Just Cause 3 is the latest instalment in the infamous Just Cause series, which is famous for being the video game equivalent of a bull in a china shop. With heat-seeking grenades. And a parachute. Where the china explodes easily. So it’s quite a lot of fun.
I’ve not played Just Cause 2 recently, but I have a bit of a bone to pick with the latest game. It’s essentially the same game, but worse. In JC2, the protagonist, Rico Rodriguez, moved around the map and completed missions to advance a plot that was pretty much instantly forgettable. Then again, you don’t play JC for the script writing. Or the voice acting (which is a times offensive, awful, and offensively awful). You play JC for complete freedom: you can destroy whatever you like, whenever you like, with whatever you like. If you wanted to demolish a satellite tower by flying a jet into it, then this was fine. If you wanted to winch something down, and watch it slowly topple and explode in a pleasing fire ball, that was similarly valid. Total freedom. In JC3, the SAM sites have turned into HAM sites. The accuracy of the missiles is absolutely mental, in that they will hit a jet flying at 300km/h 90% of the time. Where before it was possible to dodge missiles while in a helicopter, now you accept your fate, instead venturing into the base on foot. This is NOT fun. What was fun was raining death upon your enemy, skilfully dodging missiles and bullets while you blew up your woefully underequipped foe, stealing their ammunition and vehicles with reckless abandon and eventually falling in a crumpled heap, the juggernaut in you astonished you got that far.
“In JC3, the SAM sites have turned into HAM sites”
JC3 has ruined the crucial freedom that made JC2 so enjoyable. It has adopted a more regimented, more organised way of entertaining the player, in a way not dissimilar to Far Cry. Rico now has to liberate regions, by liberating the outposts, military bases and towns contained within that region in order to continue along with the story missions. For me, this is an unprecedented and unnecessary infringement on the player’s liberty in the game, and makes JC3 a linear slog, rather than the enjoyable chaos fest I had hoped for. In place of blasting in and destroying everything in sight, you have to actually try to clear an area in order to proceed with the game. Forced, organised fun is no sort of fun at all. It really irks me when a game says “Hey! In order to fully enjoy this game, you need to destroy these 4 settlements, so then you can turn off the EMP that guards the next step on the journey, and here is a bunch of collectables for you to collect in the meantime.” Nothing screams fun like having to collect 18 pieces of a vintage weapon in order to unlock it, or having to collect every single car in the game and drive it to a garage so you can order it. There is literally nothing I would rather do in my free time than slog across the map, trying to find an elusive final rebel shrine so I can unlock a paintjob for my guns.
“Forced, organised fun is no sort of fun at all”
Except for play the damn game. And this seems to be what developers are finding difficult at the moment. They think the consumer wants a product that will absorb them from their drab lives, and simply suck the life out of them. So longevity comes before quality or enjoyment. Just Cause 3 is a perfect example of this philosophy. They have ruined the best bits of the old game in favour of creating a bigger world with more things to collect. Crucially, it’s not fun anymore, and I can’t recommend buying it. Go and replay JC2 if you really need your fix, and leave JC3 in CEX where it belongs.