Lights, Camera, EXPLOSIONS!
The one man army himself, Rico Rodriguez, returns for another installment of Just Cause, now set on the island of Solis, where he’s set to take down another dictator with the requisite amounts of explosions and mayhem. Just Case is another franchise I’m new to, but boy am I glad that I can jump in, or in this case glide in, without any experience from the previous games.
The game starts you out on the cold mountainous peaks of Solis, where you're about to head into a fight with no plan. There're little to no tutorials here; just like how old games used to play out, you're flat-out left to figure things out on your own devices. I've gotta say though, the no hand-holding take is refreshing.
Once you're past the initial cutscenes and mission, you're left to explore the island with a lot of blips on your map noting possible activities. Just like so many other open world games, this will be where most of your time is spent, just floating about from place to place, zooming in and out of danger, guns a-blazing. What's not to like?
Building a Rebellion
The story is progressed by going through areas under the control of Black Hand, the mercenary faction that occupies and controls Solis. You do a series of tasks to liberate areas and move the border of your influence towards the next territory line. The game also counts the number of squads you can deploy to cover your front lines and push them forward. A little pushback from the Black Hand in the form of attempts to re-take their lines would have been nice, though.
Main mission nodes are the story-driven beats where Rico shines the most. These mainly progress the story forward and are going to take more time and effort than usual. Not to discourage you, though - this game isn't exactly that hard to play. Rico is extremely resilient and has stupendous regenerative capabilities that kick in seconds after he ceases taking hits. You'll also see a lot of the new weather system in these missions, but I'll get to that in a bit.
Man of Action
After unlocking most of the map's areas and swooping in here and there, it felt as if there weren’t a lot of new combat mechanics, but even the few additions to your kit are very much welcome. One that's particularly intriguing is the new grappling hook system.
There's basically three parts to it - the Retractor, the Airlifter, and the Booster. Each can be modded in a way that acts differently. I gotta say, using the Retractor to make two helicopters kiss tickles my funny bone in all kinds of ways. Meanwhile, the Airlifter literally attaches balloons on an object to lift it up, and the Boosters are miniature rocket pods that propel the object they're attached to. All of these nifty gadgets are only limited by your creativity.
But if you're feeling like you want something a little more consistent, the game offers a wide variety of choices when it comes to guns. What's more, each weapon has an alternate fire mode. To name a few, you have the standard auto rifle with explosive grenade launcher, the Defender machine gun that, when deployed, acts as a shielded turret, and the Smart Rifle which locks on to a target and empties its magazine on the unfortunate Black Hand agent you choose to unleash this salvo of hot lead upon.
After a while, you grow accustomed to having a certain weapon be with you all the time. Not to worry though, you can literally have vehicles and weapons airdropped for you with just a call. This is very convenient when you just want to get things fast and not have to go out and hunt for them.
Nice Weather We’re Having
So yeah, this is awkward. We're going to be talking about the weather in the game. While the Solis features some impressively rich biomes, the main draw of the game is the extreme weather system, namely the Tornado, the Lightning Storm and the Sandstorm. Later on in the story, we find out why these calamitous events occur so often, but revealing why would be treading on spoiler territory. Unfortunately, they only exist as obstacles to move the story forward. Once you're past that ordeal, they cease being events that add to the game's fun factor.
There is indeed a dynamic weather system, and the variety makes moving across the countryside just beautiful. And as thrilling as the grappling hook is, there may come a time when you tire of it as your primary form of movement. That’s where the vehicles come in. Avalanche Studios has put in a lot of effort with the vehicles in this game. They range from your standard cars and motorcycles to the weird stuff like a farm tractor or a cargo plane. Most civilian vehicles also get a standard radio or a tape deck. Each station has their own style of tunes, all of which are interesting for me. Post-campaign, I chose to ride cars to my stunt objectives, because it's more fun that way.
“Just Cause 4 feels like you're living in and advancing the plot of a B–movie, and that's amazing.”
In the Eye of the Storm
The game only took 20 hours to finish, but I was kind of hoping there would be something else aside from the stunts to keep me busy afterwards. The stunts are interesting, but the problem is, while you're attempting to do them and fail to succeed, there is no quick respawn to where you can attempt to do the stunt again. This just makes things more tedious than they are, and to make matters worse, your reward for each stunt is a mere pittance of 100 Garland points. The only ones I saw worth doing were the ones that unlock a vehicle.
There are some minor issues and glitches I've seen quite a bit of, like a long line of birds just static in the air, unmoving. I've gotten stuck hijacking a helicopter more than once. And lastly, the game's been just outright crashing on my PS4 Slim. The crashes aren't frequent, but when they do happen, it's still unfortunate.
Let's get Tropical
I loved my time in the island of Solis. It's quite the experience to be able to glide the way Rico does. It kind of makes you want the traversal method to be available in other games. Just Cause 4 brings to the table a unique set of gameplay mechanics that sets it apart from other open world games.
Every action moment in combat feels like you're playing the main protagonist from those spy or action movies I used to watch when I was young. Just Cause 4 feels like you're living in and advancing the plot of a B–movie, and that's amazing. Wherever Rico goes, there's bound to be action, excitement, and more importantly, explosions.
Absolute freedom of movement
Beautiful destructible environment
Minor bugs, glitches and crashes
An open-world game with little need to explore every section
Little to no endgame content
What I've played
21 hours of gameplay
Campaign finished – 68% Total Completion
Stunts and Challenges only partially done while going through the game.
Just Cause 4 is available now on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One for $59.99 / 3,190.00php.
[This review is based on a PS4 review copy provided to Too Much Gaming by Bandai Namco.]