This week in video games, May 14, 2018: Far Cry 5 best when not taken seriously

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      This week, Thanos appears in Fortnite in a unique crossover, and we have the first details of Nintendo’s online service for the Switch game console. But first, a review of Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5, which is set in a fictional Montana.

      Far Cry 5 doesn’t deliver on responsibility of narrative complexity

      Far Cry 5 opens with a lot of fire and brimstone, but over the course of a few hours shows itself to be more like a candle in the wind. 

      You are a rookie in the local sheriff's office, part of a group sent in to arrest the leader of a violent religious cult. The attempt ends in you trying to escape from the armed cult members, which involves a a helicopter crash, then a car crash, complete with flashy explosions. 

      The latest open-world action shooter from Ubisoft, developed at the company's studios in Montreal and Toronto, has mechanics that have been refined over a few games, so the act of navigating through and interacting with the world is what you expect. 

      There's plenty to explore in the mountain valley of Hope County, Montana, as you take on missions to help the locals deal with the cultists who have taken over the area. You can hunt and craft items as before, and you can use vehicles to get around.

      You'll have the most fun when recruiting and working with "Guns for Hire", locals with certain skills who will help you dismantle the cult's operation. The best of these are three animals—a dog, a bear, and a cougar—which provide a little bit of chaos to the battles with the baddies. You can also pull a friend in to play through the game in co-op. 

      Far Cry 5, available for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One, is best when used as a playground, though, because the story and characters are weak. 

      Recent games in the franchise have played up the exotic in the locales of a tropical island in Southeast Asia (Far Cry 3), the Himalayas (Far Cry 4), and the prehistoric (Far Cry Primal). While those titles flirted with issues of representation, satire, and caricature, the opposite has happened here. 

      Instead, we get an earnest game that takes itself much too seriously and ends up coming across as self-important and naive.

      While it’s not the job of Far Cry 5 to critically explore Americans on the edge of political and cultural spectrums, the developers at Ubisoft set their game in the “heartland” and populated it with mostly white, mostly male extremists. That decision comes with responsibility that the game is not able to carry.

      Nintendo Switch Online brings online features this September

      More than a year after releasing its latest home-entertainment console, the Switch, Nintendo has revealed its plan for an online service for the platform.

      Nintendo Switch Online will be subscription-based, with pricing at $5 (one month), $10 (three months), and $25 (one year). An annual family membership will cost $45 and will allow members to link up to eight accounts as a “family group”.

      Having an account will be required to play online multiplayer features of games. Some of those games, like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2, currently have online modes that are free to play.

      The Nintendo Switch Online account will also permit game saves to be stored in the cloud and will give members access to NES games. The service will launch with 20 streaming games, including Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda.

      The service does not apply to Nintendo’s 2DS and 3DS handheld systems, or its Wii U console.

      Thanos comes to Fortnite for a limited time

      Starting last week, Epic Games rolled out a limited-time event in its Fortnite Battle Royale game for iOS mobile devices and gaming consoles.

      The Avengers: Infinity War “crossover” drops the Infinity Gauntlet into the map, courtesy of a meteor, and any player that is able to find and equip the powerful glove turns into Thanos, the protagonist from the Marvel comics and recently released film.

      Should that player be killed, the gauntlet will become available to other players to equip.

      The battle royale genre of shooter, like Fortnite, uses a last-player-standing mechanic to determine a winner.


      Games released or releasing soon

      • One Piece: Pirate Warriors, from Bandai Namco, comes to the Nintendo Switch
      • Laser League, for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One, is an online game that has teams of players trying to take out opponents using lasers