JUST CAUSE 3 Review
Carnage. Mayhem. Destruction. Chaos.
These four words accurately describe the ideology behind the JUST CAUSE series, which stars Rico Rodriguez, an ace agent, as he takes on oppressive governments and incites rebellion through the use of spectacular explosions and daring stunts. In the newest game in the series from Avalanche Studios, JUST CAUSE 3, players take Rico on an adventure to his home country of Medici, where a certain General Di Revello has taken military power and is forcing the citizenry to harvest Bavarium, a macguffin nuclear material. It is up to Rico to dismantle the strongholds of the government and unite the people of Medici to bring about freedom for his homeland.
If this sounds corny, ridiculous, and derivative of every action movie you have ever seen, that’s because it is. And the game accepts that fact and relishes it. However, this does not prevent a general weakness of the main story missions. In fact, there were multiple instances where characters would make reference to events and consequences to things I had never personally seen. The story itself felt fractured and every mission seemed to jump in time and location. I felt I was almost always missing out on something. But this is not some narrative powerhouse or tightly-woven character drama. No, this is an giant open world sandbox that players can utilize to cause as much destruction and chaos as they desire, and any bland narrative is used simply to encourage the player to wreck everything around them.
Rico has access to the standard affair of weaponry in his action romp: assault rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, and even the occasional RPG, all of which can be used to dispatch the government forces with relative ease. The game offers considerable aim assist, probably to deal with all of the chaotic explosions, but all it does is dumb down the combat until all real strategy disappears. Furthermore, most of the combat encounters across the massive islands of Medici play out nearly identically thanks to the AI of the enemies. Half the time, the enemy seemed to find the wall of an apartment building, a parked car, or another inanimate feature of the world more interesting to shoot at than Rico himself.
“Birds flyin’ high…and I’m feelin’ bored…”
This is a massive world space. Thankfully, Rico has access to his trademark grappling hook and parachute combo, returning from previous games. The duo is joined by the new wingsuit, which allows Rico to glide for kilometers over the gorgeous island landscape with ease. Grappling to a building, only to wingsuit off at full speed away from chaotic gunfire is not only incredibly fun, but also easy to pull off. This trademark maneuverability really separates JUST CAUSE 3 from many other open world games released this generation, and was my favorite aspect in an otherwise derivative experience.
As previously stated, JUST CAUSE 3 is about causing destruction and chaos, a tracked statistic that is increased by destroying the corrupt government’s assets across the towns and settlements of Medici. The first couple of times are fun: the smoke and debris growing, the force of explosions sending Rico into the air, and the flames setting off chain reactions in nearby fuel dumps and gas stations. It’s all very loud and bombastic, but then the repetition sets in. Explosions are fun when used sparingly. When used continuously over and over again, the novelty wears off, and the action of detonating enemy compounds is no longer one that is relished.
One down…800 million to go…
This repetitive gameplay loop is only worsened by the fact that Rico carries such little explosive ammo on his person. Some will argue that much of the fun of the game is utilizing Rico’s grappling hook to tear things down or experiment with physics to destroy objects, but after about a dozen towns, it all felt like a chore. Story missions themselves follow a similar throughline: go to a specific location, shoot enemies, and blow up objects that are all marked with red paint. It became apparent after a few hours that I had seen everything that game had to offer. I honestly never thought I could be so bored after blowing things up.
Littered throughout the open world are side challenges, typically designed in an open world game as a distraction from the main gameplay. In JUST CAUSE 3, I found these challenges to be more entertaining than the actual storyline. The timed races allowed for a fun drive across the absolutely gorgeous Medici countryside, and the wingsuit challenges are exhilarating and really require skill to receive top times. It’s through these auxiliary activities that I began to really understand that the best part of JUST CAUSE 3 is actually ignoring the main objectives entirely, and simply enjoying the sandbox of the game. The remedial tasks are a chore, and really zap the fun out of the game in an instant. I spent hours cleaning out bases just to advance the story, when I could have been enjoying my time trying to launch my car off of a ramp to destroy a bridge!
This all leads to an overall lack of disparate content within the game itself. Sure, the game takes countless hours and literally miles of content to discover, but this content isn’t exactly meaningful or diverse. Without any real mode outside of the single player sandbox experience and the uninteresting gameplay cycle, I genuinely wanted to stop playing after a while. So what this all really means is that JUST CAUSE 3 feels like a $60 physics sandbox, designed for people who really just wanna spend some time blowing things up, or pulling off stuntman maneuvers out of an exploding plane. The world is both gorgeous and gigantic, and the Spider-Man movement abilities are a thrill, but for me, this just doesn’t feel like it’s worth the price of admission. There just isn’t enough gameplay value to stand up against many of the other juggernauts released this year, let alone to even hold my attention.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend