Swedish developer Avalanche Studios was originally founded in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the team became universally recognized thanks to their spectacular Just Cause 2 entry. It was one of my favorite last generation sandbox titles, and I was enthralled when I found out that the sequel would take place in a fictional Mediterranean. I’m not going to lie, my first impressions weren’t positive. Between the excessive loading times, horrid frame rate and a disgusting motion blur implementation, I was ready to officially write the game off as a disaster.
Fortunately, the Just Cause magic caught on quickly. Much like the spectacularly absurd Dynasty/Samurai Warriors series, Just Cause is all about brainless, non-stop, good ol’ fashioned fun, and if that’s the kind of experience you're looking for, then Just Cause 3 certainly delivers. It may not be as much of an improvement the way Just Cause 2 evolved from the original, but it still offers some excellent action and a stupendously large world to explore.
"Between the excessive loading times, horrid frame rate and a disgusting motion blur implementation, I was ready to officially write the game off as a disaster."
You take role of Rico Rodriguez once again, who has returned to his hometown of Medici only to find his island under the control of dictator Di Ravello. Teaming up with his childhood friend Mario and the hilarious scientist Dimah al-Masri, they set out to liberate the island and bring an end to Ravello’s dictatorship. By liberate, I mean blow everything marked with red to oblivion. The narrative is expectedly cliche, but at least the characters aren’t taking things seriously like in the predecessor. As a result, the cheap humor and flat one-liners compliments the game’s overall tone, even if the writing remains as cringeworthy as ever.
Fundamentally, Just Cause 3 is identical to the predecessor. The missions structure is the same, the controls are the same, the AI is the same...and in a way, it feels more like Just Cause 2.5 than an actual sequel. This isn’t necessary a bad thing if you’ve been craving more of the same (or if you’re a series newcomer), but it’s unfortunate that this sequel’s only new element is the wingsuit. It seems like the devs have simply dumped chunks of their old code into a new world without addressing any of the issues that plagued Just Cause 2. In fact, they’ve made everything worse by requiring constant online connectivity in a single-player only game. A real shame.
"Just Cause is all about brainless, non-stop, good ol’ fashioned fun, and if that’s the kind of experience you're looking for, then Just Cause 3 certainly delivers."
And yet, I find myself drawn to the over-the-top action and Avalanche’s meticulously crafted world. For every frustrating loading screen or FPS drop, there’s a moment of spectacle that only Avalanche knows how to pull off. Explosions in Just Cause 3 are incomparable, and I haven’t seen such impressive destructibility since Red Faction: Guerilla.
The new wingsuit makes traversal particularly exciting since you can basically fly from location to location. It’s unfortunate that the rest of Rico’s controls don’t feel as natural as the gliding and parachuting. Shooting feels like something from the PS2 era and all driving/flying controls lack precision. This is especially annoying when the missions require more delicate maneuvering and you’re tasked with operating very specific vehicles. But as with all previous entries, the game is most enjoyable when it removes all restrictions and allows you to wreak chaos any way you please.
"Just Cause 3 isn’t exactly the sequel I hoped for, but in the end, I enjoyed my time with it despite the game’s many issues and lack of innovation."
Visually, Just Cause 3 may not be a technical marvel like The Witcher 3, but its vibrant world can be gorgeous when it’s not being torn apart by technical hiccups. The map is gargantuan, and there are destructible military outposts around every corner. When you’re enveloped by the lush scenery and colorful explosions, and the game manages to remain stable, Just Cause 3 can actually look stunning at times. At least on the PC, the higher frame rate makes all the console specific issues more tolerable, especially when it comes to control fluidity and overall motion blur.
Just Cause 3 isn’t exactly the sequel I hoped for, but in the end, I enjoyed my time with it despite the game’s many issues and lack of innovation. I wouldn’t recommend picking up the title until the devs have patched up all the issues. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a hardcore fan of the series of if you’ve never experienced the game’s glorious chaos, but make sure you lower your expectations and keep an open mind.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 4