One of the great things about gaming is the escapism that games can give you. You’re only ever a few button pushes away from doing things that you could never do in real life. Just Cause 3 has given me a whole new list of these things. Thanks to Avalanche Studios open world shooter, I have flown a helicopter with 3 goats, 2 cows, and a deer hanging from it. I’ve ridden on a ballistic missile. I even initiated a tug of war between a fighter jet and a tank. Just Cause 3 relishes in this creative carnage and puts it alongside an orgy of explosions. This game has more explosions than I have ever seen in a game before. The game doesn’t defy logic with its explosions, everything that explodes is what you imagine would explode. It’s just that the land of Medici has a vast array of things that will go boom.
Speaking of Medici, this small ‘Mediterranean’ nation offers a large playing area with a wide array of vistas and varying scenery. There are small islands, mountains, cities, villages, farms, and ruins. About the only type of location that isn’t in the game are sandy deserts. Mixed in with all these areas are numerous military bases, as well as towns and cities that have imposing military-style police stations and propaganda everywhere. In fact, there is such a military presence in the nation that I can only assume that around two-thirds of the population are employed by the country’s armed forces. I spent around half of my time in the game just travelling around the map liberating all the residential areas and military bases. You can do this in many ways. You can take the stealthy approach and use your tethers to pull down objects while trying to stay out of view. You can go in guns blazing and lay waste to as much as you can before the enemies kill you. The other way is to use an assault helicopter or jet fighter to destroy all the targets on the ground. Each of these ways is fun, and a testament to the game’s design that each approach works.
The rest of the game is made up of Story missions and challenges. The story sees Rico Rodriguez trying to take out the brutal dictator of Medici, General Di Ravello. Medici has become a player on the world stage because of its deposits of Bavarium, a massively explosive and magnetic mineral. Di Ravello has been experimenting with this mineral and has already discovered some of the mineral’s properties. As with the rest of the game, the story has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. We are treated to amusing characters, crazy situations, and a general sense of mischievousness. I spent the majority of my 50+ hours in this game with a huge smile on my face.
The challenges are new to the Just Cause franchise and offer some real competition for you and your friends. There are racing challenges on land, sea, and air. Destruction challenges take place with unlimited ammo for a specific weapon. There are challenges where you attach a sort of magnet to the back of a jeep and collect as many Bavarium rocks as you can. The pièce de résistance of these challenges, though, are the wingsuit challenges. Start one of these and you get a helicopter ride to a specified start location where you jump from the helicopter’s skids and have to use your wingsuit to fly through as many rings as possible. You gain extra points for flying directly through the centre of a ring as well as skimming as close to the ground as you can. I had so much fun with these challenges and because every single challenge has its own online leaderboard, I very quickly found myself battling with my friends list to see who could get the top score.
For all the fun that is packed into the game, it does have its issues. The first one you’ll notice is the loading time. While I never experienced the fifteen-minute load times that some people have had, I did come across a few five-minute long loads and nearly all of them are over ninety seconds. I also had issues with a mission where you’re flying in a giant cargo plane and when the game loaded after a mid-mission cutscene, I was falling through the air watching the plane that I was in fly away. I restarted at the checkpoint and the exact same thing happened again, and again after that. In the end, to progress, I had to restart the entire mission. I came across a few enemies that where stuck in an animation loop. I also saw a few physics glitches, such as when a NPC on a moped collided with a jeep and it was the jeep that went flying through the air into the distance. It also has to be said that the graphics are among the weakest of all the AAA next-gen games that I have played. The textures are pretty poor, but what really hurts it is the frame-rate. The game aims for thirty frames-per-second and quite often manages it, but you will come across regular dips in the frame-rate and they are sometimes brutal, dropping to around ten frames-per-second or lower.
I had a blast with Just Cause 3. The game has quite a few technical issues that can’t be ignored, however when it works it is so much fun. The increased number of tethers, in this release, allow for such a huge array of carnage opportunities. The wingsuit is implemented superbly and offers a brilliant way to get around the map, particularly when combined with the grapple and parachute. The driving controls feel a lot tighter and feel a lot more responsive whether you’re on land or sea. There is so much to enjoy here, it’s just a shame that some glitches and loading times bring the game down a bit. Avalanche Studios have said that they are working on some patches to reduce loading times and fix some of the bugs. If they manage to fix these issues then I would strongly recommend that you check this game out. With the game as it is at the moment though, if you like the franchise you should probably pick it up, if you’re not a Just Cause fan maybe check back in a few months to see if the game has been fixed.