by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Back to his roots
Medici. A beautiful area situated somewhere in the Mediterranean, and the home of Rico Rodriguez, the protagonist from the previous games in the Just Cause series. In the latest instalment, Just Cause 3, gamers return to the role of Rico Rodriguez, who, upon returning to his homeland of Medici, finds that it has been taken over by a dictator known as General Di Ravello. He soon finds that his long-time friend Mario is working with the rebel forces attempting to overthrow the dictator. Shortly after, Rico meets up with Dimah al-Masri, a scientist and inventor along the lines of Q from James Bond, who proceeds to upgrade some of Rico’s equipment and adds a Wingsuit to his array of gadgets. Armed with all these gadgets and an arsenal to make Rambo proud, Rico sets about liberating Medici in his own explosive way.
Tools of the trade
It’s difficult to overthrow a dictatorship without weapons, but Rico has plenty at his disposal - from pistols to rocket launchers and everything in between. Rico’s job is also made easier through the game with the Rebel Drop mechanic that allows him to call in specific arms and ammunition (as well as vehicles) whenever required – to certain locations around the map.
Apart from the arsenal of weapons at his disposal, Rico is initially equipped with the grappling hook and parachute that he had used in the previous instalment, but Just Cause 3 alters the functionality slightly, giving both gadgets a wider scope. The grappling hook can now also be used to tether items together. Tethering a stationery item together with a flammable item such as a fuel can, can lead to massive chains of explosions. But when combined, the grappling hook, the parachute and the wingsuit can be used with great effect to traverse the landscape, with the wingsuit being used as a glider of sorts.
When you’re not navigating the map using the Grappling Hook/Parachute/Wingsuit combination, there are ample vehicles that you can use to tour the islands. Jump into a tank and wreak havoc upon Di Ravello’s forces and infrastructure, or hop into a helicopter or plane and fly to a distant location. Or, if you need to island hop, there are speedboats and other watercraft to get you across the water. Or you could swim – which I had to do a few times when I misjudged a wingsuit landing.
Many of the game mechanics are geared towards over-the-top destruction, and so too are the visuals. There are more explosions in Just Cause 3 than a Michael Bay film. The Island of Medici (and the outlying islands) looks wonderful, though. If it wasn't for the despot running the place, it would be a lovely place to take a holiday. With rocky mountain ranges, forested areas, small friendly villages, sandy beaches and clear blue water, the area would be a tourist paradise. Of course, much of the area will get destroyed once you attempt to liberate the towns from Di Ravello’s forces. Luckily, it seems that the locals are skilled (and very efficient) tradesmen, as a visit a short time later will have all the destruction rebuilt (with friendlier inhabitants).
Towns and provinces need to be liberated to gain access to the various Challenges that gamers can take part in. With the open world nature of the game, gamers are free to pick and choose whichever (if any) Challenges they wish to compete in. Completing the challenges is important though, as gamers are rewarded with gears for good performances. Gamers can then spend these gears to unlock mods to the various weapons and gadgets that aid in the destruction of the dictator.
Taking out the towns can become a little tedious after a while though, and because of the map size, you’ll be doing much of the same thing throughout the game. The one redeeming grace with this is that there are many ways that the destruction can be completed. In one location I was able to bring most objects down with a trusty rocket launcher and some grenades, whilst in another area I was able to commandeer a tank and blast my way through the enemy compound. In another area, I was able to combine the Grappling Hook with some well-placed oil barrels to create huge explosions.
Of course, attacking Di Ravello's strongholds has some side effects.
Send in the clowns
The AI is fairly intelligent because as you create more destruction, the enemy will send in more troops to capture (or more accurately, kill) you. As the destruction ramps up, so does the 'wanted' level. First off, Di Ravello will send jeep loads of soldiers to catch you, but this will increase to armoured vehicles, then to tanks and then to airborne attacks. All these vehicles can be commandeered to use for yourself though, so an enemy tank can be captured and used to smash through walls. Gamers can reduce their wanted level by moving out of sight from Di Ravello's forces and lying low until things cool downs a little.
The controls have been designed with simplicity in mind. Even when flying a chopper or an aeroplane, the controls have been simplified to allow novices to be able to fly. As mentioned earlier, these airborne vehicles, along with the ground and water vehicles allow Rico to take a more traditional route around the islands, and having them easy to controls makes traversing the locales much more enjoyable.
Most of the vehicles will have at least one challenge linked to them. Challenges include racing a vehicle through a series of checkpoints up a mountain in a specified time, or using a vehicle as an explosive device by crashing it into a selected target, and even flying through a series of rings with the wingsuit. The challenges are reasonably varied and do offer a challenge in order to gain the full complement of gears for optimal performance. As with the main game itself, many of the challenges themselves can be somewhat similar and this can reduce the enjoyment of the challenges as the game wears on.
No story, no worries
Let’s be honest, there’s a storyline in Just Cause 3, but it comes secondary to the action - similarly to a Sylvester Stallone movie from the 1980’s. And that is perfectly fine, as the action sequences work remarkably well in the game, giving gamers the freedom to do whatever they like throughout Medici. The goal is basically to blow stuff up, and there is a heap of fun in doing so. And whether you like to stroll into an enemy encampment with all guns blazing, or take headshots from afar with a sniper rifle, you can do just that. And all that with a host of cool and outrageous gadgets that make a mockery of Di Ravello’s army. The picturesque Medici makes for the perfect backdrop to the carnage as well, giving gamers some visual eye-candy as they evade and destroy Di Ravello's forces. Just Cause 3 is not perfect by any means, especially with the repetitive town destruction missions, but it is a ton of fun to blow things up.
Open world gameplay with lots to shoot at and blow up. Cool Gadgets
The repeating cycle of liberating endless towns can get repetitive