Far Cry is back with a bang. The fifth game in the main series is a politically charged and unflinchingly brutal first-person game, set in fictional present-day Montana.
And it's rather brilliant.
That's perhaps no surprise, as when Far Cry is at its best, it's one of those unstoppable games. The sheer unpredictable evil of lead villain Pagan Min in Far Cry 4 will live on in our minds for years to come. And with only Far Cry: Primal to sate appetites in 2016, it felt as though that raw, evil core always at the heart of Far Cry's bad-guys had been somewhat washed away.
In Far Cry 5 it's a return to form: the setting alone, "Hope County", has political resonance in modern day America. It's been overrun by a cult, The Project at Eden's Gate, led by the so-called Father, Joseph Seed, who is hell-bent on using his political facade to rule.
You play a local deputy sheriff, one of the resistance and totally customisable for the first time, whose job it is to liberate the local community from the cult. It is a group that will stop at nothing, it seems, to pursue power. The forced baptisms (slash drownings) and litany of bodies are clear evidence of that.
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Our game begins with the goal of overthrowing a town. Before diving into first-person combat - patriotic stars 'n' stripes baseball bat in hand - we get to select from one of three support characters as part of the "Guns for Hire" feature: Nick, a pilot who can rain down a hail of bullets; Grace, a sniper who can be positioned for long-stance head-shots; and Boomer, a dog, who can wander the town undetected, tag enemies on the fly and be used as an attack dog too. We choose Nick, having watched the previous two players use the other two characters.
From the off, Far Cry 5 goes to show how play style affects the game. Stealth is a real important factor in the game. Although, try as we might to crack skulls and stay out of sight, it's not long before we're seen and all hell breaks loose. Then it's a change of tactics: run, shoot like mad, lob dynamite and cross fingers that you'll be able to hide out of sight successfully until things settle. Backup rolls into town in cars, so we aim our sights onto an explosive gas tanker and get Nick to fly in and watch the fiery results with glee.
Far Cry 5 is one of those games that is wide open to play styles. Mastering its stealth, but being quick enough to engage its combat system to remain undetected is the best way. But if you're feeling nutty, then a bit of body armour, some fast legs and heavy weaponry can get the job done in extra loud fashion. Or, if you're feeling particularly heinous then a ride-on combine harvester can take your foe down in, well, a bloody horrible mess.
Of course, we've only seen a smidgen of the expansive world on offer - something that fans have been calling into question, given real Montana's relative flatness. Not to worry: in this fictional world there are planes to fly, cars to drive, mountains to traverse and plenty more secret nuggets besides, we're sure. The usual character building will strengthen your ability to progress too.
After some hectic running around, making the most of rooftops, lots of healing when in the bushes, and melee attacks, we managed to overthrow the town. It's rewarding to play the beacon of hope in such a messed up world... a message that, we're sure, will resonate with many in today's twisted world.
A pan shot finishes off our experience, passing the Spread Eagle bar. So long as you know what you're fighting for, eh? God bless America.
Far Cry 5 will be released on 27 February 2018 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.