Nevertheless, being the world's greatest philanthropist, I wanted to share my experiences with Far Cry Primal, now that I'm about four hours in.
As I wrote yesterday, it's a game I've really been looking forward to.
I've loved some of the earlier Far Cry games, and the notion of a cavemen-based romp using that model got me right fired up, in a way that most would deem unsavoury. Unfortunately... maybe I'd bigged it up too much to myself, but thus far... I'm a bit disappointed. Read on for the why of this. And!
The overall impression I'm getting is one of add-on, rather than full game.
And that's a bit unfair, because there's a ton to do in Primal. Alas, it's structured exactly as you'd expect from an Ubisoft Far Cry game: wander around a map, running into random events, and occasionally doing a "story" mission.
The story missions, such as they are, seem secondary to the sheer weight of the on-the-side stuff.
Something else: I'm really tired of hunting instinct-type abilities (you know: like Batman's Detective Bat-Vision, or whatever it's called, in Arkham) turning the world to black-and-white with neon highlights. I don't want to see your game turned into some stylised, semi-chromatic, sub-Tron, pan-dimension. I want to see it in all its glory. I want to live it. If I visit Yellowstone Park, I'm not going to wander around looking at it through a ruddy gauze, while somebody waves a highlight pen in front of my face. Will everyone just stop using everyone else's ideas, for pity's sake?
Half my time in Primal has been spent in Neon Wonderland - because I need it to be able to find wood, and flint, and plants. And I need all that, because I have to manufacture my weapons and ammo from it. Because - y'know... caveman times.
The rest of the days are spent taking over the camps of rival cavemen, fetching things for people, or - dear god... - achingly slow escort missions.
Also... because this is what seems to happen in games now, you can upgrade your villages. This sort of on-the-side guff can often be ignored. However, you need to do it in Primal, because building nicer huts for your people often grants you new abilities.
Talking of abilities... training animals is Primal's USP. Thus far, I've gotten myself an owl - that's given to you by default - and a couple of different wolves. Later it looks like I'll be able to recruit tigers and mammoths, and bitterns. You can use them to attack your enemies (or scout out an area in the case of the owl). It doesn't - thus far - feel like there's a lot of depth to it, but it's fun enough.
Although, you won't be able to recruit bitterns.
Talking of bitterns (attacking enemies)... for a game that doesn't have no guns, you'd have thought they'd put a bit more effort into revamping the Far Cry melee combat. Regrettably, it's pretty much just the same one-button-for-attack as always. And as in other Far Cry games, it's just chaotic and lacking in any degree of refinement - especially if you're being attacked by wildlife. There's not even a block button. Which only isn't an issue when you're able to shoot things with a rocket launcher instead.
Your best bet in Primal is to make sure you've plenty of arrows, and plenty of animal fat with which to ignite them: like in life, lighting things on fire is your path to success. That's not even meant as a metaphor. It's just a fact.
The graphics are nice, but not stunning. Partly that's due to sheer Forest Fatigue. How many forests have we seen in how many games? Sunlight streaming through the branches of trees no longer impresses, sadly. Also, there's nothing particularly distinctive about Primal's setting, even if it does have mammoths wandering around.
And the mountains - which are impossible fangs of rock - sort of annoyed me. They looked cartoony compared to the otherwise more grounded visuals.
And it might be me, but... the game engine just felt a bit old and creaky. After The Witcher III and Rise of the Tomb Raider, it simply doesn't compare. There were few moments of awe. When lighting a torch in a cave there's no flickering on the walls, no real-time shadows... it's just flat lighting.
Maybe it'll improve once I progress, and get into the snowier areas... but this far in there's something missing with Primal's graphics, that I can't quite put my finger on.
Ugh. No, literally - "ugh". The caveman dialogue really isn't far off that.
The thing I was most looking forward to in Primal was the atmosphere. I wanted it to properly evoke what it was like to be alive 12,000 years ago.
Instead, it just feels like a Far Cry game without the cars or guns or explosives.
Unless you count the "bee grenades". Yes: you can make grenades that explode in a shower of live bees. Just like real cavemen probably did. Too bad you can't use snakes as whips, or cats as accordions. But you can hammer tortoises to death, if that's something you've always felt an urge to do.
Part of why I've struggled to engage with Primal is the ridiculous storyline, such as it is. "Sky angry. River fill with rain. Many Wenja die" is an actual line of dialogue... though it's all subtitled, so what the characters actually say is something like "Ooga booga, unga bunga Wenja boobly oog".
And then there's all this sort of quasi-mystical guff, which is deeply irritating (though it does lead to some surreal dream-y sequences - which, like so much else in this game, seem to be in there because that's what games do nowadays)... and the enemies are mostly ciphers; even their leader is just a bland, sub-orc type.
The thing I'm realising with these sorts of games is that it's vital to have a strong script and a storyline running through it that the player cares about, otherwise everything just feels utterly inconsequential. There are no characters to hold onto in Primal thus far, no reason to give a hoot about anything that's happening, and no real reason to want to save the world. And that's an issue, if I'm going to keep playing it.
Which I will for now... but already my patience is wearing thin. It might be wearing a loincloth and animal skins, but so far Primal just feels like every other Far Cry game... with the really distinctive and fun bits stripped out. Not so much Far Cry Primal... as Far Cry Primark.
100 points to me for that joke.