Saturday, 18 May 2013

Just Cause 2 - by @timepoorgamer


With a few exceptions, the single player games I tend to like usually have a deep, fairly engrossing story that can draw you in. Often, this story will be accompanied by some good voice acting. Just Cause 2 is not one of these games. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it – far, far from it.

Just Cause came out during the transition period from Xbox & PS2 to XBOX 360 and PS3, and came out on all four of those consoles, as well as PC. As far as I can tell, it was OK, and it must have sold reasonably well, as Avalanche Studios made a sequel. It didn’t register on my radar at all, until I downloaded the demo, while bored one afternoon. Once I’d played it for about 10 minutes, I knew I’d be buying it.

Just Cause 2 is an open world game. A freaking vast open world game. Seriously, the map is absolutely massive. It’s set on the fictional island country of Panau, somewhere in Asia, where your former mentor has disappeared, presumed turned rogue. You, as Rico Rodriguez (whose appearance appears to have been inspired by a young Antonio Banderas), have got to go in, investigate and do what is necessary to calm things down again, which includes neutralising your friend, if it comes to that. The best way to do this is to cause as much chaos as possible. You’ll meet three factions who are each trying to overthrow the regime, and can take missions for them – assassinations, courier missions, general carnage, that kind of thing. Plot-wise (which is definitely NOT the main reason for playing this), it’s like an 80s CIA mission in Central America, told in a B-movie style. Some of the voice acting is hilariously bad, but it just doesn’t matter.

As per most open world games these days, there are plenty of vehicles to commandeer – cars, bikes, helicopters, planes and boats all get a look-in here – but the greatest method of getting around the world is what you start with – a grappling hook and a parachute. This combination, once you’ve got used to it, is just a joy to use, grappling on to trees, rocks, buildings and vehicles. It makes no sense of course – you can deploy your parachute, release it, and then deploy it again during the course of one jump – but that doesn’t matter, the watchword here is fun. And fun is something that JC2 has in absolute spades. As well as the missions, you earn chaos for destroying stuff, and there is a lot of stuff to destroy: if it contributes to the islands infrastructure, then it’s probably ripe for demolition – fuel containers, radar bases, transformers, petrol stations, wind turbines, presidential statues, propaganda vans, oil pipelines and even entire oil rigs are there for your explosive pleasure. The grappling hook also provides great opportunities for causing damage – you can grapple a jeep to the underside of a helicopter, and use it as a wrecking ball, for example.

I have sunk over 100 hours into JC2, but causing chaos and blowing stuff up just hasn’t got old. You can pick it up for about a tenner on Amazon, but if you’re a PC gamer, hang around for a Steam sale – it’s been spotted for about £3.50 at times, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what this gamer calls insanely good value. 

Let the chaos begin.