Contrary to my imaginary readers’ beliefs, there IS a reason I started this damnable thing. And here it is!

Just Cause 2 review:
I picked this game up not expecting much. Just another GTA clone with a unique gimmick and different location that makes it worth wandering away from Liberty City for a while.

The premise is that Rico, the government agent with a parachute-spawning hacky-sack and grappling hook tied to his arm, is being sent to the island country of Panau to find details about Tom Sheldon, his former mentor. Said mentor was working a government angle in the country before the prime minister’s son “Baby Face Panau” murdered said prime minister, and took over as a dictator. Tom SHeldon promptly went AWOL and hasn’t been heard from since. Rico is supposed to find out why Sheldon’s gone and possibly make Mr. Baby Face a smudge on the wall, due to his anti-American policies. Yeah, don’t expect much. It’s pretty much the same premise in the end as Mercenaries 2, even with the “twists”.
I did not expect much more than a simple rent-game, considering what I saw of the voice-acting and story presented in trailers. However, I held out hope that it would be at least fun enough to explore, considering how big the first game was, though there was little in it. The trailers showcased an open-world that was unparalleled. While it may not hold as much content as “Red Dead Redemption”, which came out recently, it definitely tops it in scale and perhaps beaty. Just Cause 2 is not a game you play for the story, the gunplay, or the dialogue. This is a game you screw around in. This is a game you spend hours just running around looking for random crap, and in most cases, you’ll probably find it.

As said, the world is beautiful. The game alternates between night and day, an edge up over Mercenaries 2, which had the odd idea to make different parts of the map different times of day… There is also a lot of content in said world. Landmarks, buildings, people, vehicles, an occasional bird flying about, trees that aren’t invincible, and of course explosions. You don’t really have the opportunity to enjoy the visual highlights of the game until you blow something up, and when you unlock or download the various explosive weapons, you’re in for a stunning treat. Over and over again. Rico, the main character actually earns upgrades by doing this, so you’re encouraged to screw things up. As a result, the game is actually far more friendly to the player’s homicidal tendencies than any GTA clone before it.

But Combat isn’t the only part of the game that’s fantastic. The physics engine put to work in the game comes through in a variety of ways, and the rag doll physics often produce hilarious results. Combine this with Rico’s ability to pull enemies into the air with his grappling hook and “juggle” them with gunfire, and you realize that the physics are more on the “awesome” side as opposed to realistic.

The grappling hook is Rico’s main tool in the game, often coming through for him when presented with any sort of challenge. Whether you want to attach Rico to something, Pull Rico to something, Pull something to Rico, or attach two things together (plane and car), the grappling hook is versatile enough to keep you entertained for hours. The parachute is mainly just a way to ease Rico’s passage over rough terrain, but it proves to be an amazingly addictive and fun combination with the grappling hook. In addition, if you buy the first DLC pack for the game, the jet thrusters that you can attach to the parachute make it one of the most hilarious and useful things I’ve ever seen. At no point in the game will you ever find anywhere impossible to traverse. That Mountain in the distance? Yeah, you can climb it, after you dive to the bottom of the ocean and find some treasure. Heck, climb a building while you’re at it. Your mobility is unparalleled in this game. The only thing that I can think of that comes close to competing with it is Spidey and his web-slingers.

Speaking of traversal adventures, the vehicles in the game, which there are a lot of, range from very interesting (3-wheeled CARS?!) to the standard variety (Crrrraaaaazzzzy Taxi). Aircraft, watercraft, road craft, not-so road craft, and Fuel Canister, Variety is key. Helicopters behave smoothly and surgically when you have weapons at your command, but planes had me feeling wanting. And overly simplified flight control mechanic that didn’t allow me to control the “yaw” (left and right) of the rudder made it hard to fly in the precise manner that most of the air-races require. Cars tend to drift and be silly, even the slower vehicles, and boats behave… like boats. Motorcycle physics are more like revised-four wheeled physics, which made them feel somewhat weird. I miss the physics of the first games two-wheelers. Gas canisters, when shot, shoot off into the air. You can imagine the results. Considering how much random crap happens in this game, your imagination probably isn’t too far off the mark.

The game takes advantage of its’ size in another way by including a large variety of Easter Eggs. Several of them are references to the LOST Television series, evidently. The hatch, crashed plane (yours and theirs), mechanical shark, and smoke monster all make an appearance. This is in addition to an equippable Bubble Gun (unfortunately useless), “I Am Legend” cameo, Coconut-Cream Pie Island, Working Hot-Air Balloon, Beached Sperm Whale chock-full of goodies, and Flying Strip Club (awesome).

The game is entertaining enough with all its’ extras that you don’t even need to play the story to enjoy the game… which is good, considering that so much of the main-storyline is utter crap.

Something that becomes evident as you play the game is that every NPC has a horribly fake “Engrish” accent. Add this to their terrible dialogue and you realize why I was playing my own soundtrack the entire game. Speaking of the soundtrack, it’s generic and boring. This actually makes the 360 version of the game better than the PS3 version. Having your own soundtrack makes exploring that much cooler while saving you from most of the terrible dialogue and music, assuming your volume is configured right.

Aside from main characters such as Rico, Baby Face, and other main characters, NPCs look like they walked out of a PS2 game. It’s understandable considering the size of the map, but still disappointing. Even Rico, despite his detail, isn’t all that appealing to look at. But you’ve got better things to look at in-game.

Now, if the voice-acting and dialogue is bad inside and out of the story, than surely the story is just as bad, right? Actually… yes. It is. Two words: Black. Gold. I think I’m already forgetting the story as a bad dream. The only things I want to remember are that Ninjas with MP5s started shooting me midway through the story, and the final boss fight had me riding on a Nuclear Missile racing el presidente. The fact that there are only seven actual story missions didn’t help either. This cements the fact that if you pick this game up, you’d better like exploring, senseless action, or funny driving/flying. The story is, as they say, DISAPPOINT.

All said and done, if you’re one of those people who gets 100% in every game, this one will challenge you, if not in skill level, than in pure time wasted playing. But don’t come for the story. I do believe I could have beaten the game in under two hours if I had just stuck with the story missions and relevant unlocks.

GOOD
World-Graphics
Easter Eggs
Physics Engine
Grappling Hook/Parachute
Ninjas
Riding on a Nuclear Missile

BAD
NPC models
Voice acting
Flight controls
Length
Story

I’d include pictures, but I am also, as they say, DISAPPOINT.

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