There’s a certain beauty to stupidity. If you don’t believe me, just look at Donald Trump and try not to be totally absorbed by his idiotic toupee, pouty lips and stupidly stupid quotes. There’s just something about utter dumbness that’s too entertaining to ignore, and Just Cause 3 perfectly channels its stupidity into… Uh… EXPLOSIONS!!! Physics holds no dominion on the island of Medici, and your brain won’t give a damn because embracing stupidity is fun every once in a while. Oh, and explosions.
You play as Rico Rodriguez, your typical macho-man hero dude, who’s been sent to the little nation of Medici. Medici is in need of a swift liberation from the fascist rule of Sebastiano Di Ravello, the most ‘bad guy’ bad guy you can poke a B-movie script at. So, to bring him down, you team up with the rebel forces to incite an incredibly chaotic and explosive revolution. While it certainly facilitates going from A to B and blowing things up, the story is total garbage.
If you were expecting a B-movie plot from Just Cause 3, you might want to lower those expectations a bit. Its tone is inconsistent, the pacing is awful, and there were missions where I just screamed, “WHY!?” at my computer. It certainly has its moments, but they’re jammed between swathes of dry, cliché gags that rarely hit the mark. It feels stuck between taking itself seriously while making sure it doesn’t take itself seriously, but let’s be honest, did we care to begin with?
I’m not going to lie, if you’re playing JC3 for the plot, you’ve clearly missed the memo about explosions. The story is atrocious, yes, but there’s barely any of it to begin with, and that works in its favour. Cutscenes typically last less than a minute, so while there isn’t a lot to narratively sink your teeth into, you also don’t have to suffer through more than is necessary. It feels like the devs just wanted to give you a reason to blow stuff up, and quite frankly, I can get on board with that… It would help if knowing where stuff needed explodinating was, though.
Just Cause 3 is a big game, but it’s not very dense (layout wise), so the game leaves it to you to find enemy settlements for liberation. Liberate all the settlements in the region, the region becomes liberated, and you can go on your merry way. On the one hand, tracking places down keeps the monotony to a minimum, but when you lock off the main story until you’ve unlocked enough regions, and you can’t find that last outpost, you’ll want to explode someone’s face. I spent – and I’m not exaggerating here – half an hour flying around tracking down the last settlement of a region, and it turns out that it was underground. This felt stupid in a bad way, but most of the time, JC3 is stupid in the best way.
Once you find settlements to liberate, you’re left your own devices to blow everything up. Literally. To liberate a settlement, you have to destroy all the bright red chaos objects, like radars and fuel tanks. Medici also acts a bit of a material universe, in that the laws of physics do their own thing, so you can do some ludicrous stuff on an absurd scale. You can blow towers up with your tether, you can use rocket launchers on radar towers, you can use tanks on transformers, it doesn’t matter, just so long as everything explodes! Thankfully, the more objects you destroy, the less faded the other ones become on the map, so it’s not quite the same game of hide and seek as finding settlements is. All in all, it’s the sort of game that feels like a vacation, and that’s okay.
Because the game is so open, and it’s not story-driven by any means, this feels like a game that’s more suited for people that just want to indulge in some escapism. It’s something that you can hop into, blow some stuff up and be satisfied. Maybe you’ll end up unlocking some more story missions or trying out a few challenges on the side to grab a new gear mod, but that’s not the point. It’s a place to escape, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t want to do it again immediately after shutting down my computer.
If you were a fan of how the game felt back in Just Cause 2, you’re going to like Just Cause 3. Grappling around is still just as manic, and helicopters still feel like airborne bricks, but that same arcade physicality is what makes Just Cause stand out. The big changes are in the dual-tether and wingsuit, both of which are seamlessly integrated into the controls. You can tether two objects together from your parachute and immediately glide into your wingsuit without any hassle, and it feels awesome. It’s all well put together, but the freedom of the open world has it’s moments.
For the most part, the open world works great, and you can do some ridiculous stunts. The game will let you ride on a jet plane or drop a tank from the sky if you’re that way inclined. Everyone in Medici acts like sane human beings too, but it’s those exceptions that stay with you. For instance, I once loaded into a mission and immediately failed because a guy who was chasing me in a boat earlier decided to kill off the NPC I was escorting. This happens very rarely, and the open world is more accessible than ever thanks to your wingsuit. Unfortunately, while the solid controls and overall polish are top notch, one thing broke the whole game for me.
Whoever implemented leaderboards into this game needs to burn in a fiery explosion, and whoever thought it was a good idea to pause the game when you lost connection to the server needs to explode in a burny fire. This is a single player game with literally no multiplayer component beyond the leaderboard system (which I didn’t care about), but if I lose connection to the server, the game stops for upwards of 30 seconds. Time that. It’s surprisingly long, right? Before I gave up, I got logged out every two minutes, and after I set it to offline mode, when I checked the map or started doing something worthy of the leaderboards, the game would stop and try logging in again. WHY!? This made the game unplayable for me, and if it’s not fixed, it ruins the whole experience. The fact that this is my biggest complaint about the game should show you just how much it messed me up, but let’s get back to positives.
JC3 looks stunning. It’s a colourful, vivid array of dazzling explosions coupled with a vibrant landscape, but nothing ever gets lost. Because chaos objects stick out from the background, you’re never left squinting to see where anything is. The explosions are tight (albeit plentiful) and don’t hinder your vision, but they still manage to pack a visual punch. It’s hardly surprising; Just Cause has always been a good looking game, and it’s always sounded good too.
When you’re going around causing carnage, you want to hear the wallop of your rocket smashing into that control tower, and JC3 delivers. Everything sounds meaty, so when something goes, it goes. On top of that, the music doesn’t overpower the intensity of the chaos, but it certainly does get you hyped up for the next wave of enemies headed your way. It all comes together to create this awesome experience of mind-blowing carnage. Then there’s the voice acting.
The game looks great, no doubt about that, but it loses that level of quality when it comes to the cutscenes. To call the voice acting bad would be like calling St. Anger ba- yeah, okay, it’s pretty bad. The acting, the awkward movements, the annoying tics of the characters, it just sucks. Still, you can’t care too much when you’re barely exposed to it for a minute, but it would have been nice to see something less stale.
If you want a game that lets you take some time out and blow stuff up without having to think beyond ‘shoot the big red things’, look no further. Just Cause 3 looks great, feels great and gives you a heap to do in a world willing to let you do it. Even if the story is as engaging as a lubricated tank shell, it’s a great game to come back to now and then to indulge in some stupidity. Oh, and explosions. So many explosions…