Just Cause 2 Review
|Release Date:||March 26th, 2010 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Sometimes you don't want a complicated plot. Sometimes you don't want political intrigue, femme fatales behind every door and a bounty on your head. Sometimes you just want to blow stuff up. Enter Just Cause 2.
Avalanche Studios, creators of Just Cause (the uninspiring and disappointing predecessor to this game) did the right thing in listening to critics and fans alike when developing Just Cause 2 - it's bigger, better and more varied than ever before and, as I quickly discovered, a hell of a lot of fun as well.
Set on the island chain of Panau, Just Cause 2 finds indeterminately Latin anti-hero and ladies man Rico Rodriquez on a mission to track down his former (and annoyingly southern American-accented) mentor Tom Sheldon, who has apparently gone rogue shortly after he helped 'Baby' Panay, the island's new ruler, rise to power.
Dropped in at the deep end, Rico has to get to work pretty quickly - his mission objectives? Find Sheldon, cause chaos. That's it.
I'd like to say the game has a good plot this time round, but its no Tom Clancy novel. The plot has no serious twist and no interesting tale to tell, which is a shame as the three warring rebel factions being played off against each other could have made for an interesting adventure.
That said you're going to be having too much fun to notice, trust me. Rico is a demon of destruction. He can dual wield any single handed weapon, sling a heavy machine gun around with ease, fly any plane or helicopter, drive any tank, bike or boat - and he's a dab hand with a hot air balloon.
With contacts in the three rival factions and a black market dealer only too happy to indulge the gamer's destructive desires, getting the goods to do the job is easy, but heavy weapons aside, the most important tool in Rico's arsenal is attached to his left arm - the grapple.
Unlike Just Cause, when the grapple was a separate weapon, JC2's grapple is constantly available, whether it's needed to board a helicopter from the ground, drag an enemy off a sniper tower or crucial for a quick getaway.
Another interesting addition is the ability to grapple two objects together, be it the head of a statue to a car's bumper (for tearing down statues of Baby Panay), an explosive canister to an enemy (sending him rocketing skywards attached to a flaming missile), or my personal favourite, an enemy soldier to the side of a stolen 737.
The grapple also allows you to get around quickly when you team it up with Rico's endless supply of parachutes, giving you a chance to slingshot your way around the island. The overall feeling of using the grapple is one of experimentation and freedom- it just makes everything fun.
Rico's mission - causing chaos - is used as currency in-game. Blow up a military base and you're granted upgrades for your weapons, new missions are unlocked and gradually you can gain access to the black market dealer's stock - which includes an awesome little jet plane ideal for turning into a flying bomb, Nazi-style.
Alternatively if buying new vehicles isn't your thing you can take on the varied missions a dozen different ways - parachute into an enemy base, borrow a tank or light aircraft and live out your Apocalypse Now fantasies, or just go in all guns blazing - the world is your oyster.
And what a world it is - the map is huge and as varied as they come. From mountains covered in snow to massive open deserts, flying nightclubs, a rocket launch centre, underwater bases and a whole selection of cities and towns to visit (then blow up) you're never going to get bored in Just Cause 2.
Apart from the story missions themselves (which go from shootouts to aerial combat to outrunning a submarine to hijacking an airliner mid-air) there's also a whole host of faction missions and hundreds of collectables, as well as a huge number of races to jump in on.
There's also a vast scope for exploration. Grab any vehicle and pretty quickly you'll find something to do, blow up or hijack, and there's always something on the horizon which needs attention - I myself always stop off on my journey to blow up every huge radio mast I can see (but not after attaching a screaming guard to the top of it first.) Graphically the game is stunning on the PS3 and after a lengthy install the game runs smoothly.
There is the occasional graphical bug, and Rico can sometimes get stuck inside objects or vehicles, or the grapple might stop working, but most of these problems sort themselves out. The textures on some of the buildings can be a little rough, but when you consider the enormity of the map and the complete lack of loading screens, it's a negligible issue.
The sound effects are a bit of a mixed bag however. While Rico himself sounds perfectly anti-heroic, the faction leaders have such varied and silly accent that it takes away from the game, and Sheldon's Deep South drawl gets annoying very quickly. That said, the weapons sound brilliant and the sheer beauty of taking out a base's gas canisters with a resounding bang and a plume of explosive vapour never gets old.
The controls, while complicated to grasp, are pretty good. The aiming mechanic for the weapons and grapple takes some getting used to and in the middle of a firefight it can be a real pain to latch on to what you meant to latch on to. But, with a little bit of practice, the game is a joy to blast through.
Overall, Just Cause 2 is above and beyond its predecessor in just about every way. There's loads to do and blow up, all kinds of things to collect and blow up, a huge number of varied missions to attempt and blow up, and a plot that, while predictable, ties it all together well - and features a lot of blowing stuff up. It's a great stress-buster and well worth a look. Plus, as PS3 gamers can take videos of the action and upload them straight to YouTube, there's all the more reason to indulge your destructive fantasies.
- Loads to see and do
- Varied missions
- Great fun and never dull
- Huge island chain to explore
Not so good stuff
- Difficult controls
- Weak plot
- Odd voice acting