The original Just Cause seemed to be little more than a Grand Theft Auto wannabe that could be entertaining but suffered from a lack of tightness. Perhaps fans will chastise me for summarizing that first effort in this way, but it’s just how I remember my first experience controlling Rico Rodriguez. However, after reading up on the additions and enhancements one can expect from the sequel, I’ve become quite intrigued…with such insane, over-the-top stunts and ceaseless action, it just has to deliver something in the way of satisfaction. Therefore, I downloaded the mammoth demo (it clocks in at nearly 1.5GB) and set out to wreak havoc with Rico once again, hoping to experiment with as many of the additions and improvements as humanly possible. I only had 25 minutes to do it – didn’t realize this could be bypassed by being all tricky – but I crammed a large amount of experimentation into that span of time. The good news is that the potential for this game remains sky-high; the bad news is that some of that aforementioned looseness remains.
Creating chaos is apparently at the core of Just Cause 2 . You get points for stringing together acts of destruction – for some reason, I’m reminded of the crash events in Burnout – and occasionally, this requires a bit of observation and strategy. “Okay, if I blow that up, it should cause that to explode…” Taking down a variety of structures is always fun and another game quickly shot to the forefront of my mind: Red Faction: Guerrilla . There may be more strategy in the latter title but it’s a similar idea, in that you can use anything from regular ammunition to vehicles to cause wave after wave of destruction and ruin. For instance, you can easily take out the gas station by simply firing at the gas pumps with any ol’ weapon, but you might need a grenade launcher (or something bigger) for the water tower. Then there’s the attack helicopter…the flight controls are terrible in my eyes, but I got used to them after a bit and then kamikaze’d a target just for the fun of it. Of course, I ejected with my trusty parachute before committing suicide.
Ah, the parachute. Combined with your handy-dandy grappling hook, these two tools often take the limelight, and rightfully so. You can affix the grappling hook to just about anything; it allows you to move faster across the landscape in addition to launching yourself up walls and cliffs. You can even use it to grab enemies and yank them off their feet. Obviously, the possibilities are almost limitless, and then you factor in the parachute, which can be deployed at any time with the X button provided you’ve got enough momentum. So if you’re standing astride a vehicle flying down the road – yeah, you can do that, too – you can just let the parachute fly whenever you wish to embark without getting hurt. Learning to utilize the grappling hook and parachute effectively will be crucial for both your survival and your ultimate effectiveness. In addition, you can carry either one rifle (or other large weapon) or two handguns, along with some explosives and/or grenades. You can also sprint and dodge, skills which are also necessary during tricky situations.
Really, the unbridled explosiveness of this game is mighty impressive. And the world is absolutely gigantic . Many of the actions are quite streamlined, too, but my biggest problem lies in the looseness of the control. You really have to tone down the sensitivity of your movement and aiming (this game could so use a lock-on feature), and even then, Rico doesn’t always move so smoothly. In fact, I encountered quite a bit of jerking and hitching when using the grappling hook in various parts of the environment. I also found it a little disconcerting that he could fall from just about anywhere without being hurt, but certain “impacts” on the ground could still cause damage. The whole thing just seems a little lacking in the polish and refinement department; it’s almost as if the focus on insanity is almost too out-of-control because I never really felt I had a firm grasp of everything. But even so, the size and scope of your surroundings, the sheer amount of absurd stunt possibilities, and the pervading sense of chaos could be enough to override the technical shortcomings. I leave that for you to decide.
The demo is definitely worth a try. The control issues may not hinder you so much and if you really get into it, Just Cause 2 could become the perfect title while we wait for the announcement of GTAV.