7.5

Just Cause 2 is exciting; thrilling; repetitive.

Pros: Explosive gameplay that encourages ridiculous escapades; Extremely pretty, extremely large island; Powerful and well optimized game engine; A lot to do if you feel up to it

Cons: A ton of uninspired, copy-paste missions; Absolutely atrocious writing and voice acting

Scorpio is probably the biggest dick in the world. To sum up Just Cause 2's plot (sans spoilers): Scorpio arrives on Panau looking for an American agent. To find that agent, he must blow up as much stuff as he can, sabotage the military infrastructure, and help one of 3 groups with their own ulterior motives take over the island. No really, it's all for a good cause.

Of course, this paper thin plot (complete with terrible writing and some of the worst voice acting this reviewer has ever had the displeasure of hearing) isn't why one plays a game like Just Cause 2: that honor belongs to the explosions. Just Cause 2 knows this and encourages you to blow up as much stuff as you can. To unlock missions in the game you need to cause chaos. To cause chaos you blow stuff up and collect boxes to make your weapons stronger. Along the way you might effortlessly grapple onto a helicopter, parachute over a mountain, ride on top of the car, and feel like an action movie badass. Moments like this are where Just Cause 2 shines.

Just Cause 2 also succeeds in the sheer amount of content it packs. There are over 300 marked locations on the island of Panau, ripe for causing mayhem. In and around those 300 locations are several side missions and literally thousands of collectibles. With no hyperbole intended, Just Cause 2 is the biggest game I've ever played, ensuring that anybody with the patience will have plenty to do for a long time.

Of course, most players are likely to get bored long before reaching 100% completion, thanks in no small part to the copy-paste nature of most of the game's content. Barring the main campaign, very few missions in the game stand apart (though there are a few great missions from time to time), and even the cut scenes are 90% duplicated between missions. This isn't to say that the missions are boring, since most of them involve at least one awesome crazy action stunt, but despite the amount of content, things get old quick.

The visuals, however, never get old. Just Cause 2 is among the prettiest games around, comparing with visual marvels such as Crysis and The Witcher 2. The view distance provides a stunning vista from anywhere in the island, and upon closer inspection, everything from the lush jungles to the snowy mountains, the sandy desert, and underwater looks just as great. And the best part about the graphics? They are actually really well optimized. No, you can't run Just Cause 2 without a modern computer, but it provides a higher level of detail and runs much smoother than most games of similar appearance. The only blemishes against this otherwise fantastic graphical package are the unnatural looking humans.

The sound design is unfortunately not quite so superb. While the sound effects are passable and the spy movie music doesn't get on your nerves (or stand out) over the course of the game, the voice acting is beyond redeemable. We've all played games where the voice actors are phoning it in, reading each line with no emotion; or games where the actors overdo it and maybe using really offensive accents, etc. Usually you just get over the voice acting and carry on until you rant about it in a user review. However, Just Cause 2 is worse, with virtually all of the voice actors using offensive accents, improper emotion, and often speaking in a rhythm that doesn't feel remotely natural. This can be hilarious at times, but it's just as often annoying and downright embarrassing for an otherwise enjoyable game.

However, again, you don't purchase a game like this for the quality of the writing or voice acting. If that's what you're looking for in a game, or if you require high quality missions, or perhaps if you hate repetition, then avoid Just Cause 2 at all costs. However, if you enjoy the simple joys of explosions, action movie stunts, and exploring large beautiful islands, Just Cause 2 is a great way to lose a weekend, or a few (dozen).

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