GENRE: First Person Shooter
REVIEWED ON: PlayStation 4 Pro
AVAILABLE FOR: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Ubisoft's decision to bring Far Cry 5 a little closer to home had the potential to be a brave and divisive step for the series, unfortunately the promise of the new setting is undermined by writing that plays it far too safe and gameplay that feels like its going through the motions. 

Considering the current political climate in 'The Land of the Free' villains like Joseph Seed and the acolytes of Project Eden's Gate on the surface seem all the more relevant and terrifying.

Joseph (or the father as his followers call him) is a hipster-fied Charlie Manson- a charismatic zealot at the head of a militarised Westboro Baptist Church, there was potential here for the writers to go all out and make some serious points about where America is heading, and maybe revel in a few home truths.

However, whatever polemic power the Doomsday cult at the heart of Far Cry 5 could have had is hamstrung thanks to Ubisoft not wanting to alienate any part of the audience or annoy any groups. As a result, the Seeds are certainly villainous but not memorable like Vas, or even Pagan Min were.

Likewise Far Cry 5's protagonist has nothing to say and no particular connection with the world around them, at least narratively, the anonymous deputy (which can be male or female - a series first) makes little impact as he or she moves from one area to the next loosening the cult's grip on the closed off county. 

But ultimately, like every other Far Cry game (except maybe 3 which in my mind remains the series high point), the story takes a back seat to the mayhem that players can unleash while exploring the big and beautiful map. 

Though technically the game's setting of Hope County is in Montana, it may as well be called middle-America's greatest hits - a picturesque land made up of rolling farmland, flowing rivers and lush forests, replete with killer bears, prepper stashes and drug addled zombies.

The combat is fast, fierce and very satisfying, running along with a faithful hound, and a ruddy great bear called cheeseburger for company while you clear out an enemy stronghold to recapture a little bit more of the map and work towards the inevitable final confrontation with the regions overlord feels rewarding, and the game play loop continues to be compelling from start to finish.

The radio towers may be gone, but the rest of the game feels familiar in a 'haven't we done this before' way with capturing outposts, blowing up convoys and culling the local wildlife remain the staples of this particular brand of Ubisoft playground. 

When it all comes together it's an absolutely pleasure, and the game is at it's best when it's at its most ridiculous, missions that see the deputy harvest prairie oysters for the annual testicle festival and liberate a truck known as "the widowmaker" from a project Eden stronghold are clear highlights. Likewise there's a lot of fun to be had by stealing a combine harvester and going on a rampage while cranking up the Wurzelsls via Spotitfy. 

But on the odd occasion when it falls apart it becomes a frustrating mess. During the boss fights in two areas I was on the receiving end of game breaking bugs that forced me to restart. A climactic dogfight barrel rolling across the map against Joseph's sadistic brother John became far less climactic when he didn't turn up to the fight. Likewise, while escaping from Faith's bunker one of the doors refused to open leaving me trapped inside with no way out. 

Ultimately though, Far Cry 5 is a fun but not particularly memorable game. There's plenty to do, (and a lot of busywork), but once the credits roll, save for the potential thrills of the Far Cry Arcade level editor, there's very little to bring you back to Hope County.