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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.

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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.
174 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for kenundrum7
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.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
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.

Avatar image for kenundrum7
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.

Avatar image for kenundrum7
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.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
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.

Avatar image for spiddyman007
spiddyman007

How can just cause 2s story missions gameplay and graphics all looks better than just cause 4

Avatar image for murekkep
murekkep

@spiddyman007: JC2's story and missions were shit though.

Avatar image for kenundrum7
kenundrum7

@spiddyman007: I think sometimes people's memories of games are better then the reality of it.

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

I was playing this again for a couple of hours last night on Xbox one X.

It's just pure escapism so if that is what you are after you will find it here. The real draw is the physics and mucking about in the world everything else is secondary. In saying that though, this was obviously rushed as cutscenes at least on Xbox One X look more like place holders and lack final polish .

Bodies of water are also just wrong. Probably the worst representation of water i have seen in a modern game. It has transparency so you can swim in the water and see detail under it, even swim under water but jump in a boat and the texture mesh used for the water is just complete garbage with no detail to it at all. Swim up to the surface after you dive in and there is nothing going on to indicate you have even been in the water.

Boats also pop in from way too close a distance , worse than i have seen in any other open world title.

There is quite a bit to do with patches if they want to fix this game but the foundations are there for a very good game all the same.

Driving cars is more fun than 3 with a more buttoned down feel for the most part though at times even then the physics go haywire with just the slightest bump. I appreciate the seperate speedo on screen when in vehicles though.

It does seem like the budget was just not there for the final polish this game deserves because it feels like a Beta product.

What is incredible though is the use of HDR for the explosions which are incredible with amazing detail.

Avatar image for kenundrum7
kenundrum7

@deviltaz35: I like it. I think it is a fun game. I agree this game is more about messing around with your gadgets, seeing what you can do. Story serves its purpose, and the missions serve their purpose. I seldom think the story or the mission are stellar in any game, and when they are that is a bonus for me, but never expected.

Avatar image for KahnArtizt
KahnArtizt

All I really want is an improved version of JC3 and this seems to be just that. The performance for 3 was subpar, even on the PS4 Pro with Boost mode. This seems like more like an 8 to me. Definitely getting this after my Smash hype dies down a bit.

Avatar image for neurogia
Neurogia

So many duds released this year.

Is the quality standard of the industry going down?

Videogames should go back to being an entertainment art instead of merely business.

Avatar image for murekkep
murekkep

@neurogia: Quality standarts are going down since the last decade.

Avatar image for JEF8484
JEF8484

@neurogia: I dont get this argument....I have like 50 games on my backlog from over the years, wtf do you guys expect? lol really.

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

@JEF8484: Nobody cares about your backlog you pleb lol , this topic is for people who are up-to-date gaming wise and have high expectations. Clearly you don't fit anywhere around here so Vamooose.

Avatar image for JEF8484
JEF8484

@off3nc3: thanks, pleb, your too cool for me.

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thefuse1032

@JEF8484: You're***

Avatar image for JEF8484
JEF8484

@thefuse1032: yea I always miss that one, lol.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@neurogia: sony did not release any duds this year... maybe its competitors did, though....

Avatar image for olddadgamer
OldDadGamer

@neurogia: Dude, there's duds every year. Old folks who talk about the "good ol' days" just have gotten old enough to forget all the duds from those years, too.

True, wasn't a banner year for games, but I have a feeling that's because everyone is keeping their powder dry for the next gen of consoles. It'll pick back up again.

Moderator
Avatar image for mogan
Mogan

@olddadgamer: Back in the good old days, when we had all those middle tier AA games, from smaller publishers, and they were like 50% or more duds. Or back in the good old days when every major motion picture had a video game tie-in that was was almost certainly bad (and totally "merely business").

Moderator
Avatar image for olddadgamer
OldDadGamer

@Mogan: Don't forget the rip offs! I have fond memories of playing "Snackman" on the C64. Which was totally original cuz snackman ate dashes, not dots.

At least today companies rip themselves off.

Moderator
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lonewolf1044

@olddadgamer: yes, there were duds back in the day but looking at this in this day and time when one would probably see an dud being it was in it's infancy, but today the gaming world is full grown and has more technology than those back in the day and it is the mad rush to get that cash regardless of how well or bad the game is produced. I was an player back then and I am an player today and I see an whole lot of difference comparing yesteryear to today. the duds had an excuse back then but there should be none today.

Avatar image for olddadgamer
OldDadGamer

@lonewolf1044: "should be none" is a pretty high standard. We can hope for that, sure. But games are more than just technology and code. They require large teams of people, lots of communication, lots of organization, lots of leadership, etc. It's even more than just talent. Look at sports: you can go out and sign top notch players, give them the best equipment, but if the coaching's no good or the players hate each other and never gel they're never going to be a good team.

Give a development team full of raw talent a lot of money, maybe you'll get something great. But if the studio lead doesn't know what he's doing or everyone on the team hates each other or one department can't keep up that can screw up the whole project. And, much like a sports team often doesn't realize it isn't gelling until halfway through a season, development teams often don't realize they're not working until so much money has been invested in the game that they HAVE to do something.

And, no matter what happens to technology, this is going to be the case so long as games are made by humans.

Moderator
Avatar image for cyberpunk_2077
cyberpunk_2077

It just seems so unoriginal now. I wonder why they keep adding sequels to this franchise g8ven the competition out there.

We need something new

Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

@cyberpunk_2077: I agree,Not saying this developer is guilty of it but sometimes companies make sequels and expect to profit off it because of the name..

Avatar image for Pierce_Sparrow
Pierce_Sparrow

My problem with this franchise is just how lazy the developers are at making this series legitimate. Sure, it's fun for a while to swing around and cause mayhem and destruction, but how hard is it to really give it all meaning? Even Far Cry, for all it's destruction, at least tries to do something with it's story and characters. How this series got to 4 games, I have no idea. It would be one thing if they were actually doing something to advance it, but they're basically COD'ing it at this point. Even Assassin's Creed, for all it's repetition and mediocrity, is still trying to do new things.

Avatar image for KahnArtizt
KahnArtizt

@Pierce_Sparrow: I thought 2 was a superb game, and 3 was almost there. Serious performance problems aside, 3 was a blast to play and the Sky Fortress DLC turned it into the best Iron Man game ever (at least until Anthem). I'm disappointed it doesn't seem to have the jetpack anymore. Sure, its story is pointless, and they could always do more with the open world, but it's great comfort food.

Avatar image for WingChopMasta
WingChopMasta

It is just caused alright but that's it. Nothing NEW other than the engine that still doesn't take it to new heights. It's the exact same kind of open world. Big open grassy non-populated areas to pad the idea of a MASSIVE open world. The same red tagged barrels and fuel tanks to blow up in the same fashions. The same dumb faceless enemies to go after.

It's literally Just Cause 3.5. The only reason it would need a new release because of the engine update but the rest of it is pretty much the same minus nice water and it runs better. Definitely a $30 game but not a big title which is sad because people wanted more Just Cause.

Avatar image for vortec40
vortec40

What a. Bunch of utter shite games lately.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@vortec40: such as? did you miss god of war, spider man and shadow of the colossus? how about red dead 2?

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

@Xristophoros: Pretty sure he was not talking about the best games released this year , but the likes of JC4 , DarkSiders 3 and even Hitman 2 which is a 4 hour flop optimization wise.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@off3nc3: well, we will never know what he meant until he speaks up i guess lol

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

@Xristophoros:

Oh no no no , I already debunked that with my post and urs :D

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fishnpeas1

I got really bored of 3 after 5 hours, this one is a pass for me.

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JSprunk

Gamespot's on a roll this videogame season. LMAO!

Avatar image for Yams1980
Yams1980

seems like a lot of people are really not excited with just cause at all. how are they still making these games? I quit after the 2nd game. There isn't much to the game other than messing around with the crazy physics and explosions.

Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

sounds just like the first 2. fun is directly tied to how many times you smile when seeing explosions. i had enough after 3rd

Avatar image for sparent180
SParent180

@PrpleTrtleBuBum: similar issue to a lot of long running franchises (assassin's Creed, far cry, cod, etc). It's more of the same with some tweaks and improvements here and there. For some fans that's enough for others it gets stale after awhile.

Good thing for people new to the franchise however.

Avatar image for hushed_kasket
hushed_kasket

@sparent180: Precisely the reason for the resurgence in Assassin's Creed... Ubisoft's AC formula was getting REALLY stale, but they completely overhauled the combat system and incorporated heavy RPG elements, which made Origins and Odyssey much more enjoyable.

May be time for Just Cause to get that kind of makeover.

Though I'm sure I'll still pick this one up once it's in the discount bin... can't pass up a good tethered rocket ride...

Avatar image for PETERAKO
PETERAKO

"Often uninspired mission structure that doesn't bring out the game's best"

I have been saying this since before JC3 came out. They needed to work on their missions and make them more interesting. Take some ques from the likes of witcher 3. Handcraft that shit.

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.
    6.1
    Average Rating46 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