The Just Cause games are great fun. You play as Rico Rodriguez, a mercenary cum freedom fighter who glides around on his parachute destroying anything to do with evil dictatorships across the world. The third game in the series takes you to Rico’s homeland: Medici, a collection of fictional Mediterranean islands led by the dastardly General Sebastiano Di Ravello.
The plot is paper-thin and Di Ravello’s intentions are those of a cartoonish supervillain, but the lush landscapes and sheer volume of destruction on offer make sure Just Cause 3 is a blast. As in the game’s predecessors, Just Cause 3 is fully open world and allows you to hijack and call upon all manner of vehicles to aid in your exploration of the vast spaces that lie before you.
The trouble is, you won’t be making much use of the vehicles on offer outside of helicopters and boats. The cars and aeroplanes are difficult to handle, but that almost doesn’t matter as you’ll be spending most of your time using Rico’s trifecta of grappling hooks, his parachute and a wingsuit to traverse the lush, colourful landscapes of Medici. Rico’s parachute is as good as ever, and his grappling hooks have been given a considerable upgrade this time around to ensure that parachute flight is a great and easy way to travel across the game’s extra-large map in style.
Rico’s wingsuit takes a little more getting used to, but in the end you’ll be parachuting and grappling hooking your way to the top of mountains just so you can jump off of them and glide your way to victory. It’s the fastest and best way to travel through Medici’s varied landscapes that include (but are not limited to) fields full of colourful flowers, cities and mountain ranges. Medici is a wonderful place to explore, and it is up to you to find everything and how you find everything, but there can be large, sparse areas that simply take time to get through. Visually, Just Cause 3 can be very pretty, with sun rippling and glistening off of the sea and rivers, flowers crushing under your car and small trees blowing around when taking off in a helicopter proving nice sights, but the game’s largest island to explore feels a little too empty.
The largest island is the most sparse and visually uninteresting with the majority seemingly made up of brown, muddy mountain ranges that use a lot of repeated assets. Indeed, the foliage and environments you come across in Just Cause 3 all tend to get re-used a lot. It’s a visually striking game at first, but after a 30+ hour stay in Medici, it tends to get a tad repetitive. The same can be said of the gameplay.
You will never get bored with blowing stuff up, and it’s quite a cathartic game to play after a long, hard day’s work, but Just Cause 3 suffers from repetitive strain disorder, just as Just Cause 1 & 2 before it. You go somewhere, you blow stuff up. Rinse, repeat. Each town will have the same items to go and explode, with things like a police station to take down, speakers and a statue Di Ravello to destroy in almost every one. Enemy bases, too, will contain a mixture of all the same tasks and things to blow up. The explosions remain fun, but I wish there was a little more variation in its gameplay.
Luckily, how you go about destroying everything is up to you. Your choice of weaponry is decent, especially later on in the game when you unlock such beauties as the grenade launcher that fires six out at once. You can drive a tank with invincibility powers into the fray, pilot a jet fighter, or attach a rock to the back of a car and go to town with that bad boy. It’s all up to you. The end result will be the same (lots of explosions) whatever your method of madness, but the choice is free and can often be hilarious.
In Just Cause 3, you can attach pretty much any two items together with Rico’s trusty grappling hooks and the results can be brilliant. Shoot a hook in an enemy soldier, attach him to a wall, and let the two come together; or better yet, attach man and wall, shoot together and dis-attach just before collision: your person of choice will be sent flying. Rico’s upgraded grappling hooks are genius tools of destruction, but they can save your life or fling you towards a vehicle of your liking. You will never get bored with testing out Rico’s arsenal. Luckily, too, this time around you can call in any weapon or vehicle you have unlocked with a ‘Rebel Drop’, so long as you have any tokens remaining (these can be found all over the map, so don’t worry).
If you want to take a break from the game’s missions, exploration or general destruction, there are plenty of mini-games available to take part in. These come in set varieties such as vehicle races, wingsuit courses and destruction frenzies. Maxing out your points on these games awards Rico with unlockable mods in areas like his grapples, parachute and vehicle usage. You can mix and match any of the mods you have unlocked, tailoring your Just Cause 3 experience even further. Who doesn’t want to drive a tractor with nitrous boost that can jump over walls?
There is a monumental amount to get on with in Medici, but for those worrying about length, don’t, the story can be finished relatively quickly if you focus solely on it. It’s wide open. Just Cause 3 is as entertaining and big as you want it to be. It may get a little repetitive and the wow of its graphics may ware off, but I enjoyed my time in Medici for a good long while. What I didn’t enjoy were the crashes, long loading screens and dodgy framerate. I can easily tolerate a dipping. inconsistent framerate, but Just Cause 3 clearly struggles a fair amount. It can slow down big time when there’s a lot going on, and there is quite often a lot going on. It never quite ruins the game, but it did dampen my enthusiasm on a number of occasions. The game randomly crashing out of its ludicrous always online server was more annoying.
A singleplayer only game should never have to be constantly connected to the internet, especially when the server it’s on is dubious in its consistency. I quite often had the game freeze on me in order to reconnect to the internet, which took a minute or two each time. It’s not a problem that happens all the time, but it is often enough to annoy. The load screens too were annoying, which occurred between every cut scene (of which there are many) and loading up the multitude of mini games. Just Cause 3 is plagued with many overly long load screens, an issue that should not be so pertinent on machines that require you to install the entire game in order to play.
Just Cause 3 needlessly suffers issues that should have never been in the game such as its always online nonsense. It felt like it needed a little more time in the oven on consoles, too, with its long load screens and constant framerate drops, but so help me I enjoyed my time in Medici. The story may be throwaway and the core gameplay may be a little repetitive, but Rico’s arsenal of awesome gadgets, brilliant weapons and powerful vehicles made sure that overthrowing General Sebastiano Di Ravello remained fun and often times hilarious, despite all its flaws.
There’s a great game underneath all of Just Cause 3’s technical issues and repetitive nature. I’d pick it up if found cheaper than full price.