Square Enix / Avalanche Studios (studio)
03 December 2018 (released)
10 December 2018
It’s that time again to visit another beautiful location and bring down a fearsome Tyrant, while blowing anything and everything to kingdom come. Yep it’s the series that made inventive destruction and putting thrusters onto cows so much fun and meaningful (poor cows, but there is method to the madness). Just Cause 4 is out an we’re diving in with wingsuit and all to see if the series still has the explosive impact after so many years.
Rico Rodriguez returns in another epic instalment of the action franchise where he must take down a Dictator of the beautiful paradise known as Solis. Rico is an expert by now on what to do and from the get go; you start off by storming the main headquarters of Dictator Gabriela Morales and his private army the Black Hand. To make matters worse it seems like Gabriela Morales has become a Bond villain having created a machine which controls the weather, creating storms and other destructive forces of nature within seconds. One thing leads to another and soon enough Rico finds himself behind enemy lines without support, until he bands together with a local resistance.
Same **** different day comes to mind. From here, Rico must complete a series of mission, blow stuff up and defeat the bad guys while liberating Solis.
Doing this works similarly to Just Cause 3 where you complete various missions to liberate regions on the map. This time however there's more control on which regions you liberate through commanding squads. You earn squads throughout the campaign and are allowed to dispatch as you wish. It's a nice twist on the original formula.
In terms of narrative, Just Cause 4 does echo previous instalments where each and every plot point can be called out before it happens. It is a tired story which has been done better before and the goofiness of the weather machine doesn’t elevate the story to new heights. It’s a little tedious to see the same story yet again but I admired how quickly Just Cause 4 dives into the action. It wastes no time on developing motivations at the beginning, knowing players want to destroy everything in their path and introduces some interesting characters.
It’s just a shame that the story couldn’t contain a little more depth and just plays out like Just Cause 3, except for a more Bond-like super villain.
But you don’t care about story and it’s all about the action! So likes look at the three main elements of Just Cause 4 which includes the open world, the action and the weather.
The world of Just Cause is stunningly beautiful, receiving a visual upgrade compared to the previous instalment (for the most part). The dense and lush valleys, highly detailed landscapes and condense urban environments are visually stimulating, along with some neat particle effects which create some of the most impressive displays of destruction. I did find that water surfaces looked a little flat and the weather effects could’ve been more organic, but seeing a tornado ripped tear its way through across the scenery is still pretty cool to observe.
There’s enough to do within the world, with plenty of side quests, extra activities and plenty of random objects you can just destroy for the sake of it. While everything is there to take advantage of, it just seems very much the same as before. Only introducing a handful of new elements and never enhancing what was already there. Take a game like Mercenaries back in 2004, it allowed you to destroy whole structures and it was impressive. Just Cause 4 allows you to destroy and tear apart the scenery but never to a detailed extend such as Mercenaries or even Battlefield: Bad Company. It’s still enjoyable but never really takes the destruction to the next level.
Even with something like the weather system (which is a great addition) which would appear to create an immense amount of turmoil and even change the environment itself, feels a little restrictive.
The action as mentioned before it still massively entertaining and the level of freedom to cause havoc anywhere with anything still brings a smile to my face. The physics are ridiculous and hilarious with some of the most insane stunts I’ve pulled off in my time with the series. I do wish Rico would react more when say, a car I’ve fitted with thrusters spins widely out of control for a solid 30 seconds and crash lands perfectly on its wheels. Something like him vomiting may be going a little too far but it would be a hilarious reaction. However I do love how he laughs when putting thrusters on cows and people.
One of my main complaints for Just Cause 4 are the repetitive mission structures, often resorting to defending a centre point against overwhelming odds, flipping switches and rushing between points on the map within a ridiculous amount of time. There are some moments of greatness but you can feel the lack of creativity in many of the missions which are generic. Plus, you never have backup which is odd as your pretty much aiding a whole army to take over Solis.
Thankfully the trust worthy grapple hook and its various attachments offer a wide array of traversal tactics and creative destruction. While there aren’t a whole heap of new gadgets in Just Cause 4, there are plenty of refines to make using them much more simpler and allow players to mix and match different gadgets on the go. It will take some time to get use to traversing and learning to use each gadget in the most effective way, but the rewards are well worth the learning curve.
Now the biggest addition is the weather system which introduces one of the most destructive forces known to humans (next to Rico himself), tornados. Now the displays of mayhem when one of these bad boys hits the world is impressive with some insane and distractions results. Anything that isn’t nailed down will be sucked in and when a tornado hits one of the many condense urban areas filled with plenty of explosive material then it’s pretty spectacular to watch. Just try not to get sucked in yourself. Still I feel that these epic events could’ve been so much more, destroying building or even changing the environment drastically. But they still manage to present some gripping gameplay and epic amount of visual carnage.
Overall Just Cause 4 is a lot of fun with some much needed improvements over the previous game. It adds just enough to make it worthy of your interest but I do wish the developers could’ve elevated certain aspects of the destruction. As said it does showcase some beautiful destruction within a rich and organic world, but the destruction remains restricted, never going much further than what we see. More natural disasters would’ve been interesting and maybe with a better written story, would’ve allowed such events to happen or even to utilize the ones in the game much better.
Just Cause 4 is a solid game but the developers should push the boat out even more with Just Cause 5 if they want to keep interest in the series afloat.
++ Immense and creative destruction
+ Beautiful and vast world
+ Still massively fun
-- Story is weak
- Weather system could've had more impact
A PS4 Review copy of Just Cause 4 was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review