After playing the first Just Cause when I was younger I never bothered to go out of my way to pick up the sequels, but I kept up with the series enough to know it became the go-to series for when you want an insane physics based sandbox to run rampant in and blow stuff up when you’re not attaching boosters to cows. Just Cause 4 is a reminder of why people like the series to begin with.
Rico Rodriguez is once again looking to overthrow another dictator as the main focus of the story. We all know Rico and what he does at this point, but there’s a couple of details of interest for those interested in the story (even though it’s never been the focus in Just Cause) such as Rico’s family having an involvement with the weather control project that our friendly new dictator to overthrow has control over. It feels more like the plot in Just Cause 4 is just a device to add in all the new weather like tornados and the crazy new weapons that I think are best left to discover yourself.
So, we know there’s going to be crazy stuff to do and everybody saw the crazy new weather in the trailers but what about the map? Well, it’s just as expansive as you’d expect from a Just Cause game. For a game all about destruction on a large scale it’s only fair that the map matches that scale. Of course, there are plenty of environments packed into the map as well. There’s snowy mountaintops, jungles, deserts, ancient settlements and urban settings, all waiting to be explored and blown up. All the crazy stuff like tornadoes, sandstorms and lightning storms don’t come into play until later in the game but they provide their own kind of fun as destructive forces and obstacles for Rico to overcome.
As you play through the game you will have various activities pop up alongside story missions. You might have to figure out how to open an tomb, simply dispose of a person or a car that has a bomb rigged to it, hack consoles, free prisoners or even just destroy power generators and raid bunkers. Each region has its own mission associated with it as you move forwards with your Army of Chaos overthrowing the Black Hand so what you do depends on where you go. One thing that’s a little annoying about these missions is if you have to defend something and prevent it getting destroyed you might actually have trouble. Not because it’s hard but because the game is designed around causing as much destruction as possible. In other situations you may have to hunt for a console to disable something when destroying the target would be easier to just blow up.
The more Rico blows stuff up and wreaks havoc around the island of Solis his chaos level rises and it brings more squads to his army of chaos that he can use to push through frontlines on each region. The process is a little underwhelming honestly since you’ll see battles going on at these frontlines but when you actually make the push the region is cleared out straight away. I feel like a big takeover mission even every 5 regions or so would’ve make this system much better rather than being reduced to a screen on the map. As you clear out these regions though Rico unlocks more vehicles and equipment to call in, making it easier than ever to get whatever toys you want to play with.
Speaking of easily obtained equipment, Rico’s infamous grapple hook is back with various loadouts. You’ll quickly unlock a couple of different modes such as a Fulton balloon, retractor and rocket booster that can be tethered off your grapple. Three different loadouts can be made and switched on the fly while the menu will allow you to tailor them to exactly what you want them to do. Want to attach a low-flying ballon to a gas tank and put a high powered booster on it? Go for it! The extra upgrades you can get to use alongside the smaller changes to each grapple upgrade makes destruction as customisable and easy as ever. Of course, the wingsuit and parachute remain part of your arsenal, available from the start.
The great thing about Just Cause is I can’t tell you what is and isn’t possible because it’s all about player experimentation. There are a few things you can try out that count towards a leaderboard though that pits you against your friends. Various categories make up these leaderboards with different challenges in each. You may want to see how high you can climb vertically using your wingsuit or maybe you want to see how many enemies you can kill in one explosion. However, I think the main problem that has always plagued Just Cause is due it’s nature and that is when you’re at the point you have all the tools of destruction you want it can only hold your attention in short bursts.