Video Game Review: Just Cause 2 [Xbox 360, 2010]

Just Cause 2 [Xbox 360]

Just Cause 2
System: Xbox 360
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Release Date: March 23, 2010

Just Cause 2’s appeal lies in one simple concept: blowing shit up. Given an entire massive island as your playground, the possibilities to wreak havoc are endless. Want to hijack that helicopter flying above you? Go ahead and use your grappling hook to attach yourself to it, then throw out the pilot and take control. Bored of flying that helicopter? Jump out of it and use your parachute to safely get back to ground level, then watch the copter explode upon impact. Want to see more stuff explode? Head to one of the hundreds of locations scattered throughout the island and start shooting everything in sight — fuel tanks warrant the biggest explosions. Seriously, this game is a pyromaniac’s wet dream.

I played the first Just Cause a couple years ago, and it was underwhelming. The original promised a gigantic island to run around in, and it delivered in that aspect, but everything else was just dull and the Xbox 360 version did little to differentiate itself from its Xbox/PS2 brethren. Just Cause 2 is one of those elusive sequels that truly improves upon its predecessor in every single way. The island is even bigger, the graphics are vastly improved, and the game is just more fun in general. It’s still not perfect, but it is more enjoyable.

The game has a story mode that is beyond cheesy, and apparently that’s what the developers were going for. You play as Rico Rodriguez, a field agent for “The Agency” who is sent to the war torn island of Panau to overthrow its newest dictator. In order to do so, Rico aids a number of criminal factions in the area and causes destruction to anything he can see. The story limps along via cut scenes that showcase some of the most over-the-top and downright terrible voice acting that I have ever heard in a video game. It’s obvious that the game doesn’t take itself seriously, for better or for worse.

While you have the ability to progress through the main story missions, the most fun is had just exploring the ridiculously large island and finding more stuff to explode. This is one of the biggest open world games ever made, and it is nearly impossible to run out of things to do. The replay value is extremely high since you are given the ability to try to 100% all 368 locations, max out your weapons, perform street races, and do a plethora of side missions.

There are a few problems that hamper the experience, however. I can’t help but feel the game could have been more polished overall. The gun targeting system is floaty and does not feel right at all. There are occasions when controlling Rico in general feels awkward, although that is a minor problem. Ammunition is scarce in the early portions of the game, and it’s not until you upgrade your weapons that the ammo does not become as much of an issue. Also, the game does get repetitive after a while. I love to blow shit up just as much as the next guy, but a little more variety would have been nice.

In short, Just Cause 2 is a big improvement over the original game, and it offers a hell of a lot of things to do. Although it has a handful of flaws that hold it back from greatness, JC2 is still a fun sandbox adventure game that is worth looking into. Just don’t expect a particularly deep experience.

7/10

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