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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Far Cry Primal.

Transcript Edit

This really is one of those occasions that highlights the gulf between video game critics and their audience, besides the fact that we’re immeasurably sexier. I could sit here on my sexy arse complaining that Ubisoft have hacked out another addition to one of their franchises that plays pretty much the same as the previous, only now it’s wearing a different hat, but most people seem to think, “Who cares? It’s not like we’re under obligation to play every game that comes out and disproportionately demand novelty for the sake of getting through another week without jamming a steel bracket through our eye sockets and turning ourselves into a human coatrack — that’s a small, admittedly sexy minority of weirdos!”

Maybe Ubisoft is just catering to normal, boring, unattractive people who like Far Cry just fine as it is but could go for seconds. The thing is, hypothetical speaker, that if it’s just Far Cry you want, then Far Cry 3 has yet to be topped and hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s even got quite a good plot and the occasional titty. So there’s got to be some shriveled part of you that expects novelty or they wouldn’t need to keep bringing out new ones in different settings. There, I win the argument, now piss off, you’re getting straw all over the place.

Far Cry Primal, a.k.a. “The Land Before Plots,” turns the Far Cry of “modern person in wilderness connects with violent primitive inner self” thing on its head somewhat by being about a violent primitive outer self in the wilderness connecting their big heavy club with the skulls of rival tribe members. Set in central Europe in a time when the world was a lot smaller, judging by the way it can be an entirely different fucking season if you walk north for half an hour, our hero is Takkar, a nondescript caveman who sounds a bit like Adam Jensen reading aloud from a Scandinavian phrasebook. His entire tribe is wiped out by a vicious sabertooth tiger and he finds himself in a lush new territory in which he must unite the scattered remnants of his tribe and genocide the fuck out of the other two tribes that are trying to claim it, who don’t deserve it as much as our tribe because of self-evident reasons.

I suppose I can’t hold out much hope for identifiable characters when we’re dealing with a cast of Neanderthals who will never know the pain of soft toilet paper tearing halfway through the wipe, but you’re in the wrong place if you’re looking for an engaging plot, or indeed any plot. You might think the shit I described so far constitutes a plot, but you’d be wrong. The killer sabertooth tiger that sparks off the adventure we kill later on as one of the big hunt missions without even much prominence. I ousted both the rival tribes, who I’ll just reiterate we aren’t given much reason to oppose except that they’d also quite like to survive the winter.

But the game still didn’t end. This is the game that Ubisoft’s sandboxes have been tacitly threatening to turn into for quite some time now: one where all sense of structural progress is kept as vague as possible for want of turning the game into a platform for a series of disconnected events and repetitive challenges, I suspect because it’s easier for the inevitable fucking DLC to slot into like a bloodstained erection.

But you know what, I’m with you, Ubisoft. Who needs some uppity creative trying to dictate to me how to experience their creation? I mean, where did the creators of Breaking Bad get off telling me I should watch season one before season two? Oh, because I quote “won’t understand what’s going on?” You don’t know me! And who does this Shakespeare motherfucker think he is, putting the pages in numbered order? I am the master of my domain, I choose to shuffle them all up and read the text from right to left!

Maybe I’m experiencing sandbox fatigue, but when upcoming characters and plot elements are given away on loading screens and by looking at the locked items on the upgrade menu, something has gotten fucked up!

Anyway, it’s Far Cry, so you know what that means: animal hunting and assaulting enemy camps! There’s a pretty big emphasis on crafting, the mechanic which is to modern games what influenza was to the early twentieth century, but perhaps it’s fitting since you’re a caveman and crafting is their whole thing, besides swinging clubs and putting their dicks in things. You pretty much have to pick up every resource you see if you want to stay on top of all the hut-building and weapon improving. Incidentally, I’d recommend turning off gathering animations, cause the first-person camera lurching down to pat dead cavemen on the botty starts to give me a headache, but maybe sometimes I don’t wanna run around botty-patting, maybe I just wanna ride my sabertooth tiger through a forest.

Oh yeah, you can tame animals, which is sort of the compensation for not having guns, cause rather than sniping all the guards from a nearby hill, you just deploy a giant bear and throw bees at the survivors. You don’t fuck around in my Hundred Acre Wood!

Hey, remember in Far Cry 4, they had those hallucinatory missions where you played a primitive warrior with animal friends? It’s the same thing they did when they threw the ship missions into Assassin’s Creed III, where it was totally vestigial and barely connected to the rest of it, but also a secret proof-of-concept for AssCreed IV. Ubisoft games all sprawl all over each other now like an incestuous farming cult.

Anyway, as tends to be the case with Far Cry, the variety of approaches means you’ll inevitably gravitate to one that totally breaks the game, and boredom swiftly follows. For me, it was throwing berserk bombs from my scouting owl. The enemy can’t do shit about your scouting owl because their huge Neolithic foreheads means they can’t look up. Once you unlock the ability to drop bombs from your owl, you just find a guy in the enemy stronghold with the shield icon that indicates he has boosted health to a frankly ridiculous degree, drop a berserk bomb on him, then find a nice bush to hide in while the enemy work things out among themselves. Get it right and you’ll only have to deal with one very tired elite enemy with four hundred spears stuck in his bum.

I stopped playing Far Cry Primal cause nearly all the missions were done except for three hunts against special super predators, and great big loincloth-displacing bollocks to those. I went into the first one and spent half an hour doing a giant-scale join-the-dots puzzle looking for the fucking thing. “Use your hunter senses to pick up the beast’s trail.” I’m trying, objective list, but it would help if you’d stop turning my hunter sense off every five fucking seconds! You’re like my dad with the fucking thermostat!

Anyway, I found the killer tiger, and the fight began. After several rounds of traps, spears, and throwing smaller tigers at it, it had lost an entire third of its health at which point it went, “BORED NOW,” took its ball, and went home. “Better wait till the following night to continue this,” advised the game. “Be fair, he needs some time to think about his choices in life.” Three times this happened before I finally wore him down, but it was worth it cause then I could tame him. Just wait till the enemy gets a load of this monster, I thought, before I unleashed him on one of the dudes with the shield icons, who killed him in three hits. You know, Mister Tiger, I took a risk hiring you, but you’re just not living up to the potential you showed in the interview. I only stabbed you ninety-seven times, for God’s sake, some companies don’t go below a hundred.

Addenda Edit

  • We'll Have a Gay Old Time: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • I thought the longbow wasn’t invented until the 14th century? See, Ubisoft, this is the kind of bullshit that’s turned us against you
  • When a caveman wanders aimlessly is he a meanderthal
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells

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