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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Square Enix

 

Developer

Eidos / Avalanche Studios

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

March 23, 2010

 

 

- Hundreds of things to blow up good
- Grappling hook inspires comedy among the chaos
- Almost endless supply of missions, challenges, and upgrades to find

- Looks awesome

 

 

- Controls require practice, often through death
- Long stretches of traveling halts the action
Insufferable accents, dialog

- Uneven voice acting

- Clunky black market interface

 

 

Review: Just Cause (360)

Review: Red Faction: Guerrilla (360)

Review: inFamous (PS3)

 

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Just Cause 2

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

just cause 2          just cause 2

 

While property damage was just one of the innovative features Grand Theft Auto brought to the sandbox genre with its Rampage missions, it serves as the basis for Eidos Interactive’s Just Cause series. In the world of Just Cause, chaos reigns, and with the sequel, gamers have been given a free pass to completely decimate a foreign island in any way they see fit... all in the name of American justice!

The story of Just Cause 2 brings back Rico Rodriguez, an amalgam of history’s greatest bad-asses, from James Bond to El Mariachi, with a dash of Wolverine and

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Mad Max thrown in for flavor, to find and assassinate rogue agent Tom Sheldon, who is believed to have taken refuge in the island nation of Panau. A Southeast Asian island gripped in civil war, Rico must gain the trust of the radicals and revolutionaries across the island in order to gain information on Sheldon’s whereabouts. Clearly lacking in diplomacy, the majority of missions given by these factions involve

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the hostile takeover of military facilities, the assassination or kidnapping of influential figures, and more often than not, blowing stuff up, with an occasional mission to blow up lots of stuff.

As an agent with black market contacts, Rico is more than equipped to get the job done, but no tool is more useful than his grappling hook, a Bionic Commando-inspired arm attachment that lets him cling to any surface or object. This single mechanic has a variety of uses, from covering long distances while on foot, to latching onto speeding vehicles, to reaching the top of high-rise buildings.

The hook can be used offensively as well, from grabbing and throwing nearby crates and barrels at enemies, to pulling unsuspecting foes toward you for a closer shot, yanking them away from their high ground to watch them fall.

Another innovative feature is the ability to tether two objects together with a single rope, which expands things even further; for example, hooking one end of the rope to a dictator’s statue and the other to a nearby vehicle can result in an instant defacement (and retaliation), while hooking two enemies together results in a Looney Tunes-style collision that’s as amusing as it is violent.

 

just cause 2          just cause 2


There’s a great thrill in effortlessly sneaking onto an enemy base, dodging waves of gunfire while tossing explosives at nearby fuel tanks, then hijacking an enemy helicopter to make a grand escape, or jumping out of a speeding car at the last minute as it crashes into a gas station, or even grappling onto a massive rocket hurling upwards, planting it with explosives, then sky diving out of danger as it lights up like an apocalyptic 4th of July. These are just a few of the hundreds of explosive missions players can partake in, and the more “Chaos” they cause, the more missions and upgrades they’ll gain access to.

On the surface, Just Cause 2 seems to feature the same controls commonly seen with its genre, from switching between weapons and hijacking vehicles, along with aiming, strafing, dodging, sprinting, and melee during combat. The problem is that while those features are gradually presented to you in games like Grand Theft Auto, they are all immediately unlocked at the start of Just Cause 2.

It isn’t just the memorization of the controls itself that's required, but the way Rico handles and responds; when hijacking a vehicle, for instance, there are several options available, such as hanging across the front of the car or the roof, taking out the passenger and the driver, or just blowing the whole thing up; learning when to grapple in midair or when to bust out the parachute, or using a combination of the two in order to gain some extra air-time, is also a mechanic that requires practice. Failure to fully grasp all of these different controls can and will result in a quick death.

Another problem I had was that most of the vehicles (save for motorcycles and helicopters) are incredibly floaty and generally unresponsive, often resulting in a simple Sunday drive turning into a full-on collision with oncoming traffic, or veering off into the dense forests. Driving is ultimately a requirement in order to complete the rather frustrating Racing challenges, as well as reaching new unexplored locations on the world map. A black market helicopter can be called at any time to deliver weapons and gear, in addition to instantly take you to marked destinations, but only if you’ve physically visited the location first. As a result, getting from one point to another can be lengthy and often brings the high octane action to grinding halt.

While these elements may keep Just Cause 2 from toppling the "GTA government for sandbox supremacy," its explosive presence is one that must not be ignored. The residents of Panau won’t know what hit them, and neither will the players.
 

- Jorge Hernandez

(April 14, 2010)

 

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