Just Cause 3 is the embodiment of what an open world game is supposed to be about: letting the player do whatever the hell they want. I got to see this first hand when I played the over-the-top open world game at a recent Square-Enix event.
After giving me a brief overview of the controls, the developers let me take over. I’ll admit that I wasn’t very Rico-ish in my attempts to traverse the world with my grapple hook and gliding suit. I’d always slam into the side of a mountain or building despite my best efforts to not do so. Even in all of my faceplanting glory however, I was having a great time because the animations looked so ridiculously funny. I also didn’t mind because I was gradually getting more and more used to the mechanic. I never fully got it down, but I did get to the point where I was halfway proficient at it.
The best way to travel the world is to point your grapple hook at a specific point and shoot it. While this is happening you can open up the wings under your arm to start to glide. You can also let yourself be reeled into the end of the grapple and then jump to another direction and use your wingsuit. Doing different combinations of these to get around will help you travel the huge world quickly and efficiently.
As I explored the land, I had the same feeling I did while playing Spider-Man 2 on the PlayStation 2. That was the very first open-world Spider-Man game, and the sense of freedom of movement was something that no one had experienced before. Just Cause 3 gave me that exact same feeling. I felt as if I had no boundaries of where I could go. The world was truly open to me, and traversing it in this unique way felt immensely satisfying. I have been looking for a game to replicate that Spider-Man 2 feeling and Just Cause 3 does it superbly.
While the open world is one of this franchise’s biggest draws, the other part of the appeal is the destructibility of the environments. C4 became my best friend, and I used it as much as possible to destroy buildings, and my favorite, bridges. Everything is based on physics, so items in the world never came undone in the same way twice. No canned animation here, folks. While the environments do repair themselves after you leave the area (I’m guessing this game world has its own version of Damage Control), it’s still awesome to just blow shit up with wreckless abandon.
Battling against enemies was just as over-the-top as anything else in the game. I infiltrated an enemy stronghold in order to weaken their hold on the island which would in turn open up more activities for me to engage in around the immediate area. The goal was to blow up some fuel tankers, but while under fire of course. While shooting enemies with standard firearms was satisfying, I really enjoyed grappling to enemies and kicking the crap out of them.
It was during this section where I really became proficient with the grapple hook since Rico doesn’t run and I needed to move quickly in order to survive. I also got to see just how impressive the physics could be as buildings and refining equipment were literally blown sky high. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time I did this mission because it was just so ridiculously over-the-top.
I also did a few side missions. Both were races: one in a car and another with my gliding suit. For these type of missions, you can face off against friends in asynchronous multiplayer. You will see a “ghost” of your friend doing the track and you have to try to get ahead of it to beat them. For races, you can have a car of your choosing that’s dropped to your location via a crate. Or you can always steal one that’s around. You can modify cars however you want as well. Want nitro boosters on a truck? Sure, why not? Anything goes. As you do more side missions, you’ll gain more influence over the world and in turn unlock more side missions.
With the glut of open world games released (and still to be released) in 2015, it will be hard for a game in the genre to stand out. However, I think that Just Cause 3 will be able to do that since it truly boils down the genre to its core elements of giving the player total control over what they want to do. It’s also not taking itself too seriously which should also help it stand out in a crowd. We’ll see how fans take to Just Cause 3 when it is released on December 1st.