The previous Just Cause games gave us high-octane action in exotic locations, filled with all kinds of ridiculous situations – a winning formula for any developer looking to create a powerful experience players will come back to again & again.
It’s been five years since Avalanche Studios gave gamers the chance to step into the shoes of super-skilled operative Rico Rodriguez, but now the Bond-esque hero is back.
Having left the Agency, Rico heads home to Medici, a fictional Mediterranean Republic. However, all is not rosy back in his old stomping ground – the tropical paradise has been taken over by General Di Ravello, a dictator with nefarious ideas & a huge army of cannon-fodder.
Naturally, Rico being Rico, he decides to wage war against the villain and liberate his homeland.
So, with such a neat concept, does Just Cause 3 live up to its potential?
The World is your Playground
Just Cause 3 features a huge map to play in. The three islands making up the environment apparently equate to 400 square kilometres, and Rico is free to explore as he sees fit … however he likes.
While fast-travel is available for anyone looking to avoid a scenic route, cars, planes, boats and more are all on offer to traverse the locations in style. These all handle nicely, with cars in particular having a definite arcade-sensibility to them – this helps to make the action feel more dynamic, more over the top.
However, why take a boat, car, helicopter, or plane when you have Rico’s fantastic grapple gun, parachute, and wingsuit to play with? Using these takes practice, for sure, but once you get used to how they handle, you’ll be able to zip across landscapes like a superhero. Mastering this gear is hugely rewarding, and helps to give the game a unique feel.
This freedom extends to the way in which you can take down bad guys. With a wide range of firearms available, players are welcome to simply waste enemies in standard shoot-outs, but there are a variety of ways to eliminate them.
Why not use your grapple gun to attach them to a nearby building? Why not tie two together and let their heads collide? Why not cause vehicle crashes by attaching them to the ground as they move? All these and more help to make blasting through the game consistently fun, ensuring the action never becomes stale.
With the tether (a modification for the grapple gun), players can tie enemies to explosive objects, pull watchtowers down, and even yank helicopters from the sky. Considering how many games now limit your offensive methods to guns and/or knives, having so many ways to destroy enemies shows Avalanche Studios’ creativity & dedication to creating an exciting experience.
An Explosive Situation
Vehicles can be hijacked and commandeered, allowing players to send Rico aboard any passing helicopter or plane to take control. Should you find yourself in the vicinity of any other aerial vehicles, you can drop from yours and glide to the next with your wingsuit, before hijacking that too.
You can also guide Rico to the ground from any flying vehicle, using the momentum to enter enemy territory from above.
Considering Rico’s aim is to liberate his homeland, he’s surprisingly able to destroy a lot of it – sill, he’s trying to cause problems for his nemesis, so we suppose we’ll allow him that. The only things invulnerable to damage are standard buildings, which means you can’t leave entire streets filled with smouldering ruins, no matter how fun that might sound.
However, many other parts of the scenery – such as power generators and fuel tanks – can be blown up; handily, these are marked in red, to help players identify worthy targets with ease during a frantic shoot-out. Gas stations, guard towers, and even massive bridges can all be ravaged, making Rico’s battle against General Di Ravello all the more explosive & thrilling.
As with the other Just Cause games, Just Cause 3 feels like one huge blockbuster movie, with players cast as the star. Want to use a portable nuke-launcher to take down the General’s men? How about grenades, or calling in airstrikes with your targeting laser to paint targets? You’re welcome to try them all.
Enemies are well-armed too, of course, and numerous: they spawn from thin air, and work in large numbers to kill Rico. Luckily, the man himself has recharging health (as many leading characters do now), and so he’s able to take an impressive amount of damage before it’s game over. As Rico frees one village after another, extra content is unlocked, such as races in a variety of vehicles & wingsuit-based dives; successfully completing these grants Rico extra abilities and mods for his gear.
However, conquering enemy bases (military sites, naval strongholds) unlocks more diverse challenges (like steering an explosive-filled car at enemies). All of these help to add longevity to an already-huge game.
Story missions generally include a variety of objectives, with escorting specific characters a common one. The plot is nicely pieced together, and fairly tongue-in-cheek, ensuring the game never appears to take itself too seriously. Most players are likely to find the game’s biggest source of fun is in experimenting with the various pieces of equipment, weapons, and vehicles.
Driving a car off a cliff, jumping out mid-fall, and then gliding to safety is always terrific. Grappling to a high point just to see how long you can spend soaring with your parachute will pass many an hour. Thanks to the enormous scale of Medici, there’s always something to see and do, even when all campaign missions have been completed.
Multiplayer modes have been left out of the game (despite the success player-made multiplayer mods achieved in Just Cause 2), but leaderboards are constantly updated, giving players the chance to beat others’ high scores.
For fans of the series and newcomers alike, Rico Rodriguez’s latest adventure is an action-packed, exciting, highly-replayable game, and a worthy sequel.