Just Cause 3 Review
Just Cause 3 Box Art
System: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Dev: Avalanche Studios
Pub: Square Enix
Release: December 1, 2015
Players: Single-player
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Rico Rodriguez Makes An Explosive Next-Gen Debut
by Patrick Tretina

Just Cause 3 reminds us exactly why we picked up a controller in the first place - to be purely entertained. The newest edition from Avalanche Studios is your stereotypical "guy" video game with huge weapons, stuff blowing up at every corner, and a protagonist that isn’t scared of anything. Rico, our fearless central character, feels a lot like Rambo with his endless supply of weapons and the apparent ability to absorb bullets like they're vitamin D. You’re not going to get an epic set of stunning visuals or a revolutionary combat system, nor will you have a title that screams blockbuster hit. Rather, you’re going to get everything gamers love about an open-world action adventure - loud weapons, fast cars, things that fly, explosions, a massive landscape, and the ability to feel invincible. Rico lets you kick ass and take names without the fear of dying like a little girly man from a showdown with the militia.

My initial reaction to the game was a mixture of excitement and pure intrigue. After a pretty awesome introductory mission of tightroping across the top of a small aircraft while laying waste with a rocket launcher, I was able to absorb everything Just Cause 3 has to offer. The landscapes are much more detailed than I had initially thought and the sheer size of the sprawling world is impressive - the nearly 400 square miles of map took me roughly 17 minutes to fly across. Rico’s character movements are surprisingly intuitive, which makes causing chaos to the destructible environments and navigating the series of islands a breeze. The arsenal of weapons and gadgets at Rico’s disposal is rather impressive, too, and seems to grow in size as the game progresses . Just about every vehicle imaginable is available for the taking, as well.

The game looks and plays a lot like a more refined and righteous version of Grand Theft Auto V - you’re not going to find people shooting each other in a drive-by during broad daylight, nor will you find yourself looking to do the same. Rather, the excitement comes from liberating the various provinces of enemy forces and spawning your own military helicopters to blow out the base of a towering quarter-mile long bridge. Yes, you certainly read that correctly - Avalanche Studios learned a thing or two from the modding community with the induction of a "rebel drop" system. Players now have the ability to spawn any vehicle, weapon, or special item they’ve previously unlocked - no more driving miles across the map to climb into the cockpit of a fighter jet to only be blown to pieces by an enemy.

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Rico comes with a few upgrades himself since we last saw our old friend in action. His newest toys include an improved grappling hook with a tethering feature, a more agile parachute, and the greatest invention ever given to an action hero - the wingsuit. Rico’s wingsuit allows him to glide across the world like a flying squirrel on steroids. Jumping from grappling hook, to parachute, and then into wingsuit is a flawless transition and can be strung into an impressive series of combinations. I managed to grapple onto the top of a speeding car, backflip into my parachute, and dive headfirst into the abyss below with my wingsuit, all in one combination. Yes, my assault rifle was definitely blazing the whole time.

The game also comes packed with a series of unlockable mini-missions in order to keep things new and fresh after liberating the various towns and villages. Each new mission includes things like vehicle races, wingsuit challenges, and weapon training simulations. The extra content is a welcome sight that adds both a unique dimension to the title and extra variety if you ever get bored of skydiving and blowing up factories.

While Just Cause 3 has it’s noticeable strengths, it’s certainly has it’s fair share of weaknesses. The shooting mechanics in particular seem to be the biggest chink in the Just Cause armor. The controls are difficult to navigate and the spray-and-pray method seems to be the most effective way of tackling a horde of enemy fighters - I liken the mechanics to hip firing in just about any first-person shooter. A few upgrades are available to sharpen the shooting, but none of them really allow the player to take full command of the weapon Rico is wielding.

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