The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
The original Just Cause was a unique but flawed open world game. A
variety of bugs, boring missions, and a complicated control scheme
soured the fun of exploring the game’s gigantic tropical island.
Avalanche’s second installment not only fixes these problems, but
presents one of the most enjoyable sandboxes for players to experiment
in this side of Grand Theft Auto.
Those who played the first Just
Cause will be familiar with the premise. Rico Rodriguez once again finds
himself trying to overthrow a maniacal dictator on a tropical island.
To do this he performs missions for three different gangs to create
Chaos, the currency that unlocks the main story missions that advance
the plot. The story is Just Cause 2’s weakest link: It only becomes
vaguely interesting towards the end when bosses (and ninjas) start
showing up. Aside from their ridiculously bad and borderline offensive
accents, the game’s characters are forgettable and one-dimensional.
everything else is improved, including the missions. You still won’t
care why you’re supposed to be chasing down an informant or blowing up a
missile as it launches into the stratosphere, but you’ll have a blast
while doing it. Even the most formulaic side missions are still fun,
thanks to impressive visuals, Hollywood-tuned physics, and smooth
controls for the numerous tricks at your disposal.
hook and parachute still take center stage, and make navigating the
environment a cinch. Whipping through tree tops and propelling yourself
over cliffs and buildings with only inches to spare is exhilarating –
especially when leaving countless explosions in your wake. After a
period of acclimation, the controls allow for a level of precision that
puts web slinging and bionic wife arms to shame.
The new ability
to tether two objects together is less handy during combat, but can be a
lot of fun when goofing around between missions. After toppling a
statue of the island’s dictator by tethering it to my helicopter, I
spent a good 20 minutes trying to swing the still-attached stone head
into the traffic below me like a wrecking ball. An unseen overpass ended
the hilarity in a fiery explosion, but not before giving me a dozen
other ideas of things to try out.
Unlike franchises like Modern
Warfare or Gears of War, Just Cause 2’s best moments are completely
unscripted, the result of player-driven experimentation. It’s something
the game actively encourages: There’s no penalty for dying outside of
missions, and generous checkpoints during missions keep frustration to a
minimum when something unexpected happens. Perhaps most importantly,
the ability to call in a helicopter for extraction cuts down on mindless
travel time when traversing the gigantic playing area.
island of Panau is not only big, but sports a ton of variety. In
addition to jungles, you’ll swing your way through forests, desert
plateaus, and snow-covered mountains. Zooming out on your map to reveal
the game’s total real estate is overwhelming, and while I’m not sure if
it’s the largest open world game to date, the attention to detail is
unparalleled and makes open-world games that focus solely on urban
environments feel downright mundane.
Which is not to say Just
Cause 2 is lacking in concrete, either, with a whopping 368 locations to
discover and explore. You can check each location off your list by
blowing up anything with the government’s insignia on it and collecting
crates that upgrade your weapons, vehicles, and armor. Some of these
locations are small fishing villages with just a few upgrades to find,
while others are sprawling military bases with dozens of targets to blow
up, or full-fledged cities filled with skyscrapers from which to
base-jump. Rarely will the trip to a mission not get diverted by a new
settlement to pillage, a high-ranking colonel to assassinate, or just a
cool-looking vehicle to chase down and hijack.
In the end only a
few disappointments surfaced. Until you upgrade your weapons or get your
hands on some heavy-duty firepower, the gunplay feels underwhelming.
Ammo for the more powerful weapons is usually scarce, limiting your time
with the best of Just Cause 2’s arsenal. Later in the game the
difficulty ramps up to levels that border on frustrating, with enemies
spawning endlessly until your Heat level diminishes, transforming you
from a lethal acrobat to a bullet magnet.
disappointment by far is the lack of multiplayer, which is
understandable giving the game’s ambitious scope, but a missed
opportunity nevertheless. But none of these issues diminish the
countless memorable moments Just Cause 2 provides, born out of the
spontaneous chaos the player creates while simply exploring the world.
To see Just Cause 2 in action, check out this exclusive 10-minute gameplay video.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.