Do you remember back to the first Just Cause? It was one of those odd transitional games, available on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Xbox 360 (and PC, of course). Thinking back, I can’t remember anything very exciting about it. You could fly a helicopter to the top of the skybox, jump out, and free fall all the way down. But, that’s about it. Despite this, I clearly remember thinking Just Cause was one of the most exciting games I’d ever played when it first came out. It occurs to me that the reason I don’t think the original Just Cause is very memorable anymore is because each subsequent game in the series is a considerable leap above the last as far as raw awesome power and ridiculous stunts and gameplay are concerned. Rest assured, Just Cause 3 continues that tradition.
Just Cause is actually a bit of a misnomer these days. It was originally inferring a fight for justice. With Just Cause 3, you could feasibly change it to Just ‘Cause and still have a very accurate title. Just Cause 3’s greatest strength is it’s don’t-give-a-damn attitude towards open world gameplay. Hell, it’s not even a world, it’s a straight up playground. From the beginning, you are given the tools to do whatever you want whenever you want. Those tools continue to evolve throughout the game, further increasing the amount of fun you can have in the already joy-filled world. With a plethora of equipment all available to summon at will, there is never a dull moment. Want to fly to the highest point in the map? Using the new wingsuit, you can do so almost right as soon as you start the game. Want to launch a cow in the air using rocket boosters? Yeah. That’s a thing, too. I’m not even kidding. The shear amount of ways you can launch a cow in this game, without ever actually being told to do so, is staggering.
That’s not to say there isn’t an actual cause that you can fight justly for. It’s just buried beneath the playground that, either fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective, becomes the star of the game. You play as series protagonist and parachute hobbyist Rico Rodriguez. A violent dictator has brought Rico back to his Mediterranean home of Medici. In particular, you will end up meeting some of Rico’s old friends. While it’s certainly nice to have a semblance of a past provided for our hero, it’s unfortunate that most of these characters are fairly one-dimensional. The mission structure provides a little more flavor to the game. There are some legitimately interesting objectives to partake in. There is no doubt that the game is fun to play, it’s just a little difficult to judge and enjoy the context of each mission when the story is so flat.
In addition to story missions are side missions and collectibles that unlock as you explore and conquer the islands of Medici. The most significant of these side quests are the chaos missions. Each province has a number of areas such as bases or towns that you have to create a certain amount of chaos in by performing various objectives. These chaos missions unlock other challenges in the provinces, such as wingsuit paths, races, etc. These challenges are how Rico is able to upgrade his equipment. Each one provides up to five points automatically allocated to the related skill tree (Races increase driving skills, destruction increases explosive skills, etc) based on your final score in the challenge. On top of the challenges are collectibles provide various bonuses such as infinite fast traveling across the province or unlockable weapons and vehicles for Rico to call in.
Unfortunately, despite how incredible a time you’ll have playing Just Cause 3, there are some major flaws. While not required, the game tries its hardest to stay connected online. There is indeed an offline mode, but the game will attempt to connect to the internet at every possible chance it can get regardless of this option. Just pausing the game can prompt one of the game’s very long load screens to enable the otherwise inconsequential online features. That’s another thing; The load times are unbearably long. You’ll be lead into a false sense of security as the game loads with an entertaining animation and a “Press X to start” only to sit waiting for upwards of multiple minutes before the game actually starts. After the initial load times, any other loads are significantly shorter, but still break up gameplay regularly, and uncomfortably. To be fair, the game is loading one of the largest, seamless worlds in gaming to date, but it definitely feels like you’re waiting too long most of the time, especially when you’re just trying to reload a failed challenge. (Note: I played the PlayStation 4 version of the game and cannot attest to other versions)
Just Cause 3 is one of the most satisfying experiences of 2015. With its playground-like structure, you will spend hours making literally zero progress and have an amazing time doing so. Even with its constant connection and load time interruptions, I managed to put over a day’s worth of time into the game without progressing past the initial story zone. Just Cause 3 is a game that everyone should try at least once. You may just find a great moment or two.
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