Rico Rodriguez has been on a few explosive adventures and his latest is also far from his greatest so let's find out why.
As a gamer who enjoys crazy action over realism, I appreciate the Just Cause series as it's full of awesome scenes that seem ripped straight from an Expendables movie. So, when Just Cause 4 released, I was expecting a thrilling ride that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Instead, it feels more like a slapped together generic sandbox game that still provides some fun but with so many similar and much better games on the market, it's disappointing to say the least.
One positive thing I can say is that the story has a somewhat interesting premise and the cast of characters is rather compelling as well. Basically, Rico Rodriguez begins his adventure by infiltrating a technologically advanced facility that houses a devious weather control system (Project Illapa) yet his attempt to do so doesn't result in the success that he planned so he takes it upon himself to liberate the country of Solís from the oppressive Oscar Espinosa and his private military organization (Black Hand) along with its ruthless leader Gabriela Morales. Along the way, he must destroy 4 weather cores to ensure that the nation's weather can no longer be manipulated. If this were a movie then I'd definitely watch it because the plot and characters are undeniably engaging and fun.
As Rico Rodriguez, you traverse the jungle-filled nation of Solís by running around, driving different vehicles, and using a very handy grappling hook that has many cool uses. I found myself using it constantly to scale cliff sides and simply move from point A to point B faster. However, you can also tie things together to make them slam into each other which may result in an awesome explosion, attach balloons to things to make them float, and propel stuff by sticking thrusters to it. Sure, doing all these sorts of things is gimmicky and silly but it's also quite entertaining to see what Rico's tools are capable of.
The only other stand-out part of Just Cause 4's gameplay is its variety of vehicles. You'll find yourself stealing cars like in Grand Theft Auto, piloting airplanes, and even crushing foes with heavy machinery like forklifts and such. I found each vehicle to control intuitively although I had great difficulty trying to get planes to lift off. After much needless frustration, I figured out that I had to push in the trigger button with all my might in order to get the plane to accelerate enough. I never had to push a button that hard in all my decades of gaming which makes me wonder if this was intentional, a glitch, or my controller's broken (which it obviously isn't).
Aside from the grappling hook gimmicks and vehicle driving, Just Cause 4's gameplay is average at best. For starters, the gun fights are incredibly tedious and boring as the AI is impressively stupid and easy to defeat. In fact, they have the tendency to kill themselves in various ways which is puzzling. Even shooting guns doesn't feel impactful and the firearms run out of ammo far too often. Meanwhile, the campaign is surprisingly easy and monotonous. You basically travel long distances in order to accomplish boring missions that are usually unsatisfying and unchallenging in order to expand your territory. Overall, this is one unrewarding and generic campaign.
Just Cause 4's graphics seem like they belong on PlayStation 3 although I can think of more than a few PS3 games that look better. The character models and environments are decent although many of them are forgettable and stereotypical. As you play, you'll notice plenty of motion blur which can be disorienting for some but I found it to be simply lazy and frequently ugly to observe. The strangest part of Just Cause 4's visuals is when you're underwater. Basically, you can't see anything above the water's surface so it looks like you entered some sort of alternate dimension. All of this adds up to one unappealing game world that can be quite jarring to take in.
There's no denying that Just Cause 4 is a disappointing game with its generic gameplay and embarrassing graphics. There is some fun to be had in its action-packed world but I would have much rather played Renegade Ops 2 instead.
- + Promising story with a solid cast of characters
- + Grappling hook has some interesting uses
- + Driving the variety of vehicles is fun
- - Aside from the gimmicks, the gameplay is rather generic and uninteresting
- - Campaign is too easy / super-dumb AI
- - Disappointing and often detracting visuals