Review: Just Cause 3
Just Cause 2 was my favorite game of 2010. That’s saying a lot considering Heavy Rain and a handful of stellar PSN titles came out that same year. Suffice it to say I have been awaiting the release of Just Cause 3 with bated breath for five years now. I have fond memories of the ridiculousness inherent in JC2 and practically wet myself when the wing suit was announced for JC3. I booted the game up my first morning home from surgery. My first note reads “really lengthy initial loading time.” I was willing to forgive that initial snag seeing as how the game was probably loading a massive sandbox for me to dump dozens of hours into. The slow rendition of Prodigy’s “Firestarter” that plays over the opening credits got my hype receptors firing once more, but it wouldn’t be too long before I started to grow weary of playing the game altogether.
The loading that I overlooked at first started happening more and more often. Before cutscenes, after cutscenes, before challenges, while logging into Square’s online servers, and more. At this point, around 20-30 hours in, I might have spent more time watching Just Cause 3‘s loading screens than playing some of the smaller indie games that have released on the PlayStation Network. When you start the game up from the XMB, the title screen depicts Rico taking a load off in a beach chair, a glass of whiskey in his hand and a towel over his shoulder. It’s a stylish intro, but pressing the X button brings up a gallery-image loading screen for about a minute or so before bringing up another title screen with options like “Continue”, “Start New Game”, “Login to Square Enix Account”, etc. Rico is leaning on a fancy car, and if you select “Continue”, the game simply, seamlessly starts. Rico stands up and you’re in the fictional world of Medici, ready to liberate the crap out of some settlements and dethrone the heck out of a tyrannical dictator. This is how the entire game should feel. It’s so slick that it’s almost able to be overlooked, but I have a feeling the rest of the game wants to perform like that. I can’t speak to if/how it performs on other platforms, but the PS4 version loads constantly.
In between loading screens, there’s a fun open-world game that improves upon Just Cause 2‘s formula in a few important areas. The most notable narrative upgrade is the fact that it actually feels like you’re liberating settlements in this game as opposed to just blowing stuff into submission in JC2. There are propaganda speakers, vans, projectors, and billboards that cry to be taken out by the heroic Rico Rodriguez and Co. The random encounters are also a nice touch that don’t pop up often enough to become too much of a distraction from the main scripted events. For instance, there may be a guy stranded near his car, out of gas an in need of a hand. With some spiffy grappling tethers, you can pull that car right over to a gas station and complete the encounter in under two minutes. The other major changes from the second to the third installment of the franchise are the addition of the wing suit and the gear mod challenge system.
The wing suit is fantastic. If you haven’t played Just Cause 2, its main schtick was that you can get around really fast by using a grappling hook and a parachute. That travel mechanic is still rock solid in JC3, and the wing suit only adds another swift trick to Rico’s arsenal. It takes a bit of getting used to at first but controls just fine with some practice, which leads me to the challenge system. There were challenges in JC2, but in this game they unlock gears that are used to purchase mods. The mods are in line with the challenges that unlock them, so for instance you unlock a Nitrous Boost by completing a few race challenges. I never had a problem with the challenges in JC2. As a matter of fact, I thought they were a welcome distraction from the main campaign and from the late-game monotony of destroying towns ad infinitum. I think the challenges in this game are great, especially because now they have leaderboards and meaningful content (the mods) tied to them. However, loading screens strike again. When you start a challenge, you may wait upwards of a minute or more for it to actually begin. That’s longer than it’ll take to faceplant into the ground near a particularly tricky ring in a wing suit challenge. As much as I wanted to get better at using the wing suit, I didn’t want to have to wait a full minute to retry a challenge a few times. The very fact that you are rewarded for perfecting these challenges means that you’ll probably have to retry them several times. With the loading buffer in between each try, I quickly learned to care less about a grapple hook or flare upgrade if the challenge proved too difficult to 5-star.
Some attributes of Just Cause 3 are outlandishly cool. The draw-in distance is fairly impressive and the sheer size of the map is bonkers. There are nifty AI interactions, too. For instance, you can pick up any rebel by honking your horn near him/her. The rebel will jump in the car and fight with you wherever you go. You can even stunt on the car (jump out and stand on top of it) and the rebel will take the wheel and drive to a waypoint that you’ve set. Guess where I learned that sweet trick? Not in a mission, but on a loading screen… Loading times are a bit less if you play in offline mode, but part of this game’s next-gen charm is that it’s constantly tracking and comparing your accomplishments with those of your friends, similar to what Need for Speed: Rivals did a few years back. Maybe the game loads less on PC. If that’s the case, then by all means, get that version of it. Otherwise, make sure you have a device by you or something else to do while playing it on PS4. Might I suggest Lara Croft: Go?
A copy of this game was provided for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Blowing stuff up.
- Wing suit.
What I Dislike:
- Waiting to blow stuff up.
- Waiting to complete challenges.