RETRO – Constant crazy action, palm trees, the sunshine, a corrupt Banana Republic, where the daily activity for the rebels and government soldiers is to blow each other up. Finally, an unlikely hero also appears on the scene who is a lot like Antonio Banderas from Desperados: This is in summary what Avalanche Studios has brought us to the table.
Some of you might be wondering about the title of this Just Cause review, but it is because this game reminds me of the old Cuban Orange (That was sold instead of the real one – Hungary was a socialist country). Although it was not as tasty as the original orange, however, the taste was good after a while – when you got used to it. When biting into the Cuban orange, you could feel that this was just a cheap „copy”, but it was still tasty. The same can be said about Just Cause.
Viva la Revolucion!
The Cuban features can be seen in the game’s environment. San Esperito is a huge island, a veritable banana republic that is similar to Cuba. The government is a real idyllic totalitarian dictatorship, the leader of which Salvador Mendoza – a real „El Presidente” – who crushes the resistance with the local militia. If this was not enough the rival drug cartels are slaughtering each other, so the island is full of firefights, explosions, and killings.
Our main protagonist is Rico Rodriguez a highly trained CIA agent, who looks like Antonio Banderas. Our hero’s objective is to topple Mendoza’s government, and to do that he must infiltrate the local resistance – the story is paper thin and leaves a lot of room for explosions and killings.
Two other agents are helping our hero: Sheldon, who wears a Hawaiian t-shirt, and the sexy agent Kane, who probably had something to do with Rico since when she meets him slaps Rico. The intros for the mission become meaningless, and, to be honest, I did not care. All I was focusing on at that point was the action.
There’s a lot of action! Rico arrives at the scene via parachute, but we can always just freefall and then back to parachuting. We can see just by this moment alone how the game does not care about realism, but at least it was not unrealistic as Goldeneye’s catch a plane in the mid-air stunt. We can do multiple tricks with Rico when it comes to … well doing Stuntman / Ninja movements in Just Cause. It’s cool to manoeuvre around the island in such ways and is a refreshing take on the quick travel system.
When going full stunt mode you’ll feel like as if you were in a 70s Clint Eastwood movie or other action films: We’re driving a vehicle, and then we jump to the back seat. When this happens, we lose control but we can jump to another vehicle (or get ready) open your parachute again to fly around. Wow! Later from the main boss, we get a grappling gun that will allow us to zip to any vehicle or building. The most unusual move is to use this and the parachute to hijack a helicopter in midair. Our hero does not care about the laws of physics nor the rear propeller of the copter while climbing into the cockpit.
Besides the stuntman moves, Just Cause is a pretty generic GTA clone: Here we steal unique vehicles, whether it be on two, or four wheels, maybe a few aeroplanes and choppers. I missed through the twisty story and great humour that Rockstar usually gives to GTA. Our hero’s objective is to break Mendoza’s rule on the island, but the missions to do so will not have the writers of Mission Impossible go: „Wow why did not we think of this”.
The really „original” missions are basically: Kill this guy, blow this building up or steal this super-secret blueprint. Luckily even though they are generic the journey to complete these missions always involve some neck-breaking stunts. There are also not too many main missions, if we only concentrate on them then we can quickly kill Mendoza in five to six hours.
Of course, besides the story missions, the player can engage in fun side missions such as conquering bases, stealing vehicles, and weapons. While capturing a base is fun for the first time, it will get repetitive down the line. Even the most diehard Serious Sam fan will get bored. Where the funny side is missions, where’s the entertainment???…
The game’s biggest draw is San Esperito’s graphics that reminded me a bit of Far Cry ( though not as detailed). The exotic environment with the beautiful effects is great: lush jungles, palm trees, snow, and the best part is that there are no loading times within the levels, we can just roam around the city without taking a break. There are a few issues thanks to the high graphics quality – the biggest is primitive physics. Especially when it comes to handling the vehicles, it feels like as if they are made of plastic. Although this arcadey feel is not an issue since the game does not care about realism.
Good with cola, orange, and tequila
As the FPS market has been flooded for the past few years with generic stealth, action, and WW2 game, it was high time for something extravagant to be released. While Just Cause may not be a game that many will remember, but it is a game that is fun for a few hours on a lonely day. Vamos!
+ Big, large Island and no load times
+ A few unique ideas
+ Interesting story
– Lack of any realism
– Physics is atrocious
– Short main campaign
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Genre: Action- Adventure
Release date: 2006