Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Rollercoster Of A Game

What you get if you cross Far Cry's endless sandbox and Stranglehold's cool moves with TOCA's vehicle realism and Bionic Commando's grappling hook fun? That's right, you get Just Cause 2. But this is not a perfect world.

Step into the boots of Rico Rodriguez, the luckiest CIA agent ever on a mission to ...liquidate the ruthless dictator, Baby Panay. Said dictator is not the most loved ruler to begin with - hence the three existing (and bickering) factions that oppose him. As Rico you will undertake missions of destruction to help these factions. Completing these missions awards Chaos points that advances the story missions and unlocks better equipment.

The game is just gorgeous! Set in an endless archipelago world of Panau (actually about 1,000km2 or 400ml2) that spans from tropical jungles to snow-caped mountains and dusty badlands you can roam more or less freely. There are seamless day/night cycles but what are really impressive are the weather effects. Like a postal-office worker not rain or snow or sleet can stop Rico - and his clothes will get wet or dusty accordingly. And if you decide to drive keep in mind that cars will handle differently under different weather conditions.

The guns are quite satisfying but what steals the show is the grapple-gun. Grab from passing helicopters and hitch a ride or tie your enemies to exploding gas-canisters and watch them skyrocket to their exploding demise. There are a thousand uses for this weapon - and they are all fun.

There is also an endless supply of vehicles in this game. From rickshaws to super-cars and from jet-fighters to cigarette-boats, you shall not have to walk another mile in your life while in Panau. Crash them and see them accumulate very realistic damages. That's the good news. The bad news is that most of them handle like a semi-deflated boat.

Because not everything runs smoothly in the archipelago. After the fifteenth time you blow up the same tower and the twentieth time you plant explosives on a speeding car and escape with your trusted para-sail, you will start wondering if there is an actual point behind all this mayhem. Then again, is there really a need for a reason to keep blowing up stuff with great style?

To get on this ride you will need either WinVISTA or Win7. I did not notice this until I had already opened the box. I am still a loyal WinXP user at home but, luckily, about two months ago I bought a new laptop and, of course, it came with Win7. I never found gaming to be comfortable on laptops (the keys are closer together and laptop mouses not as ergonomic), but this is besides the point.
The point is that there was absolutely no reason for this game to exclude about 40% of gamers that still stick with their WinXP as they are compatible with all of our classic games.

Moreover, the game requires STEAM to run which means the copy you pay for will never actually become yours to keep. Whether you find this acceptable or not, you can now make an informed decision.

All in all, Just Cause 2 is a game with some flaws but it also offers exhilarating fun.

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