Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Microsoft PC [Reviewed], Xbox One, PS4
Release Date: Dec. 1st, 2015
From the insane brains over at Avalanche Studios comes the latest installment of the Just Cause series: Just Cause 3. Categorizing this embodiment of unadulterated chaos as an Open-World, Action/Destruction just doesn’t seem to do this game justice. The ever-suave Rico Rodriguez returns to liberate the Republic of Medici from the militant dictatorship of Sebastiano Di Ravello. Of course, this has to be done in the most outrageously spectacular display of destruction known to modern sandbox games. And Rico-suavé has all the tools he could possibly fantasize about to wreak the type of glorious havoc, which is his specialty.
Though the somewhat rampant technical glitches detracted from the immersive nature of Just Cause 3, the raw freedom it provided did more than enough to justify the bugs. Not saying all can be forgiven, since it’s only fair to highlight the positives and negatives equally. The story of Just Cause 3 is pretty blasé, nothing gamers worldwide haven’t seen and done several times before. But it does provide a lovely basis for the setting of blowing everything to smithereens.
Who better to do that than an amalgamation of all the hyper-macho heroes we grew up loving, Rico Rodriguez. I call him the everyday omni-hero because playing throughout the entire game I couldn’t help but feel like I had superpowers. Looking aside for just a moment at the countless number of times I ate a mouthful of dirt, diving headfirst into a poorly judged wingsuit nose-dive. Every hero has to start somewhere, right? The wingsuit is just the tip of the iceberg too. Rico is equipped with gadgets left and right, from his iconic grappling hook, to his never ending supply of parachutes and RPGs; he has it all!
Who needs the Batmobile when endlessly speed-gliding across a Mediterranean landscape is an option? The only issue here, besides the infinite options, is the ever-dreaded learning curve. “If at first you don’t succeed, die-die again” seemed to be the motto of Just Cause 3 during its rough beginning. Give it some time though, and Rico will be flipping out of a helicopter into a free fall. From there he can wait until the last second to grapple onto a speeding car and launch himself forward into a parachuting blaze of glory. Pick off soldier after soldier with a handy sniper rifle strapped to his back as he softly glides back to the earth.
Rico Rodriguez really is a one-man arsenal, posing as a constant bane to the endless stream of Medici militants. The way in which he accomplishes this may come as a surprise. Traditional firearms are, in Just Cause 3, typically a last resort. Why waste ammunition spraying down enemies with bullets like any average Joe could, when it’s possible to tether multiple enemies to their hilarious death?
Rico’s upgraded grappling hook extraordinaire can do things no one would’ve even considered previously. Strap a projectile rope around one enemy, tether the other end to a conveniently placed explosives barrel, release and enjoy! And why stop there? The possibilities are limitless. Throw the tether onto a plane, a speed boat, even a wind turbine. The result will almost always be fiery and satisfying.
This game defies convention in the best sense. The amount of creative options open to the player are categorically staggering. It was truly refreshing to play an open-environment game that wasn’t constantly trying to shove me in one direction or another. It simply gave me the tools to do as I pleased and left all execution completely up to me.
One of the most respectable qualities of this game is its addictive nature of experimentation. It can be boiled down to just five words. I never want to quit! Though some could complain Just Cause 3 is innately repetitive, I would have to say I disagree. Sure, the premise is simple, liberate one province after another by destroying the same things. But the diverse new challenges that Rico encounters along the way make that repetition much more tolerable.
It could almost be an entire game in itself. Whether it’s a careening car chase, a jet ski dash, or a wingsuit speed challenge, acing these obstacles is well worth the time and effort. Every time a challenge’s specific parameters are met and enough gears are earned, the dynamic of the game shifts slightly. Unlocking new gear mods was arguably the highlight of the game in its entirety.
The pacing of the game is a tremendous improvement as well. It is rare to find an open-environment game that progresses this quickly with such natural ease. Players never feel forced to pursue one objective or stuck trying to defeat one mission over and over. The natural flow of the game’s experimentative nature left me astounded. Certain types of missions tend to shatter that dream-like state.
When I am set back due to my own mistakes or lack of skills, I am more than willing to get back up and try again. When I have to repeat challenges over and over due to the sporadic nature of buggy NPCs, it gets pretty frustrating. If individual instances like that were the game’s only flaws, it would be overlook-able. Upon the release of Just Cause 3, looking for bugs was sadly the easiest challenge of them all.
From disappearing parachutes to teleporting cars, this game seemed to be rife with errors. Some missions remained entirely unplayable due to either an erratic AI interaction or a misplaced vehicle that I was unable to interact with ever. The fluid flow that I praised the game for was often ruined by these seemingly simple fixes and obvious inconsistencies. Sometimes I could pop right back up from a 300 foot free fall, having taken no damage whatsoever, only to trip off a short 20 foot cliff afterwards that would somehow plummet me to my death.
Again, I find myself altogether too forgiving with this game in the end. It’s just too damn devilishly fun to hate. For anyone out there who enjoys completely over the top violence and destruction of epic proportions, Just Cause 3 is a must. I had a limitless supply of enjoyment using Rico’s ridiculous tools to set up chain reactions of cause and effect chaos. Possibilities like those are what break up the game’s inherent “instant gratification” mechanic and reveal the sub-layer of planning, experimentation and a carefully executed rewards system.
The Bottom Line
Just Cause 3 was a delight throughout the play-through. The fact that I was able to laugh off the bugs as just another enjoyable feature, rather than rage quitting instantly will forever be a testament to that enjoyment.