Monday, 8 November 2010

Just Cause 2 review

Just Cause originally released in the mid 2000s, and whilst it was a refreshing take on the sandbox genre, fell short at a few hurdles. The game introduced a parachute and grapple hook combination. Why it had not been done before is a mystery, as the two go together perfectly. The game is basically GTA on LSD. The idea was genius, the execution wasn't nearly as awesome. It felt rushed. To have a session without seeing a glitch of some sort was nothing short of a miracle. Since the original released, fans wanted a sequel to do everything that the original should have. It took a while to get to us when it released earlier this year. Was it worth the long wait? Do the problems from the first game remain? Here's the verdict.

Just Cause 2 took everything that was awesome about the original, doubled it in every single way - size, action, stunts, one liners. Everything is bigger and oh so better.

Set on the islands of Panau, the game sees Rico Rodriguez, the same protagonist from the first game (with a different face!?), trying to overthrow the tyrannical dictator, Baby Panau. To do so, he befriends three rival revolutionary groups and causes a shitload of chaos. The story starts with you tracking down your old ally from the original game, Tom Sheldon, who is missing somewhere in Panau. From then on in, each and every mission is more action packed than an episode of the A-Team.

To unlock story missions, you must cause Chaos. This is literally exactly as it sounds. Blow up military bases, fuel depots, oil rigs, and maybe the most fun, Baby Panau statues. Once you have destroyed the statue, use your new and incredibly improved grapple hook to attach the statues head to a helicopter and there you have a makeshift wrecking ball. Cause enough chaos and missions, weapons and vehicles become available. This extends the life of the main plot line, and whilst in most games it would be a cheap way to add length, in JC2 you'll be having far too much fun to complain.

The grappling hook has the same functions as the one in the original game, but with some new features that should have been in the first instalment. For example, you no longer have to switch it out as a weapon, it is now kept on a wrist mounted mechanism. Also, instead of only vehicles, you can literally grapple any surface. In the first game, being stranded in the jungle meant a lot of running. In this one, just use your grapple hook on a tree, and whilst you're reeling in, deploy your parachute. The game is much easier to get around as it doesn't matter if you have no vehicles, the grapple hook is more than enough. The most entertaining new feature is the ability to duel grapple. Shoot a soldier with your grapple hook, aim at a vehicle and attach the other end of the line to it. Hop in and drag the soldier behind, much to your amusement. Attach a dirt bike to a helicopter and fly it to the top of a mountain, and then use the bike to do a crazy stunt. You can do that if you want.

The game is incredibly huge. Without a doubt the biggest open world game available at this moment in time. The first time you look at the map, you'll think it's pretty big. Then you'll find that you can zoom out and you'll have been looking at an island which takes about a tenth of the map. There are tropical rain forests, snow topped mountains, frozen lakes, huge deserts and massive cities. It's seriously big but never overwhelming as the range of environments justifies the size. The sheer variety of vehicles and ways of traversing the jungles and mountains means that the game never feels too big. Getting from A to B is not as dull as in some open world games. In Just Cause 2, you'll be crossing the desert on a dirt bike, a second later you can launch yourself into the air, dive down a mountain and grapple onto a helicopter. All in the space of ten seconds. After doing so, it's impossible not to feel like a hero.

It isn't just a huge world though, there is also so much to do. To put it in perspective, after completing the story and a few side quests, completing quite a few locations to 100% and collecting a few hundred collectables, the game was below 30%. It is seriously packed with things to do. Races of all sorts, hundreds of bases to sabotage, even more villages to secure, and over a thousand packages to find, it will take more time than any other game to fully complete.

The characters are one of the areas where the game falls a little short. The voice acting on some characters is really bad. The accents, the delivery of the words, and often the scripting is all a bit iffy. It's not a game that you play for the story, it's about the fun, but more time was needed on the writing and performances to make it a better and more complete game. The leaders of the three factions are particularly bad, especially the leader of the Reapers, Bolo Santosi. She has possibly the worst voice in video games history. She drags every word out and we accent is a confusing mishmash and is enough to make you avoid working for the Reapers.

The game is so much fun to play. The controls work well, the physics are fun, the world is beautiful. It does fall short in a few areas, mainly the voice acting and exclusion of any sort of multiplayer. But these can be fixed for the third instalment, if it happens. It would be a missed opportunity if it doesn't.

A must have for fans of sandbox games, it is easily the craziest and the most fun game of this generation. Bring on Just Cause 3!


by Louis Gardner

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