I’m sorry, but when I hear the words open world, my mind immediately goes to Grand Theft Auto IV: San Andreas. In my opinion that game achieved the perfect balance of humor, stellar voice acting, over-the-top gameplay and since I’m a fan of the genre, an insane OST fuelled by some of the greatest rap songs from the eighties. Saint’s Row 2 was the only other game that comes close to the awesomeness that was San Andreas but now, I’m adding Just Cause 2 to that list, as well.
Released alongside God of War III and Battlefield Bad Company 2 among other games in March 2010, I was quick to dismiss Just Cause 2 as an entertaining, yet flawed open world game that suffered from repetitive mission structure and horrible voice acting. I would go so far as to say that I've probably heard better voice acting in porn. Yes, it’s that bad. But today after sinking in nearly forty hours into that very same game, I realize developer Avalanche never really cared about voice acting or plot. It was all about mental action and in that respect Just Cause 2 delivers the goods in spades.
What I like the most about the game was that it did not restrict players to how they wanted to traverse the environment. Sure you could move around the picturesque island of Panau using conventional modes of transport like cars, bikes or boats but you haven’t experienced this game till you’ve hijacked a fighter jet and surfed on it thousands of feet above land. That philosophy of just letting players go crazy is what propelled me through this game even though, like I said earlier, mission structure can get pretty repetitive.
The only way to travel
The campaign itself is painfully short, offering players only seven story-based missions, but you see you have to indulge in a ton of side quests to unlock these missions. This ramps up the game’s life significantly. And even though side quests are smaller variants of the story based missions, it’s the way players can go about completing them that keeps things fresh. Picture this for a minute. You've been tasked with assassinating some random dude but you're on a mountain top and he's hundreds of feet below you. No worries. You merely jump off the cliff, free falling till you spot his vehicle. You then deploy your parachute, which allows you to coast above his car. At the right time, you shoot your grappling hook on his car's roof and reel yourself in. His bodyguards try coming at you, but you quickly dispatch them off with a few shots to the skull.
You hijack his ride after struggling with the driver for a few seconds and soon you're in control of the ride. You could stop the car, drag him out and put a bullet through his skull, but you want to send a message. You drive rashly through traffic till you spot a bridge with nothing, but the raging sea below. Bingo! You make your way to the bridge and drive the car straight off. At the right time, you jump out of the car and deploy your parachute as your mark plummets toward a watery grave. You spot a boat cruising below you. You latch on, throw its occupant over board and ride off into the sunset. And that's just one mission.
The only gameplay aspect I personally felt was a bit of a downer was the game’s Black Market. You see using the Black Market, players can buy a multitude of weapons in this game but since ammunition is not generalized, you can’t refill the ammo of a special kind of gun, especially if it’s part of a DLC pack. What you have to do again, even though you purchased the DLC with real world money is to buy the weapon all over again since there’s no way of just buying ammo. This isn’t as much of a game breaker as it is a weird decision.
But yeah, other than that minor niggle, I whole heartedly recommend Just Cause 2 to anyone who prefers a mindless action game. It allows players to feel like a super hero even though you’re very much a normal human being like the rest of us. I mean, which other game out there allows you to surf on rockets?