Some games are story driven, some require the tactical approach, the Just Cause franchise has one priority in mind for players, fun, explosive, death-defining fun and at its core, Just Cause 3 is just that.
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Square Enix
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Also Available On: PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: Out Now
It’s hard to believe that it has been half a decade since the release of Just Cause 2, I still play it regularly now. A game that pushed the last-gen to its maximum and delivered a huge open-world where anything was possible, chaos and destruction were the top priority as Rico Rodriguez brought democracy to the island of Panau.
It’s safe to say that Avalanche Studios burst onto the open-world scene with all guns blazing and Just Cause 2received huge acclaim and success across the board. That said, the 2010 game wasn’t the perfect game, it had its fair share of flaws, from tedious campaign missions to a few serious issues with the handling in certain vehicles. So the new game has to not only recreate the essence on its predecessor and deal with the fans expectations after five years of waiting, but also learn from the mistakes made, it’s a tall order but one that the new game does surprisingly well.
Set several years after the closing events of the previous game and Rico has left the agency, returning to his homeland of Medici to put his specific set of skills to use against a brutal dictator, General di Ravello, who has his eyes set on world domination.
If you’ve played either of the previous games in the series then you know the drill story-wise. The campaign missions range from less than fun escort missions to some of the most exciting over-the-top set-pieces that a video game has ever created, all the while liberating different regions of Rico’s homeland and edging ever closer to the fall of the General. Unlike it’s predecessor, this time around the campaign missions are much more weighted in favour of the larger carnage-based objectives and much less on tedium, a distinct improvement on Just Cause 2.
But Just Cause has never really been about the story or trying to structure the game, the series is about giving the player the freedom to do whatever they want, as well as the carnage, the stunts and the toys to achieve both. Both of Rico’s trademark gadgets return, the wrist-grapple and the seemingly physics-defying parachute are back with a few upgrades. One such improvement is the impressive new ability to tether pretty much any two objects and pull them together, tank and helicopter anyone? Make one an explosive barrel and the result is never dull.
Significant improvements have also been made to the glide mechanics in Just Cause 3. Not only has the handling on the parachute been significantly improved but it also seems a lot more responsive and easier to transition between grapple and glide. Single-handedly the most value update on the previous game, though, is the new inclusion of the wingsuit. One of the biggest issues with the parachute based gliding was building up momentum to travel long distances quickly but thanks to this new feature that is no longer an issue. You can shift from chute to wings with the click of a button and flying-squirrel your way at great speed through the skies above Medici.
Anyone that played the previous game knows just how useful speed can be when travelling and Medici is a huge environment, similar in scale to Panau but with so much more to offer the player. The terrain varies considerably, this doesn’t mean that you’re not going to run into two very similar looking military bases, but there is a lot more to discover in this open-world, mountaintop bases, tourist beaches, the occasional Mediterranean village, mini-fishing towns, and a couple of cityscapes. What’s more is that even more of the environment is destructible, there is something to be said for the joys of blowing up bridges and watching the cars plummet to their doom causing a chain of epic explosions.
To aid you in the field, the rebels kindly provide you with beacons that can be used to request ammo and equipment drops, the new replacement for the Black Market in the previous game. Now you have the ability to request multiple objects in one drop, one of each type, in fact, so you can have a rifle, handguns, a heavy weapon and a vehicle all sent down in one go. While it is an improvement on the painful annoyance caused by the old system, the downside is that it is much more limited.
Where in Just Cause 2 you could essentially call as many drops as you like provided you had enough cash, in the new game you are on a time limit, meaning that certain objects can only be requested once within a timeframe. The other annoyance is the fact that you now need to collect beacons, they’re fairly easy to come by, but it can be annoying in the middle of a battle when you run out of everything, or you’re in the middle of nowhere.
If exploration is more your thing than the story campaign, they there are plenty – and I mean plenty – of things to occupy your time in Medici. You could just work your way from base to base causing huge amounts of carnage or for more varied gameplay there are also a number of challenges scattered around the open-world which show up on your map as you liberate the regions with everything from parachute tests to racing one of the many vehicles available in-game.
Speaking of vehicles, there is a smorgasbord to choose from. Much like Just Cause 2, the open-world is littered with a variety of cars, bikes, boats, jet skis, tanks, planes and choppers, both military and civilian, to keep amused for hours. Put all this together and taking on a base is pure ecstasy of rage through destructive beauty as you hijack vehicles sent to kill you, set off a chain-reaction of explosions and hook an explosive barrel to the nearest guard post – quite frankly, you need to be a teeny bit sadistic to fully appreciate the awesomeness of Just Cause 3.
A further addition is the new social features within the game, much like games such as the Need For Speed series, every action has a leaderboard and the game continually updates you on where you fit into the world rankings. Some may find this a little annoying at times but luckily it is fairly unintrusive. For me at least, this only increased my need to bring on the insanity in-game, this small competitive feature gives you a target to hit, if nothing else, you’re own personal bests to exceed.
Inevitably, the game isn’t perfect and it does suffer from a few glitches here and there, one of the most reported being the framerate drops when the destruction gets a bit too extreme though these issues aren’t ever bad enough to completely ruin the experience. In my opinion, there is only really one game-ruining issue, the load times are painful, 90-seconds plus in some cases with most restarts due to death requiring at least 30 seconds of wait time – imagine getting stuck on a particularly difficult mission, spending 30 seconds per death waiting to restart is going to get tedious very quickly.
Overall, Just Cause 3 is one of the most satisfying sequels of the year by far, bringing everything that was great about the last game into the next generation and fixing many of the issues which plagued that experience. If you’re looking for a slow-paced, story driven open-world game then I highly recommend Fallout 4 but if you want pure explosive fun with the freedom to go completely mental then Just Cause is the game to get.
With a stunningly beautiful and huge open-world to explore, filled to the brim with a plethora of things to do, Just Cause 3, much like its predecessor will have a great deal of staying power – this is a game for the long haul.