A massive sandbox waiting to be blown up.
Avalanche’s Just Cause 2 was a revelation to anyone who wanted an open world in which they could blow stuff up and do crazy stuff. Sure, there was a story and missions to complete, but like many open world games it was easy to spend time doing nothing but having silly, over the top, explosive fun. And a lot of that fun came from the grapple and parachute combo, which allowed players to zip around the map with ease, and perform some really great tricks.
Just Cause 2 was a really great game, the perfect game for mindless winding down. So it goes without saying that the launch of a new Just Cause game from Avalanche Studios was highly anticipated, even amongst the abundance of blockbuster titles that have been launched this season. With a larger playground and a few new tricks up its sleeve, can Just Cause 3 reach the same heady heights of its predecessor?
So, once again the player steps into the boots of Rico Rodriguez, the government agent who specializes in single handedly toppling regimes and freeing the oppressed. In Just Cause 3, Rico is not taking down some random dictator though. This time it is personal as his home country of Medici is under the control of a crazy general and Rico will have to move from one explosion to the next until the country is liberated.
What a playground the country of Medici is! Players will be presented with an absolutely massive map, made up of multiple islands and every type of environment you could imagine. Seriously, it’s huge, and there is so much to see and do across the island.
But before the player is given free reign over running around and blowing stuff up, there are the first few missions to complete that double as tutorials of sorts. The begin in the most dramatic of ways, putting Rico on top of a plane and charging him with taking out anti-aircraft installations with rockets. Just Cause 3 is not shy about expressing its love of explosions. A couple more simple missions will give teach the player the basics, before letting them start to explore the islands and find out what other mischief they can get up to.
The story missions continue to reveal themselves for those who want to delve deeper into Rico’s core mission. The story itself is not particularly noteworthy, but this is the action b-movie of the videogame world, so you wouldn’t expect an award-winning tale. But still, it moves the progress along, with the player often having to travel quite a distance from one story mission to the next.
Or it would if there were not some limitations to when the story missions show themselves. Outside of the story, the key thing that the player will be doing is liberating towns and bases, and sometimes the player will find that they have to liberate a certain number before the story progresses. This is no big deal in itself, as liberating a town or base just involves completing a checklist, such as destroying billboards or wiping out enemy soldiers, before raising the rebel flag. However, the repetitive nature of these actions can grind a bit, suggesting that the game is best enjoyed in short, explosive bursts rather than for extended play sessions.
The story missions themselves mostly offer the standard fetch or protect quests, which again lack in variety. However, there are also challenges available that will reward the player with gears, which can then be used for tweaking Rico’s abilities, or even unlocking new abilities, giving Rico even more options for destruction. These challenges include the likes of racing in various vehicles and even flying around in your wingsuit.
Ah, the wingsuit. A new addition to Just Cause 3, the wingsuit compliments the grapple and parachute that Just Cause players have come to know and love. Players can still use their grapple to zip around and traverse the terrain, and they can still use the parachute to slowly float down from the heights. The wingsuit adds a more controlled decent, allowing the player to glide great distances across the map with ease. The grapple and parachute are relatively easy to use, although they do feel a little less precise than before. The wingsuit, on the other hand, can be quite tricky to master. It will take some heavy practice before the player is performing acrobatics in the air, but using the wingsuit really is a great feeling, possibly one of the best modes of transport in any videogame.
When it comes to the combat, the gunplay in Just Cause 3 is perfectly acceptable, although it would have been nice if the AI enemies were a bit brighter. Still, the gameplay is such that players have plenty of options when it comes to taking out the opposition, most of which involve blowing stuff up, and half of the fun is trying out different things, so guns do not have to be a primary concern.
What is a concern though, is the bugginess. On more than one occasion, I found myself having to restart a mission because it would not accept I had completed it. This first happened very early in the game, which does not inspire confidence. There are also some framerate issues and the loading times are extraordinarily long, leading to far more downtime than I am used to.These issues, along with the repetitive nature of the game, may put some players off.
But then, if mindless destruction is what you crave, Just Cause 3 has it in spades. It is not the most challenging of games, Rico can soak up bullets like a sponge. And the repetitive gameplay will grate after a while. But Just Cause 3 is a symphony of explosions and over the top, crazy stunts which will often earn the response “I can’t believe I just did that!”. If you want a “can’t believe it” game, then Just Cause 3 is where the action is.