A Review Of Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2, made by Avalanche Studios and Square Enix, is the highly anticipated sequel to Just Cause, a game where you take on the role Rico Rodriguez, a member of an intelligence bureu known only as “The Agency”, charged with the “modification” of corrupt and possibly dangerous governments.

Rico’s mission in the first game was the gradual destruction and rebuilding the corrupt carribean island called San Esperito, and he was aided by local guerilla factions as well as The Agency with the addition of ammunition and vehicle drops at the call of a GPS beacon. Rico’s chief mode of transportation was the use of a Parachute and grappling hook, which could be used to tether onto cars and sail his way to destinations.

Plagued by horrific vehicle controls, less than perfect character animation and horrific voice acting not even up to the level of the worst chop-socky film, Just Cause was a forgettable game to say the least, however it reminded us that sandbox games can still be fun as well as serious. Rico Rodriguez was the smooth-talking, Spanish, super agent with the abilities to overthrow whole countries given the right gadgets and people. and this is where Just Cause 2 comes in.

Right off the bat, we can see that the graphics and character models are greatly improved from the first game. Rico Rodriguez still looks as suave as ever, with his cowboy boots, and silk shirt hidden behind twin gun holsters and a re-deployable parachute backpack. The opening cinematic is laughable to say the least. Whilst being air dropped into the enormous archipelago known as the Panau Islands, the Helicopter holding Rico and his comrades is set upon by a nearby mountains SAM site, and one of them is killed by stray fire. thus follows a rather inventive tutorial mission which introduces the player to the basics of the controls.

Once the player is given his freedom,  the world opens up completely, Rico has the ability to hold up to five weapons, which is realistically all you will need, two sidearms , and one long range weapon, as well as grenades and remote charges. these can be used in any number of ways, in conjunction with the grappling hook that Rico uses.

The new grappling hook system really makes this game shine and is almost the only reason as to why this game is so fun. The hook can be used to tether Rico to any number of items such as cars that speed along the highway, in preparation for a hijacking, or helicopters and even aeroplanes. This can be used in conjunction with the re-deployable parachute to provide a much faster way of travel over large distances and enable Rico to climb to even greater heights than previously available whilst on the ground. For example, one mission involves Rico assaulting a radio tower in order to broadcast a message of rebellion all over the island, Rico can use his grappling hook to grab onto a moving elevator to scale the tower and reach the satellite dishes at the top. Rico can then use the grappling hook on the enemies at the top to throw them to their horrible doom. Remember kids, it’s not the fall that kills you, its the dramatic stop at the end.

While the grappling hook can be used as a mode of transportation or to simply grab enemies, it can also be used to tether objects together using the dual-hook option. Simply aim the hook at one item, then hold the button and aim it at another, then release, and bam, the two items are connected. or in most cases, the soldier is now connected to the super jet, usually by his ankle. and it’s not just enemies that can be tether to other items, vehicles can be tethered to the ground, as well as other vehicles, and you can even hang enemies in the air, making them unable to attack while you take on the rest.

Now I’ve gone on for so long and I haven’t even talked about the controls, or the graphics, or even the sound. Well no more, needless to say, the graphics in this game are spectacular, with almost perfectly sculpted terrain and forests that actually look like forests. At over 400 square kilometres, the Islands of Panau combine to form one of the largest open world sandbox games, and so much of it is intensely detailed, which belies the length it took this game to be released, with almost four years between this game and its prequel.  When flying over the desert on my way to the Cities Commercial District, the sun started to creep over the horizon, and I was treated to one of the most beautiful scenes in gaming history, a perfectly rendered sunrise. The reflections on the water, the shadows on the high-rises, and the shadows cast on the ground beneath, all blended together so well that I’m sure that I can call this the most visually stunning game of early 2010.

The music in this game is, to say the least, lacking. while driving there’s almost no music, or rather I wish there wasn’t so I didn’t need to turn down the sound and crank up iTunes to have a fun time. there’s no radio in the game so driving around the islands can get boring at times, and when you accidentally crash into a military road stop the chase music starts up again, which I’m pretty sure is one of the most annoying loops in gaming history. It seems that most games now days have unrivalled scores to blend the action together, but Just Cause 2 just falls flat on this one.

And finally we come to the controls, which is a marked improvement from the first game. controlling a car is actually possible in this one, as opposed to Just Cause 1. although there is still the slight problem of hitting an invisible pebble on the road and careening off a cliff. The way that all of the vehicles control is part and parcel of this game being so good, its just a joy to move around the world,  from the speeding Chevalier 666, to the near-invincible Ice Cream truck, and the Silver Bullet mini jet, all of them are a treat to drive, and I often find myself just taking that little extra time at an airport taxiing to the runway and then speeding off into the distance, just so I can enjoy the scenery and the way it feels. The game can be controlled with either the keyboard and mouse or with a third party controller such as the Xbox 360 controller, which I chose to use for it’s ease in driving and as it’s better for platforming,  while I felt that the keyboard and mouse combination was laggy and unresponsive, as well as not very conducive to the QTE’s used for Hijacking and other actions such as defusing bombs or downloading data.

Overall I think that this game is a very important title to come out in this day and age, combining various aspects from different games such as GTA and Bionic Commando, into it’s own little incredibly awesome title, and with the 500 square kilometres to play with, and hundreds of military instalments and settlements stationed over it all, getting to 100% in this game is no mean feat, providing hundreds of hours of play value, let alone replay value. Add to the fact that this game is open to modding and a multiplayer mod is already on the way and you can see why this game is fast becoming the most popular game to be released in 2010, and why it’s my game of the first quarter.

About SolidBaker

Edward is the Australian Asshole of the group, you'll often find him bitching about censorship or the fact that he gets shafted on most video game releases. Solid has a penchant to rattle on about little niggling parts of games that he gets angry with and tends to get angry with them often. He owns most of the current systems and a lot of the older systems, and has a general distaste of most of the current generation of games, but that doesn't mean he can't enjoy them all the same.