I can’t remember exactly when the term “open-world” entered our already saturated gaming lingo; it refers to a particular style of gameplay that encompasses a broad range of genres allowing players to choose their own path through a game rather than follow a rigid script. It sounds like something that would always be a good idea, but the truth is that it’s very much a matter of taste. Some players love the freedom, while others feel lost when there’s too much choice and too much ground to cover.
If you fall into the first category, then you might be interested in the latest addition to our ever-increasing line-up of open-world action games. Just Cause 2, as you might have guessed by the presence of a “2” in the title, is the sequel to the first game, which received a lukewarm reception worldwide. It had some neat ideas, but the execution was somewhat lacking. Just Cause 2 however, is a different kettle of fish. Players are once again cast in the role of Rico Rodriguez, a secret agent sent to an Asian island called Panau to track down a traitor. Upon arriving, Rico finds that his target is hiding behind the Panaun government, which is unstable at best. To shake the coward out of hiding, Rico must ally himself with the various rebel factions and destroy key targets to destabilise the current dictatorship.
In this way, Just Cause 2 is pretty standard, and it’s quite similar to Red Faction: Guerrilla, where completing rebel missions and destroying government property will lessen the ruling regime’s hold on the island, allowing Rico to advance through the story. There’s an entire island full of faction missions, side missions and all kinds of random trouble to cause, and it’s massive and highly detailed to boot. What sets Just Cause 2 apart from other open-world action games is that it doesn’t try to be in the least bit realistic. Rico has two staple tools, his grappling hook and parachute, which allow him to cover ground incredibly quickly by, say, hijacking enemy vehicles while they’re in motion, or even commandeering enemy aircraft while they’re in the air! His grappling hook can also be used in all kinds of creative ways to kill enemies and cause wanton destruction. It’s fun. In addition, Rico earns money with each completed mission, which he can use to buy and upgrade weapons and vehicles which are conveniently air-dropped a few feet away by a black market merchant.
Just Cause 2 might not have cutting-edge visuals, but to say that they aren’t great to look at would be misleading. The story isn’t particularly great or realistic – actually it’s rather cheesy, but it sets the stage suitably for the unrealistic action which follows, so it’s appropriate. There’s certainly a lot to do and it’s tons of fun to cruise around wreaking havoc; so if you haven’t over-indulged in open-world games lately, it might be worth a look.