Just Cause 2 Review

Developed by Avalanche Studios, Just Cause 2 finds Rico Rodriguez returning in an epic open-world adventure set in the diverse tropical playground of Panau in South East Asia, where the aim is to cause chaos and destruction in a way that only Rico knows how! His mission is to destabilize the island and free it from the tyranny of the evil dictator, Baby Panay. Players tackle missions and objectives in any way they want while exploring the highly-detailed and beautiful island by land, sea or air, performing an insane range of new daredevil stunts and mastering the use of the all new grappling hook and Rico’s trademark parachute.

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There really is a lot to love in Just Cause 2 if you like open world Sandbox titles.  Anyone who plays this game will have this moment of inflection when a light bulb clicks on and you say: “Oh, I can do that!”  The players options are wide open but my moment occurred early on in the game.  See, Just Cause 2 is an open world title like I mentioned, and true to the Grand Theft Auto format, it has you chasing missions all over the fictitious island of Panau.  Many times after a mission you will find yourself without transport, but there is a feature in the title called the black market.  You can order weapons, vehicles, or call for an extraction to anywhere on the map that you have visited.  

Being the adventurer,I called for an airplane, I wanted to tour Panau a little bit.  First try, I called in the plane and the Black Market dropped in it, but since I was on a hill the plane started rolling down this hill.  When it settled it was nestled at the bottom of a ravine in between two trees.  Since this was early in my Just Cause 2 campaign, and I didn’t have the money to buy another plane, I was kinda pissed.  At that point I was a little frustrated by the game.  As I made my way down to a populated street where I could hijack a vehicle for transport, an idea dawned on me.  I’ll use my grappling hook to tow the plane out of the ravine and onto a straight patch where I can get it airborne.  When I went back to put my plan in action it worked, sorta.  I ended up blowing up the plane yanking it up the hill over rocks and such, but the principle of the idea, was what mattered.  After that I started looking at the game in a whole new light.  

There are endless ways to tackle each and every single task or mission in the game. Whether you are trying to complete an objective for advancement in the game, or just doing some exploring, there are infinite ways to accomplish your goals.  Some are more straight forward than others, but the more you think outside of the box, the more fun you ultimately have with Just Cause 2.

The game is built around one premise: Chaos.  The only requirement for Rico to advance towards his ultimate goal is causing chaos.  Sure, there are a ton of side missions, where you are tasked to complete an objective.  But in the end, Chaos is the only real requirement to open up the agency missions that ultimately progress the game to it’s conclusion.  So how do you cause Chaos?  Simple.  Anything that is marked by the white star of Panau can be exploded.  How you choose to do this is up to you.  Whether you want to use handheld explosives like frag grenades or timed charges, rocket launchers, attack helicopters, fighter jets, armored tanks, cars, turret guns, AA guns,  there are a ton of ways to cause Chaos in Just Cause 2.   The mechanic feels as fresh in the first 30 minutes of the game as it does in the last.

I also really like the size of the content in the game.  You get a lot of value in Just Cause 2.  There are over 200 missions, over 100 vehicles, 350 local landmarks and towns, and the island is massive.  Regardless of your choice of transportation, if you have to travel from one side of the island to the other be prepared to do some serious traveling it can take 5 minutes or so by plane.  (This was also a dislike of mine)  The sceneries vary from snowy mountaintops to lush jungles, bustling cities, residential areas, deserts, and shanty towns.  There is a ton of variety here.

The gun play in Just Cause 2 is average at best.  It gets the job done, I suppose.  It just feels like it could have been alot better, with tighter controls and a targeting system.

The new grappling hook is both good and bad, it really speeds up getting around areas, and opens up the game vertically. It also has some pretty good combat uses and can come in handy when hijacking flying vehicles. But the flip side of that is that it is inaccurate and can, unless wielded properly, put you into some pretty bad situations during a firefight.

Hijacking vehicles loses it’s thrill when the QTE’s are boring and just not very good looking.  The thrill of trying different tactics is still fun in many different scenarios, but the thrill is more of a cerebral victory for trying something and it working rather than aesthetic.

Sadly there’s actually a lot of flaws in Just Cause 2 .  The premise is great, the open world and freedom of it all is a ton of fun.  It’s hard to overlook some of the main things in game being both repetitive and ugly.  Rico will team up with local factions in Just Cause 2, and the majority of the side mission are done working for local militias and gangs.  It’s blatantly obvious that they use the exact same three cut scenes for every mission.  Not that they just use the same cut scene but the cut scenes are bad, all the way around.  The graphics are bad, the voice acting is bad, they do little to get the player excited about the next mission, and I found myself skipping them about a quarter into the game.  In Sandbox games what set GTA apart from the rest is ability to have new and interesting cut scenes for nearly every mission.  It pulled the player into the story of the game, and Just Cause 2 really drops the ball here.

There are some things I really hated about Just Cause 2.  Ammunition grows extremely sparse, during battles.  It doesn’t matter what gun you use, you run out of bullets almost every time. Inaccurate aiming and no targeting system play into this in a big way as you blow off most of you clips into thin air.  Short bursts, long bursts I tried many ways to conserve ammunition and the problem persisted throughout the entire game.  Thank god for your trusty grappling hook and its ability to beat your enemies into submission with it.  There are a ton of other ways to get the job done when fighting a group of enemies, but when you do go to your guns, be prepared to be scrounging for ammunition during most battles.

Travel seemed abnormally slow.  When you opt to go somewhere on the massive island of Panau, and you don’t use an extraction pick up, be prepared to throw at least 15 minutes of your life away getting there, and this is by air.  If you end up electing to go by car, truck, motorcycle, etc.  you’re in for a pretty big letdown as well as the controls for nearly every land based vehicle in the game are just shoddy.  You  will find yourself likely spinning out on every sharp corner. Performing evasive maneuvers, which are often required in the games driving sequences, usually end in you walking to find a new vehicle after climbing out of the wreckage of the one you just totalled.

There are a ton of missions in Just Cause 2, unfortunately they are all derivatives of each other and they grow kinda stale towards the end of the game.   Not helped along by new cut scenes or exciting plot developments, they end up being about as fun as you make them.

Just Cause 2 is a fun game, with a ton of value , and alot more game crammed into the disc than you get with most titles.  That being said, the quality is a little lower than average. The graphics at times can provide breathtaking views of a beautiful fictional island, and the cut scenes can show just how ugly the inhabitants of said island are.  If you like Sandbox games and have fun thinking outside the box, exploring, and above all blowing crap up, then your money will be well spent in Just Cause 2.

Just Cause 2
If you like Sandbox games and have fun thinking outside the box, exploring, and above all blowing crap up, then your money will be well spent in Just Cause 2.
Reviewed on Xbox 360

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