Just Cause 3 PC Review
When Just Cause 2 released back in 2010 it came with a wave of excitement, as the sequel was much improved over the original title and made the series be noticed. The second instalment took the concept from the original game and – with the extra power from that generation – tuned it for the better in every possible way with more insane action, better graphics and just a whole lot of shiny explosive booms for people to enjoy. Just Cause 3 is here, five years later, bringing all that crazy action from its predecessor into the current age of technology, but this time around, the third release in the explosive adventures of Rico Rodriguez does not feel as refreshing or original, but still manages to bring enjoyment with its open world, high-octane, triple-X shenanigans that offers freedom with its sandbox of fun that no other game can in a year that has been filled with plenty of great open world titles.
Set a few years after the second instalment,Rico Rodriguez is once again the main character for Just Cause 3. Rico is looking a little older and rough around the edges after all his experience with The Agency – I guess all that destruction would wear a man down after liberating two whole countries. Rico has retired from The Agency and has decided to return to his Mediterranean home of Medici, which just happens to be at the same time where the evil dictator, Sebastiano Di Ravello, is in full swing turning Medici into a military force. Di Ravello is trying to improve his arsenal with Bavarium, a ore buried in Medici that can offer immense destructive force that will help the dictator push to ruling more than the small island of Medici.
I’ll be honest here, Just Cause is a series that has never been strong with its story, but that’s because it does not particular need a deep story to work. As long as you have a target given to you – missions offer some highlights, thanks to the variety based around such mass destruction – the investment with the Just Cause games is to accomplish this task in the most over-the-top and entertaining way possible. The story here tries to establish a more human touch with Rico to add more character to his typical shallow action hero persona. The game brings “it’s a me Mario” Frigo, a childhood friend from Rico’s past, Dimah, a scientist that Rico once saved, and Tom Sheldon, the American Texan who has been in all the games so far, to play off Rico, but it never works all that well. The cutscenes feel disjointed, dialogue can make no sense, coming across as if you have missed something and are coming into a conversation halfway. As long as you are not looking for a good story, you should be fine with the game’s nonsense plot and be able to get on with what the game does best – letting Rico run wild on the island of Medici.
Armed with his trademark grapple hook and parachute, the options Rico has to get around the 400 square miles of open world are plenty. Just like with the previous game, players can use the combination of chute and hook to skip over land with ease. The hook itself is great for moving to a spot within its grasp – especially useful for verticality movement that a lot of the mountains and coastal towns feature – instantly pulling Rico to the destination unless the parachute is activated. Keep using the grapple hook to pull forward with the chute open and any place visible on the game’s map is available to visit. A new wingsuit has been added to give Rico the chance of moving across large distances at speed, simply pressing a button opens up the suit and Rico can become a flying squirrel of pandemonium. It helps that the controls for the parachute, wingsuit and grapple hook are all on different buttons and don’t require a degree in physics to combine the use of these handy tools, as these will be your main tools throughout the game, making Rico more Batman than Batman when it comes to their gliding and hooking abilities.
While the parachute and wingsuit are more for keeping Rico off the ground or safe from falling to his death, the grapple hook has another use that benefits the open destruction of Just Cause 3. Using the ability to tether objects together, the game lets the person in command go wild with options. Want comical fun? Attach a soldier to a gas canister and watch as they lift off into the sky, explode, then fall to their death. Need to transport a vehicle to the top of a mountain? Tether it to a helicopter and delivery it yourself. Want to tear apart a statue of a dictator with the power of elevation? Tether it to the helicopter and pull Di Ravello’s stony head off. Fed up of army trucks chasing you down? Attach them to the road and watch them stop and flip. There is so much available to the power of the tether mechanic. Even better, Just Cause 3 implements multi-tethering, meaning more hilarious chaos ensures. Tethering dumb things together was some of the memorable parts of Just Cause 2, and it’s the same here, now with extra power. If you have the creative mind, you can make scenarios that you would never need to perform, but for hilarity value, should be done. Just attach a few cables to random soldiers to a table, then attach the table with a few mines and gas canisters, set off the canisters, watch said table and soldiers spin around uncontrollable in the air, then blow them up with the mines and watch the physics go crazy. I did that a few times while laughing manically in my chair – tethering with objects is the character of Just Cause 3.
To progress in the game you will have to take these inventive ideas and put them to use in converting the many enemy bases or towns to switch them to the rebel side, or you can just straight blow shit up. Whichever personality you are doesn’t matter, as long as stuff is exploding. Each base has a varied amount of targets that, yep, you guessed it, need destroying. Fuel containers, radars, billboards, statues, generators and other objects highlighted with a red colour stripe signals players to “come and explode me”.
Once all enemy presence is wiped out, a flag needs raising to show that you have pushed back the dictatorship, switching the colour from danger red to a warm soothing blue. Converting enemy installations is mandatory to some degree, as story missions are locked behind a target amount of province liberations. At least the benefit from completely taking over a region is more safe zones, bases and garages close by to restock weapons, deliver cars to the chop shop to be able to use them at any point and switch weapon load outs. It’s easy to die from trying to capture a base, since the game at times will overwhelm Rico with tanks, helicopters and bodies, especially in key enemy bases, where the soldiers are flowing from respawn points until the area is liberated. But even on death, the game remembers what is destroyed and you can travel back from the checkpoint to continue on your merry destruction. Just Cause 3 makes mayhem stress free.
Just Cause 3‘s final past time is finding all the challenges and beating the record times to unlock cogs, which in turn result in mods unlocking to equip. Mods are literally the game’s power up feature, the only way to level up Rico, where doing the specific challenges within a category, for example time trial in a boat, will unlock a mod to allow Rico to benefit from an upgrade, such as nitrous for boats. It’s the same for car racing, air racing, wingsuit time trials, explosive challenges, shooting challenges, whatever the challenge, a lovely reward awaits for people good enough to beat the records.
Mods start of fairly simple – more nitrous, more grenades, more fast travel and more beacons (used for dropping weapons and vehicle supplies to your location, think of it as a much friendly version of Just Cause 2‘s money draining black market), and vehicle jumping. Further into the game the mods become ridiculous, yet are so much fun. Expect to become Mr Chaos when armed with homing grenades, rocket thrusting mines, stronger tethers and taking less damage from explosions. There is no negative impact from equipping these upgrades, but the game allows the player to decide which ones they want to use. It’s said the idea for the name came from the modding community, who did wonders with Just Cause 2, and while it does not make the game as crazy as some of the mods that people made for the previous game, it’s a great way to give options to the player in how they want Rico to handle and play.
The game is great for someone who wants to let lose on the world, but even with the new features and a brightly colourful location, Just Cause 3 cannot shake itself from feeling incredibly familiar. The third game still suffers from mediocre shooting mechanics with its loose automatic lock-on system – a zoom is not an option until the mod is unlocked. AI is dumb, only programmed to gun at you and not giving a care in the world about where they are, leaving them wide open to take hits from you or the local AI controlled rebels. Cars feel weird to control at first, but eventually their high grip nature and turning angles can be adjusted to. All of these complaints are part of the overall issue I have with Just Cause 3 – it does not renew itself enough to evolve the series to the next step, and while the tweaks make it easier to do what the game excels at (hint, I’ve said the word so many times already), everything housing that hot, warm, sweet centre feels archaic. Even the world, as beautiful as it is, does not offer much when you take a break from blowing up stuff.
And really that is what my gripe is with the Just Cause 3 – it’s a one trick pony, one trick that it does with pyrotechnical wonders. A trick that I love to take part in, one that makes this series unique, but it can only last so long until this world that holds all these destructive marvel starts to drain me, starts to become a little repetitive. No matter how many options you give me, in the end, I am blowing up the same red highlighted fuel canisters and speaker-phones that story missions add a nice break from the open world activities. I need a break from the grappling, the gliding and the booms. I feel Just Cause 3 is a nice game to sit on the side while playing something else, a side dish to sample before a main course, a game that you don’t need to rush to complete, but should turn on from time-to-time to have an hour or two causing mayhem and destruction before the grind sinks in and the experience becomes repetitive.
In the end, Just Cause 3 does not make as much of an impact on the genre that it’s predecessor did. But just because that is the case, that does not mean that this is a bad game, it’s far from that, it’s a good game that knows what it wants to be. There is bundles of fun here. It’s just that what supports its well crafted centre isn’t made up as the same quality as its core philosophy. Fans of Just Cause will no doubt enjoy what is on offer, as the destruction has turned up a notch, but for everyone else, it’s a simple question to answer. Do you want to let the rage out and blow shit up? If so, then look past some of its archaic problems and Just Cause 3 will bring your fantasy Vin Diesel action to life like a good, mindless, Hollywood action film, but just like said films, I can only take so much at once.