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"[Game] Just Cause 2"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Just Cause 2'.
Wed 14/04/10 at 20:04
Regular
Posts: 5,630
Just Cause 2 is the much anticipated sequel to Avalanche Studio’s 2006 open world adventure. Despite a mixed critical response, I was an unabashed fan of the original and hugely excited to see if the potential that was evident in the first game could be more fully realised. Like the action movies the game is so obviously inspired by, the recipe for the sequel is clear – raise the stakes, more explosions, more action and make everything bigger and better. On that front, it delivers.

There is so much potential for experimentation in this game. For all the fireworks and amazing set pieces in say, Modern Warfare 2, the reality is that you are not the architect of any of the destruction you see – for example, a helicopter crash occurs mid-level and you think ‘wow, that was cool’, but it was totally out of your control. In Just Cause 2, you’re totally in control. You can fly a helicopter headfirst into a bridge and jump out seconds before impact (and in a really cool inclusion, the camera will cinematically swing round to show you dramatically escape). If you prefer, you can fly a plane into it. Or drive a car. Or a fly a helicopter grappled to a car! Surveying the environment from any angle, you have total freedom to decide how to approach a mission. In Just Cause 2 your imagination is the only limitation on the havoc you can cause.

The story in Just Cause 2 has you once again playing as Rico Rodriguez. To be honest there isn’t a textured, multi-layered narrative at work. Your mission is simple: destabilise the regime and overthrow an evil dictator on the fictional island of Panau. Fans of the first will see some familiar faces but playing the first is by no means a requirement. The cut scenes, like the rest of the game, are impressively detailed and are very well done. You have a lot of freedom in terms of how to approach the story missions. Called ‘Agency’ missions, they act as the spine of the game, and are incredibly fun, with a lot of varied and ridiculously OTT mission objectives. They are only unlocked after causing a certain amount of ‘chaos’ (essentially a currency through which story missions are unlocked). ‘Chaos’, as the word implies, is easily wreaked in Just Cause 2, by destroying environments, government-controlled Settlements or completing side missions.

The side mission element is quite similar to Just Cause 1 – there are ‘Stronghold’ missions that require you to take down entrenched enemy bases controlled by three militant gangs (Roachers, Reapers and the Ular Boys). ‘Faction’ missions are a bit more specific objective based missions and there are additional challenges e.g. Races. Unfortunately, Just Cause 2 suffers from the same problem as the first title in the sense that the side missions do become repetitive after a while, and there are an awful lot to take on. Completionists will find a huge challenge with these and although I have completed the story missions I still have a lot to do. Fortunately, the map and stats screen is very comprehensive and provides details on % progress, chaos unlocked etc. The detailed stat tracking and map adds another level of polish that’s typical of the game as a whole.

Panau, the game world, is absolutely huge to the point of being overwhelming. Visually, the game is stunning and a vast improvement on Just Cause 1, with very detailed environments and some of the best ‘explosion’ graphics I’ve ever seen. It’s a good job its such a nice game to look at because if you are the sort of person who plays sandbox games with the mindset that you want to explore every inch of the environment, then with Just Cause 2 either mentally prepare yourself for disappointment or get comfortable in your chair, because its absolutely massive. Even by plane it takes roughly 20 minutes real time to fly from one end to the other.

Again, I go back to that word variety. The sheer diversity of environments the island has is incredible (and a sure fire holiday destination winner should a place like this actually exist). At one end, snow topped mountain peaks blot the skyline, the other sunkissed beaches, with cities and lush jungle environments sandwiched in between. However this is a double edged sword. It’s not really a densely populated area like GTA IV, and there is a lot of barren land that arguably artificially increases the size of the island somewhat unnecessarily. Overall, I would argue though the scale of the expanse adds a real sense of freedom to the game and a welcome change from the usual ‘invisible wall’ (the sort that prevent you from skipping over a barrier even though its waist height) that pops up so often in games.

This freedom and manoeuvrability within the world is delivered by two main implements – the grappling hook and parachute. Fortunately, your parachute use is unlimited so you can drop from any height, jump over any wall or exit any plane mid-flight safe in the knowledge you can land safely and re-deploy the parachute as many times as necessary. But it’s the grappling hook that provides the most physical dexterity. You can literally attach the grappling hook to pretty much any physical object in the world – enemies, cars, planes, buildings, and is dual wielding so you can grapple two enemies together. The one you will use a lot is the slingshot which allows you to quickly move around and is invaluable in combat.

Surprisingly I didn’t feel the weapons in the game where particularly enjoyable to use, and many of the early guns seem to have all the effectiveness of a pea shooter. As you progress through the story you can acquire more advanced weaponry that pack more of a punch, or upgrade your existing weapons by purchasing them on the black market. The black market purchases can deliver all sorts of upgrades and drop them via helicopter so it’s possible to get instant access mid-mission.

For fans of the sandbox genre, with the supposed ‘go anywhere, do anything’ remit, rest assured that Just Cause 2 actually delivers on that promise and then some. The sheer amount of variety in terms of vehicles, weapons and environments is absolutely astounding in this game, as is the potential for experimentation. If you’re looking for a compelling story, then to be honest you won’t really find it. What you will find is a game that is very polished and quite simply pure fun, and with the sheer size of the world, number of missions and 40+ hours of gameplay, tremendous value for money. Highly recommended.
Thu 15/04/10 at 08:32
Regular
"THFC"
Posts: 4,488
Looking forward to getting this from LoveFilm!

Nice review aswell.
Wed 14/04/10 at 22:47
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,985
Nice review.

I do find a lack of a score disappointing though ;)
Wed 14/04/10 at 20:04
Regular
Posts: 5,630
Just Cause 2 is the much anticipated sequel to Avalanche Studio’s 2006 open world adventure. Despite a mixed critical response, I was an unabashed fan of the original and hugely excited to see if the potential that was evident in the first game could be more fully realised. Like the action movies the game is so obviously inspired by, the recipe for the sequel is clear – raise the stakes, more explosions, more action and make everything bigger and better. On that front, it delivers.

There is so much potential for experimentation in this game. For all the fireworks and amazing set pieces in say, Modern Warfare 2, the reality is that you are not the architect of any of the destruction you see – for example, a helicopter crash occurs mid-level and you think ‘wow, that was cool’, but it was totally out of your control. In Just Cause 2, you’re totally in control. You can fly a helicopter headfirst into a bridge and jump out seconds before impact (and in a really cool inclusion, the camera will cinematically swing round to show you dramatically escape). If you prefer, you can fly a plane into it. Or drive a car. Or a fly a helicopter grappled to a car! Surveying the environment from any angle, you have total freedom to decide how to approach a mission. In Just Cause 2 your imagination is the only limitation on the havoc you can cause.

The story in Just Cause 2 has you once again playing as Rico Rodriguez. To be honest there isn’t a textured, multi-layered narrative at work. Your mission is simple: destabilise the regime and overthrow an evil dictator on the fictional island of Panau. Fans of the first will see some familiar faces but playing the first is by no means a requirement. The cut scenes, like the rest of the game, are impressively detailed and are very well done. You have a lot of freedom in terms of how to approach the story missions. Called ‘Agency’ missions, they act as the spine of the game, and are incredibly fun, with a lot of varied and ridiculously OTT mission objectives. They are only unlocked after causing a certain amount of ‘chaos’ (essentially a currency through which story missions are unlocked). ‘Chaos’, as the word implies, is easily wreaked in Just Cause 2, by destroying environments, government-controlled Settlements or completing side missions.

The side mission element is quite similar to Just Cause 1 – there are ‘Stronghold’ missions that require you to take down entrenched enemy bases controlled by three militant gangs (Roachers, Reapers and the Ular Boys). ‘Faction’ missions are a bit more specific objective based missions and there are additional challenges e.g. Races. Unfortunately, Just Cause 2 suffers from the same problem as the first title in the sense that the side missions do become repetitive after a while, and there are an awful lot to take on. Completionists will find a huge challenge with these and although I have completed the story missions I still have a lot to do. Fortunately, the map and stats screen is very comprehensive and provides details on % progress, chaos unlocked etc. The detailed stat tracking and map adds another level of polish that’s typical of the game as a whole.

Panau, the game world, is absolutely huge to the point of being overwhelming. Visually, the game is stunning and a vast improvement on Just Cause 1, with very detailed environments and some of the best ‘explosion’ graphics I’ve ever seen. It’s a good job its such a nice game to look at because if you are the sort of person who plays sandbox games with the mindset that you want to explore every inch of the environment, then with Just Cause 2 either mentally prepare yourself for disappointment or get comfortable in your chair, because its absolutely massive. Even by plane it takes roughly 20 minutes real time to fly from one end to the other.

Again, I go back to that word variety. The sheer diversity of environments the island has is incredible (and a sure fire holiday destination winner should a place like this actually exist). At one end, snow topped mountain peaks blot the skyline, the other sunkissed beaches, with cities and lush jungle environments sandwiched in between. However this is a double edged sword. It’s not really a densely populated area like GTA IV, and there is a lot of barren land that arguably artificially increases the size of the island somewhat unnecessarily. Overall, I would argue though the scale of the expanse adds a real sense of freedom to the game and a welcome change from the usual ‘invisible wall’ (the sort that prevent you from skipping over a barrier even though its waist height) that pops up so often in games.

This freedom and manoeuvrability within the world is delivered by two main implements – the grappling hook and parachute. Fortunately, your parachute use is unlimited so you can drop from any height, jump over any wall or exit any plane mid-flight safe in the knowledge you can land safely and re-deploy the parachute as many times as necessary. But it’s the grappling hook that provides the most physical dexterity. You can literally attach the grappling hook to pretty much any physical object in the world – enemies, cars, planes, buildings, and is dual wielding so you can grapple two enemies together. The one you will use a lot is the slingshot which allows you to quickly move around and is invaluable in combat.

Surprisingly I didn’t feel the weapons in the game where particularly enjoyable to use, and many of the early guns seem to have all the effectiveness of a pea shooter. As you progress through the story you can acquire more advanced weaponry that pack more of a punch, or upgrade your existing weapons by purchasing them on the black market. The black market purchases can deliver all sorts of upgrades and drop them via helicopter so it’s possible to get instant access mid-mission.

For fans of the sandbox genre, with the supposed ‘go anywhere, do anything’ remit, rest assured that Just Cause 2 actually delivers on that promise and then some. The sheer amount of variety in terms of vehicles, weapons and environments is absolutely astounding in this game, as is the potential for experimentation. If you’re looking for a compelling story, then to be honest you won’t really find it. What you will find is a game that is very polished and quite simply pure fun, and with the sheer size of the world, number of missions and 40+ hours of gameplay, tremendous value for money. Highly recommended.

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