When Avalanche Studios and Eidos announced Just Cause 2 at last year’s E3 Expo, the mixed reaction of the gaming community meant that whilst some embraced a follow-up to the original title, others were more skeptical.
Our writers at TheLostGamer go in-depth in every video game review we publish. Now, you can enjoy the Just Cause 2 review.
The reason for the skepticism was that the first outing of Rico Rodriguez in Just Cause, released back in 2006, was not Avalanche Studios’ greatest moment and was described by many critics as a bug-ridden game that just didn’t deliver the goods.
Now Rodriguez returns in the sequel and finds himself on the beautiful tropical Island of Panau, searching for his old Black Ops commanding officer Tom Sheldon. Sheldon has disappeared with a stash of the Agency cash as well as some highly classified material, and his last known location was somewhere close to the tropical paradise.
The Island is ruled under a dictatorship with Pandak “Baby” Panay ensuring that everything is kept just how he likes it, and anyone who dares step out of line will feel his wrath. Meanwhile rival gangs also inhabit the island; the Reapers, the Roaches and the Ular Boys are all in search of something to further their own cause and each have a score to settle, as well as sharing the same hatred for the ruthless dictator.
Just Cause 2, like the first game, is a sandbox title – go anywhere, do anything, and do it all at your own pace – and the first thing you will notice within the first 5 minutes of game play is the sheer size of the Island of Panau. It’s simply huge as a gaming environment.
We have seen too many times in other titles that when a developer claims a game will feature a massive gaming world, it’s just an endless repetition of the same graphical scenes over and over. Soon the world around you becomes dull. This is not the case with Just Cause 2, and as you navigate your way around the island, you’ll find yourself being taken from the freezing snow-capped mountains to the lush sandy beaches and, of course, a bustling metropolis – never really seeing the same thing twice.
The amount of detail in the world map and how it has been balanced out is one of the game’s real strong points, and you will always find something new to explore. A hidden outpost at the top of a mountain or a chemical plant hidden in the jungle, you can’t help yourself from going and taking a look.
How you travel round the island is also completely your own choice too, and you can acquire any of the 100 plus vehicles to do it. Each vehicle is modelled on a real world counterpart and although the names are changed due to licensing it’s not hard to figure out which is which. All the vehicles also handle differently and again just like those that they have been modelled around, with some trickier than others to master but never enough that you don’t want to use them.
Rico is also armed with a parachute, and to be honest, you’ll never get tired of using it, as it can be used for skydiving and traveling low level. Using the trusty grappling hook to pull you along means it’s a great mode of self-transport when you’re out in the wilderness. The grappling hook is also one of Rico’s best weapons. It can be used to attach any two objects, allowing endless gaming fun – from bizarre stunts to watching enemy soldiers attached to gas canisters fly around the sky. As a last resort, it can also be used for melee attacks by using it as a whip.
The main aim of the game though is Chaos, which is something that you have to do to progress the game and therefore creating it is both highly enjoyable and challenging. The idea behind Chaos is that the more destruction you cause, the more the natives of the island start to rise up against the tyrant leader Baby Panay.
As with all dictators, Baby Panay won’t just allow you to have free reign and demolish everything on the island, and will soon send his troops to stop you by whatever means necessary. The first level of defence will be the guards at whichever location you are trying to destroy, and after you have dealt with the ensuing fire fight you’ll soon see the reinforcements arrive.
First in jeeps, but keep going, and the gunships will be sure to arrive to try and stop you. Once you get into the groove of mass destruction, it won’t be long before one of the island’s gang leaders contacts you and wants you to run a mission for them. The varied missions will test your driving, parachuting, and grappling skills to the maximum as the game progresses.
Once complete, you will be awarded not only cash but also Chaos, and as the Chaos meter fills, you will unlock further faction missions around the Island. Once you have completed enough Faction missions, the Agency missions will also open, and when you feel it is time to continue the main storyline, you can visit the required location, and the story will progress.
As you find your way around, doing whatever you choose to do during your time playing Just Cause 2, you will always come across a veritable feast of collectible items. Including cash, weapons and armor upgrade cases, and more, there are simply hundreds of things to be constantly collecting. The upgrade cases can be used when you call for assistance from the black market, and there are times when the sound of the chopper bringing more guns or even a getaway vehicle is most welcome.
Your black market dealer will drop anything you require, for a price, of course, and even when getting around is a problem, he can ever offer to extract you to another location. However, this will not only cost you cash but also Chaos points, so use it wisely. The further you progress in the game, the more guns and vehicles will be available to you from the black market, and upgrading them will increase accuracy, speed, and range, amongst other variables.
Just Cause 2 isn’t without its flaws and although small it’s only suitable to point out some of the issues, although most pertain to draw distance which at times can be frustrating. I suppose that when skydiving from 20,000 feet the ability to see a motorbike would be too much to ask but sometimes when parachuting at a lower level the detail can be missing.
An example of this would be the need to destroy a SAM site protecting a runway, and although the base of the SAM can be seen, the launcher can’t – thus making it difficult to eliminate. There are also times when some graphical elements flicker, appear, and then disappear, and although they won’t distract you from the serious amount of fun you are having, it’s only right to point them out.
Just Cause 2 is a serious amount of fun, it’s action packed from beginning to end and is everything that you would want it to be in a true sandbox world that will just keep delivering action, explosions and some of the most bizarre gaming moments you will ever encounter.
I’ve completed the game after 29 hours of game time, in what should have taken 15 hours had I stuck to the main objectives, and to be perfectly honest it’s the most fun I have had in gaming in a long time. I have climbed to the top of mountains to blow up secret facilities and parachuted to safety like James Bond, stolen an aircraft after wing walking during take-off, and skydived from 20,000 feet – all for no other reason than I wanted to do it.
The wonderful thing about Just Cause 2 is that it allows you to approach it from whatever angle you want and at a pace that suits you. At no time do you feel that you have to do something you don’t quite want to do? What Avalanche Studios have done is listened to the critics and then plan and deliver a great gaming experience that is an absolute blast from beginning to end, with the ability to let the gamer choose how he or she wants to play it.
Lost Gamer Verdict: 8/10
|Just Cause 2
|Square Enix Europe
|March 26th 2012
|PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC