Just Cause 2 4-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - February 17, 2014
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The most important aspect of Just Cause 2 is its gameplay, because without a story to hold your attention, it has to be. Fortunately the game does this by supplying you with almost any tool you could need to entertain your destructive impulses. Grenades, triggered explosives, rockets, shotguns, machine guns, red barrels, and more all make the game a playground for us. A dangerous playground, but still a playground. Then you add in the grappling hook and you can really start having fun.
The grappling hook is always available to you, since it is attached to your arm. As you would expect, it helps you get around by pulling you to whatever you fire it at… almost. Some objects will instead be pulled by you, including enemies. In some situations the opportunity presents itself to grapple and pull enemies over a railing and to their death, saving you some ammo.
The grappling hook has another useful feature in that it can be attached to two objects, such as an enemy and an explosive tank or a vehicle and the ground. The latter possibility can be especially useful in those circumstances when you are in a car chase, but not the one driving. The enemies you grapple to the ground can be thrown into the air, off bridges, into trees or other vehicles, and whatever else the physics engine says should happen. You can even grapple planes to the ground as they take off. This will cause them to violently jerk before breaking the line, and run off of the runway. Curiously it appears NPC controlled planes are not allowed to crash and explode, which leads to some interesting scenarios.
There are not as many weapons as there are vehicles in Just Cause 2, but unlike the vehicles, you can unlock every weapon in the Black Market. As you can expect, the Black Market is the place to buy what weapons, explosives, and vehicles you need to cause chaos. It is also where you can spend the Weapon and Vehicle Parts collectibles found throughout the world and rewarded to you for completing missions. These parts are used to upgrade what items you have unlocked. How do you unlock items? Causing chaos.
One weapon however, my favorite weapon, cannot be purchased. It can only be found at military bases, and I believe is well worth seeking out. It is the mounted gun, which is essentially a minigun with unlimited ammo. Now it does not fire as rapidly as a real minigun, but each round seems to hit like a ton of bricks, sending enemies high into the air. Actually many weapons can do that, as apparently the ragdoll physics makes dead bodies very light.
The only drawback to the mounted gun, besides the limited availability, is how it limits your movement. You cannot run or jump when you are holding it, and must instead walk around, slowly, causing as much destruction as one man can. Considering how unbalanced it seems to be now, imagine how ridiculous it would be if you could run and jump with it.
Fortunately there is an option (multiple actually) for when you need both mobility and firepower. Military helicopters almost all feature a variant of the mounted gun, and some also fire rockets, making for an especially lethal package. You can also unlock for purchase a similarly armed helicopter through the Black Market, but it is not exactly what you will find shooting at you from time to time. Military planes can also be heavily armed, and a similarly armed plan can be purchased through the market as well, but personally, the planes are not that much fun.
Unlike the helicopters, the weapons on a plane can only be aimed by aiming the entire aircraft, which is not easy. Also planes are very difficult to land. Often I will find myself using planes as a means to cross the country quickly, without using the Extraction fast travel system, then aiming it at a target, and jumping out. In a previous playthrough this strategy worked better than expected as the plane apparently crashed into a military colonel; a special unit that spawns in certain places for you to eliminate. Despite being kilometers away, I received the message about the kill and how it demoralizes the enemy.
As I mentioned in the Story section, you receive missions that pertain to the main campaign or are given to you by one of the three gangs. These missions can be somewhat varied, as some require you to kill a target, kidnap a target, or free a member of the gang. One mildly annoying aspect of some of these missions is that they can require you to drive a vehicle somewhere while being chased. In general, no land vehicle allows you to drive and shoot, so you have to hope you can outrun or otherwise escape your attackers to survive. You can leap onto the top of a car, letting it continue on its current path, so you can shoot at your enemies, but honestly it always felt safer to me to just drive and try to run them off the road.
Just Cause 2 really does shine when it comes to gameplay, as it enables and even asks you to do whatever you want to cause chaos, making the majority of the experience a lot of fun. It does somewhat stop being fun when you start trying to hunt down every collectible in the game, as the only means you have to find most of them is a signal strength meter. You know when you are getting close, but they will not appear on the map unless they are one of the special, faction desired collectibles.
To complete the main campaign, it took me 11 hours and six minutes, which got me to 24.55% completed. After that I kept playing to complete all of the gang missions. That took me to 20 hours and 28 minutes with 42.80% complete, so you can see there is still a lot to do and destroy. Those times may be overestimates by the way, because it can be hard to pass by military outposts without at least taking out some SAMs… and fuel depots… and generators… and radio towers… and you get the idea.
I suspect that if I do not mention the recently released multiplayer mod, there will be at least one forum post about it. I did not spend much time in the mod, but I definitely saw its potential. For one thing the servers I joined had mods that allowed people to spawn in vehicles, and even a means to boost vehicles to physics-breaking speeds. I am sure that other servers have other, more intriguing mods installed as well.
Because I was joining random servers, with no friends, my experience was not very fun, but I believe that is purely because I had no friends on the server. Playing with people I know, and communicating with them, will certainly improve the experience, as the chaos becomes more coordinated than people just flying around, shooting each other. Based on that experience, I definitely hope that any future game in the franchise has multiplayer built in, and perhaps even co-op for the campaign.