I never played any games in the Just Cause series other than a demo for Just Cause 2 but when Square Enix and Avalanche Studios dropped the trailer for Just Cause 3 they immediately grabbed my attention. The world was bright and the destruction was beautiful and the amount of freedom you seemed to have captivated me and it quickly turned into one of my most anticipated titles for the end of the year. But did it set my world on fire?
You play as Rico Rodriguez who, according to his business card, is a professional dictator remover. How does the game open up? How does standing on the top of a plane shooting missiles at enemy bases while simultaneously receiving enemy fire sound? Badass? Yes indeed. If you’re looking for a story or a game with deep gameplay mechanics you’ll want to look elsewhere as the Just Cause series isn’t known for either. But if you do want to just blow shit up in a rather gorgeous sandbox playground then Just Cause 3 will likely make you giddy and very very happy. From the start you have a rifle, special weapon (I frequently switched between the RPG launcher and sniper rifle), dual pistols, and endless C4…..because why the hell not? You also have a grappling hook to hastily traverse the world both horizontally and vertically along with a parachute and very early on you unlock the wing suit. The “over the top I know I’m a video game” attitude is wonderful and reminds me of another recent title I adore, Sunset Overdrive. Both throw deep stories and serious tones out the window and know they’re crazy video games, and both are wonderful for it. Armed with all these weapons you’re number one (and only) objective is to light everything up. All of it. Why? Because you need to liberate outposts to save civilians, and dictators typically don’t want to negotiate over tea. Which is a shame because I love tea.
Speaking of tea you’ll have plenty of time to make some. Or coffee. Or a sandwich. Before I got my copy I heard murmurs of horrific load times which I chalked up as people just complaining. But wow these load times. Cold booting the game from the Xbox One dashboard takes upwards of five minutes. Five minutes! And when you die? Ninety seconds—a full minute and a half! You may be rolling your eyes and thinking I\’m blowing the timeframe out of proportion but you have to understand that to fully enjoy Just Cause 3 you can’t be afraid to take insane risks and die. You can\’t be timid about flying a plane with C4 attached all over towards an enemy base, jumping out mid air, enabling your parachute, and blowing that bad boy up. And yet, I sadly found myself playing it safe because I felt punished for going nuts and finding ways to creatively release my inner pyromaniac.
Now to Avalanche\’s credit any havoc I wreaked and any enemies I took out remained that way when I respawned which was, thankfully, within the vicinity of where I died. Even still, once you’re put off from going crazy with explosions the game turns into a very mediocre third person shooter filled with really dumb enemies that are there as nothing more than fodder. My only other complaint is the technical issues I encountered when things got really hectic. When shit hit the fan with a myriad of explosions on screen at once the framerate would plummet to the mid to low twenties. If that wasn\’t bad enough the motion blur used to convey a sense of speed only made everything worse. Avalanche has posted notes for the upcoming 1.02 patch that claims to address some performance issues—specifically the excruciatingly long load time in the beginning. They are also reassuring fans that this is the beginning of a much larger plan to optimize and and improve the game.
And that makes me happy because while this game does have it’s issues I found myself having a ball the majority of the time. I’d love to see them get the load times after death significantly lower because I feel that would greatly improve the overall experience. Even in it’s current state I found the game hard to put down because at it’s core it’s an action lover\’s dream one of the best sandbox games I\’ve played to date. There are endless ways to destroy outposts with lots of vehicles to unlock, challenges to beat, and key gameplay mechanics to upgrade. Another final thought I have pertaining to Just Cause 3 is that it’s nice to have a game that ’s not episodic with an ongoing story. I want to review the new King’s Quest , for example, but there has been such a long window between the first and second chapters that I can’t remember who’s who and what I’m supposed to be doing. Just Cause is a game I can load up, find an outpost, and go to town without any confusion. And that’s refreshing.