Just Cause 2 rewards you for being a complete jerk. This sandbox action game set in the fictional island nation of Panau uses a currency measured in chaos--that is to say, the amount of damage you do to the world around you. Pile up enough wanton destruction, and your notoriety increases to the point where you’ll be able to unlock new story missions that help propel the narrative forward. Yes, Just Cause 2 knows what it does well: It lets you fly effortlessly all over the place and leave a smoldering trail of destruction. We just saw a few new methods of doing so in an E3 2009 demo. (For more on Just Cause 2 and the sense of movement that your parachute and grapple hook combination provide, check out our most recent preview.)
What's New: We had the opportunity to see a new story mission, prefaced by a little bit of mayhem in order to gather up enough chaos to trigger it. The demo started with protagonist Rico Rodriguez on top of a tower before base-jumping down onto a speedboat, which he promptly piloted to a military harbor base. There, Rico used all manner of guns, grenades, and grapple hooks to kill these guards and render their base useless.
Once Rico gathered enough chaos, he began a new mission that tasked him with rescuing an associate from a casino under siege. With his buddy near the top of this casino that also happened to double as a skyscraper, Rico took a helicopter, hopped out in midair, and used his trusty grapple hook to shoot himself indoors. In there, he took to shooting a few bad guys before rescuing his buddy and landing safely on the ground below.
Well, maybe not that safe. The pair then had to outrun a legion of armed soldiers chasing them down in jeeps. In this high-speed chase sequence, Rico jumped from jeep to jeep, using his grapple hook to fling baddies onto the road and finishing off their jeeps with explosives and gunfire.
What's Different: It has been a few months since the last time we saw Just Cause 2, and it’s looking noticeably prettier. The frame rate seems more consistent, and the island itself, with its diverse environments and ample stretches of water, looks a bit nicer. Furthermore, the last time we saw the game it had only placeholder dialogue, and this time it appears to have final audio in place. The voice acting and cutscenes are wonderfully cheesy, so there’s no need to worry about the game taking itself too seriously.
What's The Same: The basic gameplay. At its core, Just Cause 2 is a game that lets you make a big old mess in any way you want. It seems like the story mission we saw this time compared to the missions we saw in our previous look doesn't vary all that much. You go from one point to another and kill a bunch of guys and blow lots of stuff up.
What Impression The Game Made This Time: A positive one. Even though the basic premise of each mission is simple and doesn’t vary a whole lot, the way you go about causing chaos is really interesting. You can play it as a standard sandbox action game by simply jacking cars and using guns, but you can also get ridiculously creative by taking your grapple hook, attaching a jeep to a helicopter, and using it as a wrecking ball, for example. And it doesn't end there. We saw the grapple hook used for everything from tangling one enemy with another to just tangling an enemy with an explosive barrel before watching him recoil in horror as the barrel was slowly filled with bullets.
Overall, Just Cause 2 reminds us of the unapologetic destruction of Mercenaries 2. If that particular game left you wanting more, there’s a chance Just Cause 2 may be the game for you. Expect more coverage in the next few months.