|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Avalanche Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos / Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 23, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
February 19, 2008 - The original Just Cause is a third-person action/adventure game that involves beating up some bad guys, exploring a tropical paradise, blowing some stuff up, and performing some outrageous stunts using a parachute or a grappling hook. It was a pretty fun game, but it was not without fault. Poor A.I. and repetitive gameplay made Just Cause feel shallow and the presence of more than a few glitches and bugs pointed to a game in need of some serious polish. Luckily that polish is coming in the form of a follow-up, predictably titled Just Cause 2.
Just Cause 2 will feature most of the same elements from the original. You will once again step into the shoes of Rico Rodriguez, a CIA Black Ops agent who just so happens to be on vacation in beautiful South America. However, it is soon discovered that an ex-CIA agent has gone rogue on a nearby island to try to steal some extra cash, so it is up to you to save the day.
Although the story is completely fresh, most of the gameplay will seem familiar. Just Cause 2 will feature the same sandbox-style gameplay as the original. You will essentially have free reign over the island and be able to explore anywhere you want. A big improvement for the sequel will be the more intuitive interaction with enemies on the island. The original game suffered from A.I. that was predictable to a fault. Characters would wander around the island in very predictable ways, and a few well-times shots could dispatch these guys a little too easily. But the A.I. in Just Cause 2 has been upgraded ten-fold. Enemies this time around will have the ability to chase as well as cover, and will be anything but predictable as they actively strategize and adapt to your movements.
In addition to the varied A.I. in Just Cause 2, there will also be quite a variety of terrain to cover. The island that will be your sandbox features almost every type of environment possible including everything from wintry mountains to tropical beaches. There will also be several unpredictable weather elements that correspond to each section of the island. Thunderstorms, blizzards, and other inconvenient natural disasters will occur on a random basis, so you can expect the unexpected when it comes to your interaction with nature in this game.
Weaponry and vehicles have also been greatly upgraded. Weapons are now fully customizable and feature an almost limitless amount of add-ons and upgrades. Vehicles are much more responsive this time around and feature handling that actively adapts to terrain. Vehicles will adapt to the diverse environments differently, and it will be more of a challenge to seek out vehicles that are best-suited to deal with each type of terrain.
But of course what most people who are fans of Just Cause are interested in is the stunt facet of the gameplay. The stunts in Just Cause 2 have been expanded via an all-purpose grappling hook. Now you may remember the grappling hook from the original game, but the one in Just Cause 2 will be special because it will be able to hook on to almost every surface in the game. This makes stunt possibilities limitless, and gives you a very good amount of freedom when exploring the island. In addition to the improved grappling hook, the all-purpose parachute will be back as well. The parachute physics, however, have been tweaked a little bit to add a little more realism to the game. Vehicle stunts will be slightly tweaked as well. Instead of just hanging off vehicles to perform stunts, you will have more control over your actions when you are performing a vehicle stunt. You can hang on to different parts of the vehicle (such as doors, mirrors, etc.) and actively dodge obstacles.
One element that is completely new to the game is the "chaos" system, which takes the place of the side missions that were such a source of frustration for some in the original. Instead of going on random side missions that seem to have no purpose at all, you will instead be able to perform "chaos" missions that will get local factions on your side. These local factions will be a big help when you are trying to infiltrate certain governmental buildings or going up against bad guys. I would imagine this system to work somewhat similar to the "save citizen" missions in Assassin's Creed: not necessary to play the game, but definitely useful if you want to put the time into it.
Just Cause 2 looks like it is going to be a great sequel. The original Just Cause had a great premise, but many of the facets of the game just didn't feel quite right. But Just Cause 2 seems like it is picking the ball up right where it fell off from the first game. With better game structure, more customizable options, better A.I., and of course, better stunts, Just Cause 2 is looking pretty promising. We'll have to wait and see how much this game will actually benefit from all these improvements, but so far everything seems to be looking up for this upcoming action-packed game.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer