Just Cause 4 (2018)

Man, what a joy/bummer this game really was. I was never a huge Just Cause fan, but the games do just offer the same sort of chaos that seems inline with the memories of first playing GTA 3. Where you can just run around and blow stuff up all day long without advancing any of the story line. Just Cause wraps itself in that type of memory like a warm blanket. It is fun, it is familiar and it just is its own unique brand of enjoyment.

I’ve played all 4 of the Just Cause games, but I only really played 3 and now 4. I found the first two games enjoyable, but never something that I wanted to stick with. Once 3 came out I really did enjoy the floating and gliding and just all around fun of blowing up everything in sight. I didn’t pay too close attention to the story line and didn’t even touch the DLC, but it does hold a really good spot in my mind where I do remember just unadulterated fun.

That’s exactly what 4 is. The game has both some incredibly bright spots of fun, and some terribly bad spots as well. I’ll get the bad stuff out of the way first, since honestly it’s not so much that it should turn you off of the game.

This game is a complete mess. Technically speaking. It is lousy with bugs, instant crashes and just looks terrible. At release (December 2018) this game looks like it came out of a indie studio back in 2008. How they released this game in this state is beyond me. In the first two hours of the game, I had hard crashes to the desktop around 5 or 6 times. Trying to get to the next story mission just threw me out of the game. So much so that I had to figure out a way to drive a car and bypass the entrance of the mission and it somehow advanced me there. I didn’t really have any issues anymore until around late game where I had several bugs that made me not be able to grapple or parachute. I had to quit and restart. Then one of the last missions crashed at the end cutscene, and I had to do the entire mission over again… three times. This mission is around 20+ mins long, and I was extremely upset, so much so that I got to the point that I skipped the cutscenes for the rest of the game… out of fear of having to do the final missions over again. That shouldn’t happen. Other than both the terrible graphics and technical issues, there isn’t too much that is wrong with the game in my mind. The story and missions are bland for the most part, honestly that isn’t why you come to a Just Cause game, you come to it for the chaos.

This is where the game shines… the utter amount of chaos that you can play around with at any point in the game is insane. You can be strolling down the street and just start blowing everything to smithereens, or you can stop in the middle of a firefight and start ballooning people up into the stratosphere. I’ve never been one for the “you make your own fun” gameplay design that most sandbox games go for, because the toolsets they give you aren’t really all the fun or are so complicated that you need to spend several hundred hours planning things out. JC 4 gives you everything pretty much out of the gate. You have to do some missions to unlock things, and then even more side stuff to unlock the full potential of those tools, but once you do, it is honestly some of the most fun I’ve ever had in video games.

The two new gadgets that are in this game are the Fulton Balloons (think Metal Gear Solid V) and the Jetpack that couples to your wingsuit from the 3rd game. The Jetpack has two functions, a missile launcher (I actually never used it once other than when I first unlocked it and accidently pressed the fire button) and the Jetboost. Where it gives you that extra Umph that you need to traverse through the map fast. And since it is such a large map, you use it every second you can. It just is a quality of life improvement more than anything else. Then you get the balloons… this is where the real fun is.

The game takes the two prior gadgets (retractor cables & Boosters) and adds a third to the mix. The balloons can be used in tandem with the other gadgets with loadouts to provide some of the funniest moments in gaming. I remember seeing the things people were doing with the boosters in JC3, but never unlocked the ability to use so many. This really gives you everything out of the box pretty much. You want to slam two cars together? Just use the retractor. You want to make a civilian car launch into a wall at breakneck speed? Use a booster or two and then set it off… or you can tether a couple balloons to an army vehicle and send it flying away as they are trying to kill you. The amount of things you can do in this game with the three gadgets made me spend several hours screwing around, which I never do in most games.

All said and done, JC 4 is very very similar to JC3. Most would say 3 is just a better game, which I believe it is. From a writing standpoint, to scope, to graphics to everything else it just felt like a much more polished and well put together game. But for the fact that JC4 has the Jetpack which makes the game more enjoyable to move around in, and the balloons and loadouts that will allow you to really destroy the map to your heart's content and really just make some of the best memories…. JC4 is worth playing. Not to completion, and not for $60, but if this game ends up on Humble for $12 with all the DLC (like the 3rd one is currently) It is totally worth getting, playing and unlocking the mods for the gadgets, and then treating the game like a sandbox… That is what you should do.