Do you like playing open world games by running around, causing as much havoc as possible? If so, Just Cause 2 is the game for you.
Note: This review is for the PC version.
The fictional island of Panau is MASSIVE. With roughly 400 square miles of various environments (jungle, mountains, deserts, beaches), you could spend hours doing nothing but sight seeing. The island is indeed quite beautiful, and explorers will be richly rewarded due to the great lighting and seemingly infinite draw distances…but we’re not here to explore, are we? No, we’re here to fling through trees with a grappling hook, shoot people with a variety of weapons, and just generally cause as much carnage as possible.
While there are some story-centric missions that help you become more deeply involved with one of three factions on the island, for the most part the story is progressed by causing chaos (using a point-based measurement). The bigger the explosion or the more people affected, the more “chaos” you cause. Unlocking new items to upgrade and being given new Faction missions occur after you cause a certain amount of chaos, which means the game can’t progress unless you wreak as much havoc as your adrenaline-fueled heart desires.
Oh yeah, the story. It’s fairly generic stuff: there’s an evil dictator controlling a country (or, in this case, island), and it’s up to you to stop him. You can expect the usual twists and turns a story like this brings with it, and…well, let’s face it: Just Cause 2 certainly isn’t memorable for its use of interesting literary devices (or, rather, its lack thereof.) The script and the acting are god awful, although for me personally, they are self-aware and B-movie in style. This transforms otherwise painfully horrible voice acting and a boring story into a humorous romp of “did he really just say that?” and “got any butter for that corny line?” It’s super hammy stuff, but for me it falls squarely in the “so bad it’s good” category.
The controls are a little odd, but you’ll get used to them quickly. The lack of rudder controls on airplanes is a HUGE omission, and makes flying them far more difficult than it should be. That being said, the Bionic Commando-like grappling hook is far and away the best grappling-hook-type item in any game ever, even beating out the legendary one used in Worms 2. The hook can attach to literally anything, be it a rock, a tree, a person, a car, or a passing speedboat. Once you get the timing and buttonology down properly, you can traverse the island at a breakneck pace using nothing but your parachute and the grappling hook.
Beyond providing a fast way to get around, the grappling hook also provides you with an endless supply of amusement. Whether it’s grabbing people and tearing them off the top floor of a rocket launch pad, or tethering them to a car and driving down the road, or tethering a car to an airplane and then taking off to the skies, the grappling hook is super fun to use.
Just Cause 2 doesn’t break any storytelling paradigms, nor is it realistic in any sense of the word. It won’t change the way you think about video games, it’s not going to win any Game of the Year awards, and it likely won’t get nearly the attention that it should…but if you feel like pulling people off motorcycles with a grappling hook, blowing up satellites, crashing a nightclub on an airship, or blowing up oil pipelines by causing them to build up too much pressure, you’d be hard pressed to have more fun than you would with Just Cause 2. Highly recommended.