Avalanche are back with the 4th instalment of the crazy destroyathon series that is Just Cause, available now on PC, Playstation and Xbox. I was lucky enough to obtain a copy for my PS4 Pro meaning for the last week atleast, the O’Driscoll family have been safe from being gunned down! So is Just Cause 4 worth the hype and more importantly, should it be on your letter to Santa this year? Read on and make your mind up!
Just Cause 4 is set on a South American Island called Solís where all the inhabitants know is conflict, oppression and extreme weather conditions. Playing as the rogue hero Rico Rodriguez, you make your grand entrance as you attempt to learn the truth about your past as well as free the Islanders from their slave like evil overlord.
Just Cause 4 is massively action packed from the off with the first few hours dedicated to teaching you the controls, gadgetry, skills and weapons. It is nuts. Think Ghost Recon: Wildlands but with the realism substituted for Hollywood off the wall explosions and physics. I did suffer from a bit of tutorial overload at the beginning as everything is kinda thrown at you, all be it useful given the mission situation, but it started to make me press wrong buttons during key moments or select the wrong gadget. After a few hours I was doing well though and running quickly through selection options without any issues.
The main abilities; grapple, wing suit and parachute are thankfully taught right at the start, essential for letting you jump straight into Just Cause 4 and getting the action going. Grappling point to point is a hugely satisfying affair as you ascend mountains, traverse ravines and hijack vehicles, it’s like Spider Man but with way more explosions!
Rico’s grapple gadget can be modded allowing for 3 fun selectable profiles depending on the situation that presents itself to you. Firstly there is the Air Lifter which allows you to attach helium balloons to people, vehicles and animals and watch them rise into the air. It is a little similar to the balloon tech found in Metal Gear Solid V but it is so so funny to implement. Secondly there is the Booster which lets Rico attach small boost jets to objects and then fire them, sending said object flying across the screen in any manner seen fit. Again this is another fun gadget to play with and very soon you will have herds of unsuspecting cattle airbourne. Finally there is the Retractor. This is the main loadout to use in the game as it is by far the most useful if you want to really get stuff done. This loadout allows you to fire a chain at 2 points and then they will pull together, great for opening doors, throwing levers and attaching people to other objects such as fuel canisters which ends in a fiery inferno as bodies scatter through the air like the 5th of November.
The customisation gets slightly deeper with the gadgets as not only can you select a low, medium and high setting for how they work dependent on whether you tap or hold the trigger button but you can also alter the attributes of the devices with additional mods found through playing missions for the characters Sargento, Javi and Garland.
The island of Solís is one giant open world area that is split into individual territories, under the control of the Black Hand, that you can enter whenever you choose. The idea is to carry out campaign missions within each area that then allows you to progress the rebellion, named “The Army of Chaos” in order to take over that territory. I did get a little excited at the prospect that this would play out a little like the X-COM games whereby there is a constant fight to be had in order to maintain the captured areas however to my disappointment the game mechanic isn’t like that at all, once you have selected to take over an area that is it, the Black Hand do not try and take back control and the whole thing is more like a click to accept that you have unlocked this particular area. As well as the main campaign missions to progress the storyline, there are side missions that see you race, glide and even search for tombs in order to solve archaeological mysteries.
The combat to be had in Just Cause 4 is no different in this field than the other games in that nearly everything is destructible. Giant silver shiny round domes explode into furious fireballs that light up the sky, enemy are mown down in a bloody mess on the floor or fly into the sky having taken a rocket launcher to the chops. When firing at vehicles they roll over pretty easily and burst into flames when shot at or tethered to a cliff face. Just Cause 4 is relentless when it all kicks off with enemy arriving from all over the place to take part in your gun crazy party. Weapon cases or dead enemy are never too far away therefore running out of bullets is usually not a massive issue. Most of the weapons have a secondary function such as a grenade launcher to keep the destruction counter going and if that isn’t enough for you there is the ability to call in a supply drop that you can choose to contain a range of weapons and vehicles that you steadily unlock throughout the game. Just Cause 4 wants you to have fun and it is the explosions and Hollywood physics that ensure this.
Having been playing recently through Spider Man and also Red Dead Redemption 2 there is a high bar to maintain when it comes to the graphics department. Unfortunately I found them to be a little lacking when it came to Just Cause 4.
Now don’t get me wrong, the map is huge with a diverse environment to explore, the weather effects such as thunder storms and tornadoes are awesome and explosions spread across the screen with a wondrous glow however it all just seems a little, well, fuzzy. Playing on a PS4 Pro and having seen a few similarities to Wildlands in that they are both set in South America I was really expecting to find a crisp level of detail with gorgeous lighting renders that really immersed me into the game. Yes you can see for miles when up high and it mostly looks good but when people and vehicles suddenly appear on the screen a few hundred metres infront of me the beauty of it all gets a little ruined along with my pants as I fly straight into an enemy plane. Lighting effects were at times a bit crap with gentle camera turns on the right thumbstick causing shadows to appear and disappear or objects to lose their detail. I was left with the impression that all of the graphical elements of the game were mainly concentrated on the insanely funny physics and mass chain reaction explosions that maybe would of affected the frame rate had the graphics been high end.
Just Cause 4 has a mixed soundtrack comprising of lovely Spanish guitar themes to help set the scene of being in South America as well as grittier synth tracks featuring progressive electronic drums for those darker moments. Vehicles have radios that let you tune in and listen to music or the latest talk of the day, usually of your latest exploits.
Sound effects such as gun fire, explosions, etc., are all on par and work pretty well when playing using surround sound speakers. Gun fire flying past each ear certainly gives you an adrenalin boost as you reach for your rocket launcher and fire in retaliation!
The voice acting is a little lame at times with the cut scenes feeling a little cringe-worthy as they try and advance the story and set out the next lot of objectives. I couldn’t help but shut my eyes and think that I was playing as Puss in Boots from Shrek at times rather than Rico.
Just Cause 4 is a very large game in terms of areas to explore, side missions to take part in, campaign missions to conquer and territories to capture. Yes the graphics are not the best and to be fair not an awful lot has changed since Just Cause 3 however for the fans of the series and even newbies there is a lot of fun to be had, especially with the physics of the game.
Of course if you are like me you will be spending most of your time piss-arsing about seeing how many things you can tether together or trying to create the largest chain reaction of explosions that you can. I had a hysterical moment where I tethered a cow to the top of a tree however the momentum of doing so caused the cow to loop around and around until I cut the tether sending it hurtling off the side of the mountain and out of view!
Over in the Playstation Store I could spy 6 add-ons that were already available for Just Cause 4 such as the expansion pass for future missions, deluxe upgrades, fancy golden weapons and neon cars to name a few. Whether you invest in these is upto you, most of them are mainly aesthetics at the end of the day and seeing as there is no multiplayer element is there really much point?
As you can see, there are pros and cons to Just Cause 4. If you want a high octane game that runs pretty smoothly and lets you basically become a mixture of Arnie, James Bond and Chuck Norris then this is a great game for you to get. If however you have played Just Cause 3 it is unfortunately pretty much the same bar the modding element with missions that can be a little repetitive at times. For me I feel there are better games out there but Just Cause 4 is a good stress reliever to help you unwind after a tough day by blowing stuff up.
Just Cause 4 gets the Thumb Culture Silver award.
Disclaimer: A review code was received in order to blow sh*t up.