REVIEW – Lap five this week, “just cause” four. It’s difficult to say anything positive about the game, and not just because I feel Square Enix asked Avalanche to make this game only to cash in on the franchise, but also because it feels like it’s nothing more than another layer of skin from the same animal, something that wasn’t felt this much, if ever, before, regarding Just Cause.
Three years after Just Cause 3, here’s the fourth instalment, and I think the game has gotten wrose in many aspects. You need to be a professional to pull that off, and I hope Rico Rodriguez will be left alone – he’s getting too old for the adventures that started in 2006 on PS2, Xbox, PC, and Xbox 360.
There’s a new weather system that has been shown in the trailers several times before. From tornados to blizzards and sandstorms, everyone is getting affected, and, to be honest, it feels like a guilty pleasure to see how a massive hurricane destroys everything in its path while we enjoy the destruction from a safe place.
I also can’t recall anything significantly stupid regarding the physics either – it seems to be improved after Just Cause 3, and the explosions, which, no exaggeration, are a vital part of the franchise, happen as they should. You can create a weapon out of basically everything, and the traverse that you can pull off with the wingsuit also seems to be fun. However, the main issue with Just Cause 4 is that these points alone cannot make a game good, especially if it bleeds from several orifices.
I’d only get complaints if I wrote „the game’s existence” and nothing else, so let me emphasise that if I end up somehow dying in a mission, only to respawn effectively right next to the target, while the enemies have left the location to kill me, is an explicitly ridiculous solution, as Just Cause 4 unintentionally rewards me for dying. The game still wasn’t able to open its wings and fly – it’s still locked inside a cage, waiting for peace, or more possibly, to be free. It won’t be free: the boring missions keep repeating (go and bring back this time, kill those people, push this button in the building, protect this character – the same template throughout the game…), and I can hardly find thoughts to explain it. The rush job can be felt on the artificial intelligence as well: here, the game has gone for quantity over quality, and it doesn’t even seem to hide the fact at all. What a shame!
The graphics are similarly manoeuvring between two ends – at a few locations, it seems to be alright, but at other places, there are noticeable texture pop-ins, and in different areas, the game feels like it could have been on the PlayStation 3. (In other words, it’s getting to the quality of the visuals seen in Just Cause 2 all the way back in 2010!) At least the resolution seems to be somewhat lower than the previous game for the sake of a better frame rate, which is the right decision. However, a sandbox game (because Just Cause 4 is precisely that) deserves more than this – I think if your story feels nothing more than an obligation to be included (a dictator on a South American island, woohoo… and I say this thought as an objective thing!), it doesn’t put your game in a positive spotlight. Also, you can have a huge open world, but if you don’t provide something exciting in the long run to keep me there, that’s also making your efforts somewhat pointless.
The truly bad
I believe it’s far more entertaining to goof around on the island than to progress the story altogether, and this is the only reason why Just Cause 4 gets a six out of ten. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than a mere, gigantic 5/10. The gameplay, without the story, or with your obligations in general, is GOOD, but the game pulls its leg in every other aspect, making me feel it does its job only because it is forced to. I spent far more time with the franchise-classic grappling hook (and before I forget, the parachuting is also present!), which can be modified to pull two things together to make things blow up (as usual), to use it to drag me to impossible, ridiculous places, than to roll the plot further.
So there are terrible, uninspired missions with a boring story, stupid artificial intelligence, sometimes problematic graphics, and a big, mostly underutilised island with different weather and a lot of dumb enemies. That’s Just Cause 4 that might have reached the low point of the franchise. I’m sad to say this, but you’d be better off playing the first game, which should run on any PC by now. Quoting a review of it from a Hungarian magazine: „While Just Cause will not be the game that we’ll remember in a few years with a voice crack due to nostalgia and teary eyes, it can be used to goof around in it for a few afternoons.” That’s all. It applies to 4, too.
+ It can be entertaining
– Quickly slapped together, repetitive missions
– The checkpoint system seems to be screwed up
– The story barely gains affection – the game is more entertaining without it; it’s a game design flaw
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Release date: December 4, 2018