The feelings I get from Just Cause 3 remind me of my childhood, crashing my Hot Wheels together like a demolition derby, except that I actually see explosive results. And I am so satisfied with the explosions and destruction that I don’t want to stop.
It’s so easy to get distracted. I would go on a mission and see a base with small gas tanks and this giant round gas tank. And I’m looking at this thing like it’s a piece of fried chicken; except I’m ready to blow this thing up. The game continues to serve up these enticing displays of objects to demolish and it’s satisfying every single time.
It helps that it looks incredibly good. Even with my settings on low, the explosions looked fantastic and the sound accompanying them felt especially satisfying.
Doesn’t that look like something you want to blow up?
Because there is freedom and capacity to do crazy things, you’ll find your style of destruction that satisfies you. I preferred planting C4 and chaining as many explosions as possible. You might enjoy tethering a bunch of stuff together and launching an RPG into it. The options are endless.
The nice thing is, you get two tethers in this game. You can attach the tether to any object in the world and zip yourself to that object or you can tether two objects together. I found myself using the tether to travel faster. I assume Avalanche Studios wanted it that way because there is literally no ability to run - no sprint button, at least. So you’re left with a combination of tethering, parachuting, and the new wingsuit. I’ve heard rumblings that parachuting is slower in this game compared to Just Cause 2, but now you can shoot while parachuting, which is especially helpful when there are a lot of ground troops.
I also found it very peaceful parachuting through the large open world, which is about the size of Just Cause 2’s. The higher up I went, the quieter it became and in combination with the atmospheric music, floating over trees and scaling the mountains with the tether felt relaxing after laying waste to a base. When I wanted action again, the wingsuit helped fly me in faster.
The wingsuit is not easy to control, though. It took the entire game to get comfortable with it. Press hard left or right and you’ll spiral out of control and freefall. I couldn’t quite get it with mouse and keyboard and found it much easier with a gamepad. When you get the hang of it, though, it’s a great addition.
The wingsuit isn’t the only difficult thing to control. Motorcycles are downright unacceptable. It’s like Avalanche were trying to mimic controls when riding a real bike. You know how it’s harder to turn when you’re building up speed? That’s how it feels. Except it stays that way after you’ve gained speed.
Cars handle much better, though each car is different. Older models are harder to turn while sport cars are too loose. I prefer driving the Civics and and Mazda 6’s of the world. Jets are the best. They’re still loose when banking but it feels appropriate because it’s a jet and you shouldn’t turn hard with jets anyway. In terms of traveling, cars, jets and helicopters are completely acceptable but motorcycles? Stay away from those.
Explosions actually look that magnificent
It’s easy to forget about the story when you can go through the whole game ignoring every mission, but there is one. You’re Rico Rodriguez (again) and you return to your homeland of Medici. It’s run by a whiny and violent dictator named Sebastiano Di Ravello. He’s trying to take over the world by mining and arming Bavarium. You never care about the events of the story but the characters are worth it, as they are voiced and portrayed very well. Mario Frigo, Rico’s childhood friend, is a run-of-the-mill goofy, lovable, lighthearted character, while Dimah - a scientist who used to work on Di Ravello’s Bavarium projects - lacks people skills.
The only reason to engage the missions is to see how these characters interact. It could be Mario setting Rico up to kiss a cow or his fantastic dancing, or Dimah’s insensitive bantering to what should be heavy situations. Otherwise, the missions end up hampering the open-world freedom. For example, certain missions can’t be completed until you liberate enough provinces, which is a strange paradox against the rest of the game, which is, basically, tear down and blow up enough red and gray set pieces until the town is liberated.
You can make Rico deadlier by completing challenges. Challenges give you gears based on points you earn in the challenge. Get enough gears and you can unlock mods for vehicles, weapons, and accessories. They’re not a necessity to play the game but it helps if you want different ways to blow things up. The challenges can be somewhat frustrating based on what it’s asking you to do. Some ask you to drive a vehicle into a destination to blow up and we’ve already established some vehicles are a no-no.
Did I mention the game looks gorgeous? The water is the best water I’ve seen in any game on any setting. Mountains are lush, lights are brilliant at night and the game is populated with just enough life for it to feel alive without making it feel like stuff is in the way.
Now, here’s where things get tricky in this review. Just Cause 3 is an amazing game - when it works. The framerate dips and stutters a lot. A game that’s capable of running 60 FPS or higher frequently dives into the 20’s or lower during explosions and other random moments. If I were hit with a major explosion, it would freeze. Memory leaks are fairly common as well causing even more framerate issues.
You can tether all of this. Well, except the water and the clouds
I’m running a moderate machine (i5-3570K @ 3.40, GTX 660 Ti, 8GB RAM) with all the settings on low and people with i7’s and GTX 980’s are reporting the same issues on similar settings. And if you’re running AMD, problems are worse. Loading is also a big problem. If you die, expect to wait another minute or two before you can play again. It’s especially annoying near the end of the game.
So here’s my recommendation: Don’t buy it now. When Avalanche releases the patch, get it because Just Cause 3 is one of the best open-world experiences I’ve had in a while. The freedom and creativity to blow things up and explore a well designed, populated world is fantastic. But right now, the technical problems aren’t worth it.
JUST CAUSE 3 VERDICT
We love to create; we love to destroy. Just Cause 3 taps the pleasure mechanism that derives so much joy from watching complex structures crumble. Because the game gives you so many ways to interact with the world and to tether anything, blowing things up never becomes a chore. Unless you’re doing the missions but you can skip those, though I would encourage you to play them to witness the character interactions. Stay away from motorcycles, but very other vehicle is acceptable. The other thing I have to mention is that ultimately, at this moment, don’t buy it yet. Wait until Avalanche releases a patch because the framerate stutter and the potential to experience other varieties of technical issues is not worth it.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Tethering a bad guy to a satellite dish and watching him whirl around it.
Blowing things up is consistently fun and there’s plenty of it.
World is big and beautiful.
Story characters are entertaining and nicely voice-casted.
Story missions prevent free-flowing nature of the game.
Egregious framerate issues.