Rico Rodriguez Makes An Explosive Next-Gen Debut
Just Cause 3 reminds us exactly why we picked up a controller in the first place – to be purely entertained. The newest edition from Avalanche Studios is your stereotypical “guy” video game with huge weapons, stuff blowing up at every corner, and a protagonist that isn’t scared of anything. Rico, our fearless central character, feels a lot like Rambo with his endless supply of weapons and the apparent ability to absorb bullets like they’re vitamin D. You’re not going to get an epic set of stunning visuals or a revolutionary combat system, nor will you have a title that screams blockbuster hit. Rather, you’re going to get everything gamers love about an open-world action adventure – loud weapons, fast cars, things that fly, explosions, a massive landscape, and the ability to feel invincible. Rico lets you kick ass and take names without the fear of dying like a little girly man from a showdown with the militia.
My initial reaction to the game was a mixture of excitement and pure intrigue. After a pretty awesome introductory mission of tightroping across the top of a small aircraft while laying waste with a rocket launcher, I was able to absorb everything Just Cause 3 has to offer. The landscapes are much more detailed than I had initially thought and the sheer size of the sprawling world is impressive – the nearly 400 square miles of map took me roughly 17 minutes to fly across. Rico’s character movements are surprisingly intuitive, which makes causing chaos to the destructible environments and navigating the series of islands a breeze. The arsenal of weapons and gadgets at Rico’s disposal is rather impressive, too, and seems to grow in size as the game progresses . Just about every vehicle imaginable is available for the taking, as well.
The game looks and plays a lot like a more refined and righteous version of Grand Theft Auto V – you’re not going to find people shooting each other in a drive-by during broad daylight, nor will you find yourself looking to do the same. Rather, the excitement comes from liberating the various provinces of enemy forces and spawning your own military helicopters to blow out the base of a towering quarter-mile long bridge. Yes, you certainly read that correctly – Avalanche Studios learned a thing or two from the modding community with the induction of a “rebel drop” system. Players now have the ability to spawn any vehicle, weapon, or special item they’ve previously unlocked – no more driving miles across the map to climb into the cockpit of a fighter jet to only be blown to pieces by an enemy.
Rico comes with a few upgrades himself since we last saw our old friend in action. His newest toys include an improved grappling hook with a tethering feature, a more agile parachute, and the greatest invention ever given to an action hero – the wingsuit. Rico’s wingsuit allows him to glide across the world like a flying squirrel on steroids. Jumping from grappling hook, to parachute, and then into wingsuit is a flawless transition and can be strung into an impressive series of combinations. I managed to grapple onto the top of a speeding car, backflip into my parachute, and dive headfirst into the abyss below with my wingsuit, all in one combination. Yes, my assault rifle was definitely blazing the whole time.
The game also comes packed with a series of unlockable mini-missions in order to keep things new and fresh after liberating the various towns and villages. Each new mission includes things like vehicle races, wingsuit challenges, and weapon training simulations. The extra content is a welcome sight that adds both a unique dimension to the title and extra variety if you ever get bored of skydiving and blowing up factories.
While Just Cause 3 has it’s noticeable strengths, it’s certainly has it’s fair share of weaknesses. The shooting mechanics in particular seem to be the biggest chink in the Just Cause armor. The controls are difficult to navigate and the spray-and-pray method seems to be the most effective way of tackling a horde of enemy fighters – I liken the mechanics to hip firing in just about any first-person shooter. A few upgrades are available to sharpen the shooting, but none of them really allow the player to take full command of the weapon Rico is wielding.
Mowing down oppressive government officials with those shabby aiming controls can sometimes become tedious, especially when Rico seems to withstand just about anything thrown his way. Yes, this adds to the grand mythos of his characterization, but it feels a bit forced at times. I only died four times during my initial hours of gameplay through roughly 60-plus gun battles – that ratio seems a bit off in my book. Rico’s a boss, that’s undeniable, but taking on 20-plus automatic machine gun-wielding enemies like it’s a walk in the park can sometimes feel like swatting flies rather than uprooting a Communist government.
The main story missions themselves are a bit weak as well and never seem to fully get off the ground. Secondary protagonists and the primary antagonist are transparent and don’t really hold too much depth when all is said and done. Purging the territories of the oppressive rule also feels like a repetitive rehashing of the previous set of tasks and rebooting after dying feels like it takes an eternity. The game has a ton to offer during free mode but seems to drop the ball for players looking to enjoy an epic story.
When all is said and done, the overall direction of Just Cause 3 is certainly a positive one. Avalanche Studios set out to build an enjoyable title that gamers can truly experiment with. I have to admit, I sunk more of my time into jumping out of airplanes and blowing stuff up than I did with the actual missions. Rico’s character perfectly complements that fun and creative atmosphere as he feels like an action hero that breezes through the Mediterranean with an arsenal of weapons and a bulletproof chin. The game does have its glaring flaws in the atrocious shooting mechanics, repetitive main missions, and turtle-like loading screens. However, the title definitely shines where it needs to, and Just Cause 3 might very well be the most underrated title of 2015 – this is one wild, testosterone-infused adventure you’ll want to check out for yourself.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
The visuals are surprisingly done well and the landscapes look beautiful when gliding around in Rico’s wingsuit. 3.8 Control
The new character movements for Rico are intuitive but the shooting mechanics take away from the overall feel of the game. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sounds blend nicely with the visuals and perfectly complement the high-intensity action. 4.5 Play Value
Boasting a huge open world, the game offers hours of destructive excitement. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best