Just Cause Island-Hopping Hands-On

The steamy jungle of Eidos' upcoming action game is alive with high-flying action-movie antics. Find out more in our hands-on look at the game.

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Despite appearances, Just Cause is not just another Grand Theft Auto clone. Sure, it features a large, streaming, free-roaming world; hundreds of missions you can take on in a semilinear fashion; and a hard-boiled storyline featuring a tough-as-nails protagonist in a world run by criminals. And of course, you can jump into any vehicle you see and just tool around, if you want. But the designers at Sweden-based Avalanche have taken that basic formula and embellished it with some of the most pleasingly absurd, over-the-top action moves we've seen in a game of this type. Combine these fresh gameplay features with a slightly tongue-in-cheek style and sense of humor, and Just Cause is looking like an action game to keep a close eye on.

As we've reported previously, you'll play the role of Rico Rodriguez, a badass special agent who "specializes in regime change." Rico is being sent to the island nation of San Esperito to assist a local underground movement working to overthrow the corrupt government, and this will form the basis of the game's 21 story-related missions. In the style of the free-roaming genre, you'll move from place to place to pick up new missions that further the "just cause" of the resistance. From the looks of things, this will usually involve assassinating certain authority figures, disrupting transport operations, destroying equipment, and the like. And since you're operating in a country that's literally 250,000 square real-world acres in size, there's going to be a lot of havoc to wreak.

For instance, we got to see the Good Cop, Bad Cop mission, in which Rico has to track down the corrupt chief of police on his lavish yacht and take the guy out. In keeping with the genre, there are multiple ways you can approach such a situation, but until we saw this mission in action we didn't appreciate exactly how free you are to move around through any means you can get your hands on. In the demo, Rico started out in the streets of a small town and fired his grappling cable onto a passing car, then whipped out his trusty parasail and sailed through the air while tethered to the car.

When you're in the air, you can automatically drop onto any vehicle underneath you, so Rico then jumped down onto the car, kicked the driver out, and took off down the road behind the wheel himself. Speeding down a pier with the yacht visible farther out in the bay, Rico then jumped on top of the car using the "stunt position" maneuver (which is available on any vehicle you control) and leaped high into the air just as it flew off into the water, popping out his parasail once again to glide down over a speedboat and taking control of that. This is the sort of action sequence that sells you on a game when you see it happen so dynamically.

Most of your interactions with vehicles promise to be hilariously awesome.

It seems like you can move between any kind of vehicle--from motorcycle to car to boat to even airplane or helicopter--without your feet ever touching the ground, thanks to the grapple-and-parasail mechanics. As if that weren't enough, you can even bail out of any flying vehicle and go into a controlled freefall, and you can deploy a parachute to land safely on the ground. With such a massive island, it's great to see that the designers have given you such free-wheeling, over-the-top means of getting from place to place. There are also arrows that point out your next objective, which you can see from just about anywhere, since they tower high above the treetops and roofs of buildings. For a better sense of just how madcap the action in Just Cause can be, be sure to check out our pile of new high-definition gameplay movies.

Another mission, River of Blood, saw Rico tracking down the shady operations of a local terrorist group that was transporting some illicit materiel. After speeding down a river in a high-powered rocket boat, Rico discovered that the bad guys were moving tankers full of rocket fuel on a train, so the mission objective quickly became of the destroy-and-then-get-the-heck-out variety, requiring the player to grab a rocket launcher and trash the explosive tanks before the train got away. But wait! It's hard to escape the scene when attack helicopters are barreling in at you. In another great example of Just Cause's absurdly over-the-top action, the player dodged the fire of the first incoming chopper, fired the grapple at its tail fin, and pulled himself right up into the cockpit (jumping right through the whirling blades, natch) to take control of the helicopter and subsequently shoot down the other trailing helicopter.

If 21 missions doesn't sound like a lot, don't worry--those story levels are only a subset of the game's 303 total missions, which include optional racing, assassination, and escort objectives, among other things. Completing these side missions will increase your prestige points, which will raise your standing with the local resistance and make them want to help you out more. One of the benefits your increased rank confers is the vehicle drop, which lets you phone up your friends and have them helicopter in any vehicle you've gained access to in a few minutes. This even includes experimental vehicles like a jeep equipped with rocket launchers. Luckily, you'll start the game with the ability to have a motorcycle dropped in, so in keeping with the game's theme of making sure you're always mobile, you'll never be without a rapid means of transportation for long.

Avalanche has created a lovely set of tropical environments as a backdrop for Just Cause's madcap action.

We got to see the Xbox 360 version of Just Cause, which looks gorgeous, with copious use of light bloom brightening up its already-lush jungle environs. You won't see any loading after the initial load, either--all 250,000 acres of San Esperito stream off the disc seamlessly, meaning you can go anywhere that your high-flying moves can take you. There's also a day-and-night cycle that makes for some nice sunsets and otherwise provides some ambience, and the engine even tracks rudimentary data on humidity and atmospheric pressure, so you randomly get dark clouds gathering and rainstorms as you move around. The island is further brought to life by the random battles you'll stumble into between various rival factions as you go about your business, which adds even more atmosphere and realism to what already feels like a living, lively environment. And if you've kept up with our past coverage, you'll be glad to hear that the developers have really tightened up the frame rate--our demo on the 360 was completely smooth from start to finish.

Just Cause looks like it's packed to the brim with gameplay, what with the hundreds of missions and that insane core vehicular gameplay that we honestly didn't want to stop messing with at the end of our short demo. Just jumping between vehicles and acting like an action-movie hero is entertaining enough in itself, and we're looking forward to seeing what else is in store as the missions heat up later on. You won't have long to wait to try the game for yourself: GameSpot will premiere the Just Cause demo this Thursday for the PC, and the Xbox 360 version should be hitting Marketplace hopefully around the same time.

Discussion

46 comments
outlaw4728
outlaw4728

This game looks pretty cool. A Far Cry and GTA mixed together? It doesn't sound to bad to me...... I played the demo and it's pretty fun. When you are on top of a car, you can jump into the air and use your parachute at will. It's pretty cool and the shooting gameplay seems to be realistic. All in all, from the stuff I did in the demo, along with the graphics, sound and sheer gameplay, this game looks like it'll be a hit, whether reviewers like it or not.

NND1
NND1

Reserve it now and get a Just Cause T-Shirt.... Got Mine LOL

Snowy_90
Snowy_90

this game doesn sound fun, but the noveltu will most likely wear off after a good couple of hours. we havent heard much of the other gameplay elements which will ultimately make or break this game. good core gunfighting and the like will be necesary to back up the games underlying over-the-top action. can any1 whose played the demo give me info on the rest of the gameplay such as gunfighting?

al
al

just curious to know if acheivements will be on the x360 version?

nev70
nev70

NightHawk451 a far cry clone??? ahahahaah dont make me laugh oops too late THIS GAME IS NO FAR CRY CLONE play it (the demo) and you may realize how nuts and over the top it is the demo is top fun , i am now keeping an eye on this game i dont usually like arcade type action stuff but its great fun.

NightHawk451
NightHawk451

a far cry clone??? ahahahaah dont make me laugh oops too late

blankerton
blankerton

If you dont love this game..its because you didnt spend enough time to figure it out... you can do some crazy stuff...its pretty amazing.. the controller scheme is not that hard..this game should be huge

Basez2
Basez2

Played the demo, control system is nothing I would spend my hard earned money on. I'm going to let this title pass.

Shalomony
Shalomony

Man At first I really hated the Demo, but after I played it a little bit an d got used to the control scheme, It was great. Hop on a motorcycle, then parchute off and grab onto that helicopter, then drop off and dive into a boat, just to dive offf of that and float safely to you destination. GREAT

pundog
pundog

Didn't think much of this game until I played the demo, now I'll probably buy it, looks great.

Elwor
Elwor

Just tried the demo, I think it's a bit like "Total Overdose" what do you think?

greenday1093
greenday1093

OMG this game is gonna be insane! This is just the action game that the 360 needs. This will be way better than San Andreas and Saint's Row!

Pepperman_uk
Pepperman_uk

Just got the demo off live. I thought this game was gonna utter garbage, but to my surprise its really entertaining. Looks beutiful, plays smooth and jumping out of chopper is rather satifying (nice!). Try it. You won't be dissapointed.

Love_Gun619
Love_Gun619

Rico kind of looks like Johnny Cash and Henry Heck from the movie "The Punisher." So is there a review for this game yet? i think someone else said they were reading a review???

Maximus7184
Maximus7184

Yeap just reading the review and looking at the pictures, ive been sucked in when does this come out again becuase im getting it!!!

Deagler_
Deagler_

the animations looked okay on the main guy... I think his names rico

A-TEX
A-TEX

Wow! Makes me want to buy a 360 to go alongside my Wii.

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

Does anyone know what the levels in our profiles are for and if you do can you PM me about this.

ryanjtravis
ryanjtravis

Wow, this sounds really good. Looking forward to the demo. Hopefully the 360 demo won't take forever to come out, but I won't hold my breath :)

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

Sounds like plain old fun, the weather system should add to the atmosphere. If loading times are exceptional then bravo !

MrMonkey100
MrMonkey100

Looks awesome, but I hate to rain on everyones parade... I highly doubt there will be 250,000 acres with NO LOADING. Does that count buildings...? Well anyway, this game looks like great fun. Ima hi-jack me an airplane and drive it into a McDonalds, if they have them. (Yes, I hate McDonald's)

Fire_Cod
Fire_Cod

Pre-orderd it the other day and it looks like i made the right desicion! Stayin up all nite 2 get demo!!!

wenbin09
wenbin09

wow!!! the demo is coming out tomorrow!!! it sure sounds so god damn exciting.. full of actions!!!

joulang
joulang

I wonder what are system requirements for just cause on PC

clarksafc
clarksafc

when this come out be down game to buy it lovey game

Trav8u
Trav8u

this ones a keeper, sounds like you wont be able to put it down for months!! cant wait

KingKoop
KingKoop

Looks awesome, I miss high flying antics well since I finished Tomb Raider Legend.

PMC11
PMC11

Right then, im off to go and get my self a brand spanking new 360 just for this game, the envioronment looks excellent and it sounds so lively and huge!

tony_fjellborg
tony_fjellborg

Look pretty amazing and its swedish and we all know that the sweds does the best games in the world. Much, much better than Saints Row. Going to buy a copy to my xbox 360 and play my pants off..

Jking421
Jking421

DOES THIS GAME TAKE PLACE IN SANTA CABEZA! CARLITOS COUSIN OR SOMETHING!

HyperMetaDragon
HyperMetaDragon

No kidding, Rossdaboss777. Saints Row is just a horrible mock-up GTA game that the Developer and Publisher made for some cash, seeing how the original GTA games made some cash. But yes, this game should get some more recognition, it's going to be a great game.

Rossdaboss777
Rossdaboss777

this game looks so good it should have more hype than the horrible saints row

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

woah it sounds pretty sick. doesn't sound like a good gta clone but rather a good game. saints row borrowed some things from gta also but is different in many terms.

Drudaddy
Drudaddy

i want the demo so badly hopefully it's amazing

Talibantot3602
Talibantot3602

Hmmm, very promising. Beautiful graphics and revolutionary gameplay, I couldn't have asked for more.

Stryking_Fyre
Stryking_Fyre

SUH-WEET! Just Cause, on the X360 is going to be insane.

Rato51
Rato51

cant wait, it's like gta but with 007

Trigun1
Trigun1

This game sounds so awesome. I can not wait.

mike04016
mike04016

Think the demo on Xbox live will actually come out ontime?

Santiago78910
Santiago78910

Wow sounds promising but i'll get it on pc..