If you like destruction, a little bit of the "boom-boom," then you will want to buy a ticket the abstruse island of Panau. As Mr. Scorpion, 'Rico Rodriguez' you will become a modern-day cowboy. Armed with a ludicrous payload 'Just Cause 2' offers up a playground of destruction like no other. Feeling the urge to sting? then grapple onto our review of 'Just Cause 2.'
After the washout efforts from the original 'Just Cause,' 'Eidos' and 'Avalanche' have rejuvenated the series with a renewed vigor. 'Just Cause 2' ups the auntie in almost every concievable way. 'Just Cause 2' isn't only a better game, it is bigger, badder, and twice the experience than the original. Sure, the core mechanics are still on the sloppy side, but when you have this much freedom to destroy, sloppy can be easily forgotten.
The star of ‘Just Cause 2’ might not be who you would think. 'Rico Rodriguez' might be the man in the action; however, the spotlight belongs to his arm-mounted grappling hook and a quick releasing “re-loadable” parachute. This interesting one-two punch instantly propels 'Rico' around the world with ease making him more versitile than your standard mercenary. In a single click you can instantaneously quick snap to an object to be drawn in and open your chute and glide with the wind. Using these two modes of transportation actually makes 'Rico' feels like an urban warfare version of 'Spider-Man' at times. It's very 'James Bond', interesting, and a lot of fun.
This ability to grapple onto any surface goes further than simply conveyance. You can also pulling objects around (including people), or even attaching two objects together via the grappling hook. Moving objects is even more fun that swinging around the world which makes for interesting moments. The are no limits to what you can play around with in 'Just Cause 2,' and like any good sandbox game, it encourages imagination. Whatever you can conjure up, give it a shot, you might just be surprised.
‘Just Cause 2’ is all about the action, as you likely can tell from the grappling hook/parachute combo. Along with all that trickery, you can go about things in the normal 3rd person shooter way by grabbing a gun, blowing stuff up, hijacking vehicles, etc... etc... basically creating havoc. Some of the most fun starts when you play around with the wide range of vehicles available in the game. Every vehicle is accessible, and ‘Just Cause 2’ includes a nice selection including everything from helicopters, and jets, to speedboats, tuk-tuk’s, tractors, and more. Indisputably, 'Avalanche' didn’t skimp out on any additional content here. Driving all the different vehicles types is a fun, and will eat up a good amount of time. The handling is a little loose on some of the vehicles, but all-in-all it works out with nicely with the games overall style.
Stealing a little inspiration from ‘Pursuit Force’ the PSP (or even 'Wheelman')—, ‘Just Cause 2’ lets you hop on the roof on the roof of a moving vehicles so you can shoot at enemies, or even hop between two moving vehicles. This technique is something you will get used to employing, and when you mix in all the other elements of destruction, vehicle hopping becomes a lot of fun. Like 'Wheelman,' who borrowed from 'Pursuit Force,' the mechanic isn’t totally flushed out which can feel a little clumsy, even so, it is still entertaining. "Clumsy, but fun" should be the motto of ‘Just Cause 2’ because the action is slightly muddled and clumsy at times, but it is always fun.
Where in the Panau is Tom Sheldon?
The first 40 minutes of ‘Just Cause 2’ will introduce you to the neat gameplay tweaks in the game, like the grappling hook, and parachute. In between your militant acrobatics you will meet a several bit players behind the plot in ‘Just Cause 2’. The plot has Rico sent in to oust ‘Baby Panay’, an oppressive dictator who has taken over control of the Asian island of Panau. Rico’s secondary objective is to find and assassinate an agent who has gone rouge, a mister ‘Tom Sheldon’. These are the building blocks that kick start your adventures in Panau. The first people you will meet in the game are ‘Maria Kane’, ‘Jade Tane’, but the action doesn’t start until you rescue ‘Karl Blaine’ who aids you on your mission to find Sheldon.
Becoming the Scorpion
Rescuing Karl starts up the secondary plot movement..., becoming the Scorpion. As the Scorpion you will infiltrate the three criminal gangs who operate in Panau; the Roaches, the Reapers, and the Ular Boys. Each faction will have several missions for you to run through that eats up the majority of your game time. Similar to other games, completing missions increases the amount of trust within each gang, which expands their power and helps you achieve your goals. When they become more empowered, you will notice more “friendly” troops around as the move and occupy the land you have retaken. The missions range from protecting a particular person to all out wars. Most of them are fun, however, they can be repetitive after a while. You will find a few new twists in "some" of the missions, but for the most part you auto-pilot switch will be turned on and you will be simply going through the motions.
Working through the “gang” and “agency” missions unlocks new missions and alternative objectives. Keeping things moving, keeping the havoc meter rising, will make you a happy gamers as new objectives pop up constantly. One aspect that ‘Just Cause 2’ does better than most games is give the player instant feedback on how they are doing in the game. More than stat tracking, you will have tickers that appear on screen telling you statistics including everything from how many headshots you have made to you current mission progress. It’s pretty wild, and one feature that will likely be borrowed by other developers.
Just Cause: Guerrilla
If you want a quick overview of ‘Just Cause 2’ you could say it plays like ‘Red Faction: Guerilla’ in the ‘Far Cry’ universe. The gameplay is close to last years ‘Red Faction: Guerrilla’ in a setting that is similar to ‘Far Cry’ and ‘Far Cry 2.’ This isn’t a bad comparison considering both games are excellent games that deliever a strong sandboxed expreince. Early refrences to ‘Grand Theft Auto’ could be made, however, ‘Just Cause 2’ is more like ‘Saints Row’ than ‘GTA.' Is ‘Just Cause 2’ better than these games, well, not really, but at times it comes close. The level of destruction is modest in ‘Just Cause 2,' but its nothing like the demolition power of ‘Red Faction’, or something title like ‘Battlefield: Bad Company.’ The main difference is that buildings can not be destroyed, but almost everything else can be. In the future it would be great to see the series advance their tech to deliever more of a destructive punch. In the time between the two releases, ‘Just Cause’ has jumped by a massive leap, so I have no doubt that ‘Just Cause 3’ (not officially announced) will be even more impressive than its sequel.
Panau is Gargantuan
‘Just Cause 2’ might not be the most destructive game on the market, but its open-world sandbox is one of the largest we have seen. Simply put, the Island of Panau is gargantuan. What makes Panau even more special is how environmentally diverse each section of the map is. In Panau you can go from snow covered mountains, down to sunny beaches, clear blue ocean waters, to jungle terrain and musky swamps. ‘Just Cause 2’ has it all packed into this package, and now it looks better and has some great dynamic weather effects thanks to the improved ‘Avalanche Engine’. The graphics really standout as a whole, sure there are some washed out aspects, but nothing major, and certainly nothing to make the game ugly. It also has to be noted that the world doesn’t need to load. The only load times are when you die, start a mission, or order something from the Black Market. Otherwise, it is free roam happiness with zero lag.
The Black Market
The Black Market you say? The Black Market is a one-stop shopping helicopter that can be called upon at any time. Money earned in the game can be used to purchase, and upgrade new weapons and vehicles. The standard congregation of weapons is available, along with some cool vehicles with an Agency flair. Each time you order a gun, or vehicle, it will cost you, which detures gamers from abusing the system. From this heli you can also be dropped off at any location you have found on the map. It’s a quick travel solution that is handy given the size of the map. Waypoints can also be market to help you find your objectives. By land, sea, or air, you’ll likely need to active this a time or two... and for the Black Market, well, you will get to know it, and its pilot, the ‘Sloth Demon’ very well.
So Much to Do, So why am I getting Bored?
I know I can happen with any game, but I didn't expect it to happy with 'Just Cause 2,' and that is the feeling of stagnency. The inital stages of destruction is very enticing and will uneqiviantly hold your attention, however, after a few hours (3-4) the action can become a little dull. One of the main causes behind this feeling is the missions. They are simply boring at times, which is surprising since they never veer too far from the core gameplay code of destruction. I know that is what 'Just Cause 2' is about, the destruction, but even this gaming war vet was tired out after a few hours.
More variation is needed, along with deeper character development... or at least a meatier plot. The lack of variation and story depth eventually hurts the end product, and turns 'Just Cause 2' into a pick-up-and-play title, rather than a full out addiction. The best thing about 'Just Cause 2' being a pick-up-and-play styled title is that you can pick it up and get right back into the action without missing any momentum. Unlike 'Grand Theft Auto' that is story-driven along with all the little extras, 'Just Cause 2' feels more like the extra's come first and then the story. It's not bad, but the full package would have been better.
Free DLC, Woo-Hoo!
After you accept the fact that 'Just Cause 2' isn't going to be a overly deep expereince, there are lots of other activities to keep you busy besides the main plot. There are hundreds of hidden packages to find, tones of locations to discover, and more. If you are really digging the action in ‘Just Cause 2’, this game will keep you busy for a long time. Secondly, 'Eidos' and 'Square' are going to support their game with DLC, and better yet, FREE DLC too! They have already released a pimped up Ice-Cream Van called the ‘Chevalier Ice Breaker’ to play around with (pics in gallery)... and more is coming. This is definitely an asset and one factor that could cause you to hold on to your copy for a longer than normal. It also makes ‘Just Cause 2’ more likely to fall into the “BUY” category, rather than a rental.
'Just Cause 2' is an over-the-top sandboxed advocate for destruction. The perfect vaction spot for all those who like a little mayhem with their adventure. 'Just Cause 2' is going to challenge your intellect, heck, you might not even watch a single cut-scene, but when you action starts, you will be glued to your controller and locked in to the fast paced action. 'Just Cause 2,' is one of those, "turn your brain off," "adrenaline filled" games that is made just right. If you are a fan of action based sandboxed games than you need to check out 'Just Cause 2,' it is far superior than the original and one of years surprise hits. You're the man, Scorpion.
Gameplay:8.0, Graphics:8.5, Sound:7.4, Innovation:7.5, Mojo:8.5 Final: 8.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 04.19.10