Developer: Avalanche Studios
Release Date: 3/23/2010
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The Good: Looks amazing, grappling hook+parachute=superb fun, high octane story missions, lots of weapons and vehicles, huge open world
The Bad: Getting around is boring and a pain, needs Xbox controller to play well, wonky physics, boring side missions, repetitive after about 4 hours, some elements just work against you, crappy story
Sandbox games can be really fun because it lets you do what you want to do with the shovel and bucket the developers give you. Of course the sand itself has to be interesting, and it is in Just Cause 2, but it feels like the game is always working against itself in ironic ways. The story is pretty much not there at all. You play as Scorpio who is sent to Panau to find an American guy, and yeah, that’s about it. Even the voice acting is iffy, but you’ll be tossing the story aside and enjoying the fun instead.
The game is huge with lots of islands to explore, but my biggest gripe is getting there. You can call in vehicles from your black market buddy for a price, but shouldn’t unlocked vehicles be free? If you destroy that vehicle and you’re still 10 kilometers away from you destination you’re pretty much screwed to driving around and that gets very boring. Don’t ever drop a plane in a city street because if it gets stuck you’re $30k is wasted since you can’t back it up. Sure you can dual hook it to a large vehicle to correct it, but this is tedious and insanely stupid. The driving is pretty frustrating, and I would restart missions dozens of times just because I couldn’t control the car well enough.
You can also upgrade your vehicles with parts you find during missions as well as upgrading weapons. The whole transportation thing is kind of solved with an extraction option, but you must have discovered the area first. You can use your grappling hook to cover long distances on foot and pretty much use it for everything from tethering enemies to cars and dragging them around to pulling guys off bikes. You can tether to any surface and it’s got a huge distance of about 100 meters. This is good for scaling buildings as well, but use your parachute to for awesome Hollywood type stunts.
You can get out of a vehicle and ride on top or hang around and this is good when chasing people in cars or in the air. About to crash? Jump into another car, not another car around? Grapple to the next one. This can be great fun if you use your imagination, but that’s the furthest the thrills get in JC2. The gun play is pretty weak and while they pack a punch there’s no aiming system, and weapon selection is a bit confusing. You can toss grenades and there is a good variety of weapons, but it could have been better implemented.
The missions aren’t too exciting especially the side missions, and the only other type are races to earn money. You unlock different mission types by causing chaos, and you can also unlock weapons and vehicles as well. The main missions are what are the most exciting, but there’s only seven of them, and the game relies too heavily on boring side missions. While this doesn’t sound too terrible it’s not, but after awhile say 4-8 hours into the game you really get tired of it.
The game looks amazing with DX10, but the physics are a little glitchy. I also highly recommend using an Xbox 360 controller for Windows since the keyboard and mouse combo suck for this type of game, and are really frustrating. Yeah try controlling a car WSAD style and using X as the handbrake. I know you can re-configure the controls, but it feels the game was built for the controller. Cars are easier to control, and it just feels tighter this way. The game just feels a bit too generic and could have had a lot more character and depth, but what we have is way better than the first game, and a lot to build on in Just Cause 3.