Despite all the strange things thrown in, or left out of this game, I honestly had fun with Just Cause.
I’ll start with the graphics. Just Cause has some major draw distance that works well. There are some things such as waves crashing on the shores and major tree shadows that tend to pop up but for the most part the game looks good environment wise. A couple of things this game does even downright impressed me; the way that driving on dirt roads for awhile makes dust accumulate on the shiny cars, or the way you can actually fly through storm clouds was almost beautiful. However, here comes the things that just don’t seem to fit; the character models are pretty stiff and unimpressive especially during the cut scenes, when your character commandeers a vehicle it looks like there are quite a few missing animations during the whole process and the physics are just plain goofy sometimes. It just seems off to me that the developers took so much time to make sure dirt cakes onto cars and that the sky looks great, but when you bump into a tire it goes soaring off in the distance or that the mouths don’t sync up with the voices.
Speaking of voices, for the most part they are done right and even the music has a Latin/Caribbean feel to it that works perfectly in the game. But once again there are a few rough edges in the sound department. The dialogue is simply cheesy and cliché, you have the U.S. agent who pronounces every Spanish word poorly and makes little wisecracks, you have the tough female military expert that adds slight innuendo to everything and you have the main character that sounds like he’s a cheap Antonio Banderas impersonator with his macho bravado lines. I wasn’t expecting much from the story but I was hoping for better than this. Sound effects also run the gambit from very fitting to “what the hell were they thinking?” Everything seems right except for the fact that most of the guns sound very similar and the when cars collide with something, it makes the sound of two butter knives scraping together. Once again, just strange design decisions.
The gameplay is the typical fare that you’d find in a game such as Mercenaries or even Grand Theft Auto. Car Jacking, shooting, assassination, planting bombs are all the things you’re going to be doing throughout the game. What Just Cause does different is to add death (and physics) defying stunts and a magnetic grappling tool to the mix. These few additions are enough to breathe some new life and make Just Cause a little bit interesting. What doesn’t work very well is the ‘take over’ portion of the game. This is where you and your fellow guerillas storm a city or town and try to wrestle control from the government. The problem is that it’s simply too easy. Unless the defending army has tanks roaming the street, which is rare, the situation plays out like a cheap death match against clumsy AI with life meters far inferior to your own. In fact the enemies you face throughout the whole of the game are pretty underwhelming. You’ll probably spend more time dying falling from planes or running into buildings while parachuting than you will by gunfire. Oh and speaking of gunplay, there was simply no reason to include auto aim while on foot. That happens to be another poor decision by the development team.
In closing, despite all the strange things thrown in, or left out of this game, I honestly had fun with Just Cause. A sequel was already announced so hopefully some of these flaws will be fixed or at least tweaked. It may not have been worthy of a purchase when it first hit shelves, but now if you’re looking for a quick tropical get away to overthrow an oppressive regime, then there’s no reason not to check out Just Cause.