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Review: Just Cause 3

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With 2015 winding down, we’re well into the final surge of big AAA releases that have been hitting shelves over the past few weeks. To cap things off, there’s not a better way to end the year than to sit back with a big, silly, over the top action game. That’s exactly what Just Cause 3 delivers.

In it, Rico Rodriguez returns back to his home: Medici, a series of islands under the control of a dictator known as General Di Ravello. The open world of Medici becomes Rico’s playground and spans across an enormous distance. Rico’s task is to liberate the people trapped under General Di Ravello’s control. That’s probably as much as you’ll get out of the complexity of the story because it isn’t its strong point. Just Cause 3 doesn’t try to take itself seriously at all and pokes fun at itself with some funny moments and dialogue.

As you start the game you’ll begin with a few familiar gadgets from previous games; this quickly expands into some fun new ones as well. Making a return is the grapple hook which can be used to latch on to any object within the environment. This can allow you to quickly traverse a short distance to get in and out of position, tether multiple objects between each other to create havoc using the physics system or to combine its uses with the other gadgets like the parachute or the newly introduced wingsuit. The latter gadget basically lets you fly like Superman. Once you get the hang of combining everything, maneuvering in the environment is varied and satisfying.

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The map of Medici is broken into provinces, with each area containing key points of interests which include settlements or military bases. As you progress through each one you’ll be given a series of tasks to accomplish in order to liberate that area; that generally involves destroying a lot of things within the world, causing huge explosions doing so. That’s where combat comes into play — you’ll be able to have an awesome time spending hours devising new ways to blowing things up.

It’s at this time you’ll run into epic thirty minute action set pieces that are exhilarating to play through. During the early stages of the game, combat against the enemies is fairly simple — you’ll soak up a lot of damage and won’t have to worry too much about opponents. As you progress, things do get much more difficult; tougher vehicles are thrown in amongst your reign of destruction and insane, bullet-dodging ninja soldiers from hell decide to show up periodically.

Rico has a number of different weapons he can get his hands on, and as you get further in to the game they get a little bit crazier. My favourites include the laser guided airstrike and the Capestone Hyrda, which launches a volley of rockets towards anything you point it at. It’s great that you’re able to swap your weapons out while roaming around the map by using beacons to call in a Rebel Drop. A Rebel Drop provides Rico with a primary, secondary and special weapon, alongside with a vehicle; all you have to do is make your selection and throw the beacon on the ground. Then, watch it fall from the sky.

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Between the story and the main combat, Just Cause 3 is broken up by giving players the opportunity to complete challenges once an area is liberated. The challenges can involve vehicle racers, wingsuit courses, weapon firing ranges or causing even more destruction. Once you finish these you’re given a score that totals towards an unlock system for upgrades to your equipment. There’s a lot of incentive here because some of these unlocks can really alter the way you’ll end up playing the game. They also changes the pace a little so that it’s not just explosive action every moment. Even then, it can still get a bit repetitive after a while.

The other part you’ll find yourself getting lost in is within Just Cause 3‘s sandbox itself. There are a lot of land, sea and air vehicles that you’ll come across such as race cars, helicopters, tanks, jet skis, speed boats and military fighter planes. These can be a lot of fun to cruise around in and just see what types of crazy stunts you can do. Because of the great physics within, you can find entertainment just by messing around with the way all of its different systems interact with one another.

Most of the things you do are tracked, and Just Cause 3 takes great pleasure in ranking you against other players in its asynchronous multiplayer. It adds an aspect of competition which isn’t visually intrusive to the player, merely appearing to the side of the screen or within the menus.

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What is intrusive is when the game’s connection its servers goes down. During my 30+ hours of play, I encountered a small fraction of time where my connection to servers kept dropping out, throwing me into offline mode. This process took around 20-30 seconds each time, interrupting whatever I was doing while Just Cause 3 attempted to reconnect or go fully delve into offline mode.

Worst yet, once in offline mode, it would try to reconnect to servers, causing the same 2-30 second delay, every time you finished a challenge or entered a menu. If successful, the connection usually dropped out again shortly afterward, and I was once again stuck in the cycle. While there is the ability to choose to enter into offline mode, I wasn’t able to find a way within the game to force it to stay in that mode.

Visually, Just Cause 3 is amazing; when everything starts to go boom, everything is simply remarkable. It’s also quite impressive to see what Medici can offer when getting into a jet only to fly, bail out and look around as you glide back down to the ground. Just Cause 3 is purely an entertaining game; it’s not trying to tell a complex story with plot twists and deep characters. It knows it’s ridiculously over the top and it has fun with that. If, in your video games, you like explosions and causing serious amounts of destruction, you’re not going to find a better game this year to do so.

Just Cause 3 was reviewed using a review build on PC as provided by the publisher.

 

Review: Just Cause 3

The good

  • Visually impressive.
  • Side content which is meaningful.
  • Fun sandbox.
  • Best video game explosions of 2015.

The bad

  • Online connectivity.
  • Challenges can get repetitive.

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