Why? Well, Just Cause…
Alright I’ve made the tacky “just cause/just ’cause” joke once, hopefully I won’t do it again. That said I tend to do it anyway because I laugh at my own jokes like the narcissistic student nurses and ACPs that I’m forced to work with. Just Cause, for those who missed it, was one of those games that got an A for concept but a C for execution. In other words, “Good idea but try again.” I had high hopes for Just Cause 2. Actually I’m lying, I had no hopes for Just Cause 2. These days hoping for nothing (unless it’s coming from Valve or id) is the best policy for games, because chances are you’ll be disappointed. So when a game has zero expectations, it should get at least a few points, right?
In this case yes, it does. In fact I’d even go so far as to call Just Cause 2 (JC2… like JC Denton 2? Jesus Christ the 2nd, maybe?) a pretty fun game. The idea is that you play Rico Rodriguez working to take down Pandak “Baby” Panay, a dictator of “a tropical island” (actually a few little islands and offshore oil rigs) called Panau. Actually it kind of reminds me a bit like playing a reverse Tropico as an FPS; you beat the snot out of a Southeast Asia island to remove a dictator. To do this you’ll need to do two things. Firstly, you’ll need to work with the three factions on the island. It’s pretty much like GTA – go complete some missions, blah blah blah, you know the drill. The second thing you’ll need to do is blow up government buildings. You pretty much become a one-man army, attacking military bases, airports, docks, and blowing up things in little towns or little “cities”, which are just little towns with taller buildings and paved roads.
Before we go any further, JC2’s voice acting is bad. Like, it’s really bad. It’s so bad it’s comical. I think only Starship Troopers could come this close to being this bad. It’s really, really bad. The storyline is paper thin and is little more than a bit of background for why you’re descending on Panau like a swarm of locusts to destroy water towers, vital infrastructure, or oil rigs. There’s no thrilling narriative here, this isn’t Jagged Alliance as an FPS. You blow things up, THE END. But really the game doesn’t need much than this to be entertaining.
This game is all about making things explode and pulling off improbable action movie stunts which makes anythin from the Die Hard series look like a walk in the park. What other game lets you use your grappling hook to pull yourself up to a helicopter, shoot the copilot and then headbutt the pilot until he falls to his death… then jumping out of that helicopter while grapping onto the nearest highrise, while the helicopter crashes into a statue of the dictator… while you jump down to the ground and fire your dual SMGs at two guys with assault rifles? I can’t think of any others, or at least nothing springs to mind. Games today are really hung up on realism or telling stories which barely quality as the nastiest of pulp fiction. It’s refreshing to get a game where you just go and blow things up.
There’s a purpose to this carnage. Destroying government buildings or infrastructure will cause your Chaos meter to rise. As this rises, you get access to new vehicles and weapons on The Black Market, as well as advancing the storyline. The Black Market gives you access to a wide range of useful vehicles and weapons, at reasonable prices. Initially all you get is a tiny jet, a motorcycle, and a boat. Later you’ll be rocking attack helicopters and armoured vehicles. Failing that, you can steal a wide array of helicopters, fighter jets, civilian-style aircraft, cars, buses, bikes, whatever. You’ve also got your parachute. Around the various locations you’ll find flashing crates containing upgrade parts. Upgrades will let you increase your max health or can be spent on improving weapons or vehicles from the Black Market.
Speaking of locations, the island has a hell of a lot of ground to cover with quite varied terrains. There’s the snowy inland peaks, the deserts of the southwest, a swamp-like area in the south-east, and a few off-shore oil rigs for you to cause chaos on. There are only a handful of types of locations to visit but most of them at least look different from the others. The most common types are villages and army bases. Villages tend to have water towers and generators for you to destroy. Army bases tend to have fuel tanks, silos, generators, communications towers, and SAM sites. There are also military docks, airports, communications facilities, and a few other unmarked locations that are ruins or something. Generals dot the landscape and can be killed for bonuses. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and you won’t get too bored too quickly so long as you enjoy causing chaos.
That said JC2 tends to get a bit repetitive. Attacking a base more or less consists of the same thing again and again – shoot like a madman and pull off a few cool stunts. The stunts and a bit of imagination will definitely make things a lot more fun. Graphically the game is solid, and it looks pretty good with an impressive terrain draw distance. Some of the visual effects are a bit annoying (like the heatwave effect) but textures look great and the game world is really bright and colourful during the day. It’s reasonably impressive that they’re got such a large game world running as well as it does.
No complaints here, everything looks great! Impressive draw distance.
Worst. Voice. Acting. Ever! Okay that’s a bold claim to make, but it can’t be far off the mark.
This game is a lot of fun. It’s a blast using the grappling hook and blowing up oil rigs.
Massive gameworld with plenty of things to do, except most of those things are just the same things at different locations.
Just Cause 2 is a hell of a lot of fun, even if its storyline is weak and the voice acting is comically bad. Still, it’s tough to put down once you get into it; it’s like GTA but without a story and with the intent to blow things up. It’s like Jagged Alliance except without a team, without a story, and with far less realism. Basically if you like to blow things up and do something crazy, like grapple onto a fighter jet and kick its pilot out mid-flight, then JC2 might just be your kind of game.