Open world games are big business these days; Fallout, Grand Theft Auto and their ilk have cornered the market. It takes something impressive to burst through and take precious game time away from these trend setting behemoths, unfortunately Just Cause 2 is not the game to do it.
Set on the fictional island of Panau the story is simple: take down the corrupt government and restore peace and tranquility to the idyllic resort. Like a script straight from The Expendables the story wont captivate but there is plenty of room for action and explosions.
And explosions is the name of the game as you progress through the game by blowing up the infrastructure of the ruling despot. That crane there, that petrol station, that radar dish in the distance all can be destroyed in a flaming ball of death. All very exciting, all very explosive and all very repetitive. Therein lies the problem, Just Cause’s island is big and heavily populated with opportunity to turn the screen into fiery ball but after a few hours the penny drops- all the settlements you find are dispatched the same way: Shoot up the place, collect any collectibles and scarper before air support arrives, not that air support is in anyway safe from the hardware you carry but it becomes tiresome tackling the wave of helicopters that get sent your way.
And that is Just Cause 2 major downside – repetition. Free falling through the clouds with the wind whistling through your hair is a heady experience but after about the 5th time it looses its charm, base jumping from the top of an exploding skyscraper is fantastic but after the 3rd time feels stale. Leaping from car to car at breakneck speed is exhilarating to begin with but soon wares thin.
To try and shake up the boredom Avalanche Studio have split the missions into three distinct types; stronghold, faction and story. The story does offer some diversion but with only a handful of these on offer the narrative is finished long before the rest of the game, leaving very little reason to continue with your reconnoitering.
However the main culprit must be the stronghold missions, enter a base with a finite number of government troops, fight your way to the end where you must then tackle wave after wave of enemies till the stronghold commander makes his appearance in a helicopter. It doesn’t differ and while fun the law of diminishing returns soon takes effect.
To top it all off it takes an age to traverse the island and with the next mission seemingly miles away a lot of time is spent admiring the view. There is a fast travel option but it comes with the same repetitive “banter” each time.
Conclusion: It’s not all doom and gloom, slowdown is non existent and in thirty minute chunks there is a lot of fun to be had with this bombastic approach to gaming.