Just Cause, the South American Grand Theft Auto, was a bit bland as a game. The developers, Avalanche Studios, sacrificed graphics for a huge sandbox play area and it certainly was one of the biggest maps ever seen in a sandbox game around the time of its release back in 2006. The gameplay was repetitive and boring, the graphics, on my Playstation 2 at least, looked like they were from the previous console generation but the game encouraged players to have fun, something which was starting to die out in other sandbox games. The aforementioned Grand Theft Auto series by Rockstar fell particularly hard as a result of this in their latest full release, Grand Theft Auto IV, with mixed reviews regarding it not so much as a game but as a chore. Just Cause’s “have fun” policy was picked up by Volition Inc. and released Saint’s Row 2 shortly after GTA IV, to much higher praise than the sandbox kings at Rockstar.
Skip forward to 2010 and Avalanche Studios stepped into the ring once more with Just Cause 2. In keeping with their previous title, Avalanche Studios created the largest sandbox map to date, apparently 30km across in total, but this time managed to make the graphics look simply stunning. Given a sandbox game which actively encouraged players to very satisfyingly blow up as much stuff as possible, critics and fans loved the game. The story was admittedly quite short and not particularly good in terms of writing and especially not in terms of voice-acting. One character in particular, known as Bolo Santosi (that’s Bo-lo San-toe-zee) was so badly voice acted that I didn’t even have to look up the name of the character to get it right!
In the end though, no-one cares about the voice acting, the story, the engine or any of that technical, under-the-bonnet stuff. All Just Cause 2 fans cared about, myself included, was blowing sh*t up. And that’s exactly what we did, over and over and over again. At time of writing, I am sitting at approximately 40% completion having completed the story quite some time ago and having played the game for a total of about 24 hours. I don’t even think I’ve been to every town or military base yet! The map is huge, everywhere you go there’s something to blow up, the weather effects are stunning, and to progress your completion you have to blow more stuff up! Just Cause 2 is the anti-Grand Theft Auto. It’s fun, exciting and a testiment to how sandbox games should be made. It doesn’t ask you to buy anything other than stuff that will help you blow up other stuff and mercifully, you don’t have to hang out with your stupid cousin to keep him happy because you don’t have a stupid cousin. And when I said “buy” in that last sentance I meant in-game and for DLC. The only downloadable content (for those who don’t know what DLC is) you can get for the game are vehicles (mostly with guns on them), guns and JET ENGINES FOR YOUR PARACHUTE, yes that was plural. You are Rico Rodriguez, and you blow stuff up. End of.