So I recently got to play Just Cause 3 and being a moderate fan of the previous game in the franchise, I was not expecting much out of this game and had bought it for when I would face a game drought and this game could provide me a few entertaining hours a day. I bought it in the Steam sale back in Summer and I know I am a little bit late to the party, but well, better late than never. My run ins with the ‘Action-Adventure’ genre in the past few years have been rocky at best with the most critically well received games in this genre following the ‘Linear-Corridor-Cover-Based-Shooter’ formula of which Tomb Raider, Rise of The Tomb Raider and most recently Gears of War 4 are a part of. I know that this genre is too huge to be described by a mere 3 games. But when you have games like Assassin’s Creed & Hitman(The recent ones), Batman Arkham Knight, FarCry 4 etc (I’m talking mainstream here), in the market, releasing the same game with a few tweaks, it is hard to say that any game is worth playing over it’s predecessor unless you want to see great graphics. Also Point To Note- I’m not including Action adventure RPGs or those games that are similar in nature to RPGs, so games like Witcher 3 (And Dishonored to some extent, due to the chaos theory) are not to be pooled together. In this genre I am looking at games that have a driving plot over which you have no control whatsoever and only the action bits are left to you.
You must be wondering at my game of choice here- “Just Cause 3? Meh, it’s OK, definitely not anywhere near the best. There are games like GTA IV/V, Mafia 1 & 2, some side scrollers like Ori & The Blind Forest, Axiom Verge etc” and I also know that, at launch, Just Cause 3 wasn’t one of the best optimized games on any platform. But presently, at least on a PC with my config- i5-6500 and GTX 1070, I’m getting a decent 100 fps with drops to 60 on the heavier side of explosions because at that point my CPU starts bottlenecking the GTX 1070. Apart from performance woes and just one other issue which I’ll talk about later, I’m having a blast with this game. I started it last Monday and am already 64 hours into the game (I think that says a lot). As for the game itself, the improvement and refinement is huge over it’s predecessor. Lots of mechanics have been added and modified, some removed to make way for newer ones. The best touch however, comes from the grappling hook. The ability to tether objects and pull them at your own will allows for a lot of creative ways to eliminate huge targets. I had lots of fun tethering helicopters to boats, boats to planes, planes to planes etc. The addition of the wingsuit is a huge welcome. In JC2, we were stuck with the slow parachute for the whole time, whereas here, the wingsuit allows for much faster mobility and is much more effective for being used not only in the midst of a heated battle, but also for travelling around. The variety of vehicles has remained the same for all practical reasons, so not much of an improvement there, but I do have one small gripe with the mobility section- For a game that has huge chunks of water, I’m surprised that haven’t added something to speed up water travel if you are stuck in the sea and have no boats roaming around, but it’s not much of an issue because the combination of parachute and wingsuit practically gives you unlimited flight.
As for other gameplay aspects, an ability tree has been added which has some interesting upgrades for the wingsuit and grapple hook, giving you more speed in air and allowing you more than 2 grapple hooks (Upto 6) and at 6 it becomes a hell lot of fun. New abilities are obtained by getting gears which are obtained by completing challenges which are unlocked after liberating a settlement.
Now let’s get away from gameplay here, because Just Cause is a franchise which is known for it’s gameplay and if only the gameplay had been good, I wouldn’t even have bothered writing this article. And yes I am talking about Story, Graphics, Sound etc which impressed me a lot more than I was expecting, to say the least. I had gone in expecting a boring story which I wasn’t even going to touch, but Avalanche Studios did surprise me this time. I remember seeing an article about Avalanche putting in some effort towards the story and 10 months after the game’s release, I can verify that personally. The story of the game might not be the best in gaming like Witcher 3, Mass Effect etc (Although they are RPGs and RPGs are supposed to have good stories), it very well stacks up to games like GTA V, Assassin’s Creed 2 etc. What it does exceptionally well is the characterization of different people in the game. Unlike previous games where everyone had the same accent and a monotonous voice, here every character is well realized, well portrayed and above all feel relatable. They mostly have the same accent, but the way the characters talk and react do feel real, so I have to give them that. The overall plot is nothing complicated and is just a group of strung together side missions/events which do sometimes emotionally impact you.
Graphics cannot even be questioned. Just Cause 2 itself was way ahead of it’s time and Just Cause 3 repeats the same. The explosions and environment (Especially the explosions) look downright beautiful (in spite of not being scripted and the physics engine doesn’t fail to impress). As for the problems with graphics, texture popping is somewhat of an issue since it is quite noticeable and the only other thing is that the water does not look all that good. I personally think that JC2’s water was better looking. Coming to the sound, the voice acting is pretty good and as I have been stating in the article, I was not expecting it to be as good at all. The music does a very good job of keeping the flow and while there are not a lot of diverse tracks, you won’t be concentrating on the tracks considering the death defying stunts you will have to pull off.
Now coming to the part which in my opinion matters least in a game- Set pieces. Yes, I do not like set pieces in a game at all, at least from the games I have played. I remember that one set piece from one of the Tomb Raiders where I was being followed by an avalanche or something and the camera was positioned to show me what was going on behind Lara. How in the hell did anyone think that was a good idea? Anyways, getting to the set pieces, the reason why I don’t like them is that they minimize control of the player over what is going on and expect the player to remain in a certain time or area limit and that takes out the immersion for me, plus half of the set pieces these days have become boring, either you are falling off something or being followed by something or such. Just Cause 3 has set pieces that do not limit any sort of gameplay, in fact it gives you even more options in such situations. Just for an example there was this one set piece where Rico (The protagonist), has to protect a cargo plane for a certain amount of time and then has to drop it into the sea. Fighter planes are targeting the cargo plane and it is his job to clear them out. Now there are so many options, I had a go at each and every one of them- I grappled onto each jet, took out the pilot and jumped off it; I tethered the jets to the cargo plane, and made them crash into the ground; I tethered two jets together, pulled them close to each other and ‘KABOOM’ (Oooh, that satisfaction was tremendous). So yeah you get the point, the set pieces in this game are awesome. The satisfactory part is that I never felt helpless in the set-pieces, rather I felt badass.
In fact I would say, this game can be used as a set piece maker for many other games. The various things I did while roaming around the world, could very well be scripted set pieces in any game. Being followed by cops with a 5 Star chaos rating on your head, riding on a bike, shooting the driver of a truck just to see it fly off the cliff into the valley, or just turn over and block the whole pack of cops behind it is huge fun to watch. Apart from that, derailing trains over bridges, just to seem them fall over a helpless crowd of cops is epic. I can’t emphasize enough, on the amount of fun that can be had with this game. I’m still finding new ways to destroy stuff to smithereens. Such satisfaction, much wow.
Early on in post I had talked about a gripe that I had with this game which is the amount of grind you have to do to get the most fun out of it. As I had said above, the skills in the skill tree are unlocked by getting gears which depends on how you performed in challenges which are unlocked by liberating areas and you can’t even know which area will unlock which kind of challenge. At first I was very frustrated at seeing the skill tree having an option of 6 grappling hooks, and me only having unlocked 4. Then I remembered it was the PC version and immediately went to Google to find some kind of mods for the game that unlocked them. And just like modders tend to behave, instead of just adding all the abilities in the skill tree, I went ahead and added some really cool mods, some of which included- the superman flying mod, the infinite grappling mod etc. These mods made the game so much more fun. Also I’m hyped up for the multiplayer of this game which is probably being led by the creators of Just Cause 2 multiplayer.
I know quite a chunk of people are not going to agree with me on this, but this is my opinion. What do you think though? Do you think the reasoning in the article is valid? Or do you think the contrary, do express yourself in the comments below.