Just Cause 3 Review – Action Movie Sandbox
Ever wondered what it would feel like to grapple onto a moving missile and ride it, or hijack an airborne plane and nosedive it into a military compound or simply tether an enemy soldier to moving traffic? Just Cause 3 is a game that allows players to experience all that and much more.
Just Cause franchise puts players in control of Rico Rodriguez, a one man army who specializes in overthrowing military dictators through chaos and destruction as an agent of American “Agency”.
Just Cause 3 finds Rico leaving The Agency and returning to his homeland of Medici, a fictional Mediterranean island, which is under the control of General Di Ravello.
The game’s narrative follows Rico’s journey, as he meets former friends, new acquaintances and hordes of soldiers in his quest of helping the fledgling rebels to liberate Medici from Di Ravello’s fascist dictatorship.
From the game’s 80’s action movie vibe to never ending supply of quips and one-liners from NPCs and Rico’s flamboyant Latin Hero archetype, everything in Just Cause 3’s narrative is over the top.
Just like its predecessors, the game’s story does not take itself too seriously and is not the focal point of the Just Cause 3 experience.
The main focus of Just Cause 3 is in allowing players the tools and ability to create unscripted, on the fly, action set pieces.
While an open world third person shooter at heart, Just Cause 3 focuses less on standard shooting mechanics and more on maneuverability and creating chaos and destruction through its physics engine.
The game is structured around 3 large island regions which are split into different provinces containing military bases, outposts and towns. Liberating these settlements around Medici, via destroying chaos objects, opens up different challenges, missions and miscellaneous opportunities.
Other than destroying enemy targets, Just Cause 3’s missions also include glorified fetch quests requiring wading through heavy armed resistance and escort missions requiring Rico to protect NPCs from waves of enemies.
Aside from main missions and challenges, the game world is peppered with random encounters that lead to short missions that are akin to save-the-citizen missions from Spiderman 2 from PS2 days.
While the diversity in type of missions available in Just Cause 3 might not seem like much, the true gameplay variety comes from the unstructured nature of achieving each mission and the plethora of tools and abilities at players’ disposal to achieve their goals.
Just Cause 3 features a huge map that while comparable to Just Cause 2’s map area, features more volumetric depth by introducing landscapes like caves and subterranean caverns. This makes traversal a crucial gameplay factor and thus the most important ability in the game is the huge assortment of ways available to the player for traversing the game’s 400 square mile map.
From tractors to sports cars and helicopters to motorboats, Just Cause 3 features around 80 different types of vehicles for players to collect and operate, however the thing that separates Just Cause 3 from other open world sandbox games like GTA is the use of traversal items.
Returning from Just Cause 2 is Rico’s ability to use the grappling hook to grab on to any surface and quickly pull himself towards his destination as well as the use of parachute to float his way down from great heights and low.
While this combination of traversal method served players well in the previous game, it caused movement to slow down when descending great heights via Rico’s parachute. Just Cause 3 remedies this issue by adding wingsuit to Rico’s arsenal.
The new combination of Grappling Hook, Parachute and Wingsuit allows Rico to glide through Medici akin to Batman in Arkham games and greatly increases the constant pace of traversal throughout the game.
Controlling the grappling hook and wingsuit needs some getting used to, however, once the players get a hang of it, they can soar through the islands of Medici like a cross between Spiderman, Batman and Superman.
While Avalanche Studios has managed to make this traversal method truly exhilarating, the movements do not work as well in narrow and restrictive spaces and can become imprecise and loose to the level of frustration.
Aside from the variety in methods of getting from A to B, Rico also has a large assortment of weaponry available at his disposal to deal with enemy soldiers and encampments.
The game gives Rico a selection of pistols, assault rifles, grenade and rocket launchers as well as explosives to reign destruction upon General Di Ravello’s forces. However the most distinguishing weapon in Rico’s arsenal is his unlimited supply of tethers.
Rico can use his grappling hook to tether different objects together and then adjust the tether’s tensile strength to forcefully pull the objects toward each other resulting in destruction and mayhem.
From tethering explosives to chaos targets and making them explode, to simply attaching a soldier to a moving vehicle and watching him drag to his death; the tether is a versatile item that can be utilized in multitude of creative ways to destroy the enemy without expending ammunition.
Additionally Rico’s equipment, weapons, vehicles and abilities can be upgraded via the game’s “Gear Mods” which can be earned by completing their respective challenges that open up in liberated areas of Medici.
These weapons and vehicles can also be requested as “rebel drops” to be delivered anywhere on the map, similar to the drop mechanic available in Just Cause 2.
However Just Cause 3 adds the ability for Rico to request up to 3 different types of equipment in a single rebel drop. For example the player can choose to have an assault rifle, a rocket launcher and a helicopter delivered through one drop request.
Unlike MGS V, the type of equipment ordered in a drop does not cost any money or credit; however the game balances this by limiting drops to number of flare beacons in the players’ inventory.
All this variety truly makes Just Cause 3 a dynamic sandbox gameplay experience filled with exciting opportunities where the player is never left empty handed or without options.
Therefore it is doubly painful when such a robust gameplay experience is mired by quality related issues.
On the PS4, Just Cause 3 suffers from infuriatingly long loading times and compounds the frustration by prevalence of bugs that cause game to crash, not just in random situations but during progression missions.
Furthermore the game suffers from severe slow down when the map user interface is brought up, making the simple and frequent action of placing waypoints a frustrating ordeal.
This slowdown also creeps its head when things occasionally get really hectic during gameplay however, thankfully, Just Cause 3 does not feature debilitating framerate drops during normal play.
On the more positive side; the game’s world is beautifully realized and looks great in motion.
Just Cause 3 is full of breath taking vistas. Snow capped mountains, Sun soaked paradise with shimmering waters and vibrant fields of lavender and sunflowers. With its dynamic time and weather changes the game world looks absolutely stunning from a far but the character models, aside from Rico, and other details are not that impressive up close.
Additionally the new havoc based effects create impressive physics based destruction for every building and object as well as the debris created by each explosion and demolition.
The game also features a fairly competent sound design with great audial effects for explosions as well as the weapons and vehicles that Rico gets to utilize.
Overall, Just Cause 3’s presentation of its humongous open world is nearly as impressive as the amount of gameplay variety stuffed in its in-game world.
The game even keeps track of every minutia of actions performed to facilitate its asynchronous multiplayer, in which challenges and races have leaderboards that you and your friends can try and top.
There is always something to do in Just Cause 3, from completing the story, to completing side challenges for unlocking weapon and equipment mods to undertaking pure mindless destruction.
Just Cause 3’s gameplay tools are all about giving players empowerment.
Whether it is soaring through tropical island with a wingsuit, speeding through the roads on a sports car, riding the waves in a boat or simply blowing things up, everything in game is designed to allow players to create their own adrenaline filled adventure.
While it is mired by some technical irregularities, Just Cause 3 is a true sandbox full of tools to mix and match and therefore would appeal to anyone who is interested in creating chaos by letting their creativity run wild.