The world of entertainment is funny place. It has to produce content for all types of audiences. Looking at films as an example, there is 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Godfather for the highbrow audience, The Avengers, Man of Steel, and The Dark Knight for comic book fans, and anything directed by Michael Bay for people who want to see stuff explode. As gaming has been evolving, like-minded gaming fans appear to have been left out. But they need not worry, as Avalanche Studios has returned to quell the explosive hunger.
Just Cause 3 continues the furthering adventures of Rico Rodriguez, who at this point has become a professional at removing dictators. This talent of his comes in handy when he returns to his homeland of Medici to find it under the rule of General Sebastiano Di Ravello. During Rico’s campaign to remove Di Ravello from power, he teams up with some unlikely characters that help in their own odd and rather unconventional ways. As someone who has spent over 100 hours playing Just Cause 2, I can honestly say the stories here are not The Godfather. The story will not win any prizes for how well it is written or performed, but at the same time it does not take itself as seriously. Every cutscene has its moment of B-movie cheese, and it’s evident to see how much fun the writers had creating the various scenarios.
The Mediterranean collection of islands referred to as Medici has five major districts, each with their own identity. Like the story, the graphics are not a major highlight, but it does a sufficient job of portraying the atmosphere of each region. The lands of Medici are saturated with every color of the rainbow, from the snow covered mountains, to the sunflower fields. Although it lacks the level of detail of similar games in the same genre, it is still impressive given the scale and ambition.
It is a shame that Di Ravello had to scar the beautiful landscape with his military bases and settlements. However Rico knows a couple of things about liberating the people via unconventional means. That is what comprises the large majority of the gameplay: destroying any and all items owned by D.R.M (Di Ravello’s MIlitia).
The tools in your arsenal range from the conventional RPGs and planted explosives to shotgun grenade launchers and laser designated airstrikes. Here is where the strengths of the game lie: in the ability to destroy the various emplacements in ever more imaginative ways. The trusty grappling hook returns and is even more glorious as you can now attach more than two objects together. This results in physics-breaking constructs that are worth their weight in entertainment value.
On one hand you could simply shoot them with an LMG until the job is done. Or you could attach a bus to a helicopter as a makeshift wrecking ball and get your Miley Cyrus on. Maybe you do not fancy putting boots on the ground, so steal a military bomber and rain hell. For those who enjoy the gorgeous explosives, you can attach multiple explosive rocket satchels to D.R.M vehicles and watch them careen into a giant propane tank. The ability to express yourself in this game when destroying emplacements is near unparalleled.
However, not all is sunshine and explosions in Just Cause 3, with the worst offender being the controls for most of the vehicles. The handling model on most of the cars feels sloppy and more geared towards performing crazy stunts than precision and skill. The sea and air vehicles are not affected as much, but they still don’t handle as precisely as they they should. However, with the wingsuit, parachute, and grapple hook combination, along with fast travel, the traditional modes of transport can be bypassed if need be.
Another serious offender is the asynchronous multiplayer challenges and leaderboards, which is the response to the exclusion of a cooperative multiplayer mode. Anytime any of your various records are beaten, a notification appears detailing who beat which record. The problem comes from when multiple records are beaten and these notifications continue to appear for a long time. There doesn’t seem to be an option to remove the notifications form the HUD. To further compound this issue, if you are unable to connect to leaderboard servers, then the game will attempt to connect every time you bring up the in-game menu. This is very frustrating as the game completely locks up and there is nothing you can do while it attempts to connect. Although this does not happen often, it brings the game an un-enjoyable halt.
Every major military installment you help liberate will gain you access to challenges which reward you with gears based on your performance. These gears can then be used to install mods which help improve various aspects of equipment and vehicles. This method of progression allows you to test and improve certain mechanics of the game. This allows you to focus on the mechanics you use most frequently and ignore those you do not care for.
Just Cause 3 is a great example of what an action game should aspire to be. It captures the thrill and enjoyment of any set piece moment in movies, but puts you in the driver’s seat to create sequences like that and more. It’s just a shame that the technical performance issues, the odd controls, and the multiplayer decisions prevent it from being one of the greatest games released this year.
This review of Just Cause 3 is based on a digital copy for the PC which was paid for out-of-pocket.