Just Cause 2 Review

24 05 2010

Explosions, explosions, everywhere! But is too much of a good thing still too much?

I skipped Just Cause. This was before I discovered my love of sandbox games, and I really just didn’t hear enough about it to make we want to play it. But just the amazing dev diaries for Just Cause 2 had me salivating over it. All of the havoc and wanton destruction readily that’s available? The crazy vehicle tricks? The ability to ride atop a car, grapple an enemy riding a motorcycle to the road, his scream musical as he flies through the air, and then grappling myself to a nearby tree, opening a parachute, and soaring over a mile to my next destination? Bliss. So I was very happy when Chris lent me a copy.

Wait, how do I open my parachute again? Is it the A button? IS IT THE A BUTTON? SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!!!

In Just Cause 2 you play Rico Rodriguez, a badass government agent (hint: CIA) tasked with infiltrating the country of Panau and tracking down your old boss, who may have gone rogue. Also, take down the entire country’s government, which is a thinly-veiled satire of North Korea and Kim Jong-Il. To do this, you join up with three rebel factions, all with their own agendas and ideologies, to cause chaos, which, the more you cause, the more missions you can unlock. The writing and voice acting in this game is atrocious, full of more clichés and stereotypes than Avatar. Can you think of an offensive, direct to DVD action film accent? It’s in here. There’s a chick named Bolo Santosi, who sounds like Mistress Cleo, for crap’s sake. And your character, Rico? Miserably overdone Mexican accent. There are Arab, Asian, Texan, and Indonesian accents here too, and they’re all laughably bad, along with the delivery by the voice actors. I intentionally avoided looking up who voiced who in this game, because I did’t want to be disappointed if someone I respected worked on this. Rico’s in-game quips are all lame, and anything that comes out of Tom Sheldon’s mouth is near-indecipherable redneck gibberish. The whole game would be a Lost Cause (easy pun, sue me) if it weren’t for one saving grace.

BOOM! Whee!

This game is fun. It starts with you in freefall, careening towards a mountaintop base, and this adrenaline rush lasts for at least the first three or four hours of game time. With the grappling hook/parachute combo, getting from place to place is quick and easy, especially once you figure out that you can parasail around just about fast as you could drive there. This is due to the crap driving physics, which turn everything but a motorcycle into a careening 2-ton deathtrap. The only vehicles that are really fun to drive are the helicopters and planes, and half the time, you can just fast-travel to your next destination. Which you will do. A LOT. Because this game has the largest game world of any game ever, a huge near-30 mile play space full of deserts, jungles, snowy mountains, tropical islands, hell, even a whorehouse floating a mile above everything (yes, I said whorehouse, but don’t get your hopes of back-room bam bam up. There is no nookie in here like GTA. It’s a neat idea though, lashing a luxury yacht to 2 blimps). With hundreds of towns to pilfer of cash and upgrades for the meager selection of weapons and vehicles, and thousands of government buildings, water towers, and propaganda spewing trailers to blow up, you think “man, I’ll never get bored of this!”

Teen Wolf ain't got shit on this.

You are wrong. The game is a blast, yes, and making your own fun is easy. But after a while, with virtual miles between you and your next mission getting from place to place can get a little tedious. Sure, there is a fast travel mechanic, but it only works if you’ve been to where you want to go. Most of the time you haven’t. And forget going somewhere new, unless it’s in parachute/grapple range. Don’t get me wrong, get in a plane or a fast helicopter, and it’s a pretty ride: the geography of this fictional archipelago is beautifully rendered. It’s just that when I want to tool around to a new area it can take 5 – 10 minutes to get where I want to go. I hate to say that it’s too much game, but when most of the little towns are meaningless and have no relevance to the “story” then my eyes glaze over and the word filler floats across my vision.

Yeah, have fun walking/driving/flying across this. I sure didn't.

Another minor gripe I have is that early on, your weapons are woefully underpowered. Once you’ve got access to the black market and start collecting upgrades, then it gets a little easier, but even 12 hours into the game I can’t help but feel a little under gunned. A cover system would be nice too, and with the huge amounts of enemies you face, the game seems to be made for one, but it’s no where to be found.

Yeah, usually there's like 30 jeeps following you, and all you've got is a desert eagle. No bueno

Despite my bitching, I do recommend Just Cause 2, but maybe rent it first, and see if it’s for you. There’s a lot of game in there, but as much fun as the ‘splosions and the crazy stunts are, the game lacks focus. I’ll probably get it when it’s $15 at Game Stop, just to fuck around in.

Follow me on Twitter! @CharlieHamlin

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