. Since the first Far Cry was too advanced for consoles, Instincts was developed and it featured toned down graphics and smaller levels. While the game didn't have the same feeling of freedom as the original, it kept the signature gameplay along with multiple ways to approach missions. It featured almost the same story as Far Cry, but Instincts enriched gameplay with special abilities the player could use.
Its sequel (which was ported to the Nintendo Wii and earned the last place on this list) was also a solid experience, but it had flawed and very short campaign. On the other hand, gameplay kept multiple objective approaches and the game also featured fun multiplayer modes. Instincts and its sequel aren't as famous as other parts of the series, but the games deserve to be placed on the list because they were quality titles that pushed the max out of the original Xbox and showed that even with smaller levels Far Cry is a phenomenal experience.
The main downside of Far Cry 4 is that the game got released too soon after the Far Cry 3. Although two years passed, the fact remains that we got the phenomenal Far Cry: Blood Dragon a year ago Far Cry 4 was released. So, if you loved Far Cry 3, you probably finished it at least two times, and you probably played Blood Dragon. And then, two years later Far Cry 4 lands and while it featured many improvements, the game suffered from being released just too soon.
Far Cry 4 featured Pagan Min, the main villain who resembled Vaas too much, and the game lacked those memorable moments Far Cry 3 was filled with. We got gyrocopters and the grapple hook and gunfights were fun as ever but the game just felt to repetitive, especially during the second part of the campaign. And those towers were just too much, not to talk about the skill tree that was practically identical to the one found in Far Cry 3.
In the end, the player had a sense they play the same game as Far Cry 3, just better looking and with a couple of gameplay improvements. And while graphics were superb, and the game featured varied environments of Kyrat, it somehow felt stale and uninspiring.
The superb graphics, the incredible art style of Shangri-La, and the varied main missions were the main strengths of Far Cry 4, but the lack of any major improvements to the open world formula put the game behind its acclaimed predecessor.
Another spinoff, Far Cry: Blood Dragon is a comic relief of the series, a title that is fun, goofy, and lighthearted. It is set in the parallel universe of the eighties' action flicks, where a mad scientist tries to turn the world population into beasts by launching a bunch of rockets from their secret lair.
It is on the player to stop the bad guys, and they can do it with the help of numerous pseudo-futuristic weapons and powerful Blood Dragons, laser-spitting genetically-engineered beasts. The game is set on an island much smaller than that featured in Far Cry 3 and is filled with stuff to do. The smaller map means denser experience, with activities, placed close to each other.
The game is short, with the five-hour-long campaign and side activities that can account for another four hours of gameplay. The art style is uber cool (or horrendous, depending on your appreciation of the eighties' aesthetics) and gameplay is a tight and fun experience. The game felt fresh when it came out and showed that not all April Fools news are fake.
This time Ubisoft decided to wait four years before releasing a full-fledged sequel. We did get Primal in 2016, but the game was unique and didn't feature the classic Far Cry open-world formula with guns, vehicles, and a huge number of stuff to do. Because of that, Far Cry 5 feels like a better game than the 4, even though it also lacks any major improvements when compared to Far Cry 3.
The game is set in the fictional Hope County, Montana, rich in lush forests, rocky hills, and soothing grasslands. Graphics aren't top-notch but are more than enough to appease most gamers. And the game's map is the richest ever when it comes to the number of stuff to do. Races, side missions, camps to take over, lots of animals to hunt, an incredible amount of stuff to collect, the game has it all. It also features a nice single player campaign and a solid story that revolves around a crazed religious cult and its charming leader called Joseph Seed, the game's main antagonist, and the player who's put into shoes of a sheriff's deputy who tries to apprehend Seed with the help of the locals.
Gone are the radio towers, with the player being able to reveal the map just by roaming through it. The superb gunplay is here again, with the battles being better than ever. Far Cry 5 is one huge open world playground asking from players just to sit in a car and drive in any direction because each direction keeps tons of fun activities. The game isn't a revolution, but a small step forward compared to Far Cry 4. It is placed above the 4 because it feels fresher and better designed than the 4. In the end, it had the luck to be separated by four years from the previous sequel, giving gamers enough time to start craving for a new Far Cry experience.
Back in 2004, Far Cry was a monster that ate every PC that proved unworthy of its advanced technology. Just like they did with Crysis three years later, Crytek managed to offer out-of-this-world graphics with Far Cry, but unlike Crysis, Far Cry featured excellent and lengthy campaign.
The game showed how first-person shooters will evolve in the coming years. Its huge levels weren't open world but were huge and the player could fulfill objectives in many different ways, and that nonlinear gameplay was one of the game's main strongpoints, aside from stellar graphics and incredible enemy AI, something modern games don't give a rat's ass about.
Far Cry featured solid story and fun-as-ever gunplay mechanics. The player could drive many different vehicles, and while Jack Carver and his story didn't have much to do with Far Cry 2, the first game of the series established a strong foundation that will be built upon with next two sequels, with the Far Cry 3 becoming the apex of the whole series.
Far Cry 3 is the sole revolution of the series. It took Far Cry 2, dissected it, removed all of the unnecessary bits and filled it with an excellent story, significant gameplay changes, tons of stuff to do, and one of the best open world environments we ever saw. Set in the idyllic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, Far Cry 3 was the game we all waited for ever since Far Cry 2 came out.
This time you fought just for one side, not every damn NPC on the map is trying to kill you, and you could take out enemy encampments, preventing them from attacking you while you roamed through the map. The game was beautiful and revealing the map by climbing on radio towers wasn't tedious because each time you climbed to the top you could enjoy beautiful vistas and excellent graphics that were better than almost any other game out there.
The gunplay was incredibly fun, and the newly introduced bow gave players that good old choice when approaching a mission. You could go guns blazing or play the role of a stealthy predator, clearing enemies for shadows, which was just so rewarding to do. The game was also filled with incredible moments and unforgettable characters.
The crazy, drug-induced missions you did for the Doc, sociopathic Vaas Montenegro, one of the best antagonists ever, the mission where you burned down the pot field, or the one that ended with your blowing the bridge and jumping from it, equipped with a wingsuit were parts of the game that will always remain in the mind of many gamers. And the evolution of Jason Brody, turning for a rich kid into a true warrior. Everything about Far Cry 3 was phenomenal and unforgettable.
Far Cry 3 was an extremely successful reimagining of the Far Cry 2. It was bright, fun, filled with stuff to do. You could do races, hunt for animals, take over enemy bases, play a superb single-player campaign. The game was one of the first titles that will end up being called open-world, sandbox playgrounds and it did an excellent job being one of the best ever open world games.