Repost: Just Cause 2 Review

Sandbox games are great in that they supply numerous hours of gameplay beyond the story of the title. On the flip side, they also provide way too many hours of side gameplay that can derail the action of the title and cause a bit of a loss of priority for completing the title.

In the case of Just Cause 2, the story of Rico landing on Panau Island combines the sandbox nature of the title in the best way. The side missions and random destruction help in furthering the title and making the pursuit of total annihilation of the island a pleasure rather than a chore.

Plot

Rico Rodriguez is sent to Panau Island to find Tom Sheldon, who taught Rico everything he knows, and find out why Sheldon has disappeared and where the Agency’s money has gone as well.

The tone of the plot carries a big budget action movie plot to accentuate the overall rampant chaos that Rico brings to the island. While discussing the plot will cause a lot of spoilers, Rico has to also befriend three different factions on the island to find Sheldon and eventually complete a mission he wasn’t expecting with friends who might be enemies.

The Look

The island is the main character in Just Cause 2. The 400 square miles is both a blessing and a curse for the title. It is a blessing because it’s so damn big. Which is also the curse. During the early hours, moving from mission to mission is a trek across beachfront property into snowcapped mountains. The island does have a tropical theme and environments do blend together, so the map provided along with in-game directions help tremendously to navigate.

Fully realized, the 400 square miles looks even more amazing from the air, especially if you’re free falling from miles above. The slow detail the emerges as you fall closer to the ground looks real.

The trees and locations on the island have that “built” feel so nothing looks artificial or just placed for effect. Airports are at the top of mountains or near the coastline. Military installations are scattered throughout the island, and fuel plants are placed where they would be necessary to fund the Panau military.

Character models along with vehicles all look crisp and even though most of the action is a little too quick to take everything in; simply walking through the jungles is a treat.

The Sound

Just Cause 2 needs a surround sound system to appreciate everything the audio supplies. Free falling with the wind coursing through the rear speakers, or running with an explosion erupting behind the player is awesome. Along with being able to hear the general direction of gunfire, Just Cause 2 pushes a lot of audio.

Voice acting, while B-movie style, is fun to listen to, even though sometimes the lips don’t match the vocals. The title hurls explosions everywhere, depending on what weapon or vehicle is being used.

Just Cause 2 knows how to use audio to simulate the action move.

Function

While controlling Rico, a third-person with reticule is used. For the most part, it works, but there are times when the system causes some issues, like repelling with the grappling hook that is one of the most important weapon/gadget in the title. Aiming the reticule amidst gunfire isn’t exact and there are times when over or under shooting happens.

With the reticule being the aiming system, most of the weapons have an aim-assist which takes care of most of the issues, but when trying to pull a sniper from a crow’s nest and time being of the essence, it would have been nice if it was exact.

All the vehicles in the title control differently from the moped to the helicopters, but all the cars have a very loose handling system which is difficult during the chase or escape missions. Though helicopters are among the most fun to fly, it does take some time to get used to their handling.

During the game, Rico has his Agency missions, which are the main plot missions, along with Faction missions, Racing Challenges, and random assassination missions all found by searching the huge amount of settlements on the island. It’s not uncommon to venture to some location, destroy everything, and then find out it was part of a mission later on. All the destruction and chaos adds to the gauge which will open new Agency missions.

By gaining chaos points and money, Rico can upgrade his weapons and vehicles, something that is very necessary to continue through the title. To upgrade, Rico has to find weapon and vehicle parts along with shields scattered around which will increase his health.

Using a “Heat” system, the level of awareness of the military also increases as the game continues and being attacked by four helicopters wasn’t unusual.

Just Cause 2 provides a lot of content beyond the story mode and it takes a long time to complete even a quarter of them.

Decisions

Sandbox fans have another great title to play through and complete 100%. It’s going to take a lot of hours and exploration, but Just Cause 2 is the title that keeps on giving.

There’s not even a precise time that can be attributed to completing just the story of the title, but it’s safe to say that thirty hours might get players 60-70% completion.

While some may miss the title, it is one to pick up because it does sink a lot of hours without realizing it. There aren’t a lot of sandbox titles that have released recently, but with the different take on the genre, Just Cause 2 is among the top.

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