Developed by Avalanche Studios and published by Square Enix, this is the first instalment in the Just Cause series in about three years. The new entry features familiar characters and plots, focusing on once again overthrowing an evil dictator type – this one with a personal connection to our hero.
Graphics-wise, Just Cause 4 is a little bit all over the place – environments in the large open world are gorgeous, detailed and well-textured, a true joy to run around in…however character models, especially NPCs in the game look dated and a little out of place.
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Sure, Just Cause isn’t exactly the kind of game where you sit around to admire the locals anyway, but it takes away from what could otherwise be a very good visual experience. The same thing goes for video sequences – right from the start, the sequences themselves are fine, however, the characters we see in them look about the same as they did in Just Cause 3, and that isn’t a good thing here – the models are a little wooden, a little stiff, and when it comes to the villains, really just make us want to blow them up even more.
Arguably not a bad thing, the facial animations, in particular, are a little disappointing for a game released this year.
When it comes to the sounds of the game, there is very little to complain about – Just Cause 4 features solid voice acting, well-paced and well-written lines delivered in between just the right amount of gunfire and explosions.
The soundtrack is pretty good as well – it draws the player in and keeps up immersion quite well, as do the sound effects. Atmospheric sounds, in particular, are a very nice touch – that and the explosions. Have we mentioned the explosions yet? There are a lot of them and they’re pretty…explosive.
Okay, we’ll stop now.
When it comes to gameplay, Just Cause 4 can well hold it’s own – the controls are relatively intuitive and if you’ve played previous titles, you’ll pick them up very quickly. The new game offers the same variety of actions and tools we’ve come to know and love – within about twenty minutes of starting you’ll find yourself on the roof of a truck with a rocket launcher almost as long as you are tall.
Once you’re through the tutorial, there is no end to the machines, cars and scenery that you blow up, we mean interact with. The newly added weather-mechanics (a theme in the game) make for an interesting experience as well – landscapes look quite different as the weather changes.
As expected, the story-telling itself is good but not great – that’s not really what it’s all about though, and that’s just fine. We are given a clear goal, a clear villain and enough gadgets to travel around the massive open world as much as we want. Who needs fast travelling when there is a wingsuit, grappling hook and parachute to all but bounce across the map?
The main campaign sees you liberating the region and stopping what is obviously an evil ploy yet masquerades as an initiative to end natural catastrophes, courtesy of the Black Hand. This gives plenty of targets including outposts, supply caches etc. to raid – in whatever way you want, of course.
You also build up your rebel force and can deploy squads across the map to further the rebellion if you want, adding a few strategy elements to the game. Each Black Post resource you destroy or capture earns you reputation, enough reputation brings more followers which can be formed into squads and sent out to further the rebellion efforts and so on and so forth. It’s quite straightforward and manages to be fun at the same time… and did we mention the explosions? Because there are lots.
There’s plenty to do in Just Cause 4, be it the actual campaign or simply wreaking havoc across the land. The action and objectives are good and keep things interesting without getting repetitive. The game also walks the player through the tutorial aspects well for controls etc. which is good if you’re new to the franchise. While the graphics are not as good as some of the other recent releases purely because of the under-done and over-animated character models, there is plenty of content to keep you interested and let’s face it, most people play it to blow things up and not live through an epic storyline saga.
There are games like that, this is not one of them. This one we play… Just (be)Cause.