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Review

Just Cause 4 Review - Mildly Wild Ride

  • First Released Dec 4, 2018
    released
  • Reviewed Dec 4, 2018
  • PC

A strong hook tethered to a meager cause.

What's another oppressive dictatorship to series protagonist Rico Rodriguez? Not much. He does encounter a new kind of enemy in Just Cause 4, however: extreme weather. It's the common thread that runs through both the story and new mechanics and tops off the explosive spectacle the series is known for. And alongside new gadgets to send objects (and people) flying across the world, Just Cause has become a physics playground. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough opportunities to put these features to good use; underwhelming mission structure and a world slim on enticing activities makes Just Cause 4 a short-lived blast with untapped potential.

The best and most prevalent piece of Just Cause games is at the forefront once again. An exceptional traversal system lets you propel Rico across the beautiful landscapes of Solis and effortlessly soar through the skies. With the combo of a grappling hook, parachute, and wingsuit, Rico can basically go wherever, whenever (and often more efficiently) without a vehicle. Like past games, you build momentum and essentially catapult yourself using the combination of these tools and hardly ever have to touch the ground. It's tough to overstate how satisfying it is to escape enemy hordes and hook onto the underside of a helicopter to hijack it and tear them all down, or slingshot yourself out of harm's way toward the next target you'll blow to bits.

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Rico isn't only built to move fast, however: if you aren't causing explosions on a regular basis, you might be doing something wrong. Fuel tanks, red barrels, and vehicles are unusually explosive, and set the stage for over-the-top action. Since the grappling hook can also be used to tether objects together, you have lots of opportunities to get creative outside of exhausting your arsenal of firearms--some of which have their own wacky practical applications, like the wind cannon or lightning gun. Some weapons just wreak havoc such as the railgun or burst-fire rocket launcher, and even modest small arms like the SMG have impactful alternate fire modes. This may be the expectation for Just Cause, but it still pulls you in for a wild ride.

It's tough to overstate how satisfying it is to escape enemy hordes and hook onto the underside of a helicopter to hijack it and tear them all down, or slingshot yourself out of harm's way toward the next target you'll blow to bits.

Its identity as a destructive playground is further emphasized by grappling hook mods, three of which you customize: air lifter, retractor, and boosters. All three devices coincide with the new physics engine. Air lifters (essentially mini hot air balloons) let you launch things into the sky, and they can be further customized in terms of velocity, behavior, and altitude. Retractors pull targets together violently, and boosters work like jet engines that'll send objects into a speeding frenzy, whether it be an attack helicopter or a poor enemy soldier. Multiple permutations of these contraptions are made possible, since their effects can be stacked into a single tether and three loadout settings let you switch between loadouts on the fly. These gadgets are unlocked through side activities, and you're given plenty of avenues to make them work as you desire, which leads to the most disappointing part. Just Cause 4 gives you so many shiny new toys to play with but seldom a reason to use them.

Mission structure is uninspired, as you are continually asked to escort NPCs, defend a specific object for a set duration, activate (or destroy) inconspicuous generators, or hit a number of console panels to activate some sort of process. The worst offender has to be the timed missions that ask you to sink bomb-rigged vehicles into the ocean; they're tedious and prone to mishaps at no fault of your own. These are tied to Region Strikes, which are required to unlock territories on the map and progress to main story missions. While blasting through waves of enemies and their military-grade vehicles offers some great moments, you're often asking yourself: okay, what else? Shielded heavies, snipers perched from a mile away, and flocks of attack helicopters can become enjoyably overwhelming, since you have to rapidly make use of your diverse toolset. But several missions are designed in such a way that's oddly restricting, limiting the game's strongest assets. Enemies simply swarm and act as basic obstacles rather than clever challenges, and that leaves you with objectives that rarely bring out the best in the mechanics and systems of Just Cause 4.

At a time when open-world games sometimes overstay their welcome, Just Cause 4 is at the other end of the spectrum, where you wish there was more to experience because it has so much going for it.

There are a few stellar moments in the main story missions that make proper use of the extreme weather system that is the core of Just Cause 4's premise. Specifically, the conclusion to a stormchaser-themed questline funnels you through a number of battles while a tornado rips through your surroundings. Your ability to parachute and glide are drastically affected by the wind velocity and turbulence, which throws some welcome unpredictability into the mix. One particular sequence is also indicative of what the grappling hook mods are capable of; destroying massive wind cannons that impede progress with boosters wasn't only the most efficient method, but watching these heaps of steel frantically spin out of control was a sight to behold. The last stand in this mission, a sequence of rooftop firefights amid the harsh weather, brings the many great pieces of the game together.

The same can't be said about the other extreme weather conditions, however. Sandstorms challenge you with violent winds and obscured vision, and thunderstorms bring torrential rain and lightning strikes that make for a visual treat. But they're not game-changing in the way tornadoes are since they have a minimal effect on gameplay. Even then, the questlines tied to these weather conditions and their respective biomes are over before you get to fully experience their unique qualities.

All the while, a vaguely coherent story about family and a rebellion against an evil regime serves as the platform for Rico's wild ride. Stories in Just Cause haven't been more than excuses for environmental destruction and a way to make you feel comically powerful, and the same holds true here, though you may find the ties to previous entries somewhat endearing. The harsh forecasts are justified by villain Oscar Espinoza's high-tech devices that control the weather and oppress the people of the fictional South American country Solis. Rico remains the plausible one-man army who has the capabilities of a superhero with the air of a grounded, unassuming protagonist. If there's anything that Just Cause does well story-wise, it's convincing you to accept the absurdity of it all.

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Throughout the game, you'll be building a revolution across Solis, bolstering what's called the Army of Chaos. It's a fundamental piece to progression and the key to taking down Espinoza and toppling The Black Hand private military again. The Army of Chaos serves as a tool to controlling territories across the map since you need to accumulate squad reinforcements to overtake regions, which also gates your ability to take on story missions. Cause destruction and raise your chaos level, and get squads to progress. It boils down to a numbers game, and once you understand the structure of this system, you can easily snowball squad numbers and control all of Solis without having to grind your chaos level. Side activities from three minor characters litter the map as well; Sargento has you teaming with NPCs to destroy enemy infrastructure, Garland makes you do stunts, and Javi provides a bit more context to Solis by asking to do a few easy puzzles. It's more things to do, and they unlock the aforementioned grappling hook mods, but they're simple in nature and aren't enough to compensate for the shortcomings of other missions.

Just Cause 4 has incredible moments where beauty and destruction cross with Rico's ability to zip around the world at a moment's notice. It's gratifying and easy to grasp, especially when you're able to string a series of wingsuit fly-bys, vehicles hijackings, and fiery explosions all in the name of revolution, but those moments are either short-lived or tied to rudimentary missions. You're given an awesome toolset that paves the way for creativity in a world with too few problems to solve. At a time when open-world games sometimes overstay their welcome, Just Cause 4 is at the other end of the spectrum, where you wish there was more to experience because it has so much going for it.

Back To Top
The Good
Kinetic traversal system is as satisfying and efficient as ever
Tools for creative destruction are awesome and at your fingertips
Physics system lets you experiment with new gadgets
The Bad
Often uninspired mission structure that doesn't bring out the game's best
Unusually bare open world without enough enticing activities
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Michael put 25 hours into the PC version of Just Cause 4 to finish the main story, complete all 31 region strikes, and do a handful of the side activities. It's hard for him to look at other open-world games and not get the hankering to catapult himself with a grappling hook, wingsuit, and parachute. Code was provided by Square Enix for this review.
160 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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adkcrazox

The graphics sucks. I can’t believe how bad it looks on the X.

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mikes133

IGN gave it a 7.9, Windows Central gave it a 10... Needless to say those are both VERY generous. Steam reviews are sitting at mostly negative 30 something percent. Ive clocked in 5 hours of playtime and Im already totally over it, game sucks. Playing 4k high settings on PC and it still looks like butt. Pfeh, here I thought the series couldnt get anymore mediocre.

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

I'm a little surprised these sequels are still coming out. They never review very well, and I don't think I've ever bought one of these games... *(oh nevermind, it looks like I have it J3 in my steam collection, haven't played) It'd be nice to see these guys try a new IP.

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sam628

Im very dissapointed with this games score looks like i won't be buying this game too.l will wait until a major price discount :)

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sam628

I rather go back and finish just cause 3 and gta 5 then :)

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RonThallsBalls

So game is boring. Again. How many of ya’ll got bored in Just ‘Cuz 3 and just fucked with NPCs using the remote bungee thing? Torturing people, putting ‘em in weird bondage positions. I think if we’re all honest with ourselves, what we would REALLY enjoy is more gore, dismemberment, nudity and more of an effed up reaction from NPCs. So yeah, I agree with Michael Highham, definitely add that stuff in.

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penstrol

@ronthallsballs: At no point did Michael say any of that weird stuff, Mr Balls

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Skinon

@penstrol: Yea he said it before.

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RonThallsBalls

@penstrol: I agree, they should definitely add in a spanking mechanic w/ verbal abuse options.

Avatar image for obiroid1
Obiroid1

I thought mad max was pretty good. Guess that game didn't do well enough for a sequel.

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Pacer8888

@obiroid1:

Game came out 3 years ago. It may still come. Avalanche had JC4 and Rage 2 on the burner.

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

Damn dude a 6 ? That freakin' bad ? I didn't think they could stoop this low after JC3. Glad im skipping all these 6/7's. Told y'all last years was KINO gaming wise and nothing would top it well maybe except for RDR2 :D

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cboye18

@off3nc3: A 6 is just average, not bad. And it kinda deserves it. I liked Just Cause 2 but it has it flaws that could have been fixed two sequels later.

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off3nc3

@cboye18: Yea but a 6 is never a must buy , not even at the bargain bin. I also loved JC2 and JC1 i played them alot but when the third came around it was just .. idk very underwhelming in every way.

I kinda had high expectations for this one.

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Devils-DIVISION

@off3nc3: I dunno. Two games that come to mind is Alpha Protocol and now I'm currently really enjoying Elex (which got a 4). Quite frequently games can come down to your mood more than anything. I never really look much into scores. But that's me.

Avatar image for cboye18
cboye18

@off3nc3: Well the few trailers showed the new weather effects and the varied environment ala JC2 but nothing really significant. Knowing that JC3 didn't do so well (mostly due to performance issues), I thought as much that JC4 would be a repackaging of the last game with only a few new features. Unfortunately a lot of sequels are doing this currently though.

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aproxinate

I mean I love the game, but I'd rather avalanche make another mad max game

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cboye18

@aproxinate: Sure but they should leave out that crappy Batman combat system next time.

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aproxinate

@cboye18: out of mad max? That's the whole premises of the series, car combat in the post apocalyptic wasteland

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cboye18

@aproxinate: I meant the close combat with Max. The car combat was good but I think it needs more variety in mission/race design.

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Pacer8888

@cboye18:

You mean the combat system that greater majority of people enjoyed? Ooohoo aint you edgy!

Avatar image for cboye18
cboye18

@Pacer8888: No it's actually the weakest part of the game. It's not a good combat system; it never was. Only now people start to realize how automated, risk-free and boring it really is.

Same can be said about the Shadow of Mordor/War games and why the combat of LOTR: Return of the King (a 15-year-old game) is much better than those two games.

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Pacer8888

@cboye18: The combat is the part I liked most, but different strokes I guess.

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jwrebholz

This looks like the kind of game I pick up 6 months from now for 20 bucks out of the bargain bin, play just enough of the story to unlock some of the fun stuff, and screw around aimlessly in a physics sandbox.

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murekkep

Feels like Just Cause 3 with gritty color grading.

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Xristophoros

good thing s-e doesn't own avalanche studios or else they would be shut down after this game... man, this game was put out to die. no marketing whatsoever and possibly the worst time of the year for a release...

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Xristophoros: Indeed - but I have seen this before over the years, from the big-name publishers. It's obvious that they had their developers, in-house or contracted, to just rush shit so that they can cut the project loose and make back some money.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@Gelugon_baat: yea, this is s-e way of severing ties with avalanche studios i suppose... they will need to find a new publisher for their next game. i have no doubt about that.

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Frostblind

Boring.... just like the third one. Im glad I didn’t buy this crapola lol same old shit wrapped in years old graphics engine lol

Avatar image for eLite0101
eLite0101

@frostblind: Exactly. And its interesting people always pinpoint same negatives like "not enough to explore" etc. but nobody finally say its really same old garbage story of certain "big guy" vs "group of rebels" like we have seen in... I dont know... 1m times?

No twists, no real narrative, no great story to accompany the world. Just a garbage filler with ugly accents, made on cheap.

How many more times we have to liberate individual "map sections" and support certain "factions" to get to some final crappy dude before it gets old. meh

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alienko

@eLite0101:

nobody plays JC for story, ffs

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FecalMatters

@eLite0101: Just Cause 2 has all that. Its also the definition of a videogame masterpiece.

Not the cheap part tho, they really put the work into that game.

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eLite0101

@fecalmatters: It was ok I finished it, but not really *that* special, aside graphics which were quite great for that time. I personally liked first the most.

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SaturatedButter

The graphics in this game are straight up broken.

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naomha1

Wow. The game is getting thoroughly trashed on Steam right now. Looks like Avalanche released a less than stellar port for pc and it is getting BOMBED. Wow. After JC2 and 3 being super fun and solid ports I wouldn't have thought. Glad I missed that Day 1 bomb purchase.

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kenundrum7

After reading the review, I was a little surprised to see he gave it a 6. Seems like he liked it more then that.

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Gelugon_baat

@kenundrum7: Rather, I would say that he wanted to like it, but couldn't because it didn't live up to his expectations.

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kenundrum7

@Gelugon_baat: Well, the way he wrote it, it sounded like he liked it quite a bit. He was not writing about what he wished was there. That is all I can go by.

What were his expectations? I think that is a problem often times. People build up things to an unrealistic degree, that few things will live up to.

P.S. It looked like he was still having fun when he played for the live stream. I didn't watch the whole thing, but what I heard, it seemed he liked it more then a 6.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@kenundrum7: Well, if the game offers what had been in the previous games, and the goofy stuff that was shown in the trailers, then that's fun - short-lived fun, the kind that would be shown in a stream.

Would he have wanted to show the boring shit on stream? I doubt that.

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kenundrum7

@Gelugon_baat: He finished the game and was doing left over side missions in the stream. He looked like he was having fun. He wrote like he had fun. Yet he scored it like it wasn't that fun. That is all I am saying.

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Gelugon_baat

@kenundrum7: Fun ran out then.

I know that experience all too well.

Avatar image for kenundrum7
kenundrum7

@Gelugon_baat: That is true for most games. This is a niche game, and it does what it does pretty well. It is not meant to be a GTA game, or to be very deep. It is gadgets and mayhem. It does it pretty well.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@kenundrum7: Well, I can give the IP that - ridiculous devices and silly plane-riding physics indeed.

Yet, does the additional goofy stuff in Just Cause 3 justify an additional entry in the series? It just does more of the same thing, essentially.

Avatar image for kenundrum7
kenundrum7

@Gelugon_baat: I agree, it is more of the same. That is exactly what it looked like in the preview videos, for me. The basic difference is the grapple options and grapple upgrades. If you thought Just Cause 3 was a turd, this will not change your mind. But I loved JC 3. Especially the DLC's Bavarian powered wingsuit. JC 3's wingsuit is better then JC 4's Deluxe edition wingsuit.

Just Cause 4 More Info

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  • First Released Dec 4, 2018
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    It's time to bring the thunder. Just Cause 4 by Avalanche Studios and Square Enix is coming to Xbox One this winter.
    6
    Average Rating15 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Just Cause 4
    Developed by:
    Avalanche Studios
    Published by:
    Square Enix, Stardock
    Genre(s):
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language