Developed By: Avalanche Games
Published By: Square Enix
Release Date: December 1
Platforms: PC [reviewed], PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Guerrilla warfare can be a real grind. Moments of glory are rare, often buried under the monotony of performing repetitive tasks to win over allies and gain intelligence. It can even be hard to enjoy your leisure time when the things you enjoy the most ultimately don’t matter and you’re arbitrarily judged for even the most meaningless hobbies.
If this isn’t actually what guerrilla warfare is like, Just Cause 3 has some explaining to do. If it is, well, Avalanche’s newest title is a surprisingly adept simulator, but it doesn’t make for a particularly fun game. The latest open-world, regime-overthrowing adventure from the makers of the first two Just Cause games and this year’s Mad Max is full of potential, but abundant technical problems and being starved on content really punch a hole in its parachute.
Like in previous games, Just Cause 3 follows Rico Rodriguez, secret agent and man of inconsistent voice acting, as he liberates an island paradise from the iron fist of a merciless dictator. This time, however, things are different: This time we’re in Rico’s home country of Medici, and…that’s actually pretty much it. Otherwise it’s basically a straight rehash of the last two games’ plots. There’s actually something to be said for the personal stakes this time around though, as Rico spends most of the main storyline accompanied by faces both familiar and new. The dialogue too is much improved over the last games, and I did find myself enjoying most cutscenes, albeit in a shallow, popcorn movie kind of way.
The core mechanics of the game are pretty solid: Shooting is simplistic but reliable, driving is functional (if particularly rough on a mouse and keyboard), and the extent of destruction is impressive, second perhaps only to the classic Red Faction: Guerrilla. The real draw is how you get around though. Sure, you–could–just hop in an aircraft or a jeep, but the best thing about Just Cause 3 is learning to navigate between free-falling, wrestling for purchase, and gliding around with the trifecta grappling hook, wingsuit, and parachute. Though initially difficult to learn, these tools turn Rico into some kind of amalgamation of Spider-Man and Batman, grappling between buildings, slingshotting over them, then hurtling through the sky for minutes only to wind up clinging upside-down to an unsuspecting helicopter.
For all the enjoyable building blocks though, there’s just not much to do. Grappling old people to satellite dishes, liberating settlements, and gliding along the countryside are fun for awhile, but they wear thin quickly. Upgrades make basic tasks quicker and more interesting, but essential functions like the wingsuit brakes are locked behind insipid, uninspired minigames like dull car races that fail to take advantage of the game’s best qualities.
Thankfully, the main story often introduces wonderful set pieces, from being forced to escort multiple vehicles at a time while fending off dozens of soldiers to high-speed aerial chases. Having to unlock progress by liberating settlements manages to subvert even the charm of these, however, though playing the game in short stints did soften the blow in some respects.
When Just Cause 3 shines, it shines brightly, and its highs are some of the most exciting moments you can get in a game like this. Unfortunately, the lows are too glaring and too abundant to ignore, and combined with that is the fact that the game suffers technically on every platform. Online leaderboards, while enjoyable to keep track of, constantly hamper performance, the load times are insane even on a PC’s solid state drive, and I had at least one hard crash for every 5-6 hours of playtime. Ultimately, this isn’t a bad game, but it veers dangerously close to middling more often than I’d like.
The console difference-Andrew Semicek
Playing Just Cause 3 on PS4 has been both a fun and frustrating experience. The game gives you so much to work with, but with load times that are beyond atrocious for such a high profile game in 2015 as well as some questionable control decisions I can’t recommend this game in it’s current state for consoles.