Guest Blog by Mark @EmeraldZone.net
The Just Cause series is known for its high-octane action, gameplay diversity and large, scaling worlds. Its engine has set it apart from the competition and continues to deliver a playground of fire, wind and water where destruction is king and all else can suck an egg. Just Cause 3 continues with the same premise of high-octane action.
As Rico Rodriguez you are once again let loose in a tropical paradise overruled by a violent and omnipotent dictator, General Di Ravello. Rico must destroy the general’s resources across the sunny island to liberate rebel strongholds and build Chaos, Just Cause’s answer for a point system. The character roster features yet another tired foray of empty stereotypes churning clichéd dialogue at times meant to resemble humour. This merry band of hackneyed hacks must work together to defeat Di Ravello to restore liberty to the isles. It’s all rather familiar territory, so what sets this game apart.
In the last game, money was used to buy weapons and vehicles. 3 has an improved system where ‘beacons’ are collected to pay for supply drops, making them infinite to those willing to collect them. ‘Flares’ are another useful collectible used to fast travel between enemy strongholds. The creators have been smart enough to grant free fast travel to ‘liberated’ areas to speed up travel with momentum as you progress through the game.
These aren’t the only improvements that enhance Just Cause 3 trusted and familiar game mechanics. Possibly the most useful of all is the ‘wingsuit’. The wingsuit is a gap between running and parachuting that can be used to soar quickly from two points and might be so useful you could find yourself wing-suiting more than any other mode of travel. Combat-wise, your vanilla grappler gun has been upgraded to include a spring that propels the two ends of a grappling line together. It’s useful in combat and even more useful for idle mischief.
For the most part, Just Cause 3 has made a vast improvement on its environment to compliment these changes. The land is more vertical, texture popping isn’t as obvious as it was in the last game and a true depth of field is experienced at the most casual of moments. By sea, the incredible water effects invite the player to explore the ocean floor in a new, if not a little shallow (no pun intended), way. By air, you scale mountains with ease and force and dive from them with speed and control.
For all this game’s merits the core missions in Just Cause 3 are hands-down the worst in any of the three games. They are predictable and unashamedly easy. The truly surprising thing is how little this takes away from the game. Its best moments are for the thrill-seeker, the completionist, the casual nine-to-fiver that wants to blow up some shit for 20 minutes… anyone looking for something deeper will quickly be aware they’re on the wrong island. There are some unforgivable mistakes though. Take loading times for instance, how exactly do you expect one to repeatedly attempt a five-star rating on a really hard side-mission, when it takes 28 seconds of time in between tries? Or what about just starting the game, from initialising the disc to being able to play-time, I clocked 02:03 to load the game with the internet disconnected, add another 16 seconds with connection, reducing user experience for no justifiable reason. If it was Just Cause 2, sure, a game where uploading footage to Youtube was an (at the time) innovative in-game mechanic. Just Cause 3, on the other hand, seems to only connect to the internet so it can tell you mid-fight that your connection is lost.
Despite its faults Just Cause 3 is above all just damn good fun. Style over substance is its middle name, as players ignore facts like how killing civilians only incurs a penalty when Di Ravello has power, because all we really care about is driving fast, flying high and blowing up tanks on tanks on tanks.
In conclusion, the jump between Just Cause 1 and 2 after four years of development was significant in several ways, including a boost in graphical detail and increased variety of tasks available to the player. In the post-FOX Engine world we’ve been lucky enough to experience the best of third-person sandbox action games to date. In four years time the technological advances will again work in the favour of the series, but cosmetics alone may not provide the revolutionary step the franchise needs to survive. For now, Just Cause 3 can just about rest easy as a heavy-hitter in the world of sandbox action.
Just Cause 3 is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC now.
Guest Blog by Mark @EmeraldZone.net
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