‘Just Cause 3’ delivers on-demand mayhem, thrills
Well, they’ve finally done it. After so many years of flirting with the concept, the video game industry has finally released a title that is essentially one continuous action movie scene.
That game is called “Just Cause 3,” and it’s pretty spectacular as far as it goes. The game opens up new vistas in the realm of open-world action adventure by allowing the player to do just about anything, at any time – so long as it concerns blowing stuff up.
The setup: Players assume the role of Rico Rodriguez, who may as well just be named Hero Protagonist. As with the previous two games in the series, Rico is cut loose to wreak havoc in a dangerous but exotic locale by battling various factions vying for power.
After previous adventures in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, this time around Rico drops in on the fictional Mediterranean island nation of Medici. And when Rico drops in, he doesn’t monkey around. The game’s very first sequence finds Rico firing a shoulder mounted RPG while straddling the wings of an airplane, before parachuting down into the story proper.
It’s a deliberately bonkers opening that signals the tenor and tone of the rest of the game. “Just Cause 3” aims to provide on-demand mayhem, velocity and visceral thrills, and it delivers.
Fans of sandbox-style open world adventuring will appreciate the virtually unlimited range of actions that are not just accommodated, but encouraged. For instance, developer Avalanche Studios pushes boundaries along both the x and y axis with a number of insane locomotion options.
When you’re not in a vehicle or aircraft, you’ll get the most utility out of Rico’s wingsuit, which allows him to glide great distances over the picturesque landscape. Rico’s physics-defying grappling hook allows him to quickly elevate to launch points, and the parachute provides a third option for getting around both vertically and horizontally. Once you learn to deploy these three tools together, you can zip around the map with ridonkulous speed.
Then you have your vehicular options. Rico can commandeer any given vehicle he comes across – motorcycle, jeep, tank, speedboat, helicopter, jet fighter – without ever breaking stride, as it were. The result is a seamless and thrilling movement system that represents the game’s most addictive element.
Everything else is about deploying the game’s weapons, crashing the vehicles and blowing things up. The incessant fireball explosions are spectacular, and it is a guilty pleasure to come up with gleefully sinister combos. Might I suggest tethering two enemy helicopters together? It’s delightful, really.
Goofing around like this in sandbox mode can provide hours of fun, and that’s good because the game’s story missions are often uninspired and repetitive. Advancing the plot, such as it is, requires liberating towns and taking over an endless procession of military bases and fortifications. Story and dialogue are pitched at the depth and tempo of a 1980s B-movie action picture. Enemy goons are dispatched by the hundreds, and Rico’s invincible super-soldier act quickly gets tiring.
The console versions of the game, on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, are also plagued with frame-rate stutters and long load times. I played on PS4 and never ran into anything too egregious, but online reports suggest Xbox players are experiencing serious headaches.
“Just Cause 3” doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t, and you have to award points for that. The over-the-top action actually had me laughing out loud several times, just at the sheer goofiness of it all. It really is best enjoyed as one big interactive action scene, in which the player provides the storyboard with each new press of a button.
“Just Cause 3” (rated M) is now available on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One.