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Just Cause 3 Review



Just Cause 3 is definitely a modern game and looks it. Very often there is a lot of detail on the screen, giving it a realistic appearance, at least until you blow stuff up and it starts fading away (which is pretty useful for clearing areas to land a helicopter).

I cannot remember a single instance when any criticism of the textures entered my mind, with a single, forgivable exception. That exception is that you can sometimes catch repeating patterns, which I noticed mostly with water when I was far enough away. Considering how absolutely massive the gameworld is, I am not going to hold it against the game. Other than that, I legitimately cannot remember noticing issues anywhere, like stretched textures which can be somewhat common in open world games.

My memory of the textures, which I hope the screenshots and videos catch, is that they actually are very detailed, and more than I was expecting. I was ready to forgive issues but instead was surprised to find a world with plenty of detail that also makes it look very natural.

The world is well populated with different forms of vegetation, from grass and flowers to bushes and trees. Like the textures, these all add to the realism of the world, and the trees especially do a good job of it. The density in some of the forests is high enough to feel real, and to see a canopy covering the land as you fly and glide above it really adds to it as well. I did notice a pair of issues with the vegetation though. First is that sometimes the plants would be floating over the ground, instead of actually touching it. This is not uncommon in a large number of games, nor is it particularly common, but it does occur. The other issue occurred in conjunction with the LOD system. Sometimes the details that would be shown at a great distance would be floating high above the ground. For example, the trees may not be visible, but the top layer of the canopy would be, making for an odd visual. The relatively short distance some vegetation comes in at is also a little annoying, but not a big deal.



Except for the cutscenes that provided close-ups of different characters, I never actually looked at the NPCs that much. Generally if I was looking at them, I was aiming at them from some distance, and with the third-person camera you never really get that close to them. The character models still looked good to me, but I did not give them a close inspection. It is a bit easier to inspect the different vehicles, and again I found no issues.

Lighting was good to very good, basically depending on if the corpuscular rays were visible, as they add a lot to the look of a scene. Not all situations call for them though, so the rest of the time the game is just well lit. Shadows also looked good and were pretty accurate, but after having played other titles with shadows that soften at distance, I wish one of the available techniques was implemented here. Seeing your shadow on the ground as you wingsuit around is neat, but it should not be so sharp.

Water looks very good, which is not surprising because of the integration of NVIDIA's WaveWorks technology and the use of tessellation to add even more detail. WaveWorks enables the game to simulate the waves with great detail and accuracy, and it definitely does. The water looks fantastic, especially when you go below the surface and can see everything above being distorted. Because WaveWorks also feeds into the physics of the game, the waves you see will actually affect you and vehicles traveling through it.



As beautiful as the water looks when you stare at it, the interactions with it could be better. As you move through it the surface just gains a foamy appearance, and I could not see any greater physical disturbance, like a wake. When piloting a boat it still looks good, but when swimming, so the foam is directly around your character, it is more apparent how little you appear to interact with it.

Fire is okay looking. The effect does not really appear to consume whatever it is burning, but then fire usually leads to explosions, which takes care of whatever was burning. The explosions do look very good, and this is certainly helped by Havok providing the physics for the flying debris. It is also a lot of fun to see one explosion chain to others. In one case I almost completely cleared an outpost off of one explosion. Watching explosions go off all around you is also a lot of fun, provided you are not getting hit by them.


Time to talk performance, so here are my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 980 4 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

I had to play around with the settings, but some were outside of the game's menu. Originally I had everything turned on and up to the max, except motion blur, within the menu but later turned down the Anti-Aliasing option and turned off Vsync. There are four AA options: off; FXAA; SMAA; and SMAA T2x. For those unfamiliar with SMAA, it is a post-processing AA solution, like FXAA, but is supposed to be more effective and supports temporal anti-aliasing, which FXAA does not. The SMAA T2x enables some temporal AA, but I turned it off and went to just SMAA before long. The temporal AA was adding some artifacts to the graphics, especially during cutscenes, and I simply did not want to put up with that.

The reason I turned off Vsync is because when I was looking some things up on the game, I saw reports that the in-game Vsync solution was hurting performance. Turning it off did help, but this resulted in noticeable screen tearing so I enabled Adaptive Vsync for the game through the NVIDIA Control Panel. Normally I try to avoid using any special driver settings, but I did not want to put up with the lower performance or the tearing.

One final thing I did is just a little weird that I had to do it. Like other games, you can run Just Cause 3 in fullscreen or not via an option in the graphics menu. What is weird is that when I ran it not in fullscreen, the window it gave me was borderless, but it was not borderless fullscreen, even at my monitor's native resolution. I did a little digging and found that adding "/borderless /windowed" to the launch options in Steam would give actual borderless fullscreen. The game does support borderless fullscreen, but does not provide an in-game option for it.



Okay, now that the settings have been covered, time to actually dig into the performance. For the majority of the game it ran comfortably in the 40s or so. In some areas it was actually pushing up past 60 FPS (remember, Vsync was off) but mostly it was in the 40s. There were times it would drop to the 30s and lower, which resulted in the game slowing down instead of stuttering. These times were clearly because my CPU could not always keep up as it was typically when I was attacking a military base, so there is a great number of explosions going on, and all of the enemy AI also had to be run through the CPU. When returning to the bases in Frenzy challenges, which meant there were no enemies present, the performance was not hit nearly as hard.

I encountered no serious bugs with the exception of two occasions. Once, the models seemed to explode into the screen, making it impossible to see clearly. On another occasion, the low resolution forms of models were not removed when they should have been. This occurred at a remote location that I encountered while exploring and should not be a significant issue.

Something else to mention, though I do not hold it against the game, is that you can see low resolution forms dissolve away as you approach. This is standard for open world games and the same behavior from the previous game, which is why I do not consider this an issue for the game.

While a better CPU than mine should definitely help with performance, the game was still quite playable and I suspect patches will also help improve things for me. Also it looked very good everywhere, which is pretty impressive for a game of this size.


  1. Just Cause 3 Review - Introduction
  2. Just Cause 3 Review - Graphics
  3. Just Cause 3 Review - Story
  4. Just Cause 3 Review - Gameplay
  5. Just Cause 3 Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Just Cause 3 Review - Conclusion
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