Playground of Destruction
In a perfect world, you’ll probably find me starting this review with talks about explosions but Just Cause 3 is surprisingly more than that. Sure you have the destruction simulator, where you can literally create chaos around the massive open-world, which is part of the fun but it also features a somewhat witty story and an immersive world to lose yourself in.
Just Cause 3 sees Rico Rodriguez, the main protagonist from the previous Just Cause games, and official dictator remover returning to his home turf of Medici to rid the country of the evil warlord General DiRavello. With his trusty grappling hook, lots of explosives and an army of rebels, Rico’s on a mission to take Medici back.
The game doesn’t hold back on the intro giving the player a taste of chaos by throwing them on a plane taking out SAM sites with an RPG. Rico doesn’t do conventional combat here, and as you progress through the early stages of Just Cause 3 as it’s all about throwing yourself into the centre of the fire, headfirst all the way.
I love the way Just Cause 3 allows you to experiment with how you destroy your enemies. You can shoot them, which is probably the easiest and more boring way to go about it, but with all the tools at your disposal you’re encouraged to take the more unconventional and at times silly approach to every combat situation. Some levels have massive (purposely) placed explosive containers that often set out like a playground as if the team from Avalanche Studios wanted you to pretty much just muck around. There’s lots of choices on how you approach each situation and it depends on how creative you are. The wingsuit and parachute not only lets you travel across the map in the sky but also rain terror from above as you come in from the air rather just waltz straight in.
“with all the tools at your disposal you’re encouraged to take the more unconventional and at times silly approach to every combat situation.”
Medici is a massive world and part of the story is to liberate pretty much the whole island. There’s three provinces and lots of towns/cities to liberate with each one progressively harder depending on size. Each town/city has a set number of objectives to complete before you can raise the flag and liberate it. The objectives involve smashing down propaganda billboards, speakers or destroying the General DiRavello encampment there. Once you’ve liberated a town, the area gradually changes landscape as you see rebels taking up camp there and becomes overall less hostile when Rico walks in. Each town/city you liberate adds to the bigger picture which overall see’s the region become free of DiRavello’s army.
There’s also enemy bases around the map, some small and some highly fortified which can be hard to liberate. These bases not only add to the region becoming liberated, you’ll also gain a bonus vehicle/weapon to add to your rebel drops. Rebel drops are an on-demand service by the rebels which you can call in things like vehicles, weapons, and so on. You don’t get access to all the weapons and vehicles straight up because you must either first discover them through taking enemy bases or by hijacking one and taking it back to the rebel garages for acquisition. This encourages exploration of the map and doing side missions to gain access to a better arsenal.
Rico also has the ability to upgrade his arsenal by doing challenges featured across the map. These challenges are unlocked via liberating the towns and cities around the map. You can progress through the story/game without really upgrading but unlocking new things like having more than just two grappling lines or nitrous upgrades makes the experience much more exciting.
Graphically, Just Cause 3 looks amazing on PC with all the settings turned up. I did encounter some issues with performance but it was later rectified in the patch which heavily optimised the game. At times because of the exploration, it’s just great to fly around the map and explore every nook and cranny which potentially has hidden goodies. The physics really make the game, allowing you to bounce around objects and create havoc you didn’t expect but often becomes the main issue the game faces. It’s not always 100% and can lead you into an often frustrating (sometimes hilarious) death. During one mission, my helicopter for some reason blew up when I landed it safely forcing me to re-do the mission which was tedious. These small glitches are very rare, but happen.
Just Cause 3 also features an online leaderboard, which is often great but somewhat intrusive. The game requires an online connection to sync leaderboards to the game where each player can compete to do various challenges. Things like ‘who can fling a person the furthest’ or ‘longest drift’ is all part of this small mini-online game you can challenge yourself but when servers don’t work, it becomes frustrating. It was expected servers will have issues pre-launch and you can play offline but the game tries to re-connect you online when you hit the menu despite having already optioned out. While servers were fine when I tried this morning, in the future when it ‘may’ drop – this could be problematic.
The way Just Cause 3 approaches the tried-and-true sandbox open-world helps create a unique playthrough where each player will experience something different. The developers have understood what drives the franchise and gives us the tools to create our own ‘hollywood’ style blockbuster by giving us a playground to run around in. There’s no set path in completing a mission and part of the story is to create your own experience. Despite having some minor glitches and awfully long load times for the online segment Just Cause 3 is one of the best titles I’ve played this year, offering enough variety, a massive map, and plenty of witty comedy to become the title that blows us away.
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PC (Reviewed) / PS4 / Xbox One
A review code was provided by the publisher. The majority of the game was reviewed in a pre-release state. A patch addressed the graphical issues we encountered but some glitches were still present in the final build.