Just Cause 2 and Why It Is Not For Me

  I have heard a ton of great things about Just Cause 2 from a lot of people who's opinions I respect. Still despite months of awesome praise the idea of playing Just Cause 2 just was not appealing to me. I am not the biggest fan of open world gaming and prefer a game with a tighter focus but after finally giving Red Dead Redemption a try and loving a good portion of that game, I felt it was time to give Just Cause 2 a try. Well that and the fact that Gamefly sent it to me as my next game out.

I am not going to beat around the bush, before I even started the game I envisioned I was going to hate it and I said so publicly. I was not wrong. Just Cause 2 is everything everyone said it was, a huge, beautifully realized sandbox to play around in and the mechanics themselves are actually pretty cool. But it is also a game that tries to present a narrative to drive you along and OH LORD it is awful.

I quickly voiced my complaints and was told to ignore the story and just play around in the world and blow stuff up. Unfortunately that just is not the type of gamer I am. I am not one to play in the sandbox unless there is a purpose to me being there. In the case of open world games, that purpose is generally the story progression.

I am the type of gamer that goes from mission to mission, advancing the storyline to get to the end game. Just Cause 2 has a system to its progression and I did not enjoy it at all and worse than that the story might as well not be there because it is told and performed in such a way that I wanted to slit my wrists watching it. OK, so maybe I am being a bit dramatic but I can easily state that it is one of the worst attempts at the GTA style of storytelling ever.


I was told yesterday that I shouldn't complain that the chocolate wasn't fish and just enjoy the chocolate. If you don't get the meaning of that, well it was implying that I shouldn't complain that Just Cause 2 was not anything other than what it is. I would agree with that sentiment completely if Just Cause 2 did not act like a fish. If it was like Crackdown and the story was nothing more than end pieces used to give a purpose to the sandbox I would probably be on board with it. But the story in Just Cause 2 is not that. It is cutscenes before and sometimes after missions with terrible voice acting that is trying to tell a cohesive narrative.

Just Cause 2, much like Saints Row, is not what I want out of an open world game. That doesn't make Just Cause 2 a bad game, it just makes it a game that is not for me. And honestly with all the games that are out there, having a few not work for me makes me appreciate the ones I do like even more.

If you want my “professional” opinion on Just Cause 2 after three hours of play, it is very good. Basically it is Mercs 2 (another title I didn't enjoy for much the same reasons) done well. So if you like playing in sandboxes and blowing stuff up Just Cause 2 might be right up your alley.

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Coming Tomorrow: The January Wasteland
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22 Comments
23 Comments
Posted by kariyanine

  I have heard a ton of great things about Just Cause 2 from a lot of people who's opinions I respect. Still despite months of awesome praise the idea of playing Just Cause 2 just was not appealing to me. I am not the biggest fan of open world gaming and prefer a game with a tighter focus but after finally giving Red Dead Redemption a try and loving a good portion of that game, I felt it was time to give Just Cause 2 a try. Well that and the fact that Gamefly sent it to me as my next game out.

I am not going to beat around the bush, before I even started the game I envisioned I was going to hate it and I said so publicly. I was not wrong. Just Cause 2 is everything everyone said it was, a huge, beautifully realized sandbox to play around in and the mechanics themselves are actually pretty cool. But it is also a game that tries to present a narrative to drive you along and OH LORD it is awful.

I quickly voiced my complaints and was told to ignore the story and just play around in the world and blow stuff up. Unfortunately that just is not the type of gamer I am. I am not one to play in the sandbox unless there is a purpose to me being there. In the case of open world games, that purpose is generally the story progression.

I am the type of gamer that goes from mission to mission, advancing the storyline to get to the end game. Just Cause 2 has a system to its progression and I did not enjoy it at all and worse than that the story might as well not be there because it is told and performed in such a way that I wanted to slit my wrists watching it. OK, so maybe I am being a bit dramatic but I can easily state that it is one of the worst attempts at the GTA style of storytelling ever.


I was told yesterday that I shouldn't complain that the chocolate wasn't fish and just enjoy the chocolate. If you don't get the meaning of that, well it was implying that I shouldn't complain that Just Cause 2 was not anything other than what it is. I would agree with that sentiment completely if Just Cause 2 did not act like a fish. If it was like Crackdown and the story was nothing more than end pieces used to give a purpose to the sandbox I would probably be on board with it. But the story in Just Cause 2 is not that. It is cutscenes before and sometimes after missions with terrible voice acting that is trying to tell a cohesive narrative.

Just Cause 2, much like Saints Row, is not what I want out of an open world game. That doesn't make Just Cause 2 a bad game, it just makes it a game that is not for me. And honestly with all the games that are out there, having a few not work for me makes me appreciate the ones I do like even more.

If you want my “professional” opinion on Just Cause 2 after three hours of play, it is very good. Basically it is Mercs 2 (another title I didn't enjoy for much the same reasons) done well. So if you like playing in sandboxes and blowing stuff up Just Cause 2 might be right up your alley.

------------

ALL NEW: The Perfectly Sane Show: Volume 2 - Episode 20 - get it at Vagary.tv or iTunes.


Hit up my friends Game Over and TeaBagRadio.

Coming Tomorrow: The January Wasteland
------------

Currently Playing: Final Fantasy IX (PSOne on PSPGo)
Currently Listening To: nothing in particular
Currently Reading: The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry
Currently Anticipating: Little Big Planet 2
Halo Rank: Captain Grade 3
Bad Comapany 2 Rank: 11
CoD: Black Ops Rank: 9
Edited by DriveupLife

absolutely no problem with that. I love just cause 2 but its not for everyone.

Posted by Xeiphyer

Just Cause 2 is just an open world sandbox that is fun to fuck around in, the actual story and some gameplay elements are complete garbage though. 
 
Also whats up with your advertising bullshit at the end of the blog? Not a fan of that at all.

Posted by Mikemcn

Its a game for people who don't feel the need to play every latest game. You need to be willing to savor it, i don't buy a ton of games so I tend to go back to the ones I enjoy the most, Just Cause 2 is one of those games. 

Posted by kariyanine
@Xeiphyer: It is just a tabs section.   Sorry you don't like it but it probably is not going anywhere.
 
 @Mikemcn: yeah, I totally understand that.  I tend to jump from game to game unless their is a competitive multiplayer that keeps me coming back.  Sandbox games just aren't really my thing. 
Posted by Bruce
@kariyanine:  
 
I understand your point, but I don't see how a game like Just Cause or Crackdown could realistically even tell a good story, or even have worthwhile story elements.
Posted by animathias

I got the impression from Just Cause 2 that the story was only there to loosely tie the sandbox together. That's certainly what it felt like to me. It never seemed that the game was trying too hard to tell a story, but that it felt it had to.
In any case, your points are all right on. It sounds like it's not the game for you and was never trying to be.

Posted by kariyanine
@Bruce: I don't know Bruce, does GTA or Red Dead have worthwhile story elements?  Sure they are different games but they are all open world titles that give you the freedom to do what you want in those worlds.   I thought Red Dead told one of the best stories of the 2010 whereas Just Cause 2 turned me off in thhe opening cutscene.   
 
For me if there is a main quest, everything else is ancillary to that main goal until it is completed but I need that hook to drive me through to the end.  Crackdown doesn't even pretend, they throw you into the world and basically tell you to play.  Just Cause 2 gives you a narrative focus by presenting you with cutscenes filled with awful voice acting and I just couldn't get into it.  But as I said it just is not my type of game.
Posted by HitmanAgent47

I thought the game was brilliant. I usually am the type of skip cutscenes because I don't care about anything more than the gameplay. Well obviously I like good graphics, however that's besides the point. If I need a story, i'll just read a book or watch a movie, I also enjoyed crysis without much story because I enjoyed the gameplay. I also enjoyed saints row 2.

Edited by ProfessorEss

Yeah JC2 is totally not for everyone, but it was definitely made for me.
 
The only thing I don't really agree with is when you say they are trying to drive you with the narrative. I beat the game long ago in about 25 hours. I've since put in another 25 hours and am still only at 50% completion (I actually just got the 50% achievement last night). That, to me, is not a game that was made with the intention of being narrative driven.
 
Personally I think the only thing they were trying to do with the "story" stuff was to add to the game's "terrible-but-awesome" action movie vibe.
 
Pretty subjective stuff tho.

Posted by guthwulf

Just Cause is awesome. This blog is blasphemy.
 
Also, are you really comparing Just Cause and Red Dead Redemption? Come on. Clearly either of them doesn't try to be what the other is. That's like comparing Mario Kart to Forza, only because they are both racing games.
You may not like Just Cause and that is absolutely OK, but it is great at what it is trying to be.

Posted by kariyanine
@guthwulf: they are certainly comparable regardless of their different approaches.  My comparison to Red Dead was only used when another comment questioned how a game like Crackdown or JC2 could " realistically even tell a good story, or even have worthwhile story elements".  Like it or not JC2 falls into the same style of game (open world / sandbox) as RDR and RDR effectively tells a story while JC2 does not.  On the other hand Crackdown and its sequel hardly bother to present a narrative and for me, that approach tends to work better for me due to the way I play games.
Posted by guthwulf

I disagree. Again if you can compare JC2 with RDR then you can also criticize Mario Kart for not having realistical driving physics like Forza. Apart from that I also find it hard to tell a believable and realistic story in a game with mechanics that are as ridiculous as those found in Just Cause. And by that I certainly don't mean it would be technically impossible, I only think that it would be more laughable than the "story" Just Cause has.

Posted by craigbo180

Reading that makes me think I might really like just cause 2.

Posted by HandsomeDead

Just Cause 2 is gaming for idiots.

Posted by PrivateIronTFU

Must have been #1 on your GOTY list.

Posted by Delicious_Brains

I think it's a great game, but it's just lacking something to me (apart from a story, we all know that). I did play the demo a dozen times before buying so this is probably just a case of me draining everything that this game has got.

Posted by kariyanine
@guthwulf: But you can criticize Mario Kart for not having realistic driving physics like Forza, especially if you are trying to explain why you don't like Mario Kart.  My primary problem with Just Cause 2 is that there is a narrative aspect to it and that narrative aspect is poorly implemented, which made me not want to play it anymore.
 
As I said the game is very good but it is not for me so I am just going to agree to disagree with you on the matter. 
Posted by guthwulf
@kariyanine said:
" @guthwulf: But you can criticize Mario Kart for not having realistic driving physics like Forza, especially if you are trying to explain why you don't like Mario Kart.  My primary problem with Just Cause 2 is that there is a narrative aspect to it and that narrative aspect is poorly implemented, which made me not want to play it anymore.  As I said the game is very good but it is not for me so I am just going to agree to disagree with you on the matter.  "
OK. I can agree that you can use that as an example why you personally don't like the game. I just don't think you can use it to criticize the game itself. 
 
Because Mario Kart is clearly better than Forza.
Posted by TheKeyboardDemon

I didn't know that Just Cause 2 had narrative drive missions to complete that gave the open world some sort of structure and progression, I'm finding the idea more tempting now. It means I can thash around and blow stuff up when I just want a quick blast around the open World but then do a mission when I want to do something with some sort of objective. It seems like it's a bit like Burnout Paradise in that respect, drive around and explore or stop at a junction to start an event. Or have I still misunderstood the game?

Posted by guthwulf
@TheKeyboardDemon said:
"

I didn't know that Just Cause 2 had narrative drive missions to complete that gave the open world some sort of structure and progression, I'm finding the idea more tempting now. It means I can thash around and blow stuff up when I just want a quick blast around the open World but then do a mission when I want to do something with some sort of objective. It seems like it's a bit like Burnout Paradise in that respect, drive around and explore or stop at a junction to start an event. Or have I still misunderstood the game?

"
No it's kinda like that. The missions aren't very deep, though. You're mostly asked to cause some sort of chaos/hijack vehicles/destroy stuff. Then there's also racing missions, but they don't tie into the story.
Posted by kariyanine
@guthwulf said:
Because Mario Kart is clearly better than Forza. "
We finally found something we can agree on.  (And I like Forza)
Posted by guthwulf
@kariyanine said:
" @guthwulf said:
Because Mario Kart is clearly better than Forza. "
We finally found something we can agree on.  (And I like Forza) "
Yay!!! :P
 
 (I really like Forza too, by the way)