November and December this year have felt like the months that never end for games. I’ve played Fallout 4, Star Wars BattleFront, Tomb Raider and have now thrown myself into the Just Cause universe. Just Cause is probably the least known of the franchises that have come out in the last month but has a very distinctive style of its own. Take the biggest explosions and cliches in an 80s or 90s action movie and add it to the freedom of a Far Cry style open world and sandbox, add in a sense of humor and you have Just Cause.
You play Rico, newly ex-CIA revisiting his homeland, the Mediterranean islands of Medici. The islands are under the thumb of evil dictator General Di Ravello who has his eyes set on world domination using the explosive mineral and fuel source that is only available there. Some games try for realism and others have a sense of humor and try and lean into their own ridiculousness. Just Cause is one of the most ridiculous games I’ve ever played – the opening sequence has you standing unsupported on top of a Cessna light aircraft trying to shoot SAM sites with an RPG – but the sheer over the top unrealism of the game works for it.
Once you’re past the first set of storylines the game settles into a wide open map that lets you pick your own direction. You can pick up the next storyline quest, free an enemy town to open more of the map, take a challenge for gears that open up skills or explore to see what Easter eggs you can find. I found myself bouncing from one to the other having great fun. There are some serious themes involved in the storyline but for the most part it’s a case of asking yourself how much chaos can I cause?
Paid Extras: There is a DLC called the Air, Land, and Sea Expansion Pass for £19.99 from Steam. This pack has visual skins available now and three extra missions and areas to be released in the future.
About Developer: Avalanche Studios
Just Cause is developed by Avalanche Studios. They were formed in 2003 by staff from the collapsed Rock Solid Games and have around 250 staff. They’re best known for Just Cause but also recently published the Mad Max game and made The Hunter, Renegade Ops and a mobile game Rumble City.
Just Cause 3 is published by Square Enix. Square Enix is a Japanese developer, publisher and distributor of video games, best known for the Final Fantasy franchise. It is a large and longstanding publisher of many series, including Deus Ex, Thief and Tomb Raider.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
Just Cause 3 is an open world game with aspirations to be a sandbox and lets you pick your own direction and the way you want to do things. Many games have versatile armories but this takes it further. Once you’ve completed the introduction you’ve a wide range of guns and explosives but more importantly you have your grappling hooks, wingsuit and parachute. These are used for both transport – think Batman style grappling and high speed flight – and for destruction. Fly over an enemy base in your parachute and use your grapples to connect together two fuel tanks, reel in and leave in a huge explosion.
The target audience is those who want the freedom of being able to approach a problem from multiple directions and revel in computerised destruction. There is some gore but less than you would expect considering the damage level. No knowledge of the previous Just Cause games is required.
The game does not have an explicit save game function and unless you are mid challenge will move you to the nearest checkpoint when you exit. Damage and progress you have produced is persistent between logging in and out so you don’t need to finish liberating locations before logging out. That said it does play best in 20 minute to half hour blocks and if you are in a challenge or storyline quest you’ll need to finish it before exiting or lose that progress.
Just Cause 3 has a relatively ergonomic design and is controllable via either a Xbox controller or a combination of keyboard and mouse. The keyboard/mouse combination is remappable. The grappling hook requires holding a key in, moving your aim and releasing it at the correct moment.
Fast reflexes are needed to pull off some of the more difficult stunts but there is almost always an alternative if less flashy way to meet an objective. For example instead of using your tethers to take out the buildings in an outpost its possible to steal a vehicle, back off and simply pound them to pieces. The game will react to you to some degree – bring a tank along from another outpost and the AIs will up their game.
There are no obvious places where color blindness may be an issue. There are bright flashy explosions regularly and viewpoint changes from third person normally to first person when you are controlling a some gun systems.
Environment & People
As far as we know, no environmental principles were employed during the creation and distribution process by anyone involved in the project. There are no particular environmental issues involved with the game unless you count the large amount of destruction which Rico causes.
From a social perspective Just Cause 3 plays the Tin Pot Dictator controlling the oppressed masses in a rather clichéd way but does throw a little realism in there – the rebels are not all unified and good and the results of rebellion seem to be chaos rather than a better world.
Just Cause 3 is currently available for £40 on Steam for PC and similar prices for the Xbox and PS4. Openworld games are hard to quantify in terms of total play time but it claims to have over 1000km squared of playable area with vertical – underground and in the air – play space also available.
Single Player: Yes
Controller support: Yes
Languages: Interface, Audio and Subtitles: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian. Interface and Subtitles: Polish
Just Cause 3 prompts you to log into or create a Square Enix account when the game first launches. This account is used to show your place on leaderboards and let you participate in head to head challenges with other players but is not essential and you can play without creating the account. The game can be played entirely offline if you choose to do so.
There have been a lot of reports of graphical issues and bugs with Just Cause 3 and the developer has promised a patch (and AMD has updated their drivers). The problem seems to be more with some AMD GPUs than other systems although there have been problems reported with multiple systems. I’ve an NVIDIA card and have played for 20 odd hours and apart from one crash that I’m not sure was caused by the game have had no problems. If you have an AMD card I’d think carefully about this game and watch the press for updates.
OS: Vista SP2 / Windows 7.1 SP1 / Windows 8.1 / Windows 10(64-bit Operating System Required)
Processor: Intel Core i5-2500k, 3.3GHz / AMD Phenom II X6 1075T 3GHz
Memory: 6 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 (2GB) / AMD Radeon HD 7870 (2GB)
Storage: 54 GB available space
Processor: Intel Core i7-3770, 3.4 GHz / AMD FX-8350, 4.0 GHz
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 (3GB) / AMD R9 290 (4GB)
I started off saying that the last month or so had seen a number of big games being released. Just Cause 3 was probably the least anticipated and hyped and yet gets my personal selection for being the most fun. It’s plagued by some driver issues – particularly on consoles and AMD PCs but once you’re into it the game takes ideas of storyline or realism and throws them out the window and lets you get on and pretend to be an action star. If you’re an open world fan who doesn’t want to get too serious this is the game for you. Highly recommended.
The review is based on the Steam PC Just Cause 3 kindly provided by Square Enix. This post contains affiliate links. First published on the 8th December 2015