Just Cause 3

I’ve given this review a great deal of thought, as Just Cause 3 is really difficult to sum up. But I think I’ve got it.

Just Cause was a game that looked really fun, sounded really fun, but in practice was a dull repetitive drudge. The missions were samey, the engine was buggy, and the experience was meh. Which was a massive shame, as in theory, an “open world sandbox GTA clone” with a focus on stunts, parasailing and base-jumping seemed like a great idea, back in 2009.

And then, out of nowhere, Just Cause 2 came out. And it was some of the most explosive, action-packed fun I’ve ever had in a game. A huge variety of vehicles and weapons, and a ton of different ways of completing a mission. Do I parachute in to that enemy airfield and use a rocket launcher on all the buildings and vehicles? Or do I steal a jet fighter, and use it to blow everything to pieces, before climbing out of the cockpit and surfing on the canopy as I ride the plane into the fuel tanks?

The game was a joy, from start to finish.

And so you can imagine the anticipation and excitement hearing that Just Cause 3 was coming.

And when it finally arrives… it’s meh, once again.

Imagine the bar that is “a good game”. And the notches above “a good game” to become “a brilliant game”. And the same number of notches below “a good game”, into “an entirely average game”. That is where Just Cause 3 falls. Whereas Just Cause 2 was “a brilliant game”, Just Cause 3 is entirely average.

The game regularly disconnects from the always-online monstrosity Square Enix has included in the game, forcing me to a pause screen with a spinning “Connecting” icon. Thanks. And on three occasions, extended play sessions resulted in a crash. There’s talk on the forums that there are memory leaks; I haven’t checked the RAM stats, but whatever it is, it’s frustrating.

But I could almost accept bugs, if the game was as fun as Just Cause 2 suggests it should be. Instead, it’s a very, very large map of doing the same damn mission, over and over, and over again. The towns look different. Graphically they’re beautifully designed. But the actual missions come down to “destroy a statue or four, blow up the prison, blow up some billboards, blow up a propaganda van, raise the flag. Move on to the next zone.

Scattered around the map are some races to unlock some skills. There’s a few story missions that are different. There’s a few different zones – an airport here, a military base there.

And all the zones are rendered in beautiful vivid colours, creating a rich vibrant Mediterranean island to explore. The music is beautiful.

But the game itself? It all feels so meh.

It’s hard to give specifics, as I realise my description of Just Cause 3 makes it sound a lot like Just Cause 2. And I guess it is – it’s Just Cause 2, with better graphics, but a lot less love and polish.

Pros: It’s a vivid world of beautiful colours and images…

  • The graphics are beautiful. Explosions feel meaty and “real”. Smoke plums rise into the sky. Debris showers down.

Cons: … but it’s merely paint covering a monochrome heart.

  • It is dull.
  • It’s missing the “je ne sais quoi”. The “va va voom”.
  • Go to point A. Complete. Move to point B. You can mix things up, and opt to go to point J next. And do the same thing again. Now it’s time to deal with point C.
  • The “always online” is frustrating in the extreme, causing long pauses in an attempt to connect.
  • It still feels very buggy, 10 months on from release.

Conclusion

A massive disappointment. I was really looking forward to this release, as a massive fan of Just Cause 2.

But Just Cause 3 is a miss in all the ways Just Cause 2 nailed it.

JC2 was smooth as silk, fun as hell; there was always something to do.

JC3 is lethargic and dull – and while there’s always something to do, there’s no real desire to actually do it.

2.5 out of 5

2.5 out of 5

4 Responses

  1. You know, I always knew JC3 was an average, mediocre game but I couldn’t work out why I just couldnt enjoy it… Untill this review where its written out in front of me, it reminds me too much of the bad sections of Assassin’s Creed games (the Base capturing and the tower defence) when I just wanted to go around and assassinate the shit heads. But as apparent with always online bit, we start seeing Square Enix (the publisher) start bring in the shitty practices of their own games into the 3 party developers (more noticeable in its later release of rise of the tomb raider and its “knock off” halo card system and then deys ex flat out putting in micro transactions) and that depresses me as I thought Squeenix were learning from their mistakes but sadly not. Great review shem game is worth the 2.5 as is a future review I most likely will see in a few weeks I bet.

    • Shemmie says:

      It breaks my heart to be fair. I loved Just Cause 2. Played it to completion on both PC and Xbox 360.

      It was just so much fun. Fast, furious fun. And it was only boring if you let it be boring. And I never let it be boring.

      That JC3 is more of a chug chug chug (Avalanche really need to work on the engine – hard to believe this is the same engine that smoothly ran Mad Max), and Square Enix ram this crap into their games (Just like Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment)… I think these are more symptoms of the problem, than the cause. I feel the cause was simply taking their eyes off the ball when it came to designing “fun”. Adding things like “Keep track of records against your friends” only works if people can be bothered to try and beat one another.

      There’s just no incentive in this game.

      Cheers for the feedback!

  2. Mad Max had the same sort of problem with the game. Not enough variation in the missions themselves, but hey, there’s a zillion copies of them to do!

    • Shemmie says:

      Mad Max was a step away from the brilliance of Just Cause 2, but I’d have to say Just Cause 3 is just as much a step away from Mad Max, again.

      At least Mad Max offered some interesting car controls and battles; sadly with Just Cause 3, they’re almost exclusively used from getting from A to B. The “drive a bomb at a target” sub-missions offer a difference, but it’s just not enough. And even then, for what should in theory be great fun (Drive fast car at a bunch of vehicles, and dive out before it hits, when a bomb goes off) it just… isn’t.

      It’s a really sad state of affairs.

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