Just Cause 2

I picked up Just Cause 2 because I kept hearing how it is this awesome free-form sandbox experience. I think the best description of this game is GTA cone with a grappling hook and infinite amount of parachutes. It is a game that allows you to climb a skyscraper, jump off of it, open your parachute and glide over to a news copter, use the grappling hook to board it, toss out the pilot and then crash the helicopter into enemy base jumping out at the very last second. It is an open sandbox game that allows you to effortlessly move in the vertical direction which is an awesome idea.

The amount of vehicle types you can steal in this game is astonishing.

When I first started playing, I absolutely loved the game. The gameplay was incredibly fun and intuitive… Well with the exception of the driving parts. In every game I have ever played on PC the hand brake was always mapped to the space bar. In JC2 the space bar is the “open parachute” button. If you hit it while driving it will instantly yank you out of the vehicle and send you soaring through the air. The actual hand brake was something like shift or tab – something really inconvenient. And yes, I could remap it but then it put the parachute key in an inconvenient spot. Other than that, the whole grappling and parachuting concept was flawless.

The first few missions made me feel like a superhero. I was the combination of the Punisher and the Spiderman. I would climb skyscrapers and rain bullets on my enemies from the air. I would hijack the helicopters sent to intercept me and drop them down on their heads. Even though the missions were linear I was floored by the freedom the grappling hook offered me. I could use vertical distance as cover, I could approach my enemies from above or from below. Whenever I was getting surrounded I could just spirit myself away style by leaping off from a roof, or grappling onto one. I was kicking ass.

It's superhero time!

Then the honeymoon ended and the game dropped me to the sandbox proper and told me to do missions for the local crime bosses. I’m not exactly sure why but I think that if I worked for them enough, they would eventually tell me where I can find some American agent that I was supposed to rescue… Or kill… or arrest… Seriously, I don’t even know at this point because I didn’t have enough time to actually even start liking the story because the game went from “OMG this is so awesome” to “OMG, this is Sand Andreas all over again”.

I don’t think I ever told you what happened to me when I played San Andreas so I will do this now. I know that I’m supposed to be reviewing Just Cause 2 but I think this is relevant. In GTA: Sand Andreas there is an early mission where you and your buddy break into national guard base and steal some weapon crates. Once you get there your task is to use a fork lift to load the crates onto a truck while your partner in crime stands guard. Unfortunately as soon as you get into the forklift the game starts spawning enemies outside the warehouse. You friend turns out to be a terrible shot so if you don’t run out of the warehouse to protect him he gets overrun and killed at which point the mission fails. So after you load each crate you have to run out, clear the area of enemies only for them to respawn seconds later. You also don’t see your friends health bar while you are inside so you can’t even tell whether or not you have time to load another box before he dies or not. Once you are done you have to escape with the loot in a very long and difficult car chase sequence. And every time your buddy dies, you have to do the whole thing all over again. You have to steal a car, go pick him up, sit through a cut scene, drive back to the base and start over. I tried doing this mission about 20 or 30 times over the course of two weeks and then decided to uninstall the game and never play it again. This is also why I never picked up GTA4. Because I did not want to repeat this experience.

Sigh... Fun is over folks. I have to do a stupid mission now.

Just Cause 2 did the exact same thing to me. The first couple of missions I took were stronghold takeover missions in which you assist a group of soldiers in taking some strategic point. It usually boils down to grappling over walls and opening gates for them from the inside, and then defending some point from approaching reinforcements. These missions were actually kinda fun, but very repetitive. So I took an assassination mission instead – one of the crime bosses wanted to get rid of some inconvenient reporter. Neat, I said to myself, this should me interesting. So I jumped on the bike that was conveniently provided to me for this mission and drove up to where the guy was supposed to be hanging out, only to realize he also had a bike. As I approached he peeled off and with a sinking feeling in my heart I realized that I am about to experience a scripted bike chase.

Since my driving was a bit shaky, and I kept mistaking the parachute button for hand break all the time I decided to take a different approach. I used my grappling hook and decided to approach the guy from the sky. Unfortunately that didn’t work because he was scripted to start escaping as soon I was within certain vicinity – well beyond grappling hook and weapon range, giving the guy apt opportunity to escape. So I opted for something even more clever. I watched his escape path and built giant road blocks all over it using stolen cars… Only to realize the were magically cleared as soon as I would trigger his escape script.

I am humping a helicopter!

Eventually I reloaded from earlier checkpoint save and took a different mission which made me disarm some bombs scattered all over the map while a timer was ticking. Curiously enough the bombs were all heavily defended by enemy troops (which makes no sense whatsoever – if you planted bunch of bombs wouldn’t you want your men to be as far away from them as possible?). Not to mention the fact that the bombs were strategically placed in such a way that to get from bomb A to bomb B you had to go through points C, D and F all of which had enemy presence to slow you down.

Needless to say I went from having insane amount of fun just fucking around with the grappling hook and parachute and doing crazy stunts during the linear missions, to being frustrated to the point where I had to stop playing the game and go do something else to cool off. It went from open ended non linear game play that rewarded improvisation and reckless abandon to a punishing GTA style scripted, timed mission style in which you have to perform a sequence of 20 or so perfect grappling hook throws and being off even by few inches may actually cause you to run out of time and force you to start all over again. That is of course if you don’t get killed by the hordes of enemies you just can’t afford to stop and fight.

Just Cause 2 is just not my game. I have not finished it and I never will. I’m putting it on my shelf in the “games that pissed me of so much I stopped playing them” section which so far has been dominated by Rockstar games. Of course if you are one of the many people that actually like the GTA gameplay definitely check this one out. It really is fun and if you can stomach the frustrating missions, you will have a blast.

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11 Responses to Just Cause 2

  1. JKjoker ARGENTINA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    i heard the game is a lot of fun if you ignore the missions, i would love to try it, but it has a fatal flaw : No XP support, i really cant justify wasting $100+ to replace something that is completely functional for other thing that has hardly any new features, hell even the time and work of switching os and risk of not getting everything working again is expensive enough to stop me from switching

    about San Andreas, i remember that mission, i didnt have that many problems there but trust me it only gets worse from there, after that you get a bank robbery where all the cops ambush you and youll die until you memorize every position, several “chase/escape” missions though alleys and weird places where your car/bike is likely to get stuck, and the classic loooooooong escape scripted sequences you have to do again and again and again are everywhere

    but the two worst things i remember from SA were the grinding (you have to GRIND to get your character to run/swim decently, thats freaking BS,eventually you edit the config files to accelerate the process), and the fact that once you go into the second act of the game and it drops you in the middle of nowhere it seems like EVERY FREAKING mission has a 10~20 minute drive to get to the quest giver and a 10 minute drive (often on a timer) to get to the quest (which you get to do again if you fail) i gave up at that point myself

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  2. Anooonymous UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Just a heads up:

    You can beat the game pretty much ignoring missions.
    Blowing up random things and causing chaos is more than enough to further the main story. (missions unlock purely based on the level of chaos)
    So just go steal things and blow stuff up. My factions were barely visible on the map by the time i hit the endgame.

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  3. Phil UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I remember exactly what mission you are talking about for GTA:SA, but I NEVER remember it being particularly hard. I think I maybe had to do it twice or three times, but I never died during the part where I need to load the crates. I think I always died during the ensuing car chase. Though I don’t remember the bad guys respawning while you moved the crates…hmmmmm.

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  4. IceBrain PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    I’m the opposite. Loved SA, and even the frustrating missions only push me to try over and over again ’till I get it.
    GTA IV seems easier (I only got really stuck on the last mission, because there’s a boat chase to heli chase, and then a friendly heli appears and you have to jump to it right before the boat crashes), but I’m also more experienced now, so it may not be.

    On the other hand, I’ve played Just Cause 1 and I thought it was incredibly boring; the map areas were completely indistinct, to the point I couldn’t tell where I was without looking at the map.

    But yeah, GTA IV is still very scripted. I don’t mind repeating them over and over, but sometimes you get the feeling that the game is preventing you from coming up with your own “solution”.
    There’s one mission where you have to kidnap a guy from a police escort. There are tons of ways you could stop the convoy, but instead of letting you come up with a way, they give you a truck, then tell you exactly where to park it, etc.
    That’s really the frustrating part, imo.

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    JKjoker wrote:

    would love to try it, but it has a fatal flaw : No XP support,

    I was not aware of that. But yeah, I’m sitting at a Vista machine right now and it is full of fail and misery. Or rather the OS has few neat features that you pay for in the thousand little annoyances. And I’m not counting the UAC here – that I am fine with. I’m talking about super-duper-slow file transfers, bizarre networking issues and etc..

    JKjoker wrote:

    but the two worst things i remember from SA were the grinding (you have to GRIND to get your character to run/swim decently, thats freaking BS,eventually you edit the config files to accelerate the process),

    Yeah, and it was not even good type of grinding either. Most of it was just “go to the gym and push a button for 10 minutes” type of grinding.

    @ Anooonymous:

    I did not know that. That’s actually a pretty good idea. I ought to try that. :)

    @ Phil:

    I never died either – but the NPC I was with died all the time if I failed to run out and clear the area for him between crates.

    IceBrain wrote:

    I don’t mind repeating them over and over, but sometimes you get the feeling that the game is preventing you from coming up with your own “solution”.

    Yes! That! Drives me up the wall. Especially since there often so many entertaining ways you could complete assassination type missions but GTA will never let you because they want you to have this 20 minute chase sequence.

    I don’t remember which game was it but one of the GTA’s used to have a car bomb item. You could rig a car and it would explode on a timer. But did the game ever let you install these in the cars of NPC’s it sent you to kill? No, of course not. Their cars wouldn’t even spawn until after you talked to them and the chase was on.

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  6. Phil UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    Whoops, I said I never “died”, what I meant was I never failed on that part, neither Ryder (NPC) or myself (CJ) died.

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  7. Pete CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Ya I always laughed when I headed over to my buddies place and found them grinding away at the gym in GTA. I always figured why not go to a real gym?

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  8. I would have stopped playing GTA SanAn if it wasn’t for the cheat codes, because some of that stuff was just TOO LONG… I remember one mission it was a driving mission (it was around the time you unlock the first island)… and I just turned on “cars can fly” and it still took me like 5 minutes of flying over everything to get there.

    I also hate games that don’t have better spaced check points… I get really impatient having to do the same thing over and over again, especially when I am able to get really hard stuff done and then its something stupid that fails the mission, and I have to start all over again.

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  9. also it was GTA 3 that you could just put bombs into any car you would like.

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  10. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I stopped playing GTA SA for exactly the same reason than you Luke (this stupid mission in the National Guard warehouse), so there is absolutely no way that I will play this game. Thanks for having warned me.

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  11. Dan Burke UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    The same THING happened to me on Just Cause 2. I was so bummed at that “Bomb” mission. I tried again and again to get past this level and finally had to give up. Sucks.
    Sadly Just Cause 3 burned me the same way in a mission called, “Abandon Ship” that made me abandon that game. However just playing around in “Just Cause 3” was fun.
    I loved Red Dead Redemption because it LET you pass through missions IF you failed them, which I did.

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