The other night, I “finished” Just Cause 2. I say that with quotes because it is, essentially, a game that challenges you to come up with your own criteria for how to complete it–or even whether to do so at all. One could conceivably go on playing it forever, but I felt like I was done. For now, anyway.
Why so much replay value? Well, there’s an absolutely obscene amount of stuff to do, for one thing. The game world is so huge (400 square miles, or about the size of Hong Kong (no, really)) and so damned dense with things to find and/or blow up that no one has ever gotten 100% of them. That’s right–in the age of speedruns, Minecraft wonders, and various other Internet miracles, nobody can figure out how to complete this game. Think about that for a second.
More important than all of that, though, is the core gameplay and design. Just Cause 2 is just really, really fun to play, and that’s the real reason you’re likely to have trouble finding an end point for yourself.
If you’re not familiar with the basic gameplay, take a look:
It’s pretty nuts.
One of the wackier and more innovative elements of the design is how you get from place to place. When I mentioned that the game world was about the size of Hong Kong, you may have groaned to yourself, wondering how in the name of God getting from one side of that map to the other could possibly be fun. I mean, San Andreas was impressive as heck, but I think we were all sick of driving cross-state by the end of it, right?
Well, it just so happens that Just Cause 2 has a great, and appropriately ridiculous solution. Going from Point A to Point B is made easy and highly enjoyable by way of an inventive combo–grappling hook and parachute. Yup, your main form of travel is grappling onto things, and then transferring the momentum of pulling yourself forward into flight via your magic, retractable, unlimited use ‘chute. Seeing this in action for the first time may strike you as pretty silly and, yes, it instantly divorces the game from any kind of realism, but it ends up being a blast when you get the hang of it, and is absolutely indispensable if you want to get places quickly.
The side effect of this is that the many cars, motorcycles, planes and boats of the game are less valuable to you. Strangely, though, this actually makes them more fun. When you hop in some snazzy sports car, you don’t have to worry about babying it around corners or protecting it from bullets–you just floor it and hope that you crash because you know that a) you’ll survive, and b) you can get around just as fast without a vehicle. Oh, and c) it’s going to look spectacular. The car physics and damage models are outstanding, and every time you wreck it’s a real show. Also, you can ghost ride a 747. So.
JC2 also manages something I thought was impossible for an open world game–the race challenges are actually good. I swear, every freaking GTA or Saints Row or whatever has these missions, and they are always, always a chore. Here, they’re a blast because they start you out with an appropriate vehicle and, hey, if it blows up, just float around with your parachute until you can grapple to another one. They also mix up the type of challenges pretty well, showing you around some of the more scenic areas while also giving you a chance to try exotic vehicles that you might not otherwise find. Serious propers to Avalanche for this one.
And, hey, the game has got its problems. There’s some questionable design here and there and the occasional glitch, but whatever. When you can tow a monster truck behind a jet or ride a propane tank into the heavens, some things are excused.
But, you know what? Writing about this game is dumb. Watch some more YouTube videos and then go buy it if you want. It’s awesome.
Now, please enjoy some pictures of the guy from the game wearing sunglasses and being cool, courtesy of the Something Awful forums and the best mod ever.