400 Square miles of chaotic playground
Open world games are big business and they all try and offer something new and interesting. I remember being pretty enthralled by Mercenaries 1 way back, having fun with that and then finding Just Cause...a game that boasted a really big but empty game-space with very little to do even though it had a nice grapple and parachute mechanic, you could hi-jack things mid air and do all kinds of crazy stunts. Mercenaries 2 tried to ape this a little and as all things go, the evolution from one title mirroring or borrowing from the other continues Ė now itís the turn of Just Cause 2 to return to the sandbox play-space and offer literally 400 square miles of chaotic playground for you to do what you want in, read on, because this is literally one of the most fun open world titles to be released to date, and one of the most over the top.Story
Ricoís back, fresh from his island-hopping exploits and heís now on a new island chain, the Panau Island chain to be exact. The old Pres is dead and the son controls the government, heís making all kinds of sweeping reforms that the US of A doesnít like and in comes Rico, the gun for hire, agent of chaos to sort things out, all whilst looking for his former mentor Tom Sheldon...to find out why heís gone dark. Itís gloriously James Bond and completely silly, over the top stuff, it fits the game perfectly and itís great.Gameplay
Did someone say open world with no vertical limits?
To get the idea of the kind of gameplay youíre looking at, just have a peek at the videos that I uploaded onto the Youtube Channel using the PS3 version. Wolfís Just Cause 2 videos
where you can see a variety of gameplay mechanics in progress. You can seamlessly jump from a motorbike into the air, deploying the re-useable parachute numerous times to get around, sling-shot via the grapple hook and whip yourself higher and higher. This chute is a far cry from the old Just Cause, this is a fully controllable stunt chute that is almost as fun as the numerous 100 or so vehicles that you can drive, fly or pilot in the game.
You can put Rico into a stunt position on most large vehicles, some of them he can clamber around and itís vital to learn how to do this effectively when taking over a large jeep or helicopter since you have to kill the armed guards before you can hi-jack it via a very simple and effective Quick-Time-Event style button tap system. One that is easier and a lot more fun than Mercenaries 2. Once in control of the vehicle it is up to you what you do with it, drive it off a cliff, smash it into another vehicle or use it as a mobile platform to get to the next vehicle in a convoy. Rico can stunt-jump from one vehicle to the next, on the ground, at sea or even in the air. The control system takes a little getting used to, but once you get it, you can use a variety of tactics to make things more fun.
For example, say you have to destroy a small convoy but keep the driver of the first vehicle alive so a friend can interrogate him. You can approach this from numerous ways, perhaps you need to get into the air, using a bike at high speed off a cliff, sail over with the chute and land on the rear vehicle. Disabling the guards with some bullets you hi-jack it and ram it into the back of the second vehicle, smashing the car and leaping back up with the parachute before the moment of impact, two down.
Or you can deploy the best toy in a game ever, the grapple gun...which is now an arm mounted device that Batman would be proud of. The grapple can attach to any object with collision and reel Rico in where he sits smugly and armed to the teeth, or it can be used to pull an enemy whilst yelling ĎGET OVER HEREí in a Scorpion-like manner over the edge of a cliff to his doom. Or you can use the dual-hook function and link any two objects with collision together. A guy to a propane tank, shoot the tank and watch him get dragged away.
Or a guy to an airplane and drag him a thousand feet up before you release the hook and listen to his screams as he falls.
Or in the case of our example hi-jack above, how about hooking a jeep to a wall and watch as it spins out of control? Just Cause 2 usually lets you try what youíre thinking and get away it with, itís a glorious sense of the absurd that works perfectly in a game like this that isnít about realism, itís about having FUN and tonnes of it at that. You could simply use the grapple to get to each car in the chain and plant some triggered c4 and blow them all sky high, hi-jacking the lead vehicle and completing the mission that way.
Everything that you do on Panau literally nets you Chaos and Chaos is the gameís currency for progressing new missions, faction missions, stronghold takeovers and Agency (story) missions. Think of it like an RPG where youíre earning experience for being a complete and total git to everyone and anything on the island. Military targets are marked with the Panauan Star, a white star on a red background and net you lots of Chaos when you blow them sky high. There are literally hundreds of small settlements, based, airports and secrets to find on the island and they all net you some kind of reward. Itís not like Just Cause where thereís nothing to do, even the various races are fun.
You also get rewarded with that all important resource Ė money, money lets you buy things from the Black Market, new weapons and new vehicles. It is a pity that thereís no ammo drop or a way to replenish a special gun like Ricoís signature weapon, since it costs a fortune to do that. Of course that only matters if you actually own the Limited Edition of the game in the first place, most of the standard guns can be stolen from dead enemies or picked up from the plentiful ammo caches around the map.
You can carry two one-handed weapons of the same type, or different types, grenades and c4 along with a single heavier weapon like a sniper rifle or rocket launcher. You can also dual wield two smaller weapons of any type, so you could have a pistol and an smg combo for instance. You can also find upgrades scattered around Panau, thanks to a handy signal meter on the top left of your mini-map, it shows your rough location to an item youíre after and gets weaker/stronger the further/closer you move to it, flashing once youíre in range. A handy GUI arrow pops up to show you where the item is. Once you have enough of these you can upgrade your weapons or vehicles.
Thereís also an extraction option that lets the Black Market take you to any previously discovered location on the map.
Just Cause 2 gameplay wise, is a physics toybox of crazy stunts and moments that are too awesome at times to describe. It is literally a world where thereís no vertical limit and if you can see it, you can fly, skydive, drive or sail to it. You can even swim underwater, keep an eye on your breath meter though...if you run out of it, youíll die. The game has a decent checkpoint system and lets you save anywhere; youíll always spawn in at a friendly faction base or location even when you load the game back up. If youíre on a mission, youíll go back to a checkpoint if you die, if youíre free roaming, youíll respawn at the above mentioned locations.