Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Platform: XBOX / PS2 / Windows / Steam
Genre: Action / Adventure
OFLC Rating: MA
First glance at the Just Cause series and four games come to mind… Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Far Cry 2, Bionic Commando and Pursuit Force. The first thing you’re going to notice about the game is that there is a sparse environment to explore (in both games). Before I cover the original instalment of Just Cause, I would like to issue a warning / recommendation. I’ve said this about the Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II Gold Edition and I will say of Just Cause.
How you approach this game will determine how rewarding it becomes for you!
Unlike Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row and Far Cry 2 don’t expect to be making like Doug from Pwnage and going around raking in the headshots because you will be sorely disappointed as this game’s combat physics are very much like an arcade game rather than today’s action game that offer a nice dose of reality via the physics. In fact this game is in fact what you might term as being a “Sandbox Arcade Action Game”. Firstly with the combat both you and your adversaries have hitpoints (so to speak) thus it really matters like where you place your shots. Finally taking into account that you can go from vehicle to vehicle much like Pursuit Force you can do same jumping for car to car, or by way of the grappling hook (which you receive upon starting your second “Agency” mission). With that you can in fact hijack or (as the game and community call it) “Skyjack” aircraft in flight! Aside from having overall gameplay mechanics of an arcade action game, the insane ability to skyjack enemies chasing spices this game up a fair degree to say at the very least.
The basic story is pretty reasonable but storytelling however is somewhat to be desired. The Just Cause series revolves around ousting dictatorship on a newly established island nation, that basic formula has a lot of potential but is severely wasted with poor storytelling. You play as the protagonist who is best described as being…
Two parts “International Super-Spy”. Three parts “Bandito”. With a generous slash of Antonio Banderas. That is the best way to explain who Rico Rodriguez is.
In this instalment Rodriguez is called in to the Caribbean island nation of San Esperito to overthrow the dictator Salvador Mendoza. Beyond the story in a nutshell, that is as good as it gets… Seriously!
The storytelling is done by means of B-Grade cutscenes and mediocre (at best) mission design. Now Just Cause is the kind of game where you would ordinarily say “Screw the story, I’ll unleash mayhem instead!”. From what I’ve heard Just Cause 2 will let you get away with that as it has a currency system rewarding you for causing havoc which allows you to access unlocks, unfortunately you progress by completing story and side missions unlock better hardware and features.
Visually the environment in which you play looks a knock-off of the original Far Cry, but rather impressive. The character animations do Just Cause little justice, especially within the cutscenes.
Audibly this game has reasonable sound effects and voice acting, but has a nice Latin themed soundtrack that makes the game quite refreshing.
Providing you approach this as arcade action game and have the patience to put with mediocre interludes and potentially frustrating missions you will Just Cause to be reasonably rewarding experience (at best).