In Just Cause you will be playing Rico, an agent hired by the US to liberate a small island state by aiding local resistance forces. In the spirit of GTA, the player has various choices in the game world. As a gaming experience, Just Cause is somewhat a disappointment.
The best feature in the game is the sheer vastness of the game world. You can simply hijack a vehicle and tour around the island as you please. In comparison to GTA, the lush island paradise of Just Cause is a much more intriguing gaming environment. When you finally get yourself an airplane or a helicopter, you can truly experience the freedom of movement as you jump from your aircraft and glide through the clouds in a wild free fall opening your parachute only at the last minute. As you land, you can easily order a new vehicle to be brought to your location via helicopter transport.
An original feature of the game is the various stunts you can perform. For example, Rico always has his parachute on him, so you can survive extremely long falls. You can hijack cars and even helicopters with different stunts. All the stunts are far from realistic, but that is not the idea of Just Cause. The action movie feel of the game gives it a fresh approach.
Unfortunately the size of the game world and the magnificent stunts are not enough to make Just Cause a great game. One of the biggest disappointments is the simple fact that the game is too easy. This is due to Ricos amazing ability to hit just about anything at any distance. In other words the automatic aiming system is over efficient. The game is packed with shoot-outs that are ridiculously easy due to the agents ability to shoot everyone down with just a few shots. On the other hand, the enemies seem almost blind since they are incapable of hitting a moving target.
Graphically the scenery is quite impressive and the tropical foliage thick. However, the characters are a bit simplistically put together. Most of the time it really doesnt matter, since the enemies rarely get close enough to the player. The cut scenes follow along the same lines of caricature type characters, although the scantily dressed pixel babes are mostly ridiculous.
The game also comes with a few curious bugs. Some of them are funny, whereas some of them are simply annoying. One of the most annoying ones is the occasional lagging of controls whenever the character is trying to get some oxygen by swimming to the surface. This is especially unfortunate when the player is under enemy fire. Sometimes getting into a slightly tipped car can kill the player instantly. One of the funniest bugs is the one that enables you to dive your aeroplane just below the water surface without any consequences. Also sometimes even the smallest of falls can kill Rico. The cut scenes dont really follow the games timeline or anything else that is going on in the game world: if you trigger a mission briefing in the middle of a fierce car chase during nighttime, in the cut scene youll find yourself in a quiet conversation on a sunny day.
Searching for Briefcases
While there is a lot of freedom in the game, the side quests are quite trivial. Searching for the various items scattered around the game world is not exactly entertaining, and the same goes for driving against the clock from checkpoint to another. Freeing the islands villages from government troops is the most entertaining part, because you get to fight alongside the local resistance forces. You can follow the power balance of the island through your map. For completing side quests, the player gets new vehicles and firearms.
The main quests are realized varyingly. Some of the quests are only a couple of minutes long, while some of them are a bit more demanding. The jobs vary from small sabotage to blowing up massive missile silos. The player can utilize the different vehicles at his disposal, to affect the completion of a mission.
Just Cause leaves the player conflicted. On one hand, the huge island is a wonderful playground and the freedom the game offers is intriguing. On the other, the easy automatic aiming system and the weak level of the side quests ruin much of the gaming experience. The stunts, especially parachuting, are a nice feature and hopefully something that Avalanche Studios will develop further in its future games. Just Cause can be cautiously recommended to those who like free action games.