Just Cause 2 is a sandbox action game/third person shooter by Avalanche Studios and Eidos Interactive. It was released in March of 2010 for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. I find it to be a pretty silly game, but it’s also very fun for the same reasons. Sometimes, it can be very refreshing to see a game where the developers (hopefully…) knew that people wouldn’t take it too seriously.
All You Need Is The Demo
Don’t buy Just Cause 2, get the demo. The demo will give you the same basic game play as the actual game. Yes, there is the downside that you’ll be confined to one small (actually quite large) area of the game that’s all desert, and you won’t be able to play the game longer than 30 minutes until it restarts itself…and you won’t have access to all the guns, planes, cars, boats, helicopters, and so forth. You’ll even be treated to a cut scene that plays over and over at the start of the demo that stops incredibly abruptly (at least on the 360 demo) and leaves you wondering “wow, did the devs mean to stop there or is this some awkward mistake?” Though honestly, it doesn’t really matter.
Better yet, if you’re able to get the onlive demo, I’ve read that it allows access to the entire world map, just with the 30 minute time restraint. This furthers my point that it’s unnecessary to purchase the game to get the essential full effect of it.
I can’t take the game seriously because the physics make absolutely no sense. I’m not saying this is a terrible thing, but for the sake of the game trying to have some sort of multi-faction storyline going on, I guess maybe I wanted the world itself to be a bit more believable. Though, the story is pretty much generic action garbage and can easily be disregarded. In fact, it sort of feels that Just Cause 2 tries to dissuade you from focusing on the storyline by throwing a near-infinite amount of side quests at you. The actual game has a ton of hidden items to be found and fetched to power up your avatar some more (trust me, he already has superhuman defy-the-laws-of-physics abilities, so you’d imagine he’d be fine from the start), many varied yet strangely repetitive quests to undertake, and the aforementioned questionable storyline. So really, when you play the demo, you’re skipping all the ugly bits of the game and just focusing on where the game succeeds so well: doing a bunch of really dumb shit over and over that generally has something to do with explosions and/or shooting things.
Don’t believe me that that’s the real point of the game?
Perhaps the name of the soundtrack will give more credit to my assertion. Storyline aside, I do think the game provides the player with some interesting and fairly unique mechanics. Granted, they are rarely believable, but often come with a certain badass factor.
Unbelievable (But Awesome) Mechanics
I greatly enjoy the grappling hook/parachute mechanic present in Just Cause 2 for several reasons. First, you can grapple onto anything, be it the ground, structures, trees, planes, helicopters, cars, bikes, etc. Grappling onto an object allows the game’s protagonist, Rico, to shoot over quickly to the given object. Doing this has many, many functions: riding around on the roof of a car, pulling someone off a bike, getting around the map fairly quickly in combination with the parachute, interrupting an enemy shooting at you, shooting at a rocket-barrel and grappling onto it at the last second such that Rico rides it high into the air and then launching off of it right before it’s about to explode, and so on. Beyond just hooking to one object, Rico has the ability to tether two objects together. This creates many new possible scenarios: connecting people to the rocket-barrels such that they fly off with them, connecting people to cars so they can be dragged, connecting other objects to cars just for the fun of it, and so forth. Perhaps my favorite thing to do with the grappling hook is fall from a very high distance to the ground, and grapple at the last possible second to pull myself to the ground even faster, then somehow receive no damage. This creates one of those “defying physics” moments. I can’t help but laugh. Similarly humorous is opening a parachute after falling a great distance on some sort of an incline RIGHT before hitting the ground. This makes Rico turn into a rag doll and roll (sometimes quite a long ways) down the hill. After the funny ragdoll animation session is over, Rico stands up, bones magically healed and quips “Oh, that’s going to hurt in the morning” or something similar.
Beyond the hook/parachute mechanics, the game features a “stunt” system. It basically allows Rico to do several impossible things. For instance, while riding a motorcycle, the player can tap a button to jump to another motorcycle, even when it’s going in the opposite direction, instantly knocking off its occupant. This can also be done from the roof of a car, in which the stunt button allows Rico to “surf” on top of it with no driver. Similarly, the player could just grapple onto the car roof and be chauffeured around. Rico can surf on certain planes/jets, which really looks absurd (yet, once again, awesome). Of course, the player always can jump and deploy Rico’s parachute if things get too hectic.
Good job Rico, that looks normal.
A Personal Note
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that my friends and I have sat around playing this demo more than ten hours. At that, we’ve played a demo longer than the time it takes to complete most games. The average person, now, could play the demo just to complete the missions in it, and be done in a couple of the 30 minute sessions. I feel though that this is missing the point of the game, which is primarily to cause chaos and mess around with stuff.
Probably my fondest memory of the demo is that of my friend Ario playing it. I’m not sure if we’ll ever be able to repeat this sequence of events, but the memory is good enough. Ario was on one of the game’s motorcycles driving along about as fast as he possibly could. He crashed into a guardrail on the side of the road. Miraculously, he was just slightly tossed off his bike for minimal damage, and the bike didn’t blow up (the motorcycles in the game are prone to blowing up quite easily). In fact, it just kind of stayed in place. Ario then approached the bike and climbed on it, when much to our surprise, it simply blew up on the spot, killing him. We all laughed for awhile.
That anecdote is just one of many that exist because of this demo. For me, it represents one of the greatest things a game can do: create memories and good experiences between friends and on a larger scale, bring people together.
Special Edit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF3ypL0hCuI
This video will sufficiently show many of the amazingly stupid things one can do in Just Cause 2
What are your experiences with games that seem to be more fun to mess around in rather than completing the story elements? Surely, several sandbox games could fit this idea, though I think Just Cause 2 is probably the best example out there.