GamingReview: Just Cause 3

Review: Just Cause 3


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A game which, if given the chance, would introduce itself by destroying your house and doing a triple backflip while surfing a plane only to fly off into the distance. It’s fair to say Just Cause isn’t high on subtlety and it’s extremely proud of it. Almost unlimited explosions and an expansive free roam map are really all Just Cause 2 needed to make a point so lets see if it’s successor can carry the torch forward. Then burn something down with it. Rico Rodriguez is back!

Little time is wasted unleashing you in JC3 because it knows you want to be free to explore and see what the new world has to offer. A couple of main missions are all you need to get hold of your new equipment and each provides a short demonstration on how to use them. Probably even less than an hour in I was off to explore with no limitations. No inexplicably locked vehicles or environmental elements stopping me from reaching somewhere. You can go and do whatever you want right from the start.

There is no other game of this scope that provides you with such freedom, especially so early on. Just Cause is aware that it’s plot isn’t why your here. You’re not looking for a deep and compelling story told by well crafted characters, you want to blow something up. That self awareness and absolute confidence to be true to itself is what sets JC apart from the rest. It’s also how it gets away with being funny and not coming off as totally bombastic and in your face. If it does it does so intentionally, and comically.

The biggest asset to any free roam game has to be the world you have to roam in. JC2 was very aware of this and provided you with a significant area to glide, fly, swim, drive and fall around. Just Cause 3 has pulled absolutely no punches in completely putting its predecessor to shame with a massive increase in map size. It will take you noticeable amounts of time to travel from one side to another and realistically will require you to use a plane or at least a chopper.

The map is possibly not as densely populated with bases and towns as JC2 was but that’s purely because they don’t need to be. Overall there are still far, far more bases and settlements for you to explode/liberate but the map has increased even beyond that to allow some breathing room as well. A really nice feature is a list of things to destroy that pops up on the left of the screen when you’re in a camp letting you know what you’ve missed. This is a real life saver when you’re trying to find that last object!


Rico has a few new pieces of equipment to help him destroy the world this time. A wing suit and a retractable grapple. The wing suit is really the coolest thing ever. It was pretty cool using the hook and parachute on JC2 but the wing suit is a whole new level of slick; if you get it right. There’s much more skill involved in flying along only a foot from the ground at much higher speeds than before with the added threat that if you hit the ground you will simply faceplant. You won’t die but you won’t be far off and often a sarcastic and degrading rag dog fall will be your punishment, although more often than not it’s just funny.

When you pull it off though it’s much more satisfying than the parachute ever was and provides a much needed quicker mode of travel to get around the new island. It’s satisfying, cool enough to be worthy of Rico Rodriguez and needs some finesse and practice from the player. I’ve got a save of Just Cause 2 at 99.9% (that damn oil derrick glitch) and another at ~80% so I’m definitely used to the way things work but I didn’t just turn up and use the wing suit like a pro without some work. It’s an entirely new mechanic and learning how to use it is so rewarding.

Rico’s other trick is the ability to not only latch two things together but to then retract the line and pull the objects towards each other. This is a real game changer. Instead of looking for ways to blow stuff up now I often look for structural weaknesses to pull structures down. There’s an extremely well designed damage system to JC3 that is shown off beautifully by this new tool. It seems so simple but attaching lines to knock down the first of four chimneys to create a domino effect is amazing fun. Even knowing that if you twist the line around the struts of a tower will destroy it but pulling them down vertically will not is pleasing and rewards your experience and destructive creativity.


Here’s the feature that I imagine will be quite divisive. In keeping with creating a true free roam experience you can no longer level up equipment and guns. If you chose a gun it will be the best it will ever be. You’re new challenge is to take over bases to unlock new weapons and vehicles for use. Personally I think it’s far better. From the start you can find a loadout that suits your play style and confidently play with it. You don’t have to wait or earn money to buy them first, they’re all yours.

The same goes for ability upgrades like NOS for cars or increased grapples, amongst a huge collection that I won’t list here, which are acquired now by completing relevant challenges. For example to unlock explosive upgrades you need to do explosive challenges, for wing suit upgrades do wing suit challenges and so on. Often the important game changers that are almost required are easily attainable with the latter upgrades requiring you to get some high scores. Again there’s no money or grinding, just unlocking and it feels much more free and open than before. It’s a brave choice but it works well and sets apart JC’s ability to provide an open world.

Graphically there are some fairly major issues. Textures, character animations and, of course, explosions all look and sound great, when they work. It won’t be too long before you see some hideous black triangles replacing the skyline or the lighting screwing up creating a strobe effect on a wall. Falling through the map and characters, including yourself, teleporting high into the sky isn’t unheard of either. It’s JC3’s big problem which will no doubt be fixed in time but it does ruin the moment on a regular basis.


Just Cause 3 is everything it should have been and much, much, much more. The world is colossal and you are encouraged from as little as an hour in to get stuck in and explore independently. Arbitrary money systems are replaced with unlocks and timed cool downs that further enforce the open world experience. Just Cause is still the only true free roam game out there and everything that has changed in JC3 only bolsters this. It’s confident, funny, good looking and just plain fun. There’s no other way to have this much fun on a video game. Period.


+ Impressively huge and diverse map
+ Damage model promotes creative destruction
+ Better upgrade and unlocking systems
+ Loads of vehicles and weapons
- Some serious graphical issues

Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Phill has been the director of a small IT repair business since 2011 which he runs alongside studying for his degree in Information and Communication Technologies at the Open University. Video games are his real passion and they take up more of his time than he'd like to admit.

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+ Impressively huge and diverse map <br /> + Damage model promotes creative destruction <br /> + Better upgrade and unlocking systems <br /> + Loads of vehicles and weapons <br /> - Some serious graphical issues <br /> <br /> Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Review: Just Cause 3