Just Cause 2
High above the clouds of Panau, a jet’s cockpit opens; out jumps Rico, a man dressed in black with a love of tomfoolery and a penchant for flamboyant – and rather explosive – entrances. He takes the time to admire the sun-kissed beaches as he plummets, the wind in his hair in a rare moment of calm. Soon the silence is broken, punctured by the hail of gunfire and panicked radio chatter. The agent deploys his parachute a moment before impact, dropping his last grenades on the fuel canisters below. He grapples to the approaching chopper, with a swift hijack allowing for a hasty retreat as plumes of smoke permeate the air. Soon, Rico is gone, leaving only a smouldering trail of destruction in his wake. A quick restock and it’s on to the next mission…
In Just Cause 2, you take the reigns of this high-flying, death-defying agent who has more in common with Evel Knievel than he does your standard James Bond archetype. After an introductory sequence that does little to endear, the world opens up in its entirety. The sheer enormity impresses as much as it intimidates, particularly as you take your first few steps of freedom. Where San Esperito grew stale due to an obvious case of cut and paste, the world is much more alive this time around; never will the land feel as painfully empty as it did in the original, which at times felt more like a tech demo than it did a complete package.
The story begins with Rico ‘Scorpio’ Rodriguez on a quest to find his old mentor who has supposedly gone rogue. This soon transforms into a quest for chaos, the main factor in bringing down the oppression of despotic ruler, Baby Panay. To facilitate this chaos and bring down those at the top, our anti-hero will have to buddy up with the three faction leaders – the revolutionary Reapers, the tribal Ular Boys and the power-hungry Roaches all want their share of Panau and in the interest of gaining strongholds, money and missions these uneasy alliances soon prove the fastest way to get things done. More than twenty faction missions can be found on the map at any one time, providing real freedom as to which missions are dealt with and when.
What’s likely to strike gamers the most is just how much fun it can be fooling around with the grappling hook and parachute. The grapple itself can be used as a slingshot for faster movement and can assist Rico in reaching new areas. It can also be attached to two enemies or surfaces at once, allowing for a wide array of moves such as pulling down a statue with a truck or simply knocking two enemies’ heads together. Some of the missions themselves have been lifted straight from the Rockstar handbook, with a few of GTA’s maddening escort missions thrown in for good measure. They weren’t fun then and they aren’t fun now, so it’s perplexing that the developers would choose to include them here.
To be fair, there are a few moments when you can do things your way, such as when tasked with destroying a series of jet fighters while hanging from the underside of a helicopter. If you feel like a sitting duck in the open, a turret sits seductively below and failing that, you can always take one of the jets for a spin and crash it headlong into the base because, as we all know, explosions are pretty. The majority of missions don’t allow for this sort of creativity however, so all too often the most fun to be had lies in discovering locations then destroying and looting to your heart’s content.
This brings us parachuting our way to one of Just Cause 2’s finest aspects, namely the collection system which is much more worth your time than in other titles, primarily down to the rewards on offer. Each location plays host to a number of collectibles that lay the foundation for upgrades such as armour pieces that increase your health, weapon pieces that can improve the strength of your arsenal and vehicle parts that work in much the same way. Once an area is swept clean of upgrades, cash and destructibles, the chaos meter rises and Rico becomes just that little bit richer. Finding them can be no small task but when the signal in the top left begins pointing to a nearby crate, that little obsessive-compulsive itch in you may just take hold, forcing you to grapple about town like a roof-hopping maniac.
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