The lights are on
I'm going to take a wild guess and say that just about anyone and everyone has seen/ observed a sandbox game, let alone played one. This goes doubly for the GTA series. I'm also going to go out on a limb here and say ALL of us have played some form of a collect-a-thon. Welcome to the latest and greatest blending of the two! Just Cause 2 takes one part open world GTA , subtract the diversity and personality, add a ginormous map covering multiple forms of terrain, and throw in one heck of a fun multi-tool in your hook, and you have one addictive gaming experience.
Just Cause 2 is a great game, don't get me wrong, but I want to get the one thing that kept this game from a higher score out of the way first: this story blows. It is a complete throw away narrative of an agent named Rico with an even worse accent than Pacino's in Scarface working with multiple guerrilla groups and resistance factions to over through the reigning dictatorship of Panau. The End. Oscar worthy writing and plot, this is not. But if your like me, and sometimes need a game that let's you just unwind and create chaos in any way shape or form you can think of, then welcome to destruction Nirvana.
This is where you will loose yourself for dozens of hours, because this game doesn't just encourage a destructive streak from the player, it demands it on an Oppenheimer like level. You will become death, a destroyer of everything oppressive stemming from the government in this world. The game tasks you with a very simple but immense challenge; use any method of locomotion you can find (whether its airplanes, boats, helicopters, motorbikes, cars, trucks, or your trusty parachute and grappling hook combo) to go from village, town, city, and military base blowing up anything that has the red logo of the government. And if your a completionist like myself, be prepared for one hell of a long journey. There are 1000's of targets scattered amongst hundreds of locations for you to destroy, as well as over a thousand items to collect scattered around the island, from specific items of interest for the factions you help out to 100's of upgrade kits to use on your ever expanding arsenal of weapons and rides.
The game design is pitch perfect. Starting with the ease of having any weapon or vehicle available to you dropped off at the press of a button makes choosing your next course of action a snap. The pause menu map also does a nice job of showing you where every point of interest is , so your never lost wondering a map that by helicopter took me over 10 real time minutes to go from one end to another (mind you this means I could just go straight with no obstruction, so that's another indicator of just how large this game is). Although all the upgrade items are scattered all over the map, your hud has a handy signal locator that grows in strength every time your close to a collect-able.
Finally, I'd like to point out just how gorgeous I found this game. A lot of people get picky and start complaining about the lack of variety in character models, but I for one don't think I want to wait an extra year and 20 extra gigs of hardrive space just so the artists can make a diverse cast of villagers I have NO INTERACTION WITH WHATSOEVER. The models that are there are fluidly animated and go about their pointless existence, while the water effects are down right spectacular with fish swimming around in the ocean, physics that are a blast to play with, and scenery that looks awesome from near and far.
All in all, this game has been a great experience and one of the few games I've bought recently that was well worth the price.
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