When Just Cause was released back in 2006, it barely made any waves. In fact, it was somewhat ignored and received average ratings. Developer Avalanche Studios took the parts of the original that worked, and made those parts the focus of Just Cause 2.
The Southeast Asian island nation of Panau was once a U.S. ally, but a dictator by the name of Baby Panay has since taken control. You control Agent Rico Rodriguez who sent in by the “Agency” to take down Baby Panay and bring the nation to the U.S. side again. Rico will have to earn the trust of three criminal gangs in order to get the information he needs to complete his mission.
Just Cause 2 is all about two things: the big world and thrilling travel. To say you have a big world to play around with in JC2 is understatement. Hell, saying that it’s freaking huge is also an understatement. As you control Rico, you have over 400 square miles to play around in. You’ll be given tasks from different groups that will typically involve the destruction of bases, compounds and so on.
With all that land to travel, the developers thankfully realized how important getting around was going to be. For that, they gave you almost every vehicle that could be used on an island like Panau. Scooters, SUVs, helicopters and jets are just a few of the choices you have available to make your way from one spot of destruction to another. You’ll find some of them parked in a base but others will have to be hijacked, which is done through by hooking onto the vehicle and then finishing a quick time event to knock out the operator of the vehicle.
The grappling hook that Rico has equipped at all times, also helps with travel. As previously mentioned, it can be used to hijack vehicles to or get a quick ride. It doesn’t just work on vehicles, though, the hook can make Rico do a slingshot when hooked to a stationary object, or you can do a “GET OVER HERE!” move with objects that can be moved easily like barrels, boxes, or even people. Along with the hook is Rico’s quick parachute that can be deployed at any time. Combining the hook and parachute adds new ways of not just traveling across the world, but also new ways to completing objectives. Using the hook to climb up buildings is a given, but now free falling from hundreds of feet in the air is required. Having to make these glorious drops straight down to the earth is a great thrill ride, especially since it goes against every gamer’s natural instinct of avoiding such major falls.
Your weapons are fairly standard and pretty boring in comparison to the rest of the game. Pistols, SMGs, Assault Rifles and so on, give no deviation from the standard action games out there. What is part of the fun, however, is all of the destruction that you can do with the weapons. There is so much to destroy and at times it is required for the player to cause chaos by laying building and structures to waste. It becomes incredibly fun when you get a nice powerful helicopter and make some big explosions.
As the world of JC2 is so freakin’ big, it’s a damn good thing that it looks pretty. Flying around the island is like taking a tour of Hawaii with all the lush green trees, beautiful beaches, and majestic mountains. Ok, so it’s not going to revolutionize graphics, but it is pretty to look at. If there was a downside to the looks of the game, it’s the people because they all look the same except for the principal characters. It’s a detail that not going to make a game ugly looking but it is noticeable. Music, voice acting and effects are all par for the course without anything noteworthy nor incredibly annoying.
While GTA 3 started the sandbox genre, Just Cause 2 took that idea and raised it to a ridiculous level. Not only can it take 20+ hours to beat the game; there are also hours upon hours of extra fun to be had on the side. The only downside to JC2 is that it is not that compelling. While you are going to have a lot of fun, you will not be really “moved” to finish Just Cause 2 like you would other sandbox games. You will love playing around in its big world; just don’t expect to place Just Cause 2 as one of the best out there.