Sunday, 2 October 2011

Just Cause 2 - revisited

Probably time to open that parachute soon
It's been nearly two years since Just Cause 2 was released, yet it is one of those games that I find myself revisiting every couple of months.

Some games that we play do not have a 'wow-factor' that makes their appeal immediately apparent to the player. However, on many occasions, a seemingly dull game can pleasantly surprise you with a bit of perseverance. I tend to call these games 'growers' and for me, Just Cause 2 falls firmly in that category.

Just Cause 2 throws you into the role of mercenary 'Scorpio' and takes place in the fictional, South East Asian island of Panau. You are on a mission to find the whereabouts of your good friend and previous employer who has recently gone missing. You quickly befriend some of the local factions who are looking to overthrow the country's despotic leader 'Baby Panau' and take control. That's where you come in.

It's probably fair to say you've seen this story somewhere before, whether in a budget B movie, some low-grade jar-head literature or possibly even in another video game series. However, the real appeal of Just Cause 2 does not come from it's plotlines, nor its characters but from the massive sense of freedom it creates for the player. 

Following the first mission (which takes place in a small island fortress) the whole 1,000sq km island becomes your open-world playground. You can drive and pilot any vehicle and go anywhere you choose without restriction. Armed with a grappling hook, which can attach itself to any surface, means that Scorpio can literally scale any building or mountain that he encounters. Scorpio also has a parachute, which he can use from any height. Experimenting with combining both these tools really becomes a joy when you start to attach yourself to cars and boats whilst gliding behind them with a parachute.

In addition to this, you can use the grappling hook to link any two surfaces or objects. This is a little more complex but can have great results. For instance, you can attach a car to a helicopter, hop in the chopper and carry the car (and occupants) off to another location. You can also hook enemies with this tool meaning that you can pull them out of high sniping positions or simply hang them upside down from a tree in a macabre display of rag-doll physics.

Weapons come in variety, as well as abundance, and much like the previous game, Scorpio has the ability to call in weapon and vehicle drops from his employers.
The army don't take kindly to having their helicopters stolen
Some of the stunts that Scorpio can pull are far from realistic, such as surfing on top of a 747 as it glides through the sky and hijacking fast moving vehicles. However, the graphics are far from it, with impressive lighting effects, water rendering and highly detailed textures which make make every setting in 'Just Cause' positively stunning. Panau's varied landscape with its mix of dense jungles, ancient temples, deserts, snow topped mountains - adds to the games richness and beauty. 

Even after the main missions have been completed, there are countless side missions that can be undertaken as well as races, collectibles, easter-eggs and all the other features that we have grown accustomed to with open-world games.

This is a fantastic example of how a sandbox game should be and after 2 years I am still finding new things that I love about Panau.

If you have not played Just Cause 2, I strongly recommend it and you will likely be able to pick it up at fairly low price.

My Top Tip: Traveling can be made easier by mastering a technique called the 'Sling-Shot'. This involves using the grappling hook to keep you airborne whilst gliding with the parachute. It's done by grappling the ground in the distance whilst descending. This will cause you to be pulled forward at which point you need to grapple again. Practice makes perfect!

My Score:  8/10

Game Reviewed On: XBOX 360


  1. Wow, its really been two years since this was released!? I've always quite fancied giving this a go so will pick it up once the autumn rush of triple A titles is out of the way. Good to hear its still holding up graphics-wise too. Great review!

  2. Thanks Bickle!

    It is a great for a bit of light relief and plenty of things to blow up. A real bargain bin treat.

    I too am feeling overwhelmed by the coming onslaught of awesome games. This could possibly be the best winter in Xbox history and I could do with a couple of months off to make the most of it.

    What's top of your list for November?

  3. Batman is defo my most wanted quickly followed by Skyrim. Assassins creed too!

  4. Once again, a brilliatn review mr. Sterling... and makes me want to try it out. Kept getting distracted with Just Cause and restarting months later, a tad OCD when it comes to games, must finish the first b4 I move to the next.

    But the graphics look so good, and the helicopter :P...I'm tempted, but like both of ye said, where am i going to find the time...

    Put me down for Syrim, Batman, F1 2011, oh hell and Ascension of the... and Space ....

    (pens resignation letter....) :)

  5. Thanks @Elderly.

    Skyrim is top of my list but very much looking forward to Batman, AC: Revelations and of course Halo.

    Now to build that James-clone!

  6. I'm not sure if that game's my thing, but it looks awesome.

    Fickle Cattle

  7. @Fickle Cattle Just Cause 2?

    What kin of games are you into at the moment?


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