Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

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.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

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.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

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 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

Are the controls any better for PC than JC3? I just remember always hitting the wrong buttons all the time as a reflex (since I was so used to them being mapped to more conventional actions).

Like spacebar. Screw whoever thought that spacebar shouldn't have been ascend in helicopters (but instead an "eject").

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@m4a5: This is what you get when console-centric developers port over shit to the computer platform - completely inefficient controls.

Remember the first version of Dark Souls on the PC? Or fucking Resident Evil 4? Piece of shit controls.

Avatar image for Vodoo
Vodoo

@Gelugon_baat: I don't think it has anything to do with "console-centric" developers doing shoddy ports. I think it's more because these are Japanese companies. They have terrible controls on consoles as well, JC3 included. There are very few PC only devs left, if any (besides indie), that don't release a game on a console. But when you take a Japanese company that always has shitty control options for anybody outside of Japan, then adapt those already shitty control methods to a keyboard... That's what you get.

There are many companies that have a good controller configuration and also bring good controls to the keyboard. The Japanese just have a different control scheme that is never optimized for any platform and usually feels like an afterthought slapped together. Resident Evil 4 was even a bad control scheme on consoles, but people learned to adapt to it because the game was so great.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Vodoo: So the devs are one of those that are just shit at ergonomics then? I understand that.

Man, I wonder who among the Capcom team that did Rezzie 4 QC'ed the controls. A person that is more used to fighting games maybe? Every input has to be a half-circle?

That said, come to think of it, I do remember that Avalanche was criticized for having lousy default controls too. The last time I heard this was the Mad Max game.

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

@Gelugon_baat: Yeah, a bad port just pisses me off.

And the controls weren't even the worst part of the JC3 port.
The game was unable to go back to fullscreen after you tabbed out the first time. And it didn't lock the mouse (so you would just click out of the window). Had to restart the whole game to fix it.

If I didn't get it on sale for <$20 for everything (including DLC) I would've tried refunding it. But it's probably the last JC game I'll try to buy.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@m4a5: You can't refund that purchase anyway? Or maybe you bought from one of those "no refunds" digital sites with no clear region of operation?

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

@Gelugon_baat: Bought it on Steam in a sale months before playing it (so older than 2 weeks), and I did end up beating the story and DLC (which the DLC had some fun extras in it), which only took 27hrs.

Was stubborn enough to find the fun through the BS port. But I won't easily forget it lol

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@m4a5: Hah! That's why I am going through my backlog nowadays.

Otherwise, I cram my hard drive full of crap that I am not going to really play until a year later, just so I could test whether they are working or not, and then get a refund in time before the grace period is up if they are not working.

Shit, man, that was a chore to write. See what I mean?

Don't do impulse purchases, dude - like that "on sale" purchase you made. I learned that the hard way. So much buyer's remorse.

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

@Gelugon_baat: I don't usually impulse buy anymore. But I did remember enjoying JC2 and the multiplayer mod, so I picked JC3 up when it was the "right" price. I just didn't expect such a sh*tty port (the reviews didn't really warn me). Most of my other sale purchases are fine.

And yeah, I created a "To Play" category recently in Steam just to track which games I should play next lol

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@m4a5: Which reviews? Steam users'?

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

@Gelugon_baat: Probably, plus I saw the reviews from when it was first released (as a half decent game). Nothing really saying how bad the PC port was.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@m4a5: I wouldn't believe the Steam user reviews if I were you. They may have been posted by people who have the game, but you might want to check their times with it.

Besides, they might just be a bunch of die-hard fans doing an echo chamber. Or worse, the publisher giving out codes to accounts under their control to seed the reviews (in which case, checking their account history would reveal how old their accounts are and how many game licences have been tied to their accounts; the "mushrooms after the rain" ones are highly suspect).

If I am looking at the Steam user reviews, I look at the negative ones and see what they write. Some are just short garbage, but others list out the problems with the game, especially the technical ones.

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

@Gelugon_baat: Yeah, I know. I generally look for the gamers that put effort into their reviews. And there are the top reviews, and the side column of recently posted reviews.

It was a mix of liking the previous game, decent reviews on review sites at launch, and nothing seen in the Steam reviews.

Which, JC4 is getting hammered with negative reviews right now on Steam lol

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@m4a5: The top-rated and long review articles might have problems too; look at their time of posting, especially for games that get updated a lot.

Avatar image for pongman75
Pongman75

I might buy it Just beCAUSE. Hahahahaha I make funny

Avatar image for mpl911
mpl911

@pongman75: Not really.

Avatar image for salty101
salty101

@mpl911: He must be new to the series. Anyone who's played it eventually asks why they're blowing everything up and laughs when they realize, JUST CUZ

Avatar image for pongman75
Pongman75

@salty101: ive played the 2nd one. All the same to me lol.

Avatar image for mrbojangles25
mrbojangles25

I was expecting a 6. 6 is the new 9 hahaha.

Love this game. Definitely not the strongest in the series, but a welcome game all the same.

Avatar image for lorddaggeroff
lorddaggeroff

Holly how, a 6, ah it looks like a 9 so I'll just ignore GameSpot's creteque anyways, once a bad review in multiple areas you accept what ya dealing with.

Ever since pbr has been a thing in games GameSpot's been more vocal on negativeness, yeah phantom pain didn't incorporate pbr and it was a incomplete game. Hipocracy.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

@lorddaggeroff: Naw, it's about right. And this is coming from someone who loved JC3. They dropped the ball on this one, but I'll agree with you that review wasn't very good.

Avatar image for lorddaggeroff
lorddaggeroff

@JustPlainLucas: Rubs your back, do you need anything thing else ☺️😇😁😌 hold on you like back ribs right. Oh don't worry about that it's not what you think.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@lorddaggeroff: The hell you bringing up PBR for? Gameplay matters, not graphics.

Avatar image for lorddaggeroff
lorddaggeroff

@Gelugon_baat: because pbr is the reason why games take so long to make, duh!!!!!!!

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@lorddaggeroff: Whut...?

Avatar image for warmblur
warmblur

Just Cause 4 shouldn't of come out this year the last one came out in 2015 which was not that long ago really this series needed more time to breath. If we where living in a parallel universe we would of got Sleeping Dogs 2 this year probably. The original deserves a sequel it should of never got cancelled Square Enix this generation is trash.

Just Cause 4 More Info

Follow
  • 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 Rating44 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Just Cause 4
    Developed by:
    Avalanche Studios
    Published by:
    Square Enix, Stardock
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Action
    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