Developer(s) – Avalanche Studios
Publisher(s) – Square Enix
Director – Roland Lesterlin
Producer – Omar Shakir
Described by Avalanche CEO Cristofer Sundberg as 70% wacky and 30% serious, Just Cause 3 began development in 2012, and was released to positive critical reception in late 2015, containing new gameplay mechanics, and an open world with plenty of side quests and additional challenges. Although in the end I didn’t find it anywhere near as good as Just Cause 2 was, I still derived hours of enjoyment out of it, and appreciated it not necessarily for how much content there is in comparison with the second game, but for how much more reined the core experience is.
Graphics – 7/10
From a technical standpoint, this is the best-looking Just Cause game to date. The level of detail that was incorporated is staggering, and the variety in vehicle design is as impressive as it always has been in any instalment. My biggest criticism would be whilst the conceptual design isn’t woeful, and although there didn’t arguably need to be any improvement in this respect; I think it would have regardless been a nice idea to provide something a little bit different, since a lot of comparisons can be drawn between this game and it’s predecessor. The game is apparently set in a different region to Just Cause 2, but that doesn’t seem as evident as it perhaps ought to be.
Gameplay – 8/10
As I alluded to, the game’s core mechanics have been improved upon greatly; most notably in its combat system. Building upon what was introduced in Just Cause 2, players can now use the grappling hook in a much bigger variety of different ways, including the ability to tether multiple objects together with the grappling hook, as well as the introduction of the wingsuit making the skydiving mechanics a lot more fun and providing a new set of challenges with the side missions that require players to use it in order to complete. My biggest problem with the gameplay is a location in the game called Boom Island. It is the place in the start menu where players can mess around in as the game is being installed on whatever system it is being played on, but it’s also in the main game itself, and there is nothing to do on it much to my personal disappointment. Otherwise, however, there is still a fair bit to do in the game, and will keep players busy for a fair amount of time.
Controls – 10/10
The game’s control system has also been largely refined with both the introduction of the wingsuit, as well as the new ways in which parachute travel is handled. It personally took me some time to get used to it, but once it clicked, there were no problem to be had with it. It’s also much easier to use the grapple hook in this game than it was in Just Cause 2; in the respect of using it for both climbing and combat.
Lifespan – 10/10
Though it may not warrant for 100 hours of gameplay like Just Cause 2 did, there is still enough to do in Just Cause 3 to warrant at least 60 hours of gameplay, which is still many times longer than the average AAA mainstream experience. It did disappoint me a lot that it isn’t longer, as I would have rather sacrificed updated graphics for more to do in the way of gameplay, but Avalanche still managed to churn out an impressively long gaming experience, and I didn’t find myself being able to complain too much.
Storyline – 7/10
Rico Rodriguez is brought into the region of Medici to bring down yet another tyrannical rebellion fresh off from his endeavour against Baby Panay of Panau. I found myself thinking that the story was only slightly better than any other story in the Just Cause series. Although the basic premise is unmistakably identical to that of the last two games, it introduces a couple of new elements, such as the relation between Rico and his brother, as well as a more involved villain. Both Mendoza and Baby Panay were rarely seen, nor portrayed in any kind of interesting way, but Sebastiano Di Ravello is much less forgettable, being portrayed as what his intentions and practices would suggest; cold, calculating, sadistic and willing to stop at nothing to keep his grip tightened on Medici.
Originality – 7/10
The combat system in Just Cause 2 was revolutionary compared to that of the first game, and the developers did particularly well to keep it fresh in the third game with what new mechanics and improvements they implemented. Ultimately, I would have like an experience that improved on every single aspect of Just Cause 2 such as a bigger open world, more to do, a much better story and a greater lifespan, but clearly developer attention was focused elsewhere. To me, it stands out as being more evolutionary than revolutionary.
Ultimately, Just Cause 3, whilst not improving on every aspect of it’s predecessor, still makes for a long and enjoyable gaming experience. I find myself having to wait until Just Cause 4 is announced to see if the developers deliver the ultimate Just Cause experience, but this is certainly a welcome edition to the series.
8/10 (Very Good)