Have you ever seen a game and thought to yourself "That is going to be the best game ever! OMG!"? Chances are you've seen a preview or a review in a magazine, on the internet or from a friend and your expectations are really high for when you get the game. You're told:
• A massive amount of space to explore.
• A huge gallery of weapons.
• Lots of vehicles to use.
• You can do tricks and stuff on the vehicles and jump from one to the other!
• You can fly helicopters and it is SIK BRO!
Sometimes it's only one of the above, sometimes it's two. When I first heard about Just Cause my expectations included all five.
OMG OMG OMG DIS IS FULLY SIK!
The game map is around 1000km squared alone, which is a hell of a lot of travelling time on foot. I suppose that's why they have a large selection of vehicles including tanks, tractors, jet skis, speedboats, helicopters, fighter jets and even huge passenger jets. Sounds pretty cool right? Then you have the weapons which include pistols, machine guns, shotguns, grenade launchers and the obligatory rocket launcher. It even has a grappling hook, which is an integral part of the game. As I said; from the information above, expectations were pretty high.
After playing the game and beating it's very small campaign of 22 missions (which can be completed in a couple of hours), the game feels bare. It feels repetitive. It feels as though they tried to fit all these cool ideas in and then tripled their appearances. Quite frankly, I was pretty disappointed. The game promised so much and left me feeling like I played something empty. I had no joy for the most part. I didn't connect with the characters. Rico, the protagonist and your character, has very few lines which are only in the script because of his European accent. Your so-called "guide" Tom is probably the better character, but he talks way too much. The characters just don't feel balances enough in the right areas.
Stolen, but oh so true.
Now onto those points; the selling points for the game.
Most vehicles are useless. You may think you're cool stealing a car and running over a few motorists on their motorbikes, but once you unlock the ability to call in a little gyrocopter to wherever you are, there's no point using a vehicle. This is nowhere near Grand Theft Auto, yet it tried so hard. And it's selling point of the helicopters? There are some like the gyrocopter which are alright to use. The rest? Utterly hopeless. You may think it's easy to either go up or down, side to side, forward and back but the way it does it, which I'm guessing is trying to be as life-like as possible, is annoying as hell. If I needed to travel to one side of the massive map, I'd use a helicopter, but I usually ended up getting it to top speed, aiming it to where I wanted to go and then jump out and holding on to the back. Doing a "trick" such as this locks the vehicles speed and altitude, so you could put the controller down and go make yourself a cup of tea while you're travelling from North-East to South-West.
Speaking about the map, it is big. Not quite as big as something like The Elder Scrolls III: Morowind but it's big enough to take 20 minutes to get from one side to the other. Most of it has nothing in it as well. Once I finished the main campaign I set a task for myself to go around the whole map clockwise and liberate every government-controlled or Mendoza-controlled town, army base or city. This, so far, has taken longer than the campaign itself. Then there are the collection items, which may sound like a lot when you consider there's over 100 across the entire map but compared to the feathers in Assassin's Creed II, it's super-easy. They appear as black dots on your map anyway, so the challenge to find them is replaced by the challenge of which direction to collect them from in relation to the whereabouts of the next closest one.
GTA III: 8 sq.km
GTA VC: 10 sq.km
GTA SA: 36 sq.km
GTA IV: 8 sq.km
Oblivion: 41 sq.km
Fallout 3: 41 sq.km
Farcry 2: 50 sq.km
Just Cause: 1,000 sq.km
There's not much to say about the weapons except that they all lock on to the enemies (except the grenade launcher, which is fairly awesome once acquired). They all also follow the similar routine of:
1. Cast your view across the battlefield
2. Lock onto enemy
3. Spray bullets until the enemy is dead
4. Repeat steps 1-3 until all enemies are dead
One thing about Just Cause which I believed worked to their advantage was the grappling hook. Just lock onto the vehicle you want to use and pull the trigger. Once grappled, you can parasail after them, travel toward them and drive or release the grapple, lock onto another vehicle and grapple onto that vehicle. When starting off, this is generally the best way to move around unless you find a really fast car and an empty, eight-lane freeway. The other thing which I found myself doing was getting a helicopter and going up. Forever. Well, eventually the game's invisible walls stopped you, but once you got high enough you can get out of the vehicle and skydive down to the islands below. The views here are pretty good. Then you can release your parachute whenever you want and travel down slowly, wasting your endless time to end the government's rule and help the revolution. It's best to do this during the day as at night, contrary to popular belief, there are hardly any lights and a plane can run into you.
From such a height, you can put the controller down for a bit and rest your hands. Not like you would've played long enough for that, but the opportunity's there.
I haven't really touched on the story in this review and my reasoning for that it that it's empty. They had an opportunity to explore everything about a revolution yet instead chose to make the game more about flying around in helicopters. Plus the whole revolution thing doesn't sound like it's working when you're doing the same fetch-quest side mission for the fifth time, stealing the same tank from the same place. It just feels like it's all a game to them…
-- FINAL VERDICT --
Platform Used: Xbox 360
Recommendation: Try, but stay frosty.
Avalanche Studios tried really hard with this (you'd like to think so) and they had such a good idea. It's repetitive. A secret opperative trying to help overthrow a government in an open-world setting is golden, but they didn't quite pull it off. It's repetitive. I think I've got to try Just Cause 2 to see if they've improved.
Also, it's repetitive.