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Just Cause 3: The Not-So-Open World

"'SPLOSIONS!!! ...and about that's it..."
When does an open world game seem claustrophobic? I found out how when I attempted to play Just Cause 3 for the Playstation 4. I was originally going to do a full review of the game, but I was unable to complete it in the time I had access to it. I should also add that this is my first time playing a Just Cause game, so excuse any ignorance on my part.
While the game installed, I was able to play around in a closed off section of the island. Right off the bat, the graphics and sound really impressed me and I had a ton of fun traveling around the island by use of my grappler arm (shouldn’t that rip Rico's arm out of the socket?), wing suit and retractable parachute. However, everything fell apart when I came across a dune buggy. The driving controls were incredibly tight and delayed, unlike the vehicles in a game like Grand Theft Auto V, where the controls are fluent and responsive. Simple tasks like turning and gaining speed were incredibly difficult. But I figured, “Eh, it looks like a crappy dune buggy. It’s probably meant to steer that way. There must be better vehicles in the full game.” I was 100% wrong. Every vehicle I came across steered like it was dragging a gun safe underneath it’s carriage. The only exception where the helicopter controls, which ironically, were more responsive than the ones in GTA V.
The game started off very promisingly, as it mainly consists of our hero, Rico Rodriguez, going into settlements and essentially blowing up anything flammable and shooting endlessly respawning enemies. You get shot a LOT in this game. So much so, it reminded me of the Sega Iron Man game from 2008. The fact that Rico can handle so many gunshots in a blue leather jacket and jeans is beyond me. Say what you will about the Iron Man game, at least Tony Stark went into battle wearing a suit of bulletproof armor! Not only can Rico take several bullets to the face, but he’s able to drop 300 feet and land on his feet without a problem (but somehow landing slowing on his wing suit will knock him out)! Rico’s pain threshold is something scientists need to study in great detail!
However, after playing the game for a few hours, I found the process of going into an area, blowing up everything and killing everyone in red clothes tedious. The game became very repetitive with very little sense of progression. For a game that’s designed to be an open world, there was very little to do. Other than the missions where you liberate settlements and minigames that test your driving and wing suit skills, there was very little to do in this “open world.” Let’s compare it to something like Far Cry 3 (I’ve yet to play 4), where you had similar missions of going into areas and blowing everything up, but there was a feeling of variety and progression. You had a several different weapons, abilities, and vehicles (with responsive controls!!!) to unlock. You interacted with interesting characters. You hunted animals to craft items. You could play poker. THERE WERE THINGS TO DO!!! And after every mission, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Something I didn’t feel while playing Just Cause 3.
Something else I didn’t experience while playing JC3 was a change in environment. Look at other open world games like the Assassin’s Creed series and Red Dead Redemption. There’s a variety of different locations to discover. In RDR, you even play in two different countries, and both feature detailed and unique environments. While still beautiful, every villa, city, settlement, whatever, in JC3, looked nearly identical to the last one I visited.
While we’re comparing Just Cause 3 to other games, let’s talk about it’s “story.” As I said before, this is my first time playing a Just Cause game and from the get-go, I was totally lost. I had no idea who these characters were nor did I get any explanation of their backstories. Look at other game series like GTA, Fallout and Assassin’s Creed. For the most part, every installment had a new story and a new set of characters to follow. One reason these games do this is to avoid alienating any newcomers. On the occasion a previous game is referenced, some context or backstory is given. Granted, I suppose if you’re going to watch the Lord of the Rings films, you don’t start with Return of the King.
At the end of the day, the Just Cause 3 isn’t horrible or anything, but it does feel a bit lacking in the variety department. I can get massive explosions and giant guns to fire in a million other games, but it takes a lot more than that to keep me playing.


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