This post would have been much different if I had written it the week of release rather than now. Some of my feelings are highlighted in this previous post I had written, so make sure to check that out for some added impressions on open world games in general.
At the time, I just wasn’t feeling Just Cause 3. Something about it felt off and that was very disappointing because on paper it seemed like the perfect palate cleanser from the traditional seriousness of previously released games. I mean, JC3 is a game that encourages the player to have fun, blow stuff up, and just mess around with the physics engine. Tethering multiple cars to a statue and watching it crumble or using that statues head as a wrecking ball from a helicopter just doesn’t get old. For me, I was having a real difficult time getting into it though, almost feeling like the game was working against me, rather than with me.
Detail impressions and thoughts after the jump…
I managed to stick with it though, learnt the mechanics a little better, and am having a better time with the game for what it’s worth. Still, Just Cause 3 suffers from a number of issues that I just can’t shake. The issues are so prevalent that I’m not sure I want to even stick with it. For me, that’s a very bad sign.
Coming from a game like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, which absolutely knows how to empower the player for citywide traversal, moving to a character like Rico Rodriguez is jarring at best. Rico has a very poor jump and has no ability to climb or “free run” over simple objects. Climbing a building for example requires the player to grapple to a ledge and then press up on the stick to jump on to the roof. If the player doesn’t grapple to the very ledge of the building, Rico will just hang from the wall, giving the player no option to climb or jump higher. When running and trying to escape from the authorities, it can be quite a hassle. I wish Avalanche focuses on more climbing/traversal methods outside of the grapple, parachute, and wingsuit.
With that said, those three previously mentioned items are pretty special. There’s a visceral thrill from just running off a ledge and unfurling the wingsuit. It feels great and is always exciting. The same is true when you actually learn how to chain all three together in order to cover large distances of this huge world. Being able to grapple into a parachute and then wingsuit away to cover large distances doesn’t get old.
Just Cause 3 also isn’t shy about explosions. It’s almost like the developer gave explosive properties to every object in the world, because when things explode, you know it. I like that about this game, explosions are exaggerated, making you feel quite powerful in the process. Figuring out creative ways to take down things also feels especially good and I have to admit, being able to tether multiple things together is pretty easy, even when in the thick of a firefight. Upgrades and mods are unlocked through completing challenges, and the good stuff will really need to be earned. To its credit however, Just Cause 3 does give players access to cool toys early on, so not everything is locked.
For as much fun as Just Cause 3 tries to bring to the table, I’ve found the experience to be brought down by a handful of major issues. The core gameplay mechanics revolve around liberating provinces from the bad guys. For you open world fans, its gameplay that has been done countless times before in other open world games like the last few Far Cry and Saints Row games, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and even Batman Arkham Knight to name a few. While the game does encourage experimentation with the many tools handed out to the player, if you’re not the creative type then the act of liberating these towns quickly becomes somewhat boring and predictable. What’s more is that the game actually forces players into this activity in order to unlock more and more story missions, so there’s really no avoiding it. Again, check out my post for more information on this side of the game.
Driving is also a nightmare as cars typically handle like they’re on ice. Thankfully, I’ve never felt compelled to use a car, but certain challenges feature driving time trials. With the driving mechanics are poor as they are, these challenges are just not as fun as they could have been and will more often than not frustrate those going for a perfect score. Not only that, I’ve found that driving at high speeds causes the physics system to become a major threat as well. By hitting the smallest of bumps in the road or terrain, vehicles have a tendency to inexplicably flip, roll, or fly in the air effectively wrecking any chance you had at finishing with a decent time. This behavior then leads players into what I like to call loading purgatory.
If you’re like me, you like to do well on challenges and if you either fail or know you’re not going to make it, I tend to restart the challenge. Unfortunately, doing that in Just Cause 3 will cause a loading screen to appear and generally, loading times in this game are horrendous on console. Loading times can last anywhere from 90 seconds to 5 minutes. Yes, I’m not joking, it’s that bad. Enough to actively make me question why I’m bothering with this. My time is valuable as I only have so much time to play something in a given day, so to have to sit and wait for a game to load for 5 minutes is flat out unacceptable. The other depressing aspect is that loading screens are unfortunately common in the game, so 5 minutes can quickly add up into much longer times
There’s no denying the potential for fun with Just Cause 3. Rico has a massive tolerance for pain, the wingsuit is an absolute blast, and using it in conjunction with the grappling hook and parachute is insane fun. Unfortunately, many of these elements are undermined by the slew of technical issues and somewhat basic and bland gameplay opportunities. I’m going to keep playing for a bit longer to see if anything clicks but for now, it appears that my time here is coming to an end sooner than later. There’s a number of other games I either want to finish or start playing and spending time with a game that I just don’t enjoy isn’t worth the aggravation. I’m somewhat sad writing that, but it is what it is.