How do you measure the quality of
Just Cause 3?
If you go by size, it’s pretty impressive; over 400 square Miles, in fact
(roughly the same as its predecessor).
Perhaps we should measure it by content, then. After all, if that’s 400sq miles of barren wasteland, then what fun is to be had?
Luckily, there are over 120 unique military bases, outposts and towns to be liberated from the grasp of the dictator Sebastiano Di Ravello.
How do you liberate them? That’s a good question.
That’s also how you measure the quality of Just Cause 3.
The game begins with a standard hero-returns-home story. Our hero, Rico Rodriguez, is back. He returns triumphant, having freed Panau in the previous instalment several years ago. Greeted by his old friend Mario Frigo, you learn that Rico’s home nation of Medici (Meddy-chi) has become the stomping ground of the evil Di Ravello. He’s popped a few airbases here, satellite stations there and the odd naval port for good measure. Not only that, but his men have seized control of the nations many towns and cities, placing their poisonous propaganda all over, in the form of billboards, statues and speaker systems to name a few. In order to free the towns or to capture the military bases, you must destroy all of Di Ravello’s influence. These items are referred to as “Chaos Objects” and are clearly marked with red. Effort has been made to make sure the items both fit in with the world but also stick out to the player so it’s not too frustrating to find them; fuel tanks have a red band around them where billboards have a red backdrop, for example. It can become irksome at times when you are searching somewhere, say the huge capital of Citae Di Ravello (this guy really did put his name on everything) for a tiny, red, propaganda van, but overall it is clear enough where these objects are – If you check your map once you have destroyed some of the more obvious ones, the remaining chaos objects become increasingly clear for you to mark for demolition, which is handy.
“Our hero, Rico Rodriguez, is back. He returns triumphant,
having freed Panau in the previous instalment several years ago”
Avalanche Studios have given you a generous tool-box, no… toy-box to play with while you reclaim Medici, but you won’t use much of it. I found myself returning to the same option whenever I needed to repatriate something:
The Grappling Hook.
The thing is, although you can destroy things with a machine gun, there’s something about using your grappling hook to rip the world apart that’s just oh-so-satisfying. After all, this mechanic has always been
Just Cause‘s “Hook“! Ahem. Anyway…
The Grappling Hook has two main uses; It can either grapple you to things, so you can zip around like a Medician Spiderman, quips-and-all, or you can grapple stuff together, which is just tremendous fun. You can set up a tug-of-war between helicopters, or suspend a jeep between buildings. While the game performed its initial install on my PS4, I was given “Boom Island” to practice with. Once I’d gotten to grips with parachuting around (there is intentionally no Sprint button in JC3 so you will use your parachute and wingsuit more effectively, both of which are worth mastering early on) the very first “proper” thing I did (and don’t judge me for this) was tether two goats together, attach them to the back of my jeep, drive them off a cliff and then just as the tether was at full stretch, I released them. Boy did they fly. It. Was. Brilliant. My wife looked at me with more than a little concern, but I didn’t mind. I was having a blast.
And that’s precisely what Just Cause 3 is. It’s fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is something that other games can struggle with these days. This does come at a price, however. All in all, I reclaimed over 120 areas by doing, near enough, the same thing in each and every one. There is a lot of content but it can begin to feel a little samey as you drop bombs on another mining operation, or dodge anti-air rockets in your helicopter as you mow down soldiers on yet another oil rig. As long as you are content to make your own fun, you’ll get along just fine. The story is a little basic and though its missions are varied enough, they feel very familiar and to top it off, they end a little abruptly. One minute, you’re riding on a… well, I won’t spoil it, but you’ll know! Then the next, you’re defending your base from attackers or escorting high-value cargo through the war-torn city streets and then it’s all over. So there is plenty of content in here to justify your purchase, it just depends on how much you enjoy the first couple of hours, whether you’ll enjoy the next 20. As for any performance issues, perhaps the odd thing should be expected given the sheer amount that can be happening on-screen at any one time and that this game has come relatively early in the console’s cycle. At one point I used a “Sphere Tank” which is basically a gigantic, metal ball, filled with explosions, to destroy a row of smaller fuel tanks by grappling it from one end of the row to the other and mercilessly crushing and exploding everything in-between. The resulting devastation was truly a sight to behold and frankly, I’m pleased that the only issue was a minor frame-rate drop, and that my PS4 didn’t ask for some time off after processing that, which would be well deserved. Avalanche have issued a few patches since launch and they seem to have worked out the early kinks, such as the long loading times. The initial load of the game and subsequent restarts (after dying or to restart a mission) are a little on the lengthy side still, but they don’t become frustrating. Rico is a bit of a bullet-sponge which is perfect for some of the scrapes you’ll find yourself in.
It is safe to say I enjoyed Just Cause 3 more than its predecessors. It has learnt from those to loosen up a little. You can call a “Rebel Drop” at any time to replace ANY equipment you need, from ammo to gunships and avoiding injury for the briefest moments will regenerate your health. This isn’t to say you won’t die, because you will. A lot. Though it never feels cheap, it just means you were being cocky, trying to steal a fighter jet from an airbase before you destroyed (or hacked) the AA guns or you tried to wingsuit a little too close to the ground so you could feel cool.
So how does it look? We pretend not to care, but we all do. Fortunately it’s all good news here. The Medician sunrise is gorgeous; I really can’t recommend it enough. As soon as you begin, it looks impressive enough, but once you get inside something that flies, Just Cause 3 looks incredible. I didn’t notice any pop-in and from vast distances, everything looks lush. Forests are full and mountains are rocky, winding roads, rolling hills and beautiful fields stretch across every island and the water is possibly the best I’ve seen in a game. It’s beautifully clear but under the surface is not just a flat, sand coloured texture, there are rocks and seaweed and sunlight shining through that makes you wish Medici were a real holiday destination. It would be unwise to visit, however, as the familiar sounding radio announcer will point out.
Just Cause 3 just wants you to enjoy its beautiful world and all the guns and gadgets it contains. The story isn’t groundbreaking but it has a relatively wide variety of missions and side-projects for you to embark upon with some genuinely likable characters and when you’re done, you’re certain to have created some unique, stand-out moments to tell your friends about to show them via the Share button. There may be no multi-player to speak of, which could be a missed opportunity for some co-op destruction, but you can still set records for your friends and the rest of the world to beat and vice-versa.
I certainly enjoyed this latest Just Cause adventure and I definitely hope this won’t be the last we see of “Frigo and Etcetera”.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Just Cause 3 published by Square Enix.
- HUGE open world with plenty to see
- Lots of fun to be had with the Grappling Hook
- Best in the series so far
- Poor story
- Occasionally lengthy load times