Review – Just Cause 3
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Square Enix
Directors: Roland Lesterlin & Paul Furminger
Release Date: December 1st 2015
I have a complicated relationship with Just Cause 3.
I have always been a huge fan of the Just Cause games, I played the hell out of the first one on PS2 and I have great memories of it and of being blown away by the sheer scope and beauty of the game’s environment. Then the follow up was even crazier and even more fun. The explosions were bigger, the characters were more bombastic, the map was massive and the game was amazing.
Then I played the third game on PS3 back when it released in late 2015 and had mixed feelings about it. The fourth entry in the series has dropped between then and now and I also had mixed feelings towards JC4, but that is a discussion for another time.
Today I want to discuss Just Cause 3. My major issue with the game at the time was how excruciatingly long the loading screens were. Now I don’t actually mind games with long load times all that much, within reason, but Just Cause is the type of game that gives you so many insane mechanics that you naturally feel the need to experiment. Unfortunately, sometimes these experiments end up in Rico’s violent death, which in turn results in another long load screen.
After four or five times of this happening within the space of a single mission, the frustration is at boiling point and the game becomes a chore and any fun you were having is quickly lost. It feels as if the game actually punishes you for trying crazy things, yet it claims to be the game that encourages insanity!
Also the ways in which you die are so inconsistent that they become massively unpredictable. For example, after dying 3 or 4 times while trying to liberate a base using a madman zipline/parachute combination technique, I finally decided to just play it safe and get the liberation over and done with, so I used a missile mounted chopper. I blew up a bunch of fuel tanks etc and then a couple of SAM’s blew some holes in my chopper. Most of the time the game gives you a minute to jump out of the chopper before it explodes, but sometimes at random it will just blow up instantly and kill you dead, leaving you with another 5 minute loading screen and even more despair.
Also Rico can sometimes take fall damage of up to a good few hundred feet, but sometimes a small drop from a roof to the ground of a bungalow will kill him instantly. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it wasn’t coupled with really long load times, which is what really makes the process excruciating.
Like I said before, I don’t mind long load screens all that much, but when they are coupled with frequent random chance insta-death, then I have a problem. There is a website that I use frequently called HowLongToBeat.com and it essentially gives you the average amount of time that it takes to beat a game’s campaign. For Just Cause 3 the website says 15.5 hours to beat, which is about right, but I reckon that if you shorten the load times and fixed the random occurrences of insta-death you could beat it in 11 or 12 hours. That’s 4 hours of sitting through frustrating load screens that you are never going to get back.
So, I think it’s fair to say that, (as was the case with a number of big AAA games released in 2015,) Just Cause 3 was a disappointment upon release. However, over half a decade later I have built myself a pretty powerful PC and decided that it was time to revisit the game to see what the experience would be like when load times were shortened significantly with the power of an SSD.
The explosions feel and look just as good as you would hope they would and the addition of the wingsuit is awesome. Flying around the map like a superhero feels truly epic, it really does give you a sense of being Godlike and it is without doubt the highlight of this game’s mechanics.
However, when you take those two things away, (the wingsuit and the explosions,) all that is left is a very mediocre third person shooter with mediocre graphics and a cheesy, poorly written script read by voice actors playing uninteresting stereotypes. But hey, this is a Just Cause game, it isn’t exactly known for it’s reputation of telling deep stories about the evolution of a certain character’s psyche. This is the game where you ride missiles and grapple launch into a man with a dropkick, so as long as the fundamental Just Cause functions are present, then surely that’s all that matters?
It really sucks actually, I wanted to love this game so much, both upon release and now and it’s done it’s damnedest to prevent me from doing so. To put it bluntly there are better open world games out there, especially in 2021. It’s not a bad game by any standard, it just fails to improve on its predecessors in any way.
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