Besides being a game name that lends itself too easily to puns, Just Cause is one of those brands that started out as a serious action game that eventually turned into a meme making joke of itself. A lot of that has to do with the amazing physics engine that allows just about anything to happen in the huge open world. While this is a lot of fun to see in action, after 3 previous games and now this one relying hard on that one gimmick, Just Cause 4 might just be in need of a makeover.
Game Name: Just Cause 4
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Avalanche Studios
Release Date: December 4, 2018 (Worldwide)
Price: $59.99 (Gamestop US) / $49.98 (EB Games Australia)
After the events of Just Cause 3, Rico Rodriguez is approached by a Solís native, Mira Morales, who convinces him to come to Solís to uncover the truth about Project Illapa, a project aimed at creating weather cores able to control the weather and generate storms, and one which Rico’s father, Miguel Rodriguez, had a part in creating. The project is run by the incumbent Solís leader, Oscar Espinosa, who maintains tight control over the people of Solis.
After a failed attempt at deposing Espinosa, and a run-in with his private army, the Black Hand, led by Gabriela Morales, Rico forms an army of his own with Mira, named the ‘Army of Chaos’, aimed at taking down Project Illapa and ending Espinosa’s regime. Along the way, he meets up with Luis Sargento, an eager commander of the Army of Chaos, Izzy, a hacker, Garland King, a filmmaker obsessed with filming stunts in Solís, and Javi Huerta, an archeologist wishing to uncover the history behind Solís and the Espinosa legacy. As Rico sets out to destroy the four prototype weather cores being tested in Solís, he also meets up with Lanza Morales, Mira’s uncle and a scientist who worked on Project Illapa, César, a former pilot turned conspiracy theorist, and Tom Sheldon, Rico’s old handler at the Agency.
Soon, it is revealed that years ago, Miguel, together with Lanza, and Espinosa’s father, Leon Espinosa, worked on the project with the aim of controlling the weather for the good of the people. However, Espinosa, convinced that his father was wasting his family’s money on the project, took over after his father’s sudden death and intended to weaponize Illapa’s technology and research to sell to the highest bidder. Miguel, disgusted by the idea, left the project, but Espinosa used his control of Sebastiano Di Ravello in Medici and connections with the Agency to kill Miguel, before proceeding to imprison Lanza to force him to continue working on the project.
After Rico succeeds in destroying the four weather cores, and the Army takes over Espinosa’s main base, Espinosa reveals that he has already created a perfected weather core that combines all four of the weather cores’ abilities and is intending to sell it to the Agency for trillions of dollars. As Espinosa leaves in a jet and the weather core is poised to strike both the Army and the Black Hand at his main base, Rico, along with Gabriela, who turns against Espinosa after she realizes that he is sacrificing her army for his gain, gains control of the core, and drives it into Espinosa’s jet, killing him and ending his regime.
In the final scene, as the Army of Chaos is celebrating their victory, Rico reveals that he and his father were just ‘pawns in a larger game’, and that everything ‘always comes back to the Agency’. With that reasoning, Rico suggests attacking the Agency next, and both Sheldon and Mira agree to join him in his attack.
The gameplay in Just Cause 4 is pretty much what you have come to expect from the series. You spend a lot of time using your grapple hook, wingsuit and parachute to glide, fly and drift around the island; only landing because you have to steal a car for a mission or shoot someone in the face. It’s amazing how well the same physics engine still holds up after it was introduced 2 games ago. Nothing beats the feeling of hooking some poor soldier and sending him face first into that helicopter that has been following you around for the last 3 minutes… Yeah, don’t worry about dying to bullets, you’re a sponge. Unless you really have something like 2 helicopters, 3 drones and 30 men shooting at you, you won’t die.
That all being said, Just Cause 4 just doesn’t feel like it brings anything new to the table. Sure, what is already there is amusing and very very fun to use, but you’d think there would be something new to be added or modded into the game just to give us something more to do. Hell, you’re given the whole “lose all your main items after the intro” trope, but you get them back less than one cut scene later. Maybe we could have earned them back over time, making us explore the island by bike or car first before allowing us to use the wingsuit again. Nope, you get all that back right away. I think that is one of the worst things about Just Cause 4, instant gratification. After a few missions, you get a list of airdrop pilots helping your cause who are more than willing to airdrop anything you want into any area for any reason. This takes away the open world a bit because instead of earning anything, you get it instantly.
As of the missions in the game, you get the usual base clearing, NPC escorts, steal this car and then blow it up, blow that other thing up and more of the usual missions a game like Just Cause has used before. Like I said about the travel system, there’s nothing new here. Hell, even the introduction to the game itself notes that this is the third time that Rico has gone and messed something up for this group. Why haven’t they stopped him yet? Oh wait, because the guy can zipline to anywhere at any time and ruin your day.
Graphically, Just Cause 4 looks amazing. From the detail on Rico and his Army of Chaos to the shine on the machines to the amazing night time and explosion effects, Just Cause 4 has that graphic level that is just pushing consoles to their limits and causing graphics cards to smoke. Everything is on display here and just looks amazing. When things go just right and you send one thing crashing into another thing that causes several explosions to go off and bodies to fly everywhere it all looks like it was pulled out of a 1980s action movie. Hell, the explosions are so on point that Michael Bay is erect right now. (Yeah I used that joke twice, deal with it) I don’t even think I could flaw Just Cause 4 on its looks because everything is just so damn clean and crisp graphics wise… Except for Rico’s beard, that is a bit of an issue.
KABOOM!! The sound of gunfire and explosions sounds so good coming out of the 5.1 surround sound I have my Xbox One hooked up to. I could hear the bullet whizz by my head as the enemy missed shots by millimeters. Explosions going off in the distance and getting louder as I approached gave me the real feeling of being in the middle of a warzone. The only drawback is that the guards have the same 3-4 lines and they come in female and male voices. It’s a shame that there wasn’t more of shouting orders to the troops type of thing going on during Just Cause 4 from the enemy as I would have loved to hear real combat sayings during a firefight than the generic “He’s over there”.
The main game takes around about 20 hours to complete, but there is some side mission out there too which ave you doing things like helping a film crew by doing stunts, finding other things and the usual stuff that seems just like the main missions. Hell, the story was so boring that I don’t want to bring myself around to playing anymore because once it’s done, it’s done. The side missions hold no excitement and there is nothing that really wants me to go back and boot the game up again for a second playthrough. Hell, it was hard enough to play through the game the first time, not because it was difficult, but because after while even the fun grappling and all that just lost it’s luster.
I tried really hard to like Just Cause 4 just as much as I enjoyed Just Cause 3, but with nothing new to bring to the table and not enough situations to take full advantage of the playground you are given to play in, Just Cause 4 just feels like more of the same. Something needs to be done to shake up the series, but when you’re already throwing everything AND the kitchen sink into an open world game, what more is there to give?
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Just Cause 4 is just more of the same. The physics engine that has been around since Just Cause 2 is still fun to see in action, but that’s about it. There is nothing new about Just Cause 4 that makes it stand out from other entries in the Just Cause series. The Extreme Weather system that was meant to make a huge difference in Just Cause 4 just isn’t used enough for me to care, and outside of things going BOOM, the game just seems like more of the same.
- That physics engine is still a blast.
- Hooking thing A to thing B and watch it go nuts is cool.
- Top tier graphics.
- Explosions that would give Michael Bay an erection.
- Story and side missions are “been there, done that”.
- Nothing really new to make this entry stand out.
- Too many gadgets, not enough situations to use them.
- Touted Extreme Weather system not used enough.