In Just Cause 3, you step into the shoes of Mexican roughneck Rico Rodriguez once more. Despite his nationality, he grew up in the fictional Mediterranean island of Medici, which is now being ruled with an iron fist by the evil and power-hungry General Di Ravello. Because Rico can’t take the general’s suppression and insatiable appetite for power any longer, he decides to step in and help the local rebels liberate Medici from its dictatorship.
To do so, he has a large arsenal of weapons, gadgets and vehicles at his disposal. With all these goodies distributed over an immense, thousand square kilometre open world, Rico’s ultimate goal is to bring down the general’s army and military bases. This can be done by any means possible, on land, at sea or even in the sky.
In order to quickly traverse through the huge sandbox world of Just Cause 3, Rico is equipped with an improved grappling hook and all new wingsuit, in addition to the traditional parachute. While the permanently equipped wingsuit allows for total aerial freedom, the hook also doubles as a weapon. It can be used to slingshot vehicles into checkpoints, attach soldiers to exploding fuel tanks, smash helicopters into the ground or even construct wrecking balls. The hook also features a new manual retract function to make it even more powerful and versatile than before.
The island of Medici is filled with more than 80 land, sea and air vehicles, including sports cars, planes, helicopters, monster trucks and tractors, to help move through the world or aid in destruction. In addition, the Just Cause 3 world is filled with collectibles and challenges to discover such as races, wingsuit courses and destruction frenzies. When completed, they’ll unlock new mods to upgrade Rico’s explosive capabilities and vehicles. Just Cause 3 also features a new graphical physics engine that makes sure each explosion is unique in how it looks and affects the game world.
Man on a mission
To liberate the island and defeat Di Ravello, you’ll need to complete several missions. These include the destruction of the general’s bases of power along with liberating towns, all the while gaining access to new vehicles, weapons and rebel facilities. All enemy structures can be easily recognised by their red and white colours. The missions at the beginning of the game are primarily focused on increasing the rebels’ power over the island by simply annihilating all enemy presence.
The island of Medici is divided into a few large regions that are again subdivided into provinces. Each of these provinces contains a number of settlements — villages, army bases, even drilling platforms. To liberate a province, all settlements within it need to be ridden of the general’s forces and structures. To free a whole region, a central command post needs to be captured, which in essence is no more than a just huge army base.
Although completing missions implies progress, you’re in no way forced to play them at a certain point in the game. In my case, that resulted in some strange and confusing moments where I played a mission that was intended to prepare for the capture of a certain base. The problem was that in all my appetite for destruction, I had already captured it hours before. Mission content isn’t dynamic and dialogue between Rico and the rebels assume a fixed scenario. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean the captured base becomes fully operational again, but some of the general’s soldier do rear their ugly heads just waiting to be popped, again.
Playing these missions is the main method to progress in the storyline of Just Cause 3, but they’re not where you’ll be spending most of your playing time. In the end, most of your precious time will go into liberating villages and capturing enemy bases, which is fine since it’s so incredibly fun and rewarding to do.
Liberating villages requires you to lay certain things to waste, including billboards, statues of General Di Ravello and propaganda-spreading speaker systems. In the case of military structures, it’s just a matter of levelling all objects that carry a characteristic red marking, which can be a laborious task. Throughout the game, most of these objects are things like fuel tanks, communication hardware and electrical facilities. But the level of destruction doesn’t end there; you can also obliterate many other objects in the world of Just Cause 3, including huge bridges and low-flying aircraft.
Since the island of Medici is filled with hundreds of villages and bases that need to be captured, you might expect repetition and boredom to set in pretty quickly. In reality, that’s not the case. The exact method you capture each village or base intuitively evolves throughout the gameplay and varies as a result of gained experience and gathered abilities. After capturing dozens of settlements, you’ll automatically start getting more comfortable with different approaches and, as a result, you’ll begin experimenting with a multitude of vehicles, gadgets and weapons.
The cable guy
With the new and improved grappling hook cable system, you can now connect multiple objects and have them smash into each other with the touch of a button. Just connect something — a statue to a building, say — and when the cable retracts, it pulls the statue to the ground. In due time, when Rico’s cable system receives upgrades to stronger versions, even more objects can be destroyed simultaneously.
It’s these cables that prove to be one of the game’s biggest strengths. They supply Rico with a broad range of transport and navigational opportunities. With the help of these cables, he can quickly cover large distances or even jump on cars, helicopters and jets. They can also be used to pull him forward while hanging on his parachute. Even better: when you’ve learned how to fly with the all-new wingsuit and combine it with the grappling cables to continuously stay in the air, that’ll probably become your primary way of moving around. It’s faster than most vehicles, great looking and just tons of fun. The wingsuit is a real game changer, making vehicles mostly superfluous and mainly interesting as a weapon.
So, these cables play a major role in both transport and destruction, but there’s more. Just Cause 3 is a great game for those that just want to experiment, and these cables play an essential role here. I really enjoyed coming up with new ways to connect the cables to objects and just watch the (explosive or destructive) outcome.
I once connected two helicopters and flew around with one of them, using the other one as a wrecking ball to smash into an enemy base. My personal favourite: connect some innocent bystander to the rotor blades of a chopper and then start it up. The poor guy will be launched in the sky only to hit the ground a few hundred meters further on. How cool is that? I know there’s absolutely no point in decorating a mountain ridge with three tanks, or interconnecting a bunch of cars and watch them drive into town. But it’s just so much fun creating these crazy ideas and actually being able to execute them.
To encourage players to think outside of the box, an online leader board is created for practically every action you can think of. Like with the poor guy that was connected to the rotor blades and catapulted away, there’s a leader board for that as well that keeps track of how far you can launch these poor souls.
Although the leader board doesn’t play a big role in the game, your ranking is largely affected by the upgrades you own. Stronger cables mean better performance and thus a better chance to end up higher on the leader board. In total, there are eight categories in which Rico can unlock perks, ranging from vehicle boosts to zoom options for weapons and ultimately cable upgrades. To unlock these perks, you need to complete all sorts of challenges that become available by liberating villages and bases. The higher you score in these challenges the more cogs you receive. Each perk requires you to have a certain amount of these cogs to unlock them. Although you don’t really need all of these perks to progress through the game, they add extra spectacle and joy to the overall gameplay.
Apart from the game getting somewhat repetitive and boring if you don’t add some variation to the way villages and army bases are captured, there’s not much else to complain about in Just Cause 3. However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
One of its biggest flaws is a terribly thin plot when it comes to the main storyline. The way it’s presented, the predictable cut scenes and over-the-top voice acting don’t always hit the spot. It helps that the whole ambiance of Just Cause 3 is over the top and doesn’t lean heavily on a storyline whatsoever, but still the plot could have been a lot better.
Just Cause 3 is, without any doubt, one of the most entertaining and addictive games of 2015. It features an incredibly high fun factor, gorgeous visuals, incredible explosions and and a huge world to play in. In the end, the game offers its players endless ways to cause epic action, destruction and chaos. The fact that its storyline is as thin as a dime doesn’t matter a bit. Just Cause 3 does a great job at setting the bar even higher for the open-world genre, one explosion at a time. It gets a solid 9/10. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media
- Tested on Xbox One (R800). Also available for Windows PC (R500) and PlayStation 4 (R800)