When Just Cause 3 was announced, the idea of being able to cause chaos and blow things up seemed very inviting. Bringing the game to the current generation of consoles and PC seemed a perfect fit for a game where the story could take the backseat and pretty explosions could hypnotise the players.
To the game’s credit though Just Cause 3 does have a story, it just doesn’t really matter. You play the part of Rico Rodriguez, a man determined to take down the evil General Di Ravello who has control of the Mediterranean republic of Medici.
Giving you a game map around 400 square miles in size and giving you the weaponry to destroy it all does at first seem like fun. You also have an update to your grappling hook which allows you to connect objects together in the most violent way possible. This is fun at first, especially when you work towards being able to take control of the islands and see the general lose his power. The problem is that it soon becomes repetitive.
The fact is the little towns, army bases, and other structures waiting for you to liberate soon start to feel the same. You are given checklists of what to destroy, and once these are done, you raise the flag and then it is under your control. To some this may become boring, but I do have to admit that I found I did enjoy moving from town to town and liberating them to be fun. The bases also take more time, but taking it down, turning its own defences on it, and assassinating base leaders has a satisfying feeling.
Another nice touch is the addition of leader boards for challenges such as the longest distance travelled on the grappling hook without touching the ground, biggest stunt, and many more random lists. Seeing who has beaten you, or who you have managed to overtake does add some interest in keeping invested in the game. With other challenges also added that give you “gear” that can be used to upgrade your skills, there is also a feeling of progression for Rico leading him to be more skilled during combat.
The fact that the more areas you take over, the less forces will be against you also leads to the story missions becoming easier. I found it fun to at first concentrate on taking over towns and bases, then taking on the next mission. While the mission was at first tough, if you take out the right bases and remove some of the enemy control it suddenly becomes a lot easier to handle the missions. Giving you a reason like this to actually be causing such chaos is a smart move, and does work to keep you invested in progressing Rico’s story.
Story missions are often the place where the game’s weaknesses start to appear. When you have time limits, and energy bars of your allies to manage the last thing you want is to be fighting the games environment to be able to get to where you need to be. Being stuck by a tree, fighting to get over the edge of a cliff or even timing your grappling right to be able to hijack a helicopter can often lead to frustration. In a game that should rely on fluid motion and controls you often feel like you are fighting the game to get it to do what you want, and do it correctly.
In terms of game performance, I played the game on PC and while the actual framerate for the game was never an issue, when the game had to load from disc the stutter began to have an impact which could slow gameplay down. This is something I learnt to live with and can play through with the hope that a future fix can relieve these problems. Another issue is loading screens, these can last for what feels up to a minute sometimes, and when you are dying constantly in a hard mission, the wait for the mission to reload can be quite jarring at times.
While Just Cause 3 does have its issues I find myself having fun with it, and I will keep on coming back to. The stuttering that occurs on the PC version when loading takes place can be annoying, but as this only lasts a few seconds at most it is just a case of having to put up with it. There’s plenty of fun to be had on the island of Medici, it’s just a shame that the story that should hold it together is the weakest part of the game. Just enjoy the pretty explosions you are causing and cause some chaos, and you’ll soon forget that all that matters anyway.
Just Cause 3 is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One now.