Review | Just Cause 2
Let’s stick together…
Format: PC/Xbox 360/PS3 | Genre: Action adventure | Publisher: Eidos | Developer: Avalanche | Release date: 26/03/10 | RRP: £30-50
Does Phill Cameron think you should buy JUST CAUSE 2? Yes. Why? [Insert punch line here.]
Here, have an island state. Oh don’t be so squeamish, it’s not going to bite. And we’ve taken care of all the legislation and day-to-day running of the government, so you don’t have to worry about that either.
No, just have fun with it. This is a place without consequence, and where petty morality is little more than lost luggage at Panau International. Honestly, run riot. This is your playground, to do with whatever you want. No, really. Go nuts.
That’s the attitude you need when heading into Just Cause 2, sequel to the hugely expansive and gorgeous spy-em-up from Avalanche.
It’s freedom without consequence. Forget tough choices or realism. Leave all sincerity by the door, because it’s not welcome here. This is a game like no other, because it embraces what it is so completely, and then gives you the tools to do whatever the hell you like.
Okay, that’s not strictly true. Avalanche don’t trust you completely; there’s still some rudimentary form of a story that’s there to provide a little structure, and to allow the unimaginative masses to have fun when they’re told to, rather than branch out and do something hilariously stupid. It’s something about being a super-spy sent to destabilise the country and blah blah blah.
That might not be fair, but it’s pretty accurate. Just Cause 2’s story feels like it’s there because that’s the done thing. Games have stories, apart from the ones where you make the stories, and they think that there aren’t enough restrictions on you to allow for an emergent narrative. You know what? Fuck that.
Rico in Wonderland
I’ve hoofed it through the Himalayas (or Berewan Besar Mountains, as the game insists on calling them.). I stopped off at a few stunning temples along the way, and watched the sunset glisten on the sunlight, all but blinding. Then I went to the tallest peak I could find, and I base jumped off that bitch. I nearly died racing death to the bottom, but it made me feel alive.
There’s a falseness to the world of Just Cause 2 that is both a blessing and a curse. The likes of Grand Theft Auto IV made us feel like we were just one person out of thousands living their life lives in Liberty City, with the way it created a world that dripped with fidelity. Just Cause 2 is the other way around. Panau is a playground, – a theme park, even – where each resident is just there to provide you with a backdrop to do something insane. Or to drive around the hundred or so unique vehicles the game sports, allowing you instant transport.
So, for better or worse, you’re the protagonist. You’re the gas giant around which the world revolves, and as such you’re the only one who can make a dent in it. See something with a star emblazoned on its side, and that’s a direct message that you should use whatever means necessary to blow it the hell up. Each star is another insult on your name, goading you to ever greater acts of violence. A fuel tank here, an offshore oil platform there, or, hell, maybe a whopping great Goldeneye-style radar dish in the middle of a valley for you to explode. Nothing is off-limits, and that’s how it should be.
Stuck on you, and you, and you
I haven’t talked about the tether yet. There’s a pretty funny Monty Python sketch about the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things (SPTTOT for short). They go around the country placing things on other things (they weren’t hugely imaginative with the name), and then tally this up for their national meetings. Well, I’d like to propose the STTOT (Society for Tying Things to Other Things), because it’s far more fun.
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