Just Cause 3 PS4 Review
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Avalanche Studios Genre: Action Players: 1
Age Rating: 16+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
It has been six years since Just Cause 2 came along and proved itself to be one of the greatest gaming sequels ever, and for fans of the series it may have been quite a painful wait for this second sequel. With Just Cause 3 finally releasing last December, such fans were finally put out of their misery, but only now are we playing catch-up with our own review of the game.
The story of Just Cause 3 is typically largely uninteresting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s passable enough, and is coloured by a handful of amusing moments, but the series has never been one to engage with its storyline, and I have a strong desire to return to the action of the game whenever its story scenes are playing. For those that care though, Just Cause 3 has protagonist Rico Rodriguez going to the Mediterranean island of Medici, his birthplace. The island is under the control of General Sebastiano Di Ravello, a power hungry dictator with a fancy name and world domination ambitions, and it’s of course up to you to you to knock him down a peg or two.
Like Just Cause 2’s Panau, Medici is a beautiful and expansive place. In fact, the island is of comparable size to that of the one found in the second game, which means it’s absolutely massive, and it’s made up of three distinct regions. Poppy and sunflower fields stretch out in front of you, mountains rise into the sky and are topped with snow, golden beaches look inviting, windy roads climb and descend suddenly, towns and enemy bases sit in indiscreet as well as hidden places, and the blue sky and ocean make for a paradisiacal environment that is worthy of exploring as well as blowing up.
The South American hero that is Rico Rodriguez is once again an agent with many extreme skills; his parachute and his grappling hook now joined by the brand new wingsuit. The wingsuit actually fits so well into the Just Cause series that one has got to wonder why it took so long to be made available, and it really is an excellent addition. The wingsuit can be deployed while in the air with a single button press, and it’s exhilarating to see Rico soaring through the sky at speed. As it’s possible to combine all of Rico’s tools – parachute, grappling hook and wingsuit – it makes for a thrilling action game. The Wingsuit allows you to quickly move through the sky, the parachute allows you to sail slowly downwards, and the grappling hook gives you the unlimited potential to zip forward, and connects to pretty much any physical object. Used altogether, and Rico really is an action man of the highest calibre.
Take the protagonist’s grappling hook for example. This was much improved in the second game, and it has been improved again in this second sequel. The grappling hook now allows you to tether objects together, leading to great satisfaction and the potential to create your own memorable moments, as you tether vehicles, people and explosive objects together, and with the potential for up to six tethers, there’s plenty of room for exploration. With all of this said, Rico may not be the most interesting character in the world when it comes to his personality, but he’s certainly one of gaming’s finest action stars.
Driving and shooting also make their return. Even though many may not bother with it too much when they have got a handle on the parachute, the wingsuit and the grappling hook, the driving definitely feels the most satisfying it has ever in the series, and the shooting is fun in a dumb and explosive way, with witless enemies that are only a real threat when they are in large numbers. You can now also shoot while parachuting, which makes you less of a sitting duck while in the air, and you are also able to move to any position on vehicles while you are standing and doing your action thing on top of them as opposed to being rooted to the spot in the same way you were in Just Cause 2.
Moving on, and the game waives the use of typical currency, using beacons instead, and these beacons (replenished at certain places) allow you to get weapons and vehicles dropped in once the feature becomes available to you early in the game. These so called Rebel Drops allow you to request a vehicle and up to three weapons to be dropped in from the sky at once. You unlock weapons and vehicles that can be potentially dropped in by liberating areas on the map as well as completing story missions. It’s also possible to hijack and deliver any vehicles on the road to your garage, which will unlock the ability to get them dropped in.
Missions are typical of this type of open-world game, with the first one giving you a little bit of everything, although there’s sadly a flawed structure in place in order to unlock some of the game’s missions late in each of the three acts. Sometimes you’ll find yourself hitting a brick wall and not being able to progress through the story until you have taken care of the required number of provinces in the area by blowing up enemy bases and outposts, and taking out equipment such as speakers, statues, satellites, and billboards to liberate towns. As the game’s destruction is often so enjoyable, with towers toppling down, objects sparking, giant balls rolling, and the potential to cause a domino effect with explosive objects, there’s much fun to be had in destroying objects, although it can feel a little repetitive when you are ordered to do it again and again just so you are able to play specific story missions. This is at its worst in the final act, as the game asks you to attack massive bases and city areas, which obviously takes awhile to accomplish. It’s even more annoying when you aren’t even able to find a town, outpost or enemy base to attack, as you need to come across them before they are shown on the map.
Some might feel that the above mentioned structure is a tad restrictive for such an open-world game, although Just Cause 3 does have many other things to do, and it’s possible to lose yourself for many hours on the island of Medici. Liberating some areas unlocks side missions such as races, wingsuit challenges, destruction challenges, and more. It’s also possible to find collectibles on the island such as audio tapes from the main villain, shrines, and more.
It’s nice to see the side missions being factored into the game itself, and completing them comes with their own rewards, which permanently enhances a number of things. Completing such side missions awards you with gears, the number being based on how well you performed. When you have earned enough gears, you’ll unlock new mods, which can be toggled on and off at any time. In another nice touch, there are weapon mods, tether mods, traversal mods, destruction mods, explosive mods, as well as mods for land, sea and air vehicles. You’ll only earn gears to unlock the mod based on whatever side mission you undertake, so completing a race will earn you gears towards the next land vehicle mod, while wingsuit challenges will reward you gears that go towards the next traversal mod, and so on. It’s an excellent and intelligent piece of game design, and it makes side missions feel less like a fun distraction or, at worst, filler. There’s many mods to unlock, including everything from precision aiming, extra tethers, vehicle nitrous, the capability to carry extra grenades, and so on.
Visually, Just Cause 3 is a fine looking game when it’s running as it should, although technical issues do get in the way of the fun from time to time. Yes, even with multiple patches, the game still continues to underperform technically at times. The frame-rate drops horrendously when the action gets really intense all too frequently, and this really does take some of the shine away from the game. Fortunately, in my own experience, it didn’t happen over and over again, but it still occurred enough to spoil things somewhat, and for a game that has a focus on causing extreme chaos, it just isn’t good enough. It just feels like shoddy work.
There’s an excellent action game hiding under Just Cause 3’s issues. The presence of a parachute, an improved grappling hook that can be played with in many different ways, and the addition of a wingsuit once again means that the Just Cause series remains distinct in a crowded genre, and it really is an exhilarating action game when things are working as they should. It’s just a shame that the game is tarnished by a slightly flawed and repetitive mission unlock structure as well as some truly immersion breaking technical issues. To sum things up, Just Cause 3 is fantastic on many occasions but it’s also a disappointment.