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Review: Just Cause 3

by onDecember 6, 2015
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The range of open-world videogames has logically expanded in recent years, and playing Just Cause 3 is one that will inevitably come to mind, much like to its massive brother Saints Row 4. Indeed, Both titles are quite similar since they propose a concept based primarily on freedom of movement as well as engaging in chaotic battles favoring the number and sustained action at the expense of subtle or strategic attacks. In addition to that, there’s a sort of main plot filled with challenges that will revive the interest of players in the proposed sandbox, which is missing in term of richness and variety. The thing is that these two games, although not really bad, are alike even in their defects, because both are riddled with bad finishing touch, bugs, cranky animations, not always optimal camera, dumb AI, and for Just Cause 3 in particular, a lack of ambition which you will feel when exploring this game.

Very far from being a bad title, Just Cause 3 is undeniably stagnant on the formula of its predecessor, which had also proposed five years ago an open world sandbox with very similar ingredients. The title does not deny in any way the concept and learnings of its big brother (which can be good) but does not significantly improve the latter. As a player, you are back in the skin of Rico, god of destruction, with his grappling hook and ready to dismiss any dictator in sight for the good of the people of Medici.

Just Cause 3 - VGProfessional Review (3)

The island of Panau from previous opus is ditched for Medici, a return to the hectic homeland of our friend Rico, taken over by the militias of Sebastiano Di Ravello, your Nemesis, and it’s up to you to help the rebellion by escorting convoys, destroying the dictator’s military bases, etc. We thus find a segmented main frame in 3 acts depicting the gradual emancipation of the people against his jailer.Defeats after defeats, Di Ravello will not hesitate to appeal to brute forces and unleash his experienced weaponry filed by the power of Bavarium, a substance which economic potential is matched by the destructive power it gives off when used for military purposes.

The story does not really ooze originality and takes almost a script taken from the Expendables movie series. Dialogue is funny, and even Arabic dubbing can be hilarious in its own way, using the Lebanese dialect instead of the usual Egyptian or even Written Arabic language. Note also that the end of each act will be an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in the middle of open warfare as the forces of Di Ravello will launch a massive assault on the country, which will have defend in several places of the map with your rebel friends. These can be very dramatic missions that give a bit of trouble to the player, which is not that gruesome as it is helped by a fast health recovery system that goes very well with the rest of these stuntman-hero ability you can use such as wingsuit-ing eternally on the map.

Just Cause 3 - VGProfessional Review (5)

Because yes, Just Cause 3 introduced a new dimension to its crazy gameplay, embodied by Rico’s Wingsuit. If you were happy already to run, grapple to any vehicles and use an unlimited amount of parachute, you can can now count on your flying squirrel capacity to move around the Medici archipelago, in a similar way to the ability to hover in Saint’s Row 4. Quite simply, after a few minutes in the game, you’ll totally control the grapple to wingsuit and parachute combo, without taking much risk, to go from point A to point B without even touching the ground, like a Superman. No complaints here about the sensation when moving and gliding throughout the island, which I will admit, is uberly enjoyable when topped with all the destruction you can do on your path. There is nothing more enjoyable in Just Cause 3 thank to walk from one city to another, spreading terror in the ranks of Di Ravello, like an angel of death by shooting down its settlements like the chaotic savior you are.

Moreover, it is at this point of the story that the challenge thickens a bit, because if the first islands of Medici are quite easy to rescue and free, as they only require you to destroy a small number of propaganda structures, things quickly get harder as you reach the other three main islands of the game, especially the largest and most filled by military installations and filled with bigger cities. The more massive cities of the game, for example will take you a good 10 minutes of action provided in order to be freed from the dictator. You will need to eliminate many captains of the guard, destroying propaganda billboards on the fly, electrical installations, disable many security systems, clean an imposing police station, generate some chaos, without of course forgetting the numerous statues of General that needs to be brought down with explosives or basic grappling physics.

Just Cause 3 - VGProfessional Review (8)

If the grappling system was friendly but under-exploited in previous opus, the team at Avalanche Studios went full on to revisit this feature, by offering the player the ability to attach several elements together and tether them for destructive power, with redefined physics. It will be possible to attach animals, people, vehicles, objects of all kinds together and in its best use to explosives which will be fun between missions, as it helps you take advantage of a natural exploit in the environement. I can’t stop talking about the time I tethered a solider to a gas canister, then shot it to see the poor guy fly through the sky and explode. Sadly even with these physics changes in the engine, If the marketing messages around the title was quickly focused on the possibilities offered by the destruction engine of the game, I can only regret that those nice controlled demolition are only limited to certain elements.

In short, you can blow up an entire bridge several hundred meters high and long, but cannot meet you for blast a simple concrete wall. Although the game is in no way realistic, and that’s not the point, this limited destruction damages the fun you can have, especially given the praise the development team gave to its explosive engine, close to what was offered in the Red Faction series. We must therefore content ourselves to superb explosions but not really revolutionary. A shame, but still fun to watch.

Just Cause 3 - VGProfessional Review (10)

In continuation of our performance and engine talk, just like its two ancestors, Just Cause 3 offers a sometimes uneven quality of graphics, providing stunning explosions and lovely scenery to watch from the heavens, but also bland textures when one comes close to the action. Some elements are roughly modeled (such as the false Petronas Towers in the capital ) and overall, we cannot but notice a small upgrade on the graphics engine from Just Cause 2. A little too light in aesthetic, too limited, pretty buggy even after the day One update: the title can boast of having the dream of a charm players would’ve usually enjoyed 5 years ago. Despite its flaws, it would be criminal to say that Just Cause 3 is ugly, but there’s so many framerate stutter and clipping when playing the game, that might turn some players away, and I really hope it will be addressed in future update.

Nevertheless, throughout my time playing the game, I willingly wanted to get lost in Just Cause 3, instead of sticking to the scrpted adventure, as you’ll soon realize more pleasure to set your own goals than following the intended line. In any case, you will be forced during the story to release parts of Medici and to do that it will push you to explore because cities are not clearly marked on your map. Once you scout an area, and free it, numerous side activities will be unlocked, destruction challenges, driving races, wing-suit time trials, etc. Thanks to these activities, you will get Mods unlocked, which will be helpful to customize your gameplay a tad via a dedicated system.

Just Cause 3 - VGProfessional Review (6)

Last to address is the multiplayer issue in Just Cause. If the adventure has always been officially a solo one, it would’ve been fun to see something bigger than a challenge leaderboards, maybe in the sense of what Grand Theft Auto 5 did. These global leaderboards helps you compete with others in various categories ranging from gliding the longest or who has ammassed the largest chaos points. That’s really what we expected but this component plays a small effect since a world record can be beat almost every 2 minutes by another player. However, this system is based on a permanent connection of the game, which unfortunately proved its limits in terms of server capacity throughout my gameplay. It looks like faced by the massive distribution of the title ahead of its release, the system disconnected frequently which cut your actions systematical, having to wait couple of minutes for a reconnection.

Just Cause 3 was reviewed using an Xbox One downloadable copy of the game provided by Square Enix. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via Origin. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published

What we liked

• Over 40 hours of gameplay to finish the game
• The Wingsuit-Parachute-Grapple combo is amazing
• Console versions generally live up to the quality
• Good laughs playing with the physics of the engine
• The experimental sandbox side
• Customization of gameplay mechanisms via Mod system
• A huge and comprehensive Open World

What is not fun

• Far too similar to Just Cause 2
• Concerning finishing touches such as poor animations, various bugs, etc.
• Destruction confined to some elements
• Difficulty a bit easy
• Lack of wealth, life and variety in an Open World game
• Graphic engine takes a toll on console processing power
• No minimap
• Unbalanced quality of texture

Editor Rating
 
Concept
7.7

 
Graphics
7.0

 
Sound
7.1

 
Playability
8.0

 
Entertainment
8.5

 
Replay Value
8.5

Final Score
7.8


Our final verdict
 

Just Cause 3 is a good stress relief title, true to the initial promise of the series and honest in its ambition, as meager as they are. If the new game will probably not be considered a GOTY candidate, the faithful of the second episode will probably love it even if it's almost the same. The title thus remains fun, has a good lifespan and honors the style of the Open World sandbox with its complementary side-quests and challenges. However, I wish Avalanche took better care in their finishing touch, and had a bigger ambitions than just creating a better looking sequel of their franchise. Nevertheless, it will be fun to visit Medici and create chaos or experiment with physics.

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