Just Cause 3 is Too Fun For its Own Good

Just Cause 3 is Too Fun For its Own Good

Before I go on to explain the title, I want to start by stating some facts. Like the fact that I played this game in 2022, after having spent nearly 30 hours on the island of Yara in Far Cry 6 just a few months prior. And the fact that the newest Far Cry game and Just Cause 3 share a lot of similarities, in setting, antagonist, and even gameplay. This led to such an overwhelming sense of familiarity that I decided to not formally review and rate this game. Instead, I want to spend some time talking about my thoughts on it overall while also comparing it to some games I recently finished as I explain why Just Cause 3 is too fun for its own good.

Just Cause 3 drops you (literally) onto the island of Medici, where rebels are waging a war against the oppressive Sebastiano Di Ravello. After an action-packed opening that sees you blasting away SAMs while standing on top of a moving plane, parachuting into what looks like an active war zone, and saving your childhood friend's life, you can finally take a breather to appreciate Medici's sights while being introduced to a wide cast of eccentric characters.

The Just Cause 3 campaign can seem like an expansive one. Not just in terms of length or scope, but during the first act, it can seem like the game is diverse in its missions. You, as Rico Rodriguez, blow up enemy resources, ride a missile, and kiss a cow. However, by the second act, the game's campaign, which consists of 24 missions across 3 acts, can get very repetitive, asking you to do the same tasks over and over again throughout its runtime. At a certain point, seeing the yellow health bar at the top of the screen asking me to defend friendly (insert vehicle here) left me filled with a sense of reluctance to progress. Because of this, by around mission 12, I was more focused on creating chaos and gliding around the map than on the actual narrative at hand. And while I played, I listened to the On Writing audiobook by Stephen King, only pausing for important cutscenes and dialogue. (On a side note, On Writing is a book I highly recommend for aspiring writers.)

Just Cause 3 Grappling Hook

Now, I don't mind a wacky campaign, just this year I played Shadow Warrior 2 and loved it. However, as I wrote in my Far Cry 6 review, I really appreciated the way that game handled its representation of guerilla warfare and revolting against a brutal dictatorship. Seeing such a similar setting and scenario here, despite it being from six years prior, was almost too silly for me. I am not saying that Far Cry 6 is ultra-realistic, and it certainly falters in its pacing at times, but it walks the line between goofy and serious pretty smoothly throughout. This meant that I wasn't overly invested in the presentation of Just Cause 3, even when significant characters end up in precarious positions.

To make matters worse, some of the above-mentioned repetitive sequences can be frustrating for other reasons. The game focuses heavily on making you into a one-man army, marking you as the only seemingly competent person in this revolution. Now I get that Rico is the Dictator Remover Specialist, but, the game can make him feel more like a babysitter. I don't consider my example a spoiler, but feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you want to avoid anything close to one. There is a part in the game where Mario, your best friend, gets injured. A few missions later, he says, he's good to fight again. Then, the game tasks Rico with not only defending a valuable EMP but also Mario, who sits on the beach like a bum taking shots. God damn those yellow health bars.

The reason I kept playing the game, despite my lack of investment in the story, is because where Just Cause 3 falls short in the campaign, it makes up for with the gameplay. The game is undeniably fun to play thanks to a gravity-defying grappling hook that lets Rico pull himself toward moving vehicles, tether things (like explosives) together, and hang unphased from the bottom of a helicopter, just to name a few examples. You can also use the grappling hook to launch yourself into the air and glide with the parachute, which can then be used in combination with your wing suit. Altogether, the non-vehicular traversal of Just Cause 3 is so much fun that it made driving a car feel boring.

Just Cause 3 Sandbox

This brings me to my main point, which is also probably the reason you clicked on this article to begin with. Avalanche seemingly went all-in on the idea of a truly bonkers sandbox that would provide the player with the most amount of "look how ridiculous this is" moments south of Saints Row's dildo bats. They succeed in that for the most part, resulting in an open world that's more fun to explore than to continue with main missions. The open world is massive so it is understandable if you get exploration fatigue, but squirrel suiting away from an exploding helicopter or stopping some baddies with well-placed tethers hasn't gotten old after ten hours. Though I do think this problem could be averted if Just Cause 3 offered the option to wreak havoc with a friend in co-op, but no such functionality is available in the game. PC players have the benefit of installing a multiplayer mod, but us console players have no such luck.

To make this a bit more wholistic for curious players that are debating picking the game up in 2022, I want to touch on a few more things. Firstly, I played through the game on an Xbox Series X, where it ran smoothly for the most part. It honestly is surprising that the game didn't have more hiccups for how many explosions there are on the screen. I did experience one crash which made me lose some progress but nothing too bad. I did run into a few bugs, however. The most annoying of which forced me to replay an entire (rather repetitive) mission because although the game had told me I finished the mission with a pop-up, it still left me in the mission mode. The only way I could progress was by quitting that mission that I had already finished and starting over. To leave off on a good note though, Just Cause 3 looks great, but perhaps it looks its best when you crash land into the ocean. I really mean it, this game has beautiful water that still holds up after all these years.

With all that said, I want to make it clear that my goal for this isn't to say that one game is better than the other. Just Cause 3 and Far Cry 6 are similar, yes, they are so similar in fact that they even have the same Metacritic score on PC. I would be absolutely lying if I said I didn't have fun in Medici. There are quite a few clips on my Xbox hard drive of me flying around in a plane like I was Maverick or performing crazy stunts like Ethan Hunt, (Speaking of which, I vote that Avalanche should make a Mission: Impossible game) but that chaos comes with a price. The price of a forgettable narrative and an open world that is so large that it can feel daunting to travel through. Just Cause 3 is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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