I had never played the original Just Cause until a few weeks before the sequel came out, and that was because I had played through the demo so many times that I wanted to try something new. In the original, the graphics weren’t the best, the vehicle handling was atrocious, and the cops would chase you longer than they spent time with chasing OJ Simpson. While it was a fun game, it was nothing to write home about.
That completely changes with Just Cause 2. While you’re still running around a tropical island attempting to overthrow a dictator, Avalanche Studios has fixed many of the flaws from the original to create one of the best sandbox games since Grand Theft Auto. Basically everything is better, the visuals are much more impressive, the vehicle handling is much improved, and the missions have much more variety. The biggest flaw that Just Cause 2 shows is the story.
Once again, Rico Rodriguez comes to an tropical island retreat to get a tan and help quick start a coup d’état. He can accomplish this task by causing chaos and through destroying anything related to the government, Rico can unlock story missions. There are only 7 story missions, and most players can breeze through them relatively quickly, even if you die in a mission, there are plenty of checkpoints to help players not become frustrated with the mission. Luckily, with Just Cause 2 covering over 400 square miles it’s easy enough to occupy yourself with other activities than just the story missions. You can work for 3 different groups of rebels, do driving challenges, skydive off of buildings, or just explore for resource items. Or if you don’t feel like doing any of that, you can just experiment and goof off in the game. Dying outside of missions has no penalties so players feel free to do crazy stunts and hope for the best.
The grappling gun-infinite parachute combo is the best gadget combo in a video game since the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (aka the Portal gun.) Nothing beats climbing to the top of a mountain, BASE jumping off, then pulling the chute meters before the player makes Rico do his best Wily E. Coyote impression. But that’s not all it can do, folks. By utilizing the parachute and grappling hook at the same time, the player can move around the island at a pretty good clip, thus making most terrestrial transport useless, except for the higher end sports cars. As an added bonus, if you need to get somewhere that you’ve already been to, you can call in the black market dealer and he can transport you there for free, which is an amazingly nice feature when you’re 30 kilometers from where you want to be. Furthermore, you can buy weapons and agency vehicles from the black market dealer as well, also through collecting resource items you can upgrade the vehicles and weapons you can purchase. The only bad thing is that you can only buy one thing at a time, so if you want a sub-machine gun and grenades, you have to call in the black market dealer twice. Which, admittedly isn’t a big deal but is more of a minor annoyance.
There are a few other minor annoyances that I have to talk about as well, the larger of the two being the lack of ammunition for guns on the island. While it is easy to find ammo for the submachine gun, assault rifle, and pistol by randomly killing soldiers. But for the higher level weapons, like the rocket and grenade launcher, it’s almost easier to find a unicorn over a rainbow than find ammo for those. It’s almost a nescesity to call in the black market dealer to get more ammo, which is expensive as all hell. Fortunately, the submachine gun and assault rifle can help you accomplish many missions without having to resort to rocket launchers. The only other annoyances have to deal with the sound of the game. The first is that before you can get transported to a location by the black market dealer, you must discover it for yourself, which makes total sense. But none of the vehicles have a radio, so you have to listen to the monotonous tone of an engine at redline until you reach your destination, which in a world this large, can be quite some time. The other sound complaint has to do with the voice acting. The voice acting of Just Cause 2 is some of the worst that I’ve heard since Two Worlds. Some of the lines actually made me laugh out loud due to their atrocity, and one line even caused me to keep repeating it to my friends on account of it’s horribleness.
Other than those few complaints, this game is a total gem and worthy of anyone giving it a try. The good parts of this game far outweigh the negatives in a completely overwhelming matter. What other game can you attach an airplane to a freight helicopter, fly straight up for 2 kilometers, parachute out, catch your plane, and fly it away to safety? That’s right, no other game has done this. For this hefty sandbox game, even with it’s few flaws, I give it a 9 out of 10.
- Title: Just Cause 2
- Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
- Developer: Avalanche Studios
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Available For: 360, PS3, and PC
- Release Date: Available Now
- Review Copy Info: A copy of this title was provided by the publisher to DualShockers Inc. for reviewing purposes