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Review: Far Cry 5: Hours of Darkness (PC)By Chris125 At 05.08.2018 18:36

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In many ways, thinking about the concept of Far Cry in Vietnam conjures the initial question of "why has this not been done before?" The over the top style and sense of humour the series has long been known for as well as the focus on explosive action seems like a natural fit. Add in the survival aspects and crafting new equipment from animals and plants and it starts to sound very appealing indeed. This is presumably the thinking behind the setting at the outset. While that all sounds great as a concept, the execution here is a little more mundane, but not without plenty to keep it interesting.

Rather than throw open another large space to play in and explore, the objective of the entire DLC is essentially broken down to one main task: escape. After an Apocalypse Now-esque helicopter flight over Vietcong territory ends in disaster for most of the crew, Wendell and three of his comrades are captured at various points throughout an enemy controlled valley. It's not exactly original or anything but, then again, it's hard these days to write a story in Vietnam that is. What it does do is set up a kind of atmosphere that's a little more unfamiliar to regular fans of the series - mainly the sense of always having to be on the move forward and the tension of being completely outnumbered.

It also encourages - nay, demands - the significant use of stealth gameplay; highlighted by the fact that there are now various buffs that actively promote the play style by rewarding persistent stealth kills with perks that will drop away if the player then suddenly engages in all-out loud warfare. The nice thing is that although these bonuses help; it never feels wrong to suddenly charge into a base "Rambo-style" and unleash some fire and fury and it is pleasing that multiple styles are still acceptable.

As mentioned, the overall theme is one of survival and the end goal is reaching the US army evacuation zone at the other end of the valley. Between Wendall and that point is a large contingent of enemy bases and villages, which, in typical Ubisoft style, are chock-full of methods to conquer and destroy, as well as collectible bits of lore and side missions, such as rescuing prisoners. There are some issues, however, that crop up quite soon. Firstly, the Vietcong have a habit of randomly spawning their troops without any logical way of doing so. Spaces that looked clear, and where there were no paths in, suddenly become full of raging enemies hiding in cover, and the easier option than fighting them all off before they inevitably draw more attention, is to simply run.

In many ways, the "run" option is too often the best way to play. The valley itself is pretty linear in comparison to the scope of the main title and, therefore, getting between different objectives is quick and doesn't require any transport options. It is easier when in trouble to just run away, and keep running. Indeed, it is possible simply to run to the end of the adventure in around 20 minutes, which illustrates how much of a slice this DLC is. Now, granted, that is surely not the point and there are fellow squad mates to save, which, considering they take up arms and fight alongside Wendall, makes the last section of the run a lot more manageable than it is solo.

The second big issue in Hours of Darkness is that while looking as stunning as Far Cry 5 did from a technical point of view, the atmosphere of the setting leaves a lot to be desired. It just doesn't do a very good job of making the player believe they are in Vietnam. A lot of the main assets look reused, which is understandable, but there is something about the vegetation style and shape of the land that doesn't seem to chime with the thick and humid jungles usually seen in this locale. Additionally, while there is meant to be a war going on, the sparseness of the enemy, as well as allies, means that the illusion is broken quite quickly that there is any real danger or tension.

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Final Score
[i]Hours of Darkness[/i] is a solid DLC entry for an already great title. It certainly presents a diverse style of stealth oriented gameplay, alongside a different setting to the main story. Seeing the background context of a previously acknowledged [i]Far Cry 5[/i] NPC is also a neat bonus. However, there are issues with the lack of content and having just one main objective in a relatively straight and linear path means that the realistic timeframe of a play-through is going to be somewhere in the region of one to three hours depending on how incentivised the player is to complete side objectives and collect items.



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