It has been a long time since Far Cry was released, it was a game that finally bought in some paradise beauty to a genre that was known for its lack of colour. Surprisingly Just Cause is the only other game I can think of that has decided to fill up the landscape with colour and light since that very day. In Just Cause you play Rico Rodriguez, a CIA agent who takes on various corrupt people in the land of San Esperito.
In Just Cause, you take on the role of the flamboyant Rico Rodriguez - an undercover CIA operative specialising in regime change - as he tries to overthrow the corrupt government of San Esperito. This rogue South American island is suspected of stockpiling WMDs and it's your job to negate the threat to world peace. It could be to your advantage that this tropical paradise is about to implode as various factions vie for power - it just needs a gentle nudge in the right direction.
Just Cause offers the freedom to tackle your assignment however you want: play the island's factions off against one another; incite a rebellion among the masses; or build alliances with rebel forces and drug cartels. The incredibly detailed game world consists of 1,225 sq. miles of mountains, jungles, beaches, cities and villages which can be explored by land, sea and air. And you will have at your disposal one of the most varied and exciting array of vehicles, planes and watercraft ever seen in a video game.
Firstly lets get one thing straight, storytelling is not one of Just Cause's selling points, yes it has got some kind of story, but the main aim of the game seems to be about destroying stuff and killing thousands of people in the process and I am not joking when I say thousands. While this makes the game sound like it is very repetitive and in most respects it is, it does have a thrill ride about it and it is immensely enjoyable and easy to pick up ride.
So what makes Just Cause enjoyable despite being a very short and repetitive game? Well its easy to pick up and play for a start, the controls are very well done and it won't be very long before you are driving around, jumping from one car to anther thanks to the stunt buttons and flying over head via either your parachute or in a helicopter (or maybe even a fully blown plane). The game has a massive island set out in front of you, separated out into various smaller areas with no load times. You run around, pulling people out of their cars and then driving off with your new vehicle, then you are almost instantly chased by the police.
The game has a number of different weapons, but it also has a few gadgets for you to use as well, these are the Grapple Hook and the Parachute, both of these are important parts of the game as you will be using the grapple hook to grab onto cars and helicopters so you then get hoisted into the air and control your parachute to do various stunts which mostly involve you jumping into cars below you or grabbing onto a helicopter above you. To give an example of how this works, say you steal a fast car and for whatever reason you go flying over a cliff top, how about your press the stunt button and jump onto the roof of the falling car and then jump off at the last minute with your parachute out and slowly slip down to the ground, its bits like this in Just Cause that make it so enjoyable.
The game has around 20 story missions, while these are very enjoyable, the story is pretty dire as, putting it simply, there isn't exactly great dialogue used in the game and once again most missions simply require you to kill, kill and kill again then get back to your mission point to complete it. The missions are a lot of fun though and they range from destroying certain places to killing certain people. The only downside I had with the story was that the final mission was basically a "throw everything at you" event which while making the level very difficult ended up looking like the game hadn't quite been finished or that the company had run out of ideas.
As much as the game is very exciting and you want to keep playing on and on, it does have its bad points, as I mentioned earlier the story is dire, the levels are short and the game can be completed in a short amount of time. Another disappointment was with the "pick up" missions that are scattered around the games huge island, these are small items that you come across during the game to collect such as drugs, black boxes and such like, while is most games of this type collecting the items results in either some new music or artwork being unlocked, Just Cause gives you no incentive to go around picking these up other than a few Xbox Live! Gamerpoints and to make matters worse, if you get into a helicopter, you can collect all the items off of the map in a short time one afternoon, so there isn't really any skill to it either.
That said, the game map is massive, the problem here is that while a huge map in games like GTA or Saint's Row means there is lots to do, in Just Cause there isn't very much variety, you have side missions to complete which are nearly always the same once you have completed ten or so missions, they tend to be stealing cars and bringing them back to a check point or killing someone. There are race missions, but these can be very annoying as even the slightest of crashes in the game causes a full blown run in with the police which never seems to end unless you complete a mission where the police miraculously disappear.
Graphics & Sound
Just Cause takes a massive map and fills it with some great looking environments. The game looks great most of the time, sometimes even gorgeous when the sun is coming up over the water and it breaks through the trees, and when I mean breaking through the trees I mean that it splits up the light just like you would expect the sun to do in the woods or a jungle environment. The game does have some of the slight tearing we have seen in other Xbox 360 games, but nothing like what Saint's Row and Blazing Angels showed us. The only real downside to the graphics are when you enter cites as the buildings can look pretty awful, but its lucky that the game is mostly set out in the jungle.
Sound isn't bad but could have been a lot better. Speech from the main characters is ok, but voice work around the environment is repeated over and over again far too much, even the music while great to begin with ends up being played too much and a few other tunes would not have gone amiss.
Once again I have to state that while Just Cause is extremely enjoyable for the most part, the lack of missions and the repetitive nature of everything in the game does mean that while enjoyable for the first months play, it won't be a title you come back to in a few months time. The graphics are very good for the most part but it is a shame the sound let the side down with some repetitive voice work and a lack of environmental effects that just felt lazy. Overall its good fun, but not a long lasting title.