Just Cause 3 Review (Xbox One)
Just Cause 3 is at it's best when you're freewheeling out in the open world, enjoying the chaos you can create with the vast array of explosives among the destructible environments. There are some truly awesome moments you can create when you're allowed to just enjoy the island and all the opportunities for crazy, over the top fun it presents. However, you've got to spend a lot of time doing repetitive and boring missions to be able to get the most out of these moments, and that brings the experience down. While Just Cause 3 offers more of the same action blockbuster excitement of its predecessors, it also doesn't do enough new to make it stand out from its contemporaries.
Rico Rodriguez is a liberator. He's a man who fights for those that need fighting for because he's highly-skilled, and he gets the job done. Just Cause 3 is his third attempt at bringing freedom to an oppressed people, this time the inhabitants of his homeland, Medici. Ruthless dictator General Sebastiano Di Ravello has seized control of much of the Mediterranean island cluster, and the good people of Medici are in desperate need of a change in leadership. The rebellion is already underway when Rico arrives, but his assistance could take things from minor nuisance to full-blown overthrow.
As such, your missions in Just Cause 3 will be all about shutting down the government's bases and resources, causing as much Chaos as you possibly can. Your success in this sequel is measured in the same "currency" as it was in previous incarnations. The more Chaos you cause, the more you destabilize the control of the government, and the more opportunities you create for the free people of Medici. At first this is a great deal of fun. What could be more exciting than blowing the hell out of a military installation or tearing down statues of the malevolent leadership of the country? The opening hours of Just Cause 3 are truly a lot of fun for a newcomer to the franchise. Longtime fans may find it a bit old hat, but that's okay, new players will soon be dispelled from the excitement, too.
Liberating town after town and satellite installation after satellite installation grows wearisome once you start exploring your reach. Despite the incredibly beautiful surroundings becoming more varied from island to island, there isn't much to differentiate your first few hours in Just Cause 3 from your 15th or 30th. You might not believe tedium could possibly set in when blowing things up over and over in spectacular ways, but once you've seen the same fuel tank or helicopter explode into tiny, tiny bits for the umpteenth time, the luster of Just Cause 3 begins to dull at a significant rate.
You do have a lot of fun tools at your disposal though, including the new wingsuit and specially-designed tethers. The grappling hook and parachute return as well, giving Rico plenty of ways to travel without even resorting to traditional methods. Cars, jets, boats and the like all return, but they all control terribly and aren't nearly as fun to use as Rico's own proprietary methods. Yes, it's still satisfying to grapple a helicopter and eject the pilot to take it over, but aside from needing a vehicle in a pinch, there's almost no reason to ever get behind the wheel or stick. Truly, there is no better way to enjoy the stunning landscapes and vistas of Medici than from up on high, floating carefully back down to your destination with the help of the wingsuit.
It can be a bit overwhelming to learn the ins and outs of the wingsuit, but with every place you liberate, you'll open up challenges to get better at numerous aspects of Just Cause 3. While the wingsuit challenges are actually quite useful in and of themselves, all challenges also offer up the chance to earn upgrades for Rico. The more challenges you complete, and the better you are at them, the more upgrades you can earn. Some of these upgrades make sense, like giving you more and better grenades, while others seem stifling. That you have to earn the right to actually aim your weapon is simply outrageous. It's such a minor aspect of an action shooter, but to have it not exist unless you unlock it makes you miss it all the more. Given that there are so many enemies to shoot at with a wide variety of armaments, its being behind an unlock wall just makes no sense.
The largest disappointment of Just Cause 3 comes in the way the game can't even handle its own largess. If you play for too many hours consecutively, the factors that go into the game's physics and memory begin to stack in too great a number. The first time you see Just Cause 3 crumble under its own weight and start to freak out by sending NPCs flying or cars leaping around with no direction at all, it's kind of funny. The more it happens, the less humorous it becomes. This is compounded by tremendous slowdown in framerate if you happen to blow up too many things at once in a highly-populated area. Oh, and if you happen to die at some point after playing for more than an hour, the load times can be excruciating. Just Cause 3 is just too damn big for its own good.
When everything works as intended, Just Cause 3 can be a joy to play. It cuts through all the seriousness most open world action games make you sit through before letting you play around in the sandbox. While there is a story to attend to eventually, Just Cause 3 is actually at its best when it doesn't force you into those situations, letting you wreak havoc and chaos as you see fit. That's only enjoyable in short bursts however, and even the game knows this by crippling your enjoyment if you're playing too much. There's a good game in there somewhere, it's just fighting to be free for most of the time.
This review was completed with a retail copy of Just Cause 3 provided by the publisher for Xbox One