Have you ever dreamed about strapping a bomb to a cow before flinging it at a helicopter, using a gas tank for impromptu jet propulsion? Well, me neither. Naturally, this means it was the first thing I did in Just Cause 3, because reality should always surpass your dreams and because I always wanted to weaponize something that goes “Moo”.
If the above sounds far-fetched to you, stop reading immediately. Just Cause 3 is not the game for you – and bovine blaster bombs are just the beginning. Sure, there’s also a story and what-have-you but much like its predecessor, Just Cause 3 is all about the chaos. It’s the embodiment of shooty, explody, completely-physically-
You play once more as Rico Rodriguez, a “Dictator Removal Specialist”, out and about in yet another sunny paradise. While the full climate range of Panau was replaced by a more tropical Medici, the similarities between the two countries are quite striking. In a nutshell, another archipelago needs some freedom – liberally applied through the business end of a rocket launcher.
If you played Just Cause 2, you’ll be hard pressed to spot the differences between it and this newest installment as nothing much has changed. You spend the bulk of your time traveling around using your grappling hook, parachute and brand new wingsuit to get from explosion A to detonation B. You obliterate anything that’s marked with a red stripe until the land is free and the people are happy. Sometimes you take on a challenge for a change of pace, but that’s just an excuse for more explosions. Some of the challenges are actually explosions in disguise, too.
Just Cause 3’s challenges are one of few things that were expanded upon, even if only slightly, from its predecessor. Instead of having hardly any reason to do them, challenges now reward you with “Gears” based on your performance. Those gears are the equivalent of experience points in other games and serve the same function. Every few gears in a certain category allow you to activate a modification for that same category. The mods are worthwhile and quite fun, ranging from jumping ability or nitro afterburners for your cars, planes and boats, to more grenades to stronger tethers.
The other change to gameplay is the wingsuit. While the parachute is still great for raining fire down upon your enemies, the wingsuit provides forward momentum – making it ideal for covering short to medium distances rapidly, with only the occasional face-planting incident. Like the rest of your kit, wingsuit mods are unlocked through wingsuit challenges that have you gliding in style through checkpoints. Once you get the hang of it, the grapple-parachute-wingsuit combo becomes your best way to travel and it’s quite fun to boot. The transition from parachute to wingsuit is seamless and smooth, which makes the whole thing even more fun when you pull off the perfect dive as everything behind you explodes violently.
Unfortunately, as great the free-roaming sandbox part of the game is, so are the story missions bland and disappointing. After the 5th time in a row where I had to protect an ally from being shot in the particulars, everything started running together. The plot is as predictable as it gets, with no real twists or turns and no innovation that wasn’t hinted at with a huge flaming cowboy hat an hour before. The one redeeming quality are the scattered diaries of Di Ravello, the villain, as they are well-written and quite entertaining to listen to. They provide you with some backstory not just for Di Ravello, but for Rico, Sheldon and a few other characters you’ll meet.
Just Cause 3 also has some beautiful graphics to show us. Vehicles, landscape and explosions look absolutely gorgeous. Timed together, a chain of explosions going off in Just Cause 3 is probably some of the prettiest exploding pixels to date. Of course, all those pixels take their toll – playing on the PS4, I could feel massive framerate drops and even occasional crashes as the console couldn’t handle everything happening on-screen. On average, the game crashed every 4-5 hours of play, usually preceded by a lengthening of loading times.
It’s hard to sum up Just Cause 3 as it feels like two games stitched together. One game is an amazing, creative and beautiful (if somewhat unstable) open world action game with the freedom to tie two helicopters together in mid-air. The other is a sub-par, repetitive adventure that too often feels like an oversized breadcrumb serving no purpose beyond showing you the next segment of the world or the next gimmick. Your overall enjoyment may vary greatly based on how much value you put into each half – this is one whole that isn’t bigger than the sum of its parts.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.