Published on December 4th, 2009 | by prime1
Just Cause 2 – Preview
When you think of explosive finales, it would be hard to stop the one seen in the hands-on demo of Just Cause 2. Having already used our fists to settle a mid-air scuffle that was us commandeering an enemy helicopter, we slowly ascend up the side of a seemingly mile-high television station. Our intention? To broadcast a statement to the people of Panau exposing the brutality of evil dictator Baby Panay, before leaving our mark on the landmark in the only way Just Cause knows fireworks. And plenty of e’m.
But it’s not as simple as it sounds. Having met heavy resistance on the station’s rooftop, we’re forced to jump four our lives from smoking helicopter and rely on Rico’s new and improved grappling hook to see us to safety, becoming a 21st century Spider-Man as we tether ourselves to the side of the building. We settle on a different approach, attaching ourselves to the underside of an elevator. Upon reaching the top, we’re once again outnumbered and outgunned as our health bar gradually depletes to zero. Time to rethink our strategy, we think…
We call up our ally in the Black Market, Just Cause 2’s method of providing new weapons and vehicles on the battlefield as and when required – provided you’ve got the cash required, of course. Settling for a jet, we ascend high above the station before parachuting out and effortlessly shooting the gunmen below, something made far easier this time around given the improved element of control Rico has over his chute.
And the wait is worth it. Having planted our bombs, we’re tasked with base jumping off the side of the building, an almost certain means of death in every other title but something actively encouraged in Just Cause. As we jump, the camera pans around Rico as the skies above erupt in a palette of reds and yellows. Mission complete. Demo over. Smile positively beaming.
Of course, we’re not using this ‘third time lucky’ example to show how awful we are at Just Cause 2, but rather the sheer amount of opportunity each mission throws up. It’s the ultimate sandbox game, often literally, as our agency-man Rico Rodriguez takes to the sandy beaches, gloriously lush jungle and icy mountain ranges to bring Panay and former mentor Tom Sheldon to justice.
As series fans will know, this element of freedom and chaos is nothing new to the world of Just Cause – indeed, the two missions we played and the characters introduced to us wouldn’t have seemed out of place in the original. But instead, everything’s been ramped up to 11 and given an element of purpose, constantly rewarding the player in a similar vein to Assassin’s Creed II.
Pickups, for starters, are now no longer an exercise wasting. Separated into weapon, vehicle and armor parts each can be used to upgrade Rico’s armory, with weapons and vehicles made more powerful via a combination of collected parts and available cash. And while the original encouraged destruction ‘just because’, the sequel actively depends upon it. Government settlements – of which there are around 350 spread across the 400 square mile island – can each be destroyed to earn Rico ‘Chaos’, in turn used to unlock further primary and side missions such as the Race Challenge that sees Rico fly through a series of hoops in as quick a time as possible. But given Just Cause 2’s impromptu nature the inclusion of such a dull and unoriginal mission in our demo, side mission or not, set alarm bells ringing. Will Just Cause 2’s overall fun factor be decided upon purely by the creativity of the player in question, rather than the scenarios thrown up by the developers themselves? That, unfortunately, is a question we still don’t know the answer to.
But whether that will be the case or not, what we’ve seen of Just Cause 2 so far proves that we’re in for an electrifying experience. It’s a sequel that looks to have methodically improved every area of weakness shown in the original, while enhancing the series’ amazing visuals. Explosive action, rewarding and open-ended gameplay, and one of the greatest looking games on the console. What more could you want? The scene is set, people…Just Cause 2’s real stunner.