Thursday, 18 March 2010

Review | Just Cause 2

Have you ever wanted to go on an adventure holiday in an exotic country? Perhaps try out bungee jumping or skydiving? Maybe a bit of paragliding or mountain climbing? How about just causing civil unrest by demolishing the country's underdeveloped and fragile infrastructure?

Playing very similarly to Mercenaries, Just Cause 2 seems almost a step backwards from Panademic's sandbox title. The inability to destroy ordinary buildings feels unnatural given your ability to demolish certain government-built structures. This doesn't prevent your role as professional terrorist, ahem, agency operative from being any less fun.

JC2 calls upon the player to 'cause chaos' in the massive virtual playground of Panau. Chaos (denoted by an in game meter) can be achieved by completing missions for the local gang factions, destroying fuel depots and communication masts and generally being a pain in the Panauan President's backside. Having caused the prerequisite amount of criminal damage (don't worry, it's a corrupt regime, sabotage is good!) the next part of the story is fed to you via a new agency mission and the process starts over again. Slowly, as it factions you help gain influence and the government becomes crippled by your antidisestablishtarian exploits, you begin to unravel the secrets surrounding your assignment.

However, I would not suggest playing Just Cause 2 for the story. To be honest, I was pretty underwhelmed by JC2's storytelling, both in terms of narrative and presentation. What I did find was that it was immensely fun to play. The setting first of all is breathtaking. The islands of Panau are absolutely huge and incredibly detailed, With lots of incidental activity buzzing away in the background. You can fly for 10 minutes in any direction and still not reach the end of the map! The second hook to drag you into JC2 is the protagonist's unique weapon: the grappling hook. Acting as multipurpose tool to tether, grapple and pull, the hook can be used in combat (try tethering two soldiers together for instant giggles), for movement and, in conjunction with the new 'reloadable parachute', complex stunts.

While Just Cause 2 may not be the most important game release this month (I'm looking at you, God of War 3), it still is a blast to play. Ramping a sports car off a cliff into an oil refinery, bailing out at the last moment and ziplining to a passing helicopter and hijacking it, then detonating the explosives you set on the car is just as thrilling as it sounds. Why? Just 'cause.

CeX Rathbone Place, London
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