What makes an outstanding action title? Insane explosions? Car chases with stunts and crashes? Zip lining from a plane to a car? This sounds like a Fast and the Furious movie, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t, not quite. The latest entry in the Just Cause series has released, but has Just Cause 4 got everything a growing body needs? (Tasty wheat not included).
The story of Just Cause 4 (and the series in general) is pulled straight from a classic action film! You play as Rico Rodriguez, whose impressive resume includes; ex-CIA super spy, demolition expert, spelunker, a one many army, assassin, and former F1 driver (basically, you’re The Rock, Bruce Willis, Nicolas Cage, Schwarzenegger and Stallone rolled into one – it’s amazing). Rico is called on once again to lead a revolution and liberate a country run by a maniacal tyrant.
The game starts out with Rico laying siege to an advanced weapons facility (Goldeneye anyone?), and before you know it you’re fighting off attack helicopters, tanks, fighter jets and even the weather itself. Sound like an impossible mission? Well just like Ethan Hunt, Rico is equipped with unique and outstanding gadgets! Rico’s main gadget is his grappling hook, which basically turns him into Spider-Man. The grappling hook can be used to attach and zip yourself to buildings, vehicles, and even enemies (Rico will do the Iconic Bruce Lee flying kick when using the grappling hook on an enemy). The grappling hook can also be upgraded to attach weather balloons (like Metal Gear Solid V), miniature booster rockets, or tether items together. Being attacked by a pesky helicopter? Tether a fuel container to the helicopter and watch the fireworks! Besides the grappling hook, Rico also has a collapsible parachute and wingsuit. Combine the parachute and the grappling hook to propel yourself higher into the air (borrowing from Arkham City), or attach your grappling hook to a car and ride it with the parachute open soaring majestically, like a candy wrapper caught in an updraft. As you further progress through the story, the weather becomes an enemy. The Tyrant has a weapon that can control the weather, and creates tornadoes and lightning storms (yup, just like Geostorm). Surviving a gun fight in the middle of a lightning storm, while hanging upside down on the bottom of a helicopter is outlandish, and amazing (sounds like something Bodhi and the Ex-Presidents would do).
The vehicle variety in Just Cause 4 is shocking (positively shocking), and Rico can use all of them! Of course, Rico can just walk up to an empty car and climb in, but you can attach the grappling hook to a helicopter and T-1000 your way in. Rico even hums The Flight of the Valkyries when he’s in a helicopter. Although, if you find yourself in the middle of the jungle, or on a beach with no vehicles around, you can airdrop vehicles! Opening your menu, you can order a pilot of the Army of Chaos (the local rebellion) to drop of a shipping container with a vehicle inside (or they can pick you up and you can halo jump out if you still want to be Ethan Hunt). The container then explodes open quite like the Capsule Corp capsules in the Dragon Ball franchise, and voila, your fighter jet is now ready, Mr Rodriguez.
The gameplay mechanics for Just Cause 4 are basic, but a bit too basic. You’ve got the standard jump, reload, shoot that you’d expect from any shooter, but there are some actions/prompts missing. Rico can’t crouch or get into cover, and if you’re not moving constantly (and causing chaos with the grappling hook) it’s quite easy to die. If you aren’t used to playing shooters like this, it’s a bit of a learning curve too. Not to say that Rico can’t take a couple of hits, quite the opposite. If an RPG hits Rico at point blank, he’ll brush it off. But, having Rico out in the open for too long will result in an instant game over.
The graphics of Just Cause 4 are also sadly hit and miss. The locations and environments are pretty, but the character models are rough. However, the explosions, the tornadoes, and completely destructible environment makes up for it. The visual spectacle of tethering five propane tanks to a helicopter and watching it explode is beautiful (like watching the C4 explode in Die Hard beautiful). The cutscenes of Just Cause 4 can also be frustrating. Cutscenes cause the game to cut to black, and load for 3-5 seconds before starting. When starting a new mission, it’s understandable as characters need to appear and render. However, during an early mission Rico is tasked with freeing prisoners. Opening the prison doors and handing them guns is a cutscene that is is no longer than 5 seconds. This pulls you out the game and out of the action.
Starting with a big action scene with little to no introduction at the start, Just Cause 4 borrows from every great action film to create something that works in game, but would never work in a movie (cough, like that parasailing scene in Die Another Day). So, if you’re addicted to action movie tropes, this is the game to out-trope them all. Big guns, big action and even bigger explosions all come together in one big beautiful mess. If you had to compare Just Cause 4 to an action movie, it’s Face Off – you either love it, or you’re wrong.
Just Cause 4 is available now for PS4 and Xbox One.