After playing Fallout 4 to death, I returned to Just Cause 3 (JC3). Whether because I’d had enough time between Just Cause 2 (JC2) and JC3, or because of the various updates, control felt much better and the whole thing felt smoother.
A lot of the design choices they’ve made work really well. Many of them carry over from JC2, some have been refined from there, and some have been added.
One thing I love is that while the landscape, vehicles and people are rendered in a very realistic way, the gameplay doesn’t bow to the Gods of Realism. For this type of game, that’s a great decision.
The cable and hook that you use to grapple to things has a ridiculously long range. You can use that cable to hook two things together (while detaching it from yourself) and then ‘tighten’ the cable to try to pull those things closer. With the right upgrades you can get up to six independent cables, and get stronger cables. Which all makes for great fun and great destruction, since you can use these to pull pretty much anything down!
The real joy of the cables, though, is that while the ends attach firmly, the cables themselves ignore other objects and clip straight through them. Normally I’d be grumbling about this, but for this kind of game it’s a perfect way to go, leaving you free to have fun, without having to work out how to route the cables around the place.
The ‘infinite’ parachute from JC2 is back1, and hasn’t had much done to it. Thank goodness. The thing I love here is that one of the characters even calls it out with something like:
“You have infinite parachutes. What’s there to be unhappy about?”
In addition to the infinite parachutes, the parachutes don’t really interact with the rest of the scenery, which means you don’t have to worry too much about them being caught up in trees or anything else. Again, a decision that lends itself to fun, rather than frustration.
The addition of the Wingsuit was a great idea. One issue I often had in JC2 was how easy it was to grapple along while parachuting, and taking yourself up too high to reach the ground. You then had to lose height to be able to grapple again. With the Wingsuit you can flip to that, glide for a while (often faster than parachuting anyway), then pull out the parachute if you need more height or more precision.
Even beyond that, the Wingsuit is just fun. It can be a little twitchy at times, but after some major nosedives I found I was able to send Rico through tunnels, skim along roads and swoop around obstacles. After some practice it becomes second nature to jump off high places and switch to the Wingsuit.
They’ve integrated the various side activities (and expanded them) more tightly into the gameplay. Now you attempt challenges such as racing, Wingsuit courses, demolition and more. The better you do, the more ‘gears’ you earn. Earn enough gears in a particular activity and you can unlock more abilities. You can get nitro boost for vehicles, extra cables for your grappler, different behaviors for grenades and a hell of a lot more.
The only real downside to this is that while I have a great time with the Wingsuit courses, helicopter trials and most land and water vehicle races, I struggle with the planes and bikes.
Which brings me to one of the issues I still have with the game: vehicle control.
I (think) I understand what they’re going for. When you push the stick to the left, the wheels start to turn left, or the bike leans left, and you’re mostly influencing how quickly those things happen. If you then need to turn to the right, you’re not immediately pushing the wheels or bike to the right, you’re influencing how fast you move from left to right. If you turn hard left, then ease off the stick, it will slowly straighten of it’s own accord.
In theory, this is actually a really cool way of doing it. But apparently you need someone better than me to be able to do it. Cars seem ok. They work at roughly the speed I like for wheel turning. Larger trucks become slower, and I find I have more of a tendancy to overcorrect. Bikes I overcorrect ridiculously. I can steer with just gentle pressure on the stick, but if something happens that requires me to react quickly, the bike goes all over.
I get similar issues with planes, but of course we’re now talking three dimensions of movement.
For me, I think the problem is they’ve tried to go more realistic with the vehicles control, when the rest of the game feels very arcade like.
The only other issue I have sounds like a big one, in that it affects some of the missions. Many of them. I find I suck at them. I’m currently stuck on the ‘penultimate one’ where I’m just not able to take down jets, and deal with protecting cargo from ground troops. I find I’m losing the cargo a lot in these, and having to restart at the last checkpoint. Which gets frustrating after a while.
Still, the missions are an incredibly small part of the game, and I’m also quite willing to put this down to me just not being very good at the things I need to be good at.
The end result is that JC3 is a great deal of fun with a very maneuverable protagonist, varied gameplay and a lot of fun destruction.