If you’re like me, you may have been under the impression that shooter video games might be on the wane in our country’s current climate of gun-violence angst. That would make perfect sense. But … you can think again. Far Cry 5 just rocketed out of the gate like a shoulder-fired missile with first week game sales of $310 million. To put that in context, the hit superhero movie Black Panther had a first week’s take of a mere $292 million in North America.
So, what does this newest big buck-earning bit of digital entertainment have chambered into its mix?
Well, past Far Cry titles have pitted itchy trigger-fingered gamers against the likes of evil mercenaries in Micronesia, villainous arms smugglers in Africa and a ruthless despot nestled in the Himalayas. So I guess it’s no big surprise that Ubisoft’s gamemakers have now brought this franchise’s death-dealing to the home front.
This newest gunslinger touches down in Montana. And if you’ve seen the game’s cover—and thought that it resembled a certain biblical supper depicted by da Vinci—well, then you have an idea of the “villainy” this game is taking aim at.
It seems that in Montana’s Hope County, a man bun-wearing zealot by the name of Joseph Seed has given birth to his own militaristic cult, called The Project at Eden’s Gate, and drawn the attention of thousands of Bible-loving, gun-clinging types. This guy—also known as The Father—is a combination of Charles Mansion and David Koresh poured into the lookalike skin of a shirtless and tattooed Matthew McConaughey.
Of course, as the Bibles and gun stockpiles begin to mount, and the evangelical fervor heats up to a boil, people on the outside understandably get a bit nervous. Gamers take on the role of a male or female deputy who accompanies a federal marshal as he enters the cult compound with a warrant in hand. And, well, as quick as you can flick off an automatic rifle safety, Seed’s vision of apocalyptic prophesy violently takes shape.
It’s the gamer’s job to sally forth in an effort to, strike-by-strike-and-kill-by-kill, upend Joseph Seed’s apocalyptic plans and rally the locals into a guerilla force that can wrest the huge open sandbox of Hope County back from this mad-eyed sermonizer’s grasp.
That short description should give you a sense of this game’s coarse narrative journey. As well as its worldview.
True, the political and social commentary isn’t as razor-edged or cutting as it might have been. But Far Cry 5′s point of view is still pretty plain. Not only is Middle America itself seen here through a pejorative scratch-spit-and-shoot lens, but it seems clear that faith and fundamentalism are deemed the true destructive influences at play.
Seed is an insane fanatic, to be sure. But he, his family members and followers quote Scripture repeatedly as a form of justification for their actions, while they sing hymns (such as Amazing Grace) in the midst of their torture and dirty work. And worship choruses likewise underscore a number of shootouts.
There’s also the very clear message that, well, there are no real good guys in Montana’s collective flyover population. In one segment, for instance, your rookie deputy barely makes his bloody way out of a vicious scene of screaming torture and flesh-carving mutilation perpetrated by Seed’s converts before landing in an opposing camp that’s caught up in its own brand of prisoner torment.
I haven’t even really talked about the trigger-pulling side of this shooter yet. Your arsenal includes everything from shotguns and magnum pistols to automatic weapons, explosives, flamethrowers, sniper rifles and a futuristic energy weapon called a Magnopulser that vaporizes enemies into a cloud of blood. You can pinpoint Seed’s seemingly endless parade of cultish thugs while behind the wheel of a crushing semi or a pick-up truck with an M60 mounted on top. And you can shoot them from the skies with machinegun-armed helicopters and planes.
The bloody possibilities seem nearly endless. They all leave foes screaming, splattered, crisped to char or ripped to blood-gushing mincemeat. On top of that, the dialogue throughout is rife with the foulest of language—with blasphemies of God’s name and f-words being the two primary adjectives for any and all occasions. Oh, and you can tack on numerous drugged-out visuals and crude sexual references to that unpleasant content litany as well.
The fact is, this is a nasty game that’s bloody, foul and generally disturbing on every kill-’em-all-and-wave-a-Bible front. Which sorta illustrates the point that best-sellers don’t always equal … best choices.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.