buft's Just Cause 2 (Xbox 360) review

Big Badaboom

 ust Cause is a game that was named incorrectly and its sequel is no different, a more appropriate title would have been "Just Because" the game offers you a sense of freedom that is on a par with that usually reserved for eagles and rocket powered elephants and in many parts of the game you will find yourself doing things just because you can like attempting to jump from a helicopter to another helicopter flying below you or tethering a guard to a turbine to see if he will spin.

Just cause 2 is the sequel to Avalanche studios 2006 foray into the world of open world action titles and although the first was somewhat bland the sequel has made a lot of changes for the better.

Straight out of the gate you're thrown into some political intrigue and immediately you will want to skip the cutscene due to its delightful use of ethnic stereotypes and terrible voice acting. Rico himself is a fiery Latino pepper and if you mess with him he will "Keel you like a pig dog" the other character are just as bad or worse, its grating but just cause is about more than the story.

The emphasis is placed firmly on the action and the exploration and for the most part the game gets it right, the way to stay alive is to keep moving, using your grapple hook, the roll ability and the environment so that the enemy never has a clean shot is the best way though heavy weapons and a big smile will get you through at times. The problem however is the targeting system, it isn't bad at what it does locking on to enemies when you point in their general direction happens automatically but the targeting system holds a grudge, when you point at a group you might decide you want to get rid of one guy but the targeting system will continue to stay locked on to another and regardless of what you do it won't let go until that guy is dead.

Exploration is a mix of foot, wheel and wing on foot your uncanny ability to dodge and zip around on the grappling hook makes you feel at times like a superhero or if you need a little more grunt under you the ability to jack any car, helicopter or plane that you see comes in extremely handy, having trouble getting into a base hijack an armored car and smash the gate or just grab a plane and aim it at the guards before jumping out and parachuting down to the base.

From time to time you will need these vehicles just to get around because the world of Just Cause is massive and the vehicles are simple to use, you can easily fly a chopper without needing a degree in aerial maneuvers.
The missions are a mixed bag with several requiring you to protect other AI characters and assault large military installations, others ask you to destroy high value targets or recover sensitive data. Most of the problems in the missions revolve around AI companions, the AI does not work well with others and at times will stand directly in the line of fire of the aggressive enemies and die while you are fighting causing the mission to fail. The missions generally are a lot of fun, the variation between them keeps the game feeling fresh and there is a feeling that each has been designed around giving the player a new experience within the game world while still retaining the feeling of freedom and allowing you to choose how you want to approach the mission.

Even when you're not in a mission you will be on the clock destroying government structures or causing chaos will increase your standing and unlock different missions and support available to you, there are also challenges scattered around the island for you to take part in, these don't earn you any points towards progressing the story rather they are worth money which you can use to request support items such as weapon drops and agency vehicles and you will need this money as the agency drops can be very pricey.

The enemy AI isn't smart by any standard but they come at you in bunches and are quite effective, when you throw an elite in with the grunts the battles become much more exciting, these elite soldiers are a great new addition to the series, demo men will throw explosives at you and are heavily armored and worst of all when they die the drop a load of C4 at their feet which you have to avoid like the plague, others will require you to get a headshot and many have heavy weapons which are devastating to your health.

The world of just cause is beautiful to behold, from a great height you can see for miles, each town and city also has its own unique feel, gone is the sense of déjà vu and cookie cutter design of the first game replaced by towns, villages with assorted layouts and unique personalities. The game also several different distinct areas from the bustling concrete jungle of the city with its many high rise buildings, suspension bridges and skyscrapers to the alpine feel of the mountainous areas with its icy roads, alpine villages and a ski resort.

The graphics in general are a massive improvement over the original, the models of the characters are highly detailed and look much better when viewed up close, buildings and vehicles are also highly detailed and there is a lot of variety in both. Animation is at times a little awkward but generally is very good and the game rarely suffers from any slowdown even when the action gets heavy on screen.

The sound in the game is a different story however, voice acting is poor and the script is cliché to the point that it seems like an in joke on the part of the developer, vehicles sounds are ok but there is barely any difference between vehicles with the exception being the helicopters and planes. The one good example of sound in the game is the combat noises weapons and explosions have plenty of bang for your buck.

To sum it up fans of the first will be happy to get a great looking sequel that retains the same charm as the original and fans of open world exploration won't be disappointed, however a few of the niggles may put a lot of people off the game, from the moment you pick up the game to the end just cause offers a satisfying experience and at the very least it's worth a rental just to experience the games sense of freedom. 

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