Boom. The helicopter explodes. The little man I control is flying in mid air, I tap LB and he grapples on to the burning wreck. The spinning, flaming copter descends down into an alleyway, little soldiers on the ground fire at me as I hang from the copter. I hit the ground. The screen goes red, and Rico regains his stance. Gleefully, Rico shoots the guards down, their bodies hitting the floor with little splashes of red. I turn him to face the edge of the small town, and I peer into the valley below. It’s a steep drop, if it was any other videogame then I’d die when I hit the bottom.
So Rico jumps off the mountain.
The demo to Just Cause 2 has a map the size of GTA IV… doubled. It has a 30 minute time limit, but enough land and stuff to do so that it encourages multiple playthroughs.
It is awesome.
It handles much like the original, a sloppily designed shooter with a tendency to fly in the air. Except this time, it’s not sloppily designed. Gone are the days of giant land mass, filled with a boring void and nothing to do, every turn and town in Just Cause 2 offers endless amounts of chaos. By chaos I do not mean blowing up a few buildings or sabotaging a few bits here and there (like The Saboteur), I mean placing charges on a crane, while you’re on top of it. Letting it rip and diving off the wreckage before it hits the ground. It plays out like a smartly dumb action movie, pushing you in the direction of funtown, while still letting you rip open the freedom and suck out all the juices.
Disgusting, yet so damn awesome.
Core gameplay remains slightly changed, for the better. The shooting still feels wonky, the controls to select weapons are wonky but the whole setup is wonder. With a quick aim to a tower, a tap of LB and maybe a slap of A; I’m in the air. At anytime I can drop down and freefall. The same beauty of freefalling is captured even more in this sequel, with the enhanced visuals. The dull music has been replaced with heavy base, it feels a whole lot more to the point. Less dull and more ‘blowing up an entire town and catapulting you down into the canyon, where only at the last second you get access to your limbs and parachute.’
It’s one of those games, where you can tell stories from your experiences with the game. How I blew up a helicopter with one pistol, how I took out a guards post with a tank the size of a small house, how I led a motorbike chase down a ninety degree slope and survived by jumping on to the cars following me.
There’s only a few complaints I can raise at the moment, which says a lot for such a large game, the pacing isn’t quite right. When I’m grappling up a building, my aim is restricted, I can aim right up the wall and have to take it in little steps. Yet if I jump off, risking falling to my death or having to start over again, my aim is freed up. I can perfectly see that Rico can aim right up there with his arms but refuses to everytime I move the right stick upwards. I also have to raise the issue that the demo feels way too short, 30 minutes to wreck havoc goes by in an instant. I would have preferred an hour at least per playthrough of the demo, but that’s not going to be a main critique of the full game.
One issue I should raise up is the blatant use of unskippable cut-scenes. During the start of a game, which looks like a faction introduction, I couldn’t skip the horrible writing and horrible voice-acting. That’s not even a complaint of the game, since Just Cause 2 isn’t exactly a literate title. It’s not one to baffle us with intelligent political under-currents (a la Bioshock) or one to just have some witty and decisive character (looking at you Mass Effect 2). Complaining about the story and narrative in a game like this is like complaining that there’s no polar bears on the moon. It’s not meant to be there, it’s not even meant to drive you into the sandbox. What it’s there to do, in Just Cause 2, is just be irritating and maybe inform you at the same time that they’re at least trying. They should have just removed all the cutscenes completely and have it all ingame talking through Ric
I’d raise up other issues, like the fact that there’s a HORRIBLE stereotypical Asian accent screaming down your mic every three minutes. To inform you that you’re causing havoc or there’s security on the way or something about blowing stuff up. If I want to be informed about military action or security forces on the way, like the four-star ratings in the original GTA, at least have it NOT ANNOYING. Have a bearable voice actor or someone cool narrating the opposing side’s radio. How about 50 Cent? It’d be nice to hear “Yo G, he just leveled a building, send a copter his way to pop a cop in his ass” followed by many of expletives.
Just Cause 2 is not a smart game, it’s not meant to be, it’s meant to be just a joyous ride. An action movie before your very eyes. Not a heavy drama or epic sci-fi quest of discovery; just a dumb and high-octane thriller with bad acting and bigger explosions than the ones found in Tiger Wood’s bedroom. Or should I say ‘bedrooms’?