Who doesn’t love a good bundle? In every form of media, bundles are released with the purpose of getting the most products delivered in the most cost effective and straightforward way as possible. Book trilogies and whole television shows are released in box sets for example. The huge benefit bundles bring to consumers is that they can enjoy a whole series of products at once instead of searching for each item individually. It’s simple, easy, and much cheaper in many cases. Renowned video game publisher Ubisoft has recently taken up this savvy business tactic with one of their flagship franchises, Far Cry. With its focus on tropical open-world settings, exciting multiplayer gameplay, and originality in the first-person shooter genre, Far Cry has become a definitive favorite for many gamers.
Far Cry first came out in 2004 for Microsoft Windows. Now obviously the FPS genre was extremely saturated by this point, so a brand new franchise like Far Cry desperately needed to stand out. If it didn’t make a true name for itself right out of the gate, it would have never succeeded. The original Far Cry did this by thrusting the main character, former US Army Special Services Jack Carver, into a dangerous South Pacific archipelago. A tropical locale like the South Pacific isn’t typically the setting for a FPS game so already Far Cry was something different. You could enter into intense gunfights in places ranging from vast beaches to cramped research labs. Enemies are as simple as local islanders out for blood and as complex as genetically engineered creatures. With a focus on open maps, Far Cry gives the player complete control of exactly how they want to complete their objectives. Running in guns blazing can work just as well as sneaking in quietly. Since Far Cry came out on Windows, it also has a big focus on multiplayer.
Before too long, Far Cry became a critical and commercial success. It lead to the creation of several spin-offs that didn’t even come close to the numbers that Far Cry reached. It wasn’t until 2008 that the series came back in a big way with Far Cry 2 on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Far Cry 2 brought some similar elements back but it was almost an entirely different game. There were new characters, a new setting (a Central African nation), and an even greater focus on open-world freedom. It also took a much greater step into realism with weapon degradation, a rapidly changing weather system, and even repairing damaged vehicles. As if that’s not enough, your character is slowly succumbing to malaria and you must take a pill after a set period of time to stay alive. It was a huge success like the original title but was immensely criticized for its massive map and almost overfocus on making the game as realistic as possible.
While Far Cry and Far Cry 2 were acclaimed titles, both paled in comparison to the highly award nominated Far Cry 3 that came out only two years ago. Far Cry 3 became an early commercial favorite that supplanted the series as a premier open world adventure. Open world games have quickly become one of the most popular in the industry and many developers have struck their own ground in this field. For gamers looking for a fantasy or a post-apocalyptic open world, they turn to either Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls or Fallout. People looking to become the next criminal powerhouse in a law bending society turn to Grand Theft Auto. Far Cry 3 set that franchise as something completely different by being entirely in the first-person and focusing on completely wild and unpredictable environments. It was a niche that was ripe for the picking and Far Cry 3 took it by storm. For many, including myself, it put this already popular series on the map for those who have yet to become fans.
Now this new Far Cry bundle is an odd one. In North America, the bundle will be released as the Far Cry Compilation with Far Cry 2, Far Cry 3, and the ’80s action movie-themed Far Cry: Blood Dragon on February 11th as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Overseas is getting a different release though. This bundle is coming to Europe as Far Cry: The Wild Expedition which will include each game coming to North America along with a remake of the original called Far Cry Classic. Why Europe is getting an extra title is currently unknown, but it could easily stem from the fact that Ubisoft is headquartered in France. Both bundles are greatly cheaper than each individual title so people who have yet to embrace this tropical shooter have a very easy means to do so now.
I have played very little of the Far Cry series. My experience with it is mainly set during a summertime stint at a local computer camp (remember those?) where we literally played PC games all the time. The original Far Cry just happened to be one of these titles. We didn’t play it for long, but I was instantly captivated by the tropical environment. I found myself frequently staking other players through turquoise blue waters with the intent of silently stabbing them in the back. My brief time was all I needed to keep this series in the back of my mind and the acclaim for Far Cry 3 and Blood Dragon makes me want to hop back in feet first. I’d be lying if I said this upcoming bundle isn’t very appealing.
The video game industry is becoming exceptionally crowded so it’s always eye opening when one franchise can still find a niche market to take some control. Far Cry has definitely become one of those franchises and these new bundles are a testament to the series’ rise in popularity over the past two years. Games that aren’t popular or worthwhile just don’t get revisited ever again, it’s as simple as that. This could also mean that Far Cry 4 isn’t too far off. It would make sense for Ubisoft to resell their previous titles to generate excitement for a forthcoming release. Until that day inevitably comes we at least have a whole package of great titles to keep us occupied for many hours.