Just Cause 2 Review

XBOX 360
Square Enix
2010
10 hours played

Relishing my fond memories of playing Just Cause several years ago, I have been casually excited about the release of the sequel, have viewed many online game play clips and have been impressed. What I hadn’t expected is starring in my own action serial.

Just Cause 2 (JC2) comes to the gaming public by way of Square Enix for the PC, PS3 and XBOX 360. You are Rico Rodriguez a.k.a. Scorpio, a cold-blooded WMD sent by the Agency to the island of Panau to find and eliminate your mentor.

In typical Hollywood fashion, an African-American male is killed in the first five minutes. Your adventure begins with a cut scene where a fellow agent is shot, falls from a helicopter and you, as Rico, dive after him to retrieve your PDA. JC2 is an adrenaline sandwich with thick slices of action and liberally garnished with travel. My teenage son heard me playing and had to see what I was so giddy about. I asked him to play a particularly challenging chase scene early in the game so I could witness his frustration. Nonchalantly, he shot out the tires of the pursuers, handed back the controller and left. I reared him to resist gloating.

The dialogue in the cut scenes is witty enough to keep you engrossed as characters deal and shuffle off-handed while the accents are merely functional and frequently distracting.

Audio effects surround you with convincing gun reports, explosions and other melodic mayhem. The music helps to establish and maintain dramatic tension throughout.

Cut scenes are somewhat stiff but in-game characters animate well. Environments are detailed with varied foliage on land and under the sea. I spent a great deal of time scouting locations in a helicopter and was awe-struck by sense of scale. Although there is a noticeable scarcity of fauna, it does not ruin the experience.

Renau Island is vibrant with diverse locales from snowy peaks to sandy beaches. Day and night cycles, and varied weather effects surround you. The mapping function thwarts most efforts to get lost and provides the ability to set waypoints. Your surroundings behave as they should. Ragdoll physics bring life to death animations as you snatch snipers with your grappling hook and watch them pinwheel to the ground. My personal favorite is targeting the tires. Whereas blowing out the rear wheels slows the vehicle down, popping a front one flips and cartwheels them and scattering occupants like a sneeze. The artificial intelligence convincingly has villagers going about their business until the bullets fly, fellow insurgents cheer you on and regime forces hunt and try to kill you. Luckily, you have a decent assortment of equipment available to postpone your elimination.  Activities earn you cash and permit Black Market drops providing you with much needed support. I tended to be too generous with bullets and frequently ran out of ammo.

As your goal to destabilize the region by supporting the rebel factions and cause general pandemonium, I was amazed by the massive amount of methods to obliterate the surroundings. Chaos earns you cash and notoriety as you shoot, blow up, run into and pull down the symbols of oppression.

All is not well and there is some disapproved content including graphic violence, mature language, presence of narcotics and opportunities for injustice toward innocents. Most buildings cannot be entered and are indestructible. I was disappointed that I could not set off an avalanche to destroy a mountain encampment.

Move over Sam Fisher, there’s a bigger holster on the scene and Scorpio wears it. His displays of physicality are amazing as he chariot-rides and jacks vehicles on land, air and water. I could imagine the Govenator kicking back and playing Just Cause 2, if only to forget about the real Hollywood for a little while.

Recommended for:

  • Dialogue
  • Sound effects
  • Musical themes
  • Animation
  • Palettes/textures
  • Scale/perspective
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Climate/weather systems
  • Day/night cycles
  • Environments/ exploration
  • Navigation/mapping
  • Physics modeling
  • Displays of physicality
  • Strategic depth

Disapproved for:

  • Dialogue
  • Character growth/development
  • Range of interactions

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