By John Walker on June 4th, 2009 at 10:30 am.
There have been two games that have made me laugh out loud at their sheer audacity during this E3, and one of them is Just Cause 2. You may remember that the original game from Avalanche in 2006, as famous for its infinite parachutes as it was for having an entire island to explore as you wished. There were some who found the unrealistic nature of endlessly spawning parachutes to be offputting. Ho boy, they’re not going to like Just Cause 2! Because, cor, it’s even more ludicrous.
Brilliant, too. Or at least it looked it from the demonstration we were shown today. I found the original Just Cause to be a lot better in my mind than it was when I played it. The potential for ludicrous action never seemed to quite appear, the result feeling a little hollow. Just Cause 2 looks anything but hollow. If it were a human, it would be in a straight jacket. Strapped to a rocket. Falling off a mountain.
Tom Sheldon, Rico Rodriguez’s former boss and friend has gone missing, along with rather a lot of gold. Rico’s new job is to track him down and make him be dead. He’s somewhere within the 400 square miles of beautiful tropical island.
So if you take the infinite parachute mentality, and then apply it to all things ever, you get close to the mayhem at the core of this sequel. In fact, chaos is the core of Just Cause 2 – it’s the in-game currency. That’s not a metaphor. You gain chaos by causing chaos, and then spend it on opening new missions.
This might be entering a location and blowing every single thing up. We watched an entire village destroyed in spectacular style by Rico’s ludicrous arsenal of weapons, as he blew up buildings, exploded cars, and murdered everyone he could find. Of course, this rarely involved anything so ordinary as running around.
Rico now has his grappling hook permanently attached to his left arm. Infinite grapples to join infinite parachutes, and when used in combination, it allows for the new slingshot ability: Grapple a distant target and then rapidly reel yourself in toward it, then let out a parachute, and like a kite being run along a beach, you’ll lift up into the air. It’s a new parachute, a stunt parachute, capable of much more manoeuvrability, and makes a perfect vantage point for firing rockets at fuel tanks.
Flying a helicopter to the top of some skyscrapers, we watched Rico then unleash a barrage of missiles into a passageway that connected the two buildings near the top. As much damage done from here as possible, he then jumped out, grappled to the bottom of the chopper, then grappled the walkway and launched himself inside to kill any that remained.
Riding on top of a car, we saw Rico use his new friend of the infinite parachutes and infinite grappling hooks, the infinite tethers. These are elastic cords that can be attached to absolutely any object in the world. So Rico fires one end at the bonnet of a car he’s being chased by, and then the other at a passing lamppost. Car kwapangs off the road. He then fires a tether at a driver of a car in front, then the other end to a passenger of another rival vehicle. Both get yanked out of their cars and collide in mid air. Avalanche’s Peter Johannson explained that his favourite use of this tool is to tie a Jeep to the bottom of a helicopter, then use it as a wrecking ball.
The game’s expecting all you think of. Grapple an enemy and fling him in the air, then shoot him while he’s up there, and you’ll be informed you’ve performed one “juggle kill”. Just Cause 2 is the sort of game that has juggle kills.
There’s 300 settlements, over 100 vehicles (including cars, bikes, boats and planes – one of which is a Jumbo Jet), and around sixty missions to complete. It’s enormous, it’s insane, and it looks breathtaking. This is Far Cry 2 for the beserk. If it lives up to the sections we saw today, it could be gaming’s greatest lunatic playground.