Review: Just Cause 2
(Read the original review on my blog)
There's a certain kind of satisfaction one gets from witnessing something that is clearly impossible, yet is pulled off with such casual bravado that you can't help but snicker at how incredible it all is. The developers of Just Cause 2 recognize this, and have proceeded to deliver those kinds of over-the-top hi-jinks ad nauseam.
The problem here is that I can't decide whether or not this is a good thing. On one hand, it's relentlessly enjoyable to dive off of a skyscraper, grapple onto the nearest vehicle, assume the stunt position and start firing at the closest bad guy, draw the attention of an enemy helicopter, grapple onto and hijack said helicopter, fly to the Panau International Airport, drop down onto the tarmac, climb into a commercial jetliner, ascend into the clouds above the mountains, and proceed to fly it into a nightclub suspended thousands of feet in the air by dual blimps, then escape from the club by flying the private jet off of the launchpad at the rear. I don't know about you, but that sounds like balls-out fun, right?
I'll admit, I was having a blast during my first few hours of the game, but then it started to settle into a rhythm of repetitive missions that had you pursuing the same goals time and time again for mediocre pay. And believe you me, if you run out of money in this game (which you will sooner or later), the fun kind of goes out the window. When you're broke, you can still get around relatively fine, its just tedious and boring. You can either have some guy extract you to various locations with a loading screen in between, or you can rely on your grapple-hook, parachute, and the thousands of witless civilians driving average vehicles around the islands.
Needless to say, I had become more than a little desensitized and jaded by the many options at my disposal. The numerous ways in which to approach the various missions might have been more entertaining if the gameplay had been up to snuff. As it stands, the gunplay was average at best (and a little bit wonky and inconsistent) and unless I was in some kind of screaming vehicle of epic proportions, my character, Special Agent Rico Rodriguez, felt very sluggish (don't even get me started on the almost pointless sprinting).
Don't get me wrong, the game has a lot going for it, from the blistering action to the absolutely gorgeous landscape. But, once you get used to the grandios events that take place every half-hour or so, it all starts to wear a little thin and you start to notice that the game relies very heavily on what it wants you to do, not what you want to do. Whenever I failed a mission, I got this nagging feeling that I wasn't doing something that the game was implying for me to do. It's like they say "go anywhere, do anything...but only when we want you to". Come on, guys. Red Faction: Guerilla gave me more freedom than this. But I guess thats the trade off here: more freedom=bland, concentrated events=awesome, but only in short bursts.
In the end, Just Cause 2 is a game best enjoyed about an hour at a time. I would boot up the game, roam around for a bit, do a mission or two, and then be done with it for a day until I was like "oh, hey I should play some more Just Cause". It certainly is a fun game for the first few hours, but after that it turns into a bit of a grind-fest, and it loses some of its luster. I'm still waiting for a game to bring back that good old Mercenaries feel from the PS2 days. But I guess that time has passed us now.