January 14, 2019

Just Cause 4 - Review

Just Cause 4 or as I like to call it "Big Arse Explosion with added weather effects and tornados!" has you once again taking control of main protagonist and liberationist Rico Rodriguez, this time you are charged with liberating the fictional tropical island of Solis from the clutches of evil dictator Oscar Espinosa, not that Mr Espinosa gets much screen time in the game as he only shows up during the opening scenes and then again at the ending of the game.

The tropical expanses of Solis, the South American homeland of your father, are varied enough that you will never get bored exploring its various locations whether it be on foot, in a vehicle or by zipping from place to place via your ever trusty wingsuit. There are plenty of main story missions and side missions to complete so you always feel like you have some worthwhile task to accomplish in the game, however I can't help but feel the developers have just regurgitated the gameplay from Just Cause 3 onto a new map. The new iteration of the series really doesn't expand that much on the formula of the previous game except for throwing weather effects and random tornados into the mix, these can be a sight to behold if you get caught up in one as the carnage can be quite incredible as they rip everything off the ground and send it whirling around in a massively destructive shitshow.

Whilst the tropical environments in the game are quite varied I was quite disappointed with the graphics in the game, as they look very grainy and dated to the point they almost look like a last gen game, I also experienced massive slow down whenever there were masses of explosions going on, which is a problem since explosions and destruction are the majority of the gameplay, on the bright side though the audio is impressive from its musical score through to the various gun sounds and explosions you will hear as you progress through the game.

Playing through this game I just couldn't help but feel a sense of deja vu, I was convinced I had played this game before, and in reality I had, it was called Just Cause 3 and I played it a few years ago, sure it was set in a different location but the nuts and bolts that glued it all together are decidedly the same. Sure Just cause 4 has some added bells and whistles and varies slightly as it features various upgrades to your grappling hook that weren't featured in the previous game but when it all boils down to it, this is basically Just Cause 3 set in a different location. The writing is competent but let's face it the story has never been the strong suit of the series, the narrative has always been overshadowed by the spectacle of destruction and explosions, kind of like most Hollywood action movies. It's fun for a while but it can also get old really fast.

Just as in previous versions of the game you are free to explore everywhere taking back sections of the map from military forces and completing various challenges as you see fit, the problem with this is that this kind of formula in open world games is starting to feel very old and tired and I can't help but feel Just Cause 4's developers put in minimal effort to innovate especially since most other open world games released in the past year have improved on this formula in interesting ways, take Assassin's Creed Odyssey for examples of how the genre has progressed.

If you are a fan of the series I just can't help but feel you will be disappointed with the latest offering as even though it adds various minor tweaks to the gameplay and a whole new location to explore there is just not enough new here to spark excitement, to be honest you are probably going to have way more fun playing Just Cause 4 if you haven't experienced any of the previous games in the series.

Just Cause 4 is far from terrible but it really lacks any kind of innovative game mechanics or world detail that other open world games such as Red Dead Redemption 2 offers. It's fun for short bursts of gameplay but I found there was nothing here to really spark long term interest.

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