I was a big fan of Just Cause 2.
In many ways it was my sequel to Crackdown. I spent over 20 hours with it yet never managed to get more than three missions in. It was my background game for a few years. When I wasn't playing anything or didn't fancy jumping on a game that I was currently working through, it was time to visit Panau and let Rico go crazy.
The lack of focus (or even effort) in the story and character let me detach myself from right or wrong or any sort of moral attachment to the world. It was like a game based on those moments after you make your last save in GTA
before going to bed.
So when I started Just Cause 3
and noticed that the voice acting wasn't award winning and the story didn't interest me, I wasn't at all bothered. I was just coasting through to the point where the game let me loose and thankfully enough, it didn't take long.
Within the first hour of playing I was already attaching wires to cars and cows to see what happened. I'd jump on the roof of vehicles as I drove them towards cliff edges ready to jump off just as it smashed into the rocks below.
Just Cause 3
is at its best when you experiment and if you have an idea and play it out, the results vary rarely disappoint. “What happens if I attach a man to the top of a building and retract the wire?” I thought. Well he flies into the air and disappears onto the rooftop.
I laugh, I think again and try something else.
Hours went by and I realised I hadn't really done anything the game was asking of me. Instead I was aimlessly travelling across its beautiful landscape, testing physics and trying to create comedy, but as I was playing I noticed myself, without intent, competing against my friends.
Most things you do enter you into a leaderboard. Killing people from the sky, climbing as high as you can using only your grapple hook and flying with a wing suit for as long as possible.
Going about my business soon became a score-chasing exercise as I saw friends higher up the leaderboard than I was. I'd then lose ten minutes of my life to putting that right and forgetting what my initial plan was.
However, it didn't take me long to get distracted from my distractions and eventually start falling into the game itself. It's easy to do. Travel around aimlessly enough and you'll find yourself in a town that needs liberating from the oppressive government of Medici.
In order to set the locals free you have to perform specific tasks that can be somewhat confusing to start with. Each task is represented by symbols on the top left of the screen, but to get an explanation as to what you're supposed to be doing, you have to go into a menu and read up on them.
It'll still take a while to grasp the objective at hand, though. Telling me to destroy a projector is all well and good, but I have no idea what a projector looks like in this game, making it far too easy to overlook. By the time I'd liberated my first town most of its citizens had moved out because of the weird parachuting bloke who kept bumping into their windows.
However, after a bit of play you do start to work out how to tick items off the list more quickly and eventually start looking for more towns to visit in order to help the rebel resistance, something the last game never managed to get me to do.
Once your flag is raised, you'll unlock more challenges. These can be anything from time trial driving to wing-suit flying that, while they offer something else to do in the world, never feel as well thought out as they should be.
Races with jumps that are far too easy to miss or asking for precision gliding work when the developers have made specific courses for them can create tense, 'one more go' gameplay, but it's clear that in Just Cause 3
the world was created and checkpoints were simply littered throughout it in order to create something for the player to do.
There are two problems with this. Firstly, completing these challenges within specific times or point gates awards you gears which are then used to unlock equipment upgrades. So if you want to get the most out of having fun in the open world, you'll need to play them.
This is one of those things that has been done better elsewhere. Crackdown
had a similar understanding that people just want to mess with the mechanics rather than do as the game says, and to let a player fully upgrade their character it factored everything you did into your XP. Just Cause 3
would significantly benefit from letting players upgrade by doing things they want to do rather than having to stop and focus on something they don't.
Secondly, if you fail a challenge then you're treated to a loading screen before being allowed to retry, and the loading times here are pretty awful. You can't expect an instant reload, but waiting 30 second to a minute now and then can really frustrate and often lead you to quit out of it altogether.
Hopefully that's something that'll be fixed with a patch. It's not unheard of. Take Bloodborne
, for example. At launch, dying in that game saw me picking up my phone for a few rounds of Threes
before returning to the pad, but it's been vastly improved and I see no reason why this won't.
One difference here, however, is that dying is rare. Rico can take an absolute battering, allowing you to be more experimental with explosions and high jumps and, if you do manage to get him killed, the game doesn't punish you for it and you can continue where you left off without having to retread what you've already done.
Which is a good thing really, as the map is big enough to keep you exploring for hours. Filled with little hidden gems and easter eggs you always feels as though there are places worth discovering, whether it's to find the wreckage of a nightclub from the previous game or take in some breathtaking views.
It's a stunning game to look at in places. The natural surroundings create some scenery that's worth visiting just to say you've seen the sights before blowing them to pieces. It does struggle with frame rate here and there, but not enough to scupper what's on offer.
Ultimately, Just Cause 3
lives and dies by its fun factor. It may not be up there with some of the better releases of the year, and some will feel that it doesn't do enough to offer something that Just Cause 2
, didn't but it's easy to sink a few hours into as you get lost in the landscape, start exploring and try and tie a cow to a human. If you fancy something to just play around with in the gaps between games you want to focus on, then you can't go wrong with this.
+ Good to look at
+ Fun to play
- Loading Times
- Occasional Frame Dropping
SPOnG Score: 7/10