In Just Cause, you take control of Rico Rodriguez, a Latin field operative and specialist in regime change. Silently backed up by the CIA, you are tasked to roam the huge island and make sure president Mendozas regime will end as soon as possible.
In the past several years we encountered (too) many games that tried to ride the success of the praised GTA series. That means games became less linear, gave the player the freedom to do whatever he would like to, carry out missions and tasks in any order within a huge and diverse game world while utilizing all sorts of transportation means such as cars, boats, planes or anything that is able to take a human being from point A to point B…
Well, most of the games failed somewhere in the process and made us gamers pretty suspicious about every game that tries to imitate that sort of gameplay… Just Cause looks amazing and succeeds in implementing some key ideas, while bringing some new cool things to the gameplay. You can think of it as a combination of Far Cry and GTA. Don’t get too excited though, Just Cause is VERY far from being perfect…
Operation Just Cause, the United States invasion of Panama, inspires this game’s storyline. This operation’s objective was to topple down the Panamanian military leader’s regime (Manuel Noriega). Noriega threatened the lives of 35,000 Americans who lived in Panama at the time, made it a center for drug money laundering and also violated human rights.
Just Cause is set on San Esperito, a fictional island Nation that has come to the attention of the defence department. It seems that supplies of enriched Uranium are flowing into the island regularly and that sure draws some attention. The dictator of the island, president Mendoza, explains the issue and says he has a vision of making San Esperito’s energy self-sufficient within a few years. But it is well known that these supplies are really there for weapons of mass destruction, positioning Mendoza in a very powerful spot that all dictators love to be in…
Nobody knows what he really intends to do with his stash, but it really doesn’t matter and it is obvious that this guy must be removed from his position and a regime change is required. Obviously the act must leave no fingerprints whatsoever, keeping the US government out of the picture at any cost. There are all sorts of secret deals, arrangements and embarrassments that could be exposed if any official connection became known, what’s more the power balance between the military, drug barons, police, and oppositional guerrillas is very delicate, maintained only by a very fragile bond of fear and insecurity. This is a job for someone who acts alone, someone professional, someone who won’t break the thin ice with some careless actions. It is, with no doubt, a job for Rico Rodriguez!
In Just Cause, you take control of Rico Rodriguez, a Latin field operative and specialist in regime change. Silently backed up by the CIA, you are tasked to roam the huge island and make sure president Mendoza’s regime will end as soon as possible.
Published By: Eidos Interactive
Developed By: Avalanche Studios
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: September 27, 2006
Official Website: US & UK
- Operating System: Windows XP
- Processor: Pentium 4 1.4Ghz or Athlon XP Equivalent
- RAM: 512MB
- Hard Drive Space: 7.4GB
- Video Card: 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 64 MB 3D Accelerated Card with TnL (GeForce4 ti4200 / Radeon 9 series)
- AMD 3000+ @ 1.8Ghz
- 2GB RAM
- 7800GT 256mb
- 80GB HD
- Windows XP
As I mentioned a few lines above, the gameplay really resembles the GTA’s gameplay. The game doesn’t make you wait for too long before it throws you right into the action by kicking you out of an airplane. You land on a beautiful tropical island and you are free to explore every tree and every stone on it. It’s your world and you may do whatever you want with it.
Your playground consists of 250,000 acres of mountains, jungles, beaches, lakes, cities, and villages to explore, certainly a huge environment, and looks really good indeed.
Nice Place! Now What?
To give you a global idea of what it is you really have to accomplish (besides roaming and exploring), you will receive tasks and missions from your support team. That team has two members – Sheldon and Kane. They are two top secret US government agency field operatives and they are here to provide you with reconnaissance info, extraction and vehicle drops.
Since Just Cause features a freeform gameplay, it offers you a lot of tools and options to approach your missions and complete them in any way you choose. The game throws you tons of missions, around 300 to be exact, if you felt the need to know. Some are mandatory and are related to the main storyline while others are secondary or bonus missions. You are not forced to complete those, although the game kind of encourages you to do so by rewarding you with new weapons when completing them.
The main missions will eventually lead you to the main objective – remove president Mendoza from his position and change the local regime. That can be done pretty easily, no additional weapons are actually needed (which means you can skip all secondary missions) and I estimate it will take an average gamer less than 10 hours to complete the game!
When you complete a main mission, you’ll find yourself in one of the safe houses that are scattered around the island. There, you can fill up your ammo, get some more supplies, health packs and also save your game. Those houses also have a garage where you may store your selected vehicles and use them whenever necessary. Some of the safe houses are accessible right from the beginning while others have to be unlocked before used. You can unlock those extra safe houses only by completing the main missions.
The developers at Avalanche added so many optional missions, desperately trying to fill the void created within the huge space the island presents. That is meant to keep the player entertained and prevent him from getting bored running throughout the enormous island. You know what, that doesn’t really work, since most of the missions are really boring, dull and shallow. They are really repetitive as well.
The missions include some weird car races, many fetch missions across the map and freeing villages by taking down some enemy waves. Also, they are extremely easy to complete and are not challenging even for a second. That is because of the pretty dumb and ridicules artificial intelligence of the enemies you face in the game. I mean, they do indeed shoot at your direction, but it seems they don’t shoot to kill, and that’s an understatement. They will only manage to hit you when you’re standing still and wait for them to shoot, and still miss many times.
On your side, things are exactly the opposite. It doesn’t matter which weapon you are currently using or how well your enemies are covered, you just aim at the general direction of the ones who are attacking you and your bullets will surprisingly find their way on their own and make your enemies fall one by one, even if you are lets say emmmm, parasailing at the moment.
I’ll give you an example. I got a mission to free a guy from the local prison. After making my way around, I got to the highly secured facility (yeah right). I just ran forward into the place and about 10 cops (maybe more) were shooting at me. I got some hits but it didn’t stop me from running at all! I took control of a machine gun and started shooting like crazy. While shooting, I noticed I am getting hit. I looked around and suddenly discovered that 2 cops took position a few inches behind me and shot at least 5 bullets each! I killed them immediately and continued forward. Hell, I almost had full health after all that! This game makes cheating useless!
Oh, one more thing, as a CIA operative, is it fine to shoot down so many local cops? You can also complete side missions and change the balance of power in the game world by building alliances with the local guerrillas and drug cartel. By completing missions you received from local guerrillas or drug cartel, you’ll gain their trust. Doing so means you’ll get access to safe houses where you’ll some weapons and vehicles that are unique to the organization you worked for. Vehicles you’ll find are more interesting and cool than those you’ll find regularly. Besides the looks, the vehicles give you nothing at all. They all react pretty much the same and the control is identical to all of them. It is a shame Avalanche Studios did not invest more in the design of the vehicles to make them more exciting to use.
What Can Rico Do?
As a field operative, Rico is extremely versatile and he can do a lot of things. In order to carry out your assignments, you must cross the vast area and that may be a pretty time consuming and frustrating task, if done by foot. But you don’t have to worry about that aspect, since you will find all kinds of transpiration on the island. The game offers you a selection of 89 vehicles to use and move around the island. Those vehicles are not limited to the road alone, you will be able to use sea and air transportation as well.
Use choppers, boats, bikes, cars, trucks, min-subs or even jets to aid you in your missions! When I say you can get a vehicle and use it, I actually mean you should steal or hijack it. Since the definition of stealing is taking something that is not rightfully yours, you are going to make some people or organizations on the island pretty mad. You have a Wanted-meter that indicates how badly those guys want you dead… If that meter gets filled, you won’t be able to walk a few meters without someone attacking you on sight. Somehow, all the residents are armed and dangerous on this island, so you should be careful with your hijacking.
Besides the means of transportation that he can handle, Rico can use many weapon types VERY efficiently. Weapons you may find yourself holding are a pair of handguns, a revolver, machine guns, shotguns, grenades and explosives.
If you’re looking for some realism in your game, I recommend you to walk away right now because Just Cause offers anything but realism. I personally think the developers may have gone too far when it comes to Rico’s capabilities.
I already mentioned how unbelievably accurate Rico is when it comes to shooting at enemies, so I won’t go into that again. Another absurd issue is the parachute that your character has. First, the fact that he carries the parachute anywhere does not seem to interfere with his moves. It does not weigh at all and takes no space in your inventory. When deployed, which can be done anywhere at anytime, it never gets caught in any obstacles such as trees, houses or anything else, for that matter. While you are in the air, you may easily pull out your weapon and fire at will, being amazingly accurate. There’s also the grappling gun, which you can use from a great distance to hook up to choppers, cars and any other vehicle (even while driving). Then you can deploy your parachute and glide all the way to your destination or you may just enjoy the view from above. You can also use this in order to hijack the vehicle. Pretty cool, yet utterly not realistic.
Rico can perform many cool maneuvers such as skydive right on the roof of a targeted car and car-jack it, jump from one car to another, parachute, parasail and use machine-guns or bazookas to blow up his way, leading the nation to freedom.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
One thing Just Cause is very strong at is the way it displays on your screen. Given your computer is strong enough to handle the demands, Just Cause sure looks absolutely sensational. The Avalanche Engine delivers a huge game world with an incredibly high level of detail while loading times are hardly noticeable. That gives a true and flowing experience when roaming the vast island. The environments are highly detailed. You will see thick colorful trees and vegetation, impressing water reflections and beautiful views from higher locations. My only problem with the graphics is the poor animations of the characters, including cut-scenes. Rico’s face is not detailed enough as well.
Sound is pretty good most of the time. The music really gives a great feeling to the game and changes according to the situation, making the moment a bit more exciting. Characters usually throw funny lines at you when you walk them by, although this tends to be repetitive with time. Shooting your guns and other weapons in your arsenal sound pretty good and manage to create the effect needed, but nothing that sweeps you off your feet… Voice acting is something in the game that really needs to improved, in some cases it is really bad!
Just Cause is a game that does not take itself too seriously. The AI is absolutely absurd, making the game too easy and too boring to go through. In addition, realism is something that the developers chose to disregard. The game offers lots of missions, but they tend to repeat themselves and become VERY boring after too few hours of gameplay. It is way too short and easy to complete and no multiplayer mode can be found to extend the replayability.
It does look great indeed and features some cool stunts you can perform while on a vehicle of some kind. It gives some cool moves and fun moments, but that is not enough. I recommend you to keep away from it unless you find what I said the exact thing you’re looking for in a game. It has a great potential but it feels half-baked and that is too bad. Being the first game from Avalanche Studios, I believe they will learn from the mistakes and release a mush better game next time, because they are sure able to, judging by the potential of Just Cause.
Just Cause Scores
- Graphics: 9
- Sound: 7
- GamePlay: 6
- Pleasure: 6
- Interface: 7
Final Score: 7 out of 10