Just Cause 2
It finally came. I waited for a long while on Just Cause 2. I recall it being delayed, then pushed before making it into the box. The final product turned out to be far more than I expected for a sequel. You consider the first game was just on the outside of that weird gap between console generations, and Just Cause went across both. It was an okay looking game at the time. Very wonky controls, but also incredibly rewarding when you really got into the carnage. What I didn’t expect were the near perfect controls from Just Cause 2 which really snuck up on me.
It stands out as the strongest part of the game because of a completely overhauled and improved formula the first game didn’t quite hit marks in. Jumping, running, and parachuting have suddenly become a natural thing for me. Playing other open world games, its really not as fun driving a car or running to a destination. The parachute gives you this level of control and depth you can’t get anywhere else. Swinging over terrain and moving from car to car, attaching, and grappling feel good. No longer do you need to drive, or fly. Now you just go at will. All vehicle controls feel much better too. They aren’t quite great. Some cars will slide out from under you, and some planes react sluggishly to your inputs.
The world hasn’t looked better though. Here it isn’t what the game can do, it’s what it can’t do. Everything has scope. From the battles and traveling, to the locales and draw distance. Having your first sun set flying a helicopter over the ocean to a set of islands is something you won’t find anywhere else, period. Freedom and execution. Missions can range anywhere from middling or easy to ridiculous and difficult. You might die five times or not at all depending on the tactics and NPC’s that fight alongside you. I’m a pretty patient person, but even I don’t like playing a mission multiple times to make up for the death of a technician. The story plays a very minor role, and good luck sitting through some of the cut-scenes. Races are nice diversions, but the vehicles don’t offer nearly enough variety. Time gates are spread out nicely under bridges and near buildings though.
Sound effects play a huge part in making the game feel violent and chaotic. You destroy so much at a time, the popping sound from an explosion is effective as hell. Music is a nice touch, I only wish there was more of it and it played more often. Now some of the bad things are pretty inane. The act of finishing a town leads to searching down that last generator or package. They consume time you would use to do something else. And a game which prides itself on chaos probably doesn’t need ammo. You carry very little. Some missions have you crossing large stretches of land. If you burn up the ammo for a gun, you either switch it out or whip it out.
Just Cause 2 won’t short change anybody. It packs a lot of cool stuff into a very thoughtful package. For the amount of things and numbers at your hands, the game manages to keep it all pretty straight. I think Avalanche is doing something very different and they deserve a round of applause for walking the fine line between doing it all without sacrificing the game.