- + Medici is a stunning location
- + Huge explosions
- + Being able to attach multiple tethers is both unpredictable and hilarious
- - Performance issues
- - Lack of multiplayer a missed opportunity
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
Start Replay: “Boom. Boom.”
While the beautiful islands of Medici and its inhabitants remain oppressed by ruthless dictator General Di Ravello, I’ve started my day by tethering a goat to a helicopter and flying off to liberate one of the many enemy bases controlling each district. Why do I have a goat in tow? I figured it would serve as some funny cannon fodder to hurl towards my next enemy. In Just Cause 3 you’re never told how to play, all that’s required is that you cause as much mayhem and destruction as possible; blow up oil containers, tether enemies and objects together and zip around the chaos using your wing suit. It’s careless fun, housed within a dense open-world.
Developed by the studio that crafted this summer’s Mad Max game, Avalanche Studios has returned to Just Cause with a third instalment, bringing back its leading action hero Rico Rodriguez and giving him a new playground to explore. It’s been five years since Just Cause 2, and as such, increased power through newer hardware has allowed for much more detail in environments and a greater amount of theatricality. I think it’s fair to say that explosions have been amped up to 11.
Chaining together destruction remains the focus of Just Cause, as you set off across Medici freeing local towns from the clutches of General Di Ravello’s men and removing impending threats from enemy strongholds. In order to accomplish all of this you’re going to need some serious firepower, not to mention fancy gadgets. Both the grapple hook and parachute return from the second game but this time feature advanced mechanics. Taking inspiration from the many mods Just Cause 2 received, Rico’s grapple hook can now latch onto multiple objects. Once upgraded, players can use up to eight tethers at any given opportunity, allowing for strategic destruction and tomfoolery. Connecting two enemy helicopters together is smart, but stringing oil tanks, wildlife and enemies together showcases the games’ extreme rag doll physics to full effect. The grapple hook is undoubtedly the star of the show.
Deployment of your parachute now offers a lot more control and shooting enemies whilst gliding couldn’t be easier. The addition of a wing suit gives Rico a bit more speed, and infiltrating enemy headquarters whilst swooping across Medici’s stunning scenery takes a page from the Dark Knight himself. Everything you do is about keeping up momentum and doing so with style; driving a car off the side of a cliff whilst you take to the roof, jump off before impact and open your wing suit shortly before hijacking an enemy helicopter and liberating a nearby base, is just one example. Progression throughout the story gives even more incentives to be destructive, opening up more equipment for use on the battlefield. Supply drops go by the name “Rebel Drop” in the options menu and act as your go-to-source for all the items you have acquired; whether that be vehicles or weapons, anything can be instantly spawned to your location at the drop of a hat. What’s even better is the fact that weapons built into vehicles never lose ammunition, and lend themselves all the more to an appetite for ultimate destruction.
Over-the-top fireballs and explosions lie at the heart of Just Cause, and the many challenges available upon clearing each enemy base provide the perfect excuse for unparalleled chaos. Alongside wing suit races that pit you with clearing all hoops on a speedy sky dive, destruction frenzy gives you a specific method for demolition and tasks you with racking up as many explosions as possible. Dismantling scenery and keeping up your combo will earn you points which, if successful, can net you up to five cogs. Once acquired, these cogs will be used as a source for upgrading. For instance, to begin with you’re given an infinite number of C4 charges that can only be planted four at a time, upgrading them will allow more to be planted at once. This gave me a real incentive to complete each challenge mode and gain the maximum amount of cogs to progress a lot faster; the quicker I gained more destructive equipment, the more open my tactics could become. There’s definitely something to be said about planting C4 on multiple areas of an enemy base and standing from afar as you detonate everything in sequence.
Just Cause 3 is absolutely huge, but is similar in size to its predecessor. The key difference is its density, presenting towns with more destructible scenery and bridges that can be taken down through the use of a few well-placed charges. Its open countryside and ocean, too, allow for many more opportunities when it comes to traversal. Sometimes simply taking a back seat and soaking in the lively atmosphere is a nice change in pace from firing an RPG. All of these amendments and additional features are quite ambitious, but it’s a shame when the action packed gameplay is met by frustrating performance issues.
One such issue is loading times. Whenever I’d participate in a destruction or wing suit challenges, reloading them in order to achieve a better score took far too long. On occasion the wing suit mode would reload quite quickly, but having an entire base reset for destruction often took a few minutes. From my perspective this should be near instant, as the addictive pull you’ll get to try and better your score “that one more time” will diminish after a few re-runs. It may not have any loading screens when exploring the island, but god forbid that you die, otherwise there will be another lengthy delay. Add the fact that its frame rate drops dramatically during hectic scenes (something that will happen a lot) and it doesn’t bode well for a game all about momentum and quick explosive action. Turning things into rubble is fun, but not being able to wipe out a concrete building limited my imagination. This is a series all about destruction, surely newer hardware would have allowed for ripping through something as small as a brick house? Nonetheless, the items that can be destroyed satisfied me for the most part.
Surprisingly, given the huge critical acclaim for the Just Cause 2 multiplayer mod, Avalanche Studios have forgone any multiplayer beyond time trials and leaderboards. It’s bizarre, because causing destruction with a friend or playing through the story cooperatively would have opened up a myriad of gameplay possibilities. That said, the studio haven’t ruled out adding multilayer at a later date, but don’t get your hopes up.
The unpredictable nature of Just Cause 3’s gameplay makes each moment you play it really enjoyable. Its many glitches and hiccups add charm to the wacky, not-so-serious tone it presents. Despite the long loading screens and other issues, the amount of creative freedom you’re given when it comes to causing chaos is hard to pass up.
*Just Cause 3 was provided to Start Replay on PS4 by Square-Enix and Xbox One by Xbox