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Just Cause 2 review

Square Enix Just Cause 2
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £24
inc VAT

A fun-filled extravaganza of explosion-filled destruction, but Just Cause 2's huge sand-box lacks immersion or depth

Just Cause 2 (JC2) is an explosive, fun-filled extravaganza, with a huge world to explore. In this third-person shooter you play Rico Rodriguez, an agent tasked with the overthrow of a corrupt south-east Asian dictator, and your modus operandi is to blow stuff up as spectacularly as possible.

After a summary briefing in a helicopter en route to the island paradise of Panau, you are dropped into an intense battle to capture a mountain-top fortress and retrieve vital mission data. After the initial mission, you are free to roam the huge map, earning money and mission points by destroying government property wherever you find it. You can work with local factions, helping them to pursue their own goals, but after earning enough points you get agency missions, which advance the storyline.

The assortment of weaponry available to you is a side dish compared to your primary means of causing mayhem. Rico’s grappling hook lets him hijack air and land vehicles and, in combination with his quick-deploy parachute, he can practically fly about the map. Once you’ve grappled a vehicle you can take control of their weapons, or simply use the whole thing as a battering ram.

Finding new ways to cause mayhem can be fantastic fun. Attaching a truck to a helicopter, air-lifting it to altitude and then sky-diving to guide it onto a target, for example, is like a DIY gaming experience, where players are left to amuse themselves in Panau’s immense sand-box.

However, it’s not all good news. The combat and driving mechanics are not only unrealistic but also rather unrefined. One unfortunate idea that’s made the leap from the console versions is paid-for downloadable content. There’s a trickle-feed of this, designed to milk fans of the game with content that could arguably have been included from the start.

We wouldn’t complain if JC2 was bursting with content out of the box, but the incredibly shallow plot only serves as window-dressing for what boils down to a series of mindless killing sprees. There’s a huge sandbox in which to play, but it feels rather empty. We felt no attachment to any of the game’s characters, and so became utterly disinterested in the outcome of the game, and thus the game itself.

Of course, another view is that JC2 simply doesn’t fit into our PC-centric idea of single-player games. Just like the early Grand Theft Auto games, JC2 is an ideal choice to play with a couple of mates sitting around a TV – each taking turns to outdo each other’s destructive sprees. From a PC perspective this kind of mutually-enjoyed destruction just doesn’t gel, and despite an impressive website where players can compare their exploits, the lack of multi-player is painfully obvious.

If you can ignore the hammy voice acting, the arcade physics model and the B-movie plot, Just Cause 2 is great fun. However, if you prefer immersion and depth, you’ll quickly tire of wreaking havoc like a child throwing toys from its pram.


Price £24
Rating ***