GOONL!NE Advent Calander 2010: #8 – Just Cause 2

Just Cause was really, really fun. Utterly broken, but fun. See, the developers at Avalanche Studios were kinda pressed for time, so were forced to push out a half finished game; All the trees were 2D, the campaign was short, some missions couldn’t be completed, and various bugs destroyed any hope of the game being put into the Halls Of Fame. Despite all this, it was really, really fun.

What other game lets you grapple onto a moving car, parachute upwards, shoot someone off their bike, jump onto it, ride off a mountain top, parachute, grapple onto a passing helicopter then jump out, landing by one of your safehouses. No other game. And if you weren’t recklessly disobeying the laws of Physics (What’ that Newton? I can’t possibly jump from moving chopper to moving chopper? Eat lead, b*tch!), there were surprisingly addictive (if a little repetitive) side missions to complete, unlocking new cars and guns for your various abodes.

However, the best bit, the bit you’d remember days afterward was landing. You’d spend 10 minutes jumping from Apaches, parachuting down cliffs, stealing cars and making things go boom, all the time on the brink of death. Finally, you’d hit the ground. Miles from any roads (the island of Sau Paulo was way too big), enemies or life, the gentle guitar music would start to play, and a wry smile would stretch across your face. You made it out alive.

So, here we are at Just Cause 2. Avalanche Studios have taken their time with this sequel, and it shows. Here’s the low-down; Hunt down and execute a rogue agent that has stolen top-secret intelligence and millions in Agency cash. Playing again as Rico Rodriguez, the mission is anything but routine. The target is Tom Sheldon, Rico’s former commanding officer, mentor and friend; a man who knows Rico better than he knows himself. Sheldon went dark while operating in the corrupt island nation of Panau. There, three rival gangs wage war in the streets while the ruthless dictator Baby Panay (feel free to lol) rules the island with an iron fist. With the resources of the Agency at his disposal, Rico must infiltrate the island and locate Sheldon, setting off a violent chain of events that will set Panau ablaze.

Each of Rico’s assignments can be tackled by land, sea or air with more than 100 vehicles including tactical jeeps, attack helicopters and jet fighters. As the Agency’s best, Rico can execute a range of breathtaking new stunts, utilizing his trademark parachute and upgraded grapple to reach any location in Panau. Somewhere on the 400 square mile island of white sand beaches, scorching deserts and snow-capped peaks, Sheldon awaits. Imagine Just Cause 1, but…bigger.

It’s more beautiful; the snowy mountain tops freeze the screen, Rico’s outfit slowly gaining a layer of white, contrast with the baking hot deserts, sun beating down on the golden sands as a thin layer of brown covers our hero (Eww…). To boot, cities are much more natural. In the original, lush forests would suddenly turn to bland gray blocks in the middle of nowhere. Now, cities have their own unique feel, size, shapes, and of course, the one ridiculously huge building that you just HAVE to climb to the top of. Then jump off.

Rico’s magic parachute makes a welcome return, now even faster at self-packing in mid air. The grapple hook is much more useful now, being ever present, and with the ability to hook enemies to red barrels, jeeps to statues, and even school buses to helicopters. Sweet. More guns and more vehicles can’t hurt, either.

But the thing we’re most looking forward to? The fun. Blow out a cars tires and it flips and explodes. Why? Who the hell cares? It looks amazing. You can grapple onto a commercial airplane taking off, then stand atop the hull, even at thousands of feet above the earth. It’s like Titanic, but so much cooler. All of this while being surrounded by stunning vistas, more diverse enemies, a day night cycle (cities glow with night-time lights now, which looks utterly breathtaking), and 3D trees. Just Cause can only go one way – a really, really good way.