Throughout the 2000s, the success of the Grand Theft Auto series inspired several mediocre sandbox games that directly copied gameplay and story elements from the series. One such game was Avalanche Studios’s Just Cause. Despite the game’s shortcomings, the IP had enough potential to warrant a sequel: Just Cause 2.
CIA agent Rico Rodriguez must track down his mentor, Tom Sheldon, after he goes missing during a mission in the Southeastern Asian island of Panau. Besides dealing with Sheldon, Rico needs to take down the archipelago’s ruthless anti-American dictator, “Baby” Panay by allying himself with Panau’s three ruthless gangs.
JC 2 encourages the player to cause chaos by destroying government property and generally raising hell. A black market chopper provides additional equipment, but this can be annoying since each item type needs to be dropped off separately. Destruction advances the game, rewarding players with cash and chaos points for unlocking new equipment and missions. However, as the player causes more chaos, it will increase the opposition. In combat, Rico’s grappling hook completely steals the show, tethering an enemy to the back of their car or simply beating down a foe. If a player’s in a tight spot or just bored, they can easily hijack any vehicle by latching onto them with the grappling hook.
The game features a 400 square mile fully explorable sandbox. If the player doesn’t want to use a standard vehicle to travel across the map, they can use Rico’s grappling hook and parachute to slingshot around. Despite this, traveling still feels extremely tedious at times, especially with the limited number respawn points around Panau. Fortunately, Just Cause 2′s immersive graphics fully realize Panau as a beautiful, diverse paradise split into a harsh red deserts, icy mountains, and lush green forests.
A decent soundtrack with good sound effects aside, the voice acting is horrible. Rico’s accent is irritating especially when he spouts Bond-esque one-liners. But, the Panauan people and NPCs take the cake with accents that sound borderline offensive!
Just Cause 2 blows away other sandbox games with its ingenious gameplay mechanics, beautiful setting, and obvious polish. And while the story and voice acting aren’t very good, it’s still a damn fun game to play!