The tagline for Just Cause 2 should be “Go Forth and Blow Stuff Up” or something along those lines because that’s exactly what you get to do. This is as open-ended a game that has ever been released, giving gamers the chance to completely immerse themselves in this extravagant and violent world. It’s big…very big, but fortunately you have access to about any mode of transportation you want to use and you’ll use them all…cars, tanks, helicopters, airplanes, motorcycles, speedboats, even a Boeing 737…some 100 vehicles in all.
You play as Rico Rogriguez, a covert operative sent to the fictional island nation of Panau to track down a rogue agent and oust dictator Baby Panay, but that’s only the barebones of the story. Your other goal is to do you best to cause chaos however you can and destabilize the government. I had a friend who was in the Army and a member of an artillery division. When asked what he did in the army his response was “bomb stuff and blow $hit up!”, and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing as Rico in a game filled with death-defying destructive stunts that will find you diving out of a helicopter just before you crash it into a government installation. The very definition of causing chaos! And why is chaos important? Well the more chaos you cause the more points you earn and the more missions, power-ups, new weapons, vehicles, and more are unlocked for use.
The game begins with you skydiving out of a chopper and parachuting into a government base. You have to retrieve several lost memory cards while killing and trying to destroy everything in your path: radio towers, SAM sites, fuel depots, radar stations, just about anything that looks to be of any value. Rico can carry a variety of weapons but his best friend is his grappling hook which turns him into Spider-Man in fatigues. With the grappling hook you can scale buildings, grab and pull enemies over the sides of cliffs, or hook onto flying helicopters to hitch a quick ride out of trouble.
After several short introductory and linear missions, the real fun begins. You’re dropped into Panau and can now choose your own path from an island that has become your personal playground. Once on the ground in Panau you are free to explore. As you do, take a moment to absorb the surroundings. Panau is a beautifully rendered environment and as lifelike a world as you have ever encountered; from lush jungles to snow-capped mountains to crystal clear blue water on white sandy beaches, it’s all alive with gorgeous textures and colors. Several local criminal gangs are struggling for control of the island. You can choose to infiltrate any or all which opens up a huge array of sub-missions. These can involve fairly mundane tasks like hacking a laptop or downloading info out of a PDA to teaming up with a group of computer-controlled characters to storm an enemy stronghold or kidnapping informants. The variety of missions is diverse and near endless.
Just Cause 2’s main plotline is totally preposterous…kind of like a 1960’s James Bond film or worse yet, a Matt Helm spy film. But it fits the games over-the-top action, stunts, and sense of humor perfectly. You ride on the tops of speeding cars, blazing your guns at the enemies; crash a truck through a rival gang’s hideout…or grab an enemy with the grappling hook and attach it to a moving vehicle for a good laugh. There’s so much to do and see it can be a bit overwhelming. You may even want to restart after playing a bit just to get a better grasp of the scope of the island.
Control wise, the grappling hook is flawless…just when you think you’re falling to your death shoot that baby off and find something to hook on to. If worse comes to worse, you’re equipped with an endless supply of parachutes to ease yourself back to the ground. Weapon use isn’t quite as tight, especially when surrounded by a lot of enemies. The targeting system can sometimes leave you open for attacks as you fire on enemies you’ve already dispatched. There are other minor control issues and some navigation issues at times, especially when trying to parachute into a particular target but those are slight and can be learned with practice. The voice acting is also a weak aspect but you’re not going to spend a lot of time talking anyway.
Just Cause 2 is big, loud, bombastic fun. You’ll have such a good time creating ungodly chaos that you’ll barely notice its few shortcomings.
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