Will Preston

If at first you don’t succeed, fly a plane into the face of your enemies.

by on Mar.16, 2011, under Review, Video Games

This is the sandbox age of gaming. Nearly all games being released at the moment have as much free roaming as a diplomatically immune cockroach, with about as much capacity for destruction as a particularly angry sun. Square Enix’s recent sojourn with running amok with guns just turned out to be a shining example of what freedom really is. Just Cause 2 has no need for storyline. It also has no need for multiplayer, which is a surprising thing to say, I know! In the fictional island cluster of Panau (somewhere off the coast of China…I think…I wasn’t really paying that much attention), a former US ally, “Baby” Panay suddenly takes over the entire country under an oppressive regime.

There were no seats left

Typically, this is where you enter. Your man for the job is Rico Rodriguez (not voiced by Danny Trejo for some reason), who works for ‘The Agency’ (I will remind you again that story isn’t a feature included in this game. Neither is character depth). Not only do you have to topple the supposedly evil regime, you have to hunt down form Agency agent, Tom Sheldon. That’s the floppy, deflated balloon of a story handled with! To further your way through the game, you must cause chaos. And by chaos, you need to blow up military structures, thieve supplies and generally go Columbine, so to speak. As well as the usual array of weapons to help you complete this questionable charade, Rico also has the ability to grapple hook onto just about everything and summon parachutes from a mysteriously vacant backpack.

The parachute heavy gameplay brought back found memories of the classic chaotic shooter MDK, whilst the grappling hook turned Rico into some kind of Hispanic Spiderman. A neat trick the game teaches you to do is a manoeuvre called ‘catapulting’ which combines the use of the parachute and grappling hook to make every single other mode of transport in the game seemingly redundant. This is probably my only complaint with the game. The nation of Panau covers 40 square kilometres. I haven’t seen a game that big since Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. The terrain varies from forest, desert, snowy mountains and offshore facilities. It really is a huge game and a great amount of effort has been applied to ensure that the terrain doesn’t get too boring. Which would be fine, if stealing a jet and crossing the game in a matter of minutes wasn’t possible.

That's about one fifth of the game there

It’s a bit of a double edged sword when it comes to discussing Just Cause 2’s freedom. The whole game is accessible from the moment you press start. And that’s the whole game. The only things you have to work for is trudging towards seeing the end credits and upgrading your weapons. That’s it. The rest of the time can be spent causing chaos at over 300 locations in the game (one of which is a nifty nightclub in the sky aptly called the Mile High Club) or doing whatever you bloody well feel like. There isn’t that much urgency for you to do the next mission considering the only rewards will be more money and another mission. It’s like being allowed to run amok in a supermarket for as long as you want. First it seems a great idea as you start wreaking havoc in the dairy isle and doing all sort of Id-like things that no one in polite society would stand by to let you do. But after you’ve run out of ideas on what things you can do with this amount of freedom and groceries, you start to hit a brick wall when thinking of new things to do. Without much clear structure in a game, you lose drive to keep going. That’s one of the main niggles.

Your anti-gravity grappling hook

The other I was talking about earlier before I rudely interrupted myself with a frankly crap Tesco’s analogy was the massive environment. Now this sounds like something that can’t go wrong. After all, the terrain is varied and it would take a long while to walk from place to place. That is, of course, if you decide to NOT use the catapult technique or any of the easily stealable armada of bikes, cars, choppers and planes that litter the landscape like you’re inside Jeremy Clarkson’s head. Before you know it, that epic sounding 4 kilometer trek across enemy infested territory becomes a laughably drawn out idea as you extract yourself to the nearest airstrip, steal a jet fighter, fly it into the air, get out to stand on top of it and fire a barrage of machine gun bullets from an assault rifle whilst screaming past at over a hundred miles an hour.

The nearest game I could compare this to would be Mercenaries, but instead of readily available airstrikes to flatten any problems, you have more access to vehicles than one man should possibly need. But despite the problems with freedom in Just Cause 2, it provided me with the kind of no holds barred gameplay that provides a great stress relief. Just Cause 2 is currently available at such a cheap price and has such a long length of play that you’d be saving time and money buying this than wasting forty quid an another COD clone.

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