The Games Of Christmas ’10: Day 2

The second game of Christmas is leaping out of the side of a skyscraper and plunging, unflinching towards the world below. It’s not that it’s suicidal, you understand, it’s that it really doesn’t think much of gravity. What could it be? Let’s look behind the second window…

It’s… Just Cause 2!

Jim: The original Just Cause somehow missed me. We should have been made for each other, but it just didn’t work. Open world games are one of my key obsessions, and yet the original outing for the mullet-headed action man just didn’t connect, and our time together fizzled out after a few tentative hours. This sequel, on the other hand, grabbed my attention with both hands, tied it to a gas cannister and then – with a precise single shot – sent it spinning haphazardly into the world beyond.

Partly it’s the scale of the game: you are immediately acquainted with the vast verticality, the sense of breadth and life of the place. Mostly, however, it’s the toolkit it provides: the huge scope for rocketing around the island with various vehicles means you are immediately more inclined to amuse yourself with vehicular devastation than you are in any GTA clone. The guns and vehicles and explosions just seem to cascade, and often you are surfing it out of one village into the next, with things going up in flames all around you. This, I think, is as an action game should be.

Better yet is the combination of grapple, which allows you to move like some kind of steel-cable spinning Spider-Man, and the parachute. The parachute isn’t really a parachute at all. It’s more like a pair of glider wings that pop out of the protagonist’s back. It’s impossible, makes no sense, and yet it makes perfect sense. You can hit the parachute key whenever you want, like riding on the back of a motorcycle, and suddenly be airborne. You can – and will – charge towards any cliff or building edge and leap into the space beyond, safe in the knowledge that you are, well, safe.

The other notable toy is a side-function of the grapple, which allows you to tie things together with the grapple harpoon function. Combine this with the game’s easy, playful physics and you can delivered absurd and brilliant consequences. Pinning an enemy to a speeding car, pinning a car to another car, and so and so forth, until you are just laughing to yourself about the silliness of it all.

These are fine tools, but they’re somehow not quite enough. (And the guns are never meaty enough, either.) Just Cause 2 is temporarily thrilling, but imperfect. The lustre fades quite rapidly. And the teething niggles meant that the route in wasn’t smooth, either. I never quite got to grips with the controls, and regularly got myself into trouble by messing up one thing or another. Nor was I never really anything other than frustrated by the storyline. It was at its best by far when you were sent on Red Faction: Guerrilla style destruction missions. The game could essentially have eschewed narrative and exposition for thirty hours of this kind of carnage. There was never an action sequence where I didn’t know what to do, or found myself overwhelmed, which was great, but I think more effort could have been put into creating an inventive world. And yet, worse, if Just Cause 2 falls down on anything, it was that the island really wasn’t interesting or diverse enough for sustained exploro-combat. It’s certainly not unbeautiful, or without its share of splendid vistas, but it is just a jungle island. All that said, I still came back to it again and again throughout the year, and that’s why it had to sit on this list. It is a sweet hit, and occasionally just what you need to brighten up a silent afternoon.

Somewhere in the dying neurons of my brain is the spectre of some imagined perfect action game, and I feel like Just Cause 2 is some pale facsimile of that. That’s not to damn the game, because it is an outstanding achievement – I’m just aware that there’s a long way to go before this game has its work of genius. This, by contrast, is a work of high quality craftsmanship that somehow misses the mad energy and creative dash that makes the greatest games truly great.

John: Nothing this year will top the moment – the one single moment – of finding a hot-air balloon in the mountains and flying it to the top of a skyscraper. There are very many games I’ve preferred this year, but that moment is probably my favourite. And that’s what Just Cause 2 does best: let you create moments, improvise with its ludicrous array of nonsense. That’s it at its best.

At its worst, it tries to be a game. Which is just devastating for me. Every single time I posted about the game over the year before it came out I wrote a variant of, “This looks like it will be amazing, but please don’t let the game get in the way.” They let the game get in the way. And they did it in the most obvious, obtuse way possible. Which is infuriating. Beyond belief.

When the game was not rudely barging its pointless story or ridiculous overreaction in the way of my having fun, wow I had so much fun. It’s a remarkable creation, and the mad fun of stealing a jumbo jet and flying it as high as you can, then jumping out to watch it dive into the world below as you plummet for minutes and minutes, is a proper joy. Grappling men to exploding barrels, cars to helicopters, yourself to vast disco-party airships – it’s such a depth of understanding of what games can be, can let us do. Freed from idiotic ideals of “realism”, we can realise impossible playgrounds. Infinite parachutes, as I’ve said many times before, isn’t just a game feature; it’s a design philosophy.

And they came so close to believing in it.

What most frustrates me – and let me stress that I’m negative because this game is so damned close to being wonderful – is that it’s not the plot that ruins it. It’s not boring missions coming between those that just let you blow shit up. It’s that they make it idiotically difficult, far, far too quickly.

The game starts to respond to your actions with increased force so very early on that it simply stops being fun. No longer can you enjoy the huge pleasure of blowing up entire towns without being attacked from all sides by rocket-firing helicopters, tanks, and infinite infantry. If there’s a way out of it, it’s never a fun way. It’s a struggle. And the whole game becomes about struggling.

In order to continue enjoying a game that I had been adoring, I was forced to use trainers – something I’d never done in any game before – that frankly did a far better job of balancing the game than the developers. And then it feels artificial – I was in far too much control at that point, everything began to feel artificial, and the magic was gone.

Nothing will top finding that hot-air balloon, or falling for so very, very long as a helicopter madly span out of control below me. But in the end this became despite the game’s best efforts. A fantastic game, such an amazing creation, so bursting with entertainment and opportunities to play. But they let the game get in the way of it all.

82 Comments

  1. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    That pointing finger… was Optimus Prime kidnapped by David Malki ! ?

  2. Alex Bakke says:

    Agreed to both mini-WITs. My favourite part of the game by far, was simply flying around in the tiny agent plane, and just exploring. I deliberately avoided all of the easter egg spoilers, videos on the internet etc, just so I could get that full experience.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      It was fun to fly around (I was also a fan of the agency helicopter), but I wouldn’t have seen as much as I did if I hadn’t looked at some of the easter eggs videos. That game was Crazy big. Big enough that it made sense to steal a fighter jet if you needed to get from one end of the map to the other.

  3. MrMud says:

    And you still cant remap the controls.
    The game pretends you can but you cant because picking up weapons has been hardcoded to ‘E’.

    • Monchberter says:

      It’s tailor made for an xbox360 pad. That’s why, and it plays brilliantly with one. Like the GTA games, i’d say using any vehicle pretty much demands a pad.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Really, I had the reverse setup. I used the Xbox controller for almost everything, but if I needed to drive a car very carefully I switched to K+M.

  4. airtekh says:

    This has been on my list of ‘games to buy’ for months. I played the demo and I loved it.

    Gotta keep chipping away at the backlog so I can make time for it.

  5. James G says:

    Sad thing is, unless it has changed recently, the most recent patch broke BOLOpatch and there hasn’t been another BOLOpatch release to fix that.

  6. WMain00 says:

    Absolutely great game really. Better on the PC as well, I think, even if you can’t remap keys.

    Does anyone know if that mod for making the grapple invincible is any good?

  7. Jonathan says:

    I managed to get about thirty hours into this game despite it crashing my computer (requiring restarts) constantly (I could maybe get an hour of play time before it died. Maybe.). I can’t think of any other games that I would have persevered with thet much. Oddly, after I fixed the issue (it required AMD to release new drivers) I lost interest in it. I think I’d progressed most of the way through the story and accomplished a fair amount of destruction. I was initially bummed that I’d spent $50 on something that crashed so much, but I think I got my money’s worth regardless.

    Part of it is the throwaway nature of the game itself — it’s fine to fire it up for a quick drive of destruction and it doesn’t really matter if that gets cut short. But I think in large part I persevered with it because it’s just plain fun. I’ve not fiddled with any of the bolo mods, or anything of that nature, but I don’t feel like I had to to enjoy things more.

    I think the only things I didn’t like about it were the utterly insubstatial plot, and that the planes weren’t a bit faster. I feel that a fighter jet I should be able to zoom across the map in no time.

    • Bioptic says:

      Oh – they fixed the crashing? Oddly, that’s what forced me to do the story missions – it autosaved after each one, meaning that in the 15 – 90 mins I had between crashes I at least wouldn’t lose all of my progress. Which AMD drivers are you referring to? I have an Intel processor and a Radeon card, and no updates at the time helped anything.

    • Jonathan says:

      My crash issues were caused by the display driver failing. It was fixed around August/September — can’t remember the Catalyst version number.

    • Bioptic says:

      It came a bit too late to help the average JC2 player then! But helps allay my only serious critiscism of the game – the engine, whilst being beautiful, was pretty damn crashy at any graphical settings. I’d recommend that people pick it up in the inevitable Steam Christmas sale without hesitation – or right now at retail (it’s a Steamworks title) for about £9.

  8. Monchberter says:

    I get the point about constant struggle, but i found that you reach a point, usually when you’ve secured your first airbase and hit a level 4 or 5 wanted level that, like Crysis, your skill with the tools at your disposal (be it the grapple / ‘chutes or nanosuit) lets you truly have fun with the game without the game taking your toys away too easily.

    As soon as you know you master grappling onto attack choppers and strafing runs in ridiculously fast jet fighters, then you can go for hours.

    Still, I agree, it’s a sandbox devoid of interest. Give it a level of granularity similar to the Crysis games, or Fallout New Vegas, where locations contain items, artefacts and human interest and you’d have yourself a 50sq mile masterpiece.

    • choconutjoe says:

      Somewhere between Just Cause 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, with just a hint of S.T.A.L.K.E.R and Far Cry 2, lies the ultimate sandbox game.

  9. Ian says:

    HARD SURFACE.

    I never quite managed to fall in love with Just Cause 2 the way I did with the original and I can’t work out why. The controls being more than a little clunky didn’t help but I don’t recall if the original was better in that regard.

    It still has some fantastic things going on though, with there being both to plan stupid kills and improvise your way to hilarious success or equally hilarious failure. And grappling the front end of a chasing car to the road so it flipped (or grappling it to a lamp-post, or another car, or a…) never really got old. I think my favourite planned attack was to clear a police road-block. I slapped loads of explosives on a motorbike and charged to the roadblock at high speed, then ‘chuted off and once the bike had crashed triggered the bombs.

    My favourite failure was when I had to hijack a car and deliver its passenger somewhere. I parachuted down, sailing above as it wound over mountainous s-bends before finally descending and grappling to it. After getting rid of the driver I decided to shake the tailing guards by cutting across country in the limo, and it worked until I got stuck part in a gap, part on a tree-trunk. Now I was using the mod that made the grappling line indestructible so I thought I’d call for a helicopter to be dropped in, tether one to the other and lift the front end of the car around so it was on flatter terrain and then hope back in. Sadly the weight of the car was too much and with the indestructible line unable to give way, the helicopter took the strain and promptly exploded.

  10. whaleloever says:

    The best thing for me was tethering cars (plus drivers) to a supply helicopter, flying them to the top of a really high building, and then watching them drive off to a firey doom. I spent a whole day doing nothing but this.

  11. Bioptic says:

    I played through almost the entire thing (All missions and a fair bit of dicking around – around 25 hours) with 1) difficulty on ‘Casual’, so fights were doable, 2) the extended and toughened (but not infinite or unbreakable) grapple, and 3) expanded black market (where prices were reduced to 10% of their original cost and every vehicle in the game was available – you could requistion a sodding Jumbo Jet at will). I felt it was an excellent balance – the variety of vehicles meant that getting around was always a joy, the grapple meant that you could really use your enivironment during fights to your advantage, and the prices meant that you could be nice and liberal with that quad rocket launcher rather than using the dull and plentiful Uzis all the damn time.

    After doing all the story, stuff I then installed the ‘Superman’ mod. Christ, that was exhilarating. Boundless freedom, and so fast that getting to any point on the map was trivial – made for some wonderful exploring. And then I installed the ‘Supercar’ mod – turns the fast sportscar into a faster, bulletproof sportscar with incredible mass. Drive over a bridge and gurgle with glee as everything pinballs off you into space and explodes.

    It may not have been a perfect game out of the box, but I had more fun with it than perhaps anything else this year.

    • Jonathan says:

      Oh man, the Supercar mod reminds me of something I did with GTA3 — I discovered that all of the car data was stored in text files you could modify, so I made the fastest sportscar invincible, have crazy acceleration, a ridiculous top speed, and heavy as a freight train. You could just plough through traffic sending it hurling off the road, into buildings/the sea. It was pretty great. I even discovered a place I could use as a ramp to jump from one island, OVER the middle island, and land on the third island. Good times.

  12. Casimir's Blake says:

    I tried this not long after finishing off another playthrough of Mass Effect 2.

    I didn’t get very far. Not with THAT introduction.

    Pointless shootery, pointless explodery, pointless questery, pointless story. JC2 is a game to mess around in, and you’ll probably have lots of fun doing so. The nonsensical plot however gives no good reason to do so, and I gave up after an hour of failing to find any fun in this shallow wasteland of a game.

    • Jonathan says:

      How sad, to not be able to find fun in a playground.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Maybe I’m weird. I’m a guy who will play a game that he dislikes at least to the end of the story because I bought it. But you shelled out $60 for a game and then only played it for an hour? an hour? Why?

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      I’d like to thank Phinox and K right below this post for doing a great job of answering you both for me.

      Just Cause 2 is a playground, and is full of the sort of childish pointless nonsense that you’d expect of it.

    • Thants says:

      If the things in Just Cause 2 are childish then I don’t want to be adultish.

  13. Phinor says:

    One of those games I find no fun in. Nearly every single thing about this game either annoys me or falls flat and I usually do like sandbox games. Just not these completely mindless ones – figure that out :) The first thing this needed was physics. Driving 150km/h into a sand hut and you just.. collide with it. That’s pretty much where I lost my interest. I gave my best shot at the shooting mechanics but they weren’t fun in any way. I guess the exploration (and on a rare occasion the visuals) was the best bit but I was done exploring the game in about an hour.

    This is my this year’s Red Faction: Guerrilla. A game everyone loves but I think is one of the worst/most average high budget titles to come out in recent years.

    • oceanclub says:

      “This is my this year’s Red Faction: Guerrilla”

      Despite some surface similarity, I loved JC2 and loathed RF:G. The former had brilliant controls and gorgeous scenery. The latter was a horrible mangled port that looked ugly even on a high-spec machine. In the former, I found myself able to launch from a motorbike as it hurled over a cliff, speed towards a guard tower, then grapple a guard out of the tower while I simultaneously blew up an oil refinery. In RF:G, even trying to hit things with a sledgehammer was a chore. I never finished JC2, but I think I got a ridiculously amount of hours of fun out of it.

      P.

  14. K says:

    I still do not understand why people like Just Cause 2. Not. At. All. It’s pretty. It’s huge. It’s decent at mindless carnage. But mindless carnage is exactly that: Mindless. Blowing up gas tanks and infinitely respawning enemeis is only interesting for so long, and then it feels MMO-repetitive. To use that comparison some more: JC2 feels like an MMO where the only quest you ever get is “kill 10 dudes”, and the dudes have about seven different skins, but are otherwise identical.

    The sense of exploration and vastness is completely destroyed by the lack of content. Sure, there are hundreds of locations, but what will you find there? The same red gas tanks, and the same dudes. The game offers a huge variation in scenery, but no gameplay at all.

    And again, having bad PC controls doesn’t help at all. Let me rebind that E-key, will you?

    • oceanclub says:

      “Blowing up gas tanks and infinitely respawning enemeis is only interesting for so long, and then it feels MMO-repetitive. ”

      Some experiences are meant to be joyously shallow and nothing more. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to spend my life with Cheryl Cole, but I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity of 10 hours with her.

      P.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Personally I would pass up those 10 hours. Doing laundry would be preferable to having to spend time with that hideously overrated woman.

  15. abhishek says:

    Just Cause 2 is simply the best sandbox of the year. People who complain that it only has 7 missions or B-movie writing have sadly missed the point of the game.

    • alh_p says:

      Yep, its a throw-away action game, where “action” means 80/90s action films (Commando, rambo etc etc). Your character is Arnie, Stallone, Van Damme, Lungren (and the rest) in one. It’s senseless, un-complciated and explosive fun, but I found I could never play more than about an hour of it before wanting something a bit more engaging.

  16. Bascule42 says:

    I have to say that when I first played the demo, I wasn’t at all impressed. I found it “Oh more 3rd person shooty blow stuf up”, and felt it could get boring very quickly. However, thanks to the RPS bargain bucket, I managed to grab it from the Eidos site for six an half quid. And let me tell you it’s been one of my most played games this year. Haven’t played it for a few weeks, (with 98 hours, and %76 compelte), but it’s on my “to do” list as opposed to my “meh” list.

    It’s just so much fun. And that’s the key thing. It’s mindless, gratuitous destructive fun. And some of the dialogue has had me in stitches: “Try to transport fuel now you pipeline jerks”, is so mind numbingly cheesy 80’s action movie it hurts, but in the 00’s it’s just post modern ironic gold. It’s the drive to finish all the villages, towns and cities that has kept me going for so long with JC2, the missions are a secondary goal. For me, JC2 has been a gem I’m glad I got over my initial snobbiness about. Sometimes it’s great to go rambo and not give a flying fuck if you get shot at – unlike my personal “game of the year” (for the last 2 years); Arma 2/Operation Arrowhead. Running in ful pelt with a fully loaded machine gun while the bad guys are screaming “For the glory of Panau” in a fair imitation of Omid Djalili and “There’s the bastard now” has a lot to be said for it. Like Han Solo said: “Bring it on, I prefere a straight fight to all this sneaking around” – sometimes it’s nice to forgo the “serious gaming” and just have a piss about. And with the vastness of Panua, there’s plenty to piss about with.

    • Face says:

      Good for you! That’s good to hear. I love it when I something I thought I’d dislike turns out to be something I love.

      And now: my immortal internet monument to my love for Just Cause 2.

      Last weekend I logged my 50th hour in-game. I live in a city, I don’t own a car, and I rarely get the chance to take a vacation or even a little drive in the country or a walk in a park. Last weekend I wanted to take a trip, so I drove around Panau. It took about four hours. I kept stopping in places I’d never spent any time in before, and I tried to keep flying and grapplechuting to a minimum. The way to enjoy the landscape is to walk and drive. I love the vehicle handling and the physics of the cars, the damage model, the woop-woop-woop noise of a spinning vehicle… Man, it was fun. On the one hand, yeah, it’s a jungle island and one part is a desert and one part is snowy. Not a ton of variety. On the other hand, there’s a TON of variety. I keep finding types of villages I never knew existed. Fishing villages built on stilts over the water. Temple villages high in the mountains. Yurts. Roadside markets. The racetrack “village”, which is just three guys racing the fastest cars in the game around a winding course. The towers of the secret island…

      After the time I’ve spent with the game it’s developed the strongest sense of place, for me, outside of Morrowind. Yes, I’m a Morrowind fan, and this is the world I compare it to. It is by no means a wasteland. It’s filled with secrets. I know of at least five little agency “camps,” somewhat similar to the one you drop into in the demo, scattered around the world, and I know there are more. I found another one last weekend – a hidden spyplane and its tiny landing strip, tucked into the corner of one of the small jungle islands scattered around the urban archipelago in the northwest quadrant of the map. Wherever I am in the world, I have a sense of where I can go next to pick up needed supplies. I completed a few airbases and airports around the map. They’re mine now – no enemies spawn there. They don’t dare. Did anyone else stumble onto the island where the rocket launcher spawns, and there are two agency boats waiting at the dock outside? Or the tiny camp at the northeast summit of the mountain on the desert/demo island, with the ladder truck, motorbike, and minichopper? I love that truck, by the way. It and I have a history. I drive it down the mountain (no helicopter towing for me) as carefully as possible, usually in reverse, and just generally try to take it as far as possible from the spawn. Once I took it all the way, a heaving, smoking heap, to the beautiful valley with the tower where you can find the bubble gun. Lovely place.

      This world generates memories. Isn’t that strange? With no NPCs to talk to outside of missions, nothing you can permanently buy, no homes to personalize in any way, nevertheless I have memories strung out all over the map. There are vehicles that always respawn in certain places, like the ladder truck, that I’ve kind of gotten attached to. One of my favorite things to do is to see how far I can coax a single vehicle to go before finally being forced to abandon it.

      Yeah, there are flaws. I’m so far past the story missions now that I can barely remember them, but I do remember being impressed at the size and variety of the activities you could do in a single mission, especially an agency mission. Those were pretty cool, and filled with assets, like the nuclear sub or the lightning towers or the ninjas, that you only saw once and never again. You know the ski lift thing? I’ve only been there once, and it’s no use at all to Rico with his grapples and parachutes, but if you want to you can go there, grapple to a cabin, and be conveyed slowly from one resort hotel to another, lower down on the mountain. That’s just cool, man. There’s a lot of love in this game.

      But flaws: the Black Market is unusably overpriced. What were they thinking? You can’t use the cool weapons because you can’t afford them. Also the shooting is not so fun, especially in the early game when your weapons aren’t upgraded. It gets more fun when you upgrade the submachine gun, the grenade, the revolver (eventually it will kill regular soldiers with one bullet, and is the most satisfyingly “meaty” of the guns), and the rocket launcher.

      I didn’t like the swarming enemies at first. I only got to like them after I began to hate them, and, in hating them, kind of respect them. They are aggressive, hey? They’re mean, they’re brave, and they’re pretty good shots, too. They won’t lay down and die for you, like most enemies in most games. Sometimes you have to run away from them, pell mell, into the jungle, to lick your wounds and recover before announcing your return, five minutes later, with a hail of rocket fire and a chain gun on full-auto, smiling grimly as you systematically dismantle an entire military base piece-by-piece, single handed. One day they pushed me too far, and I destroyed every base on the “final island”, one by one. It took about two hours. Man I hate those guys. But I enjoy hating them. “Now you made me angry…”

      Yeah, I really like this game. GOTY. In my opinion, or at least for my play style, the flaws are minuscule next to the tremendous monument to good-hearted developer generosity that is Just Cause 2. Unlimited parachutes! A design philosophy indeed.

    • Urael says:

      @Face. I came here to write my own beautiful poetry about this game but am delighted and humbled to find someone has not only beaten me to it but has done it with far more flair than I ever could.

      This is, without a doubt, the best game I have played this year. I fell in love with the original so my loving the sequel was never really in doubt but it surpassed all my expectations to become – as you say – a world to live in. This abundant love for the game also helped me to make my first ever DLC purchase. Quality like this should be rewarded and I want a third game in the series!

  17. groovychainsaw says:

    I keep coming back to it. There’s a strange addictive pull to it, nothing is quite perfect, as it says above, but it’s right ‘enough’ that I enjoy it. The PC controls are pretty awful though, so my xbox pad got some use with this, which makes the game much better (and the driving possible, as opposed to impossible). On occasion, its one of the most pretty games I’ve played on a PC (particularly with the ‘nvidia water’ switched on), and sometimes just looking off the top of a mountain (as in the sunset screenshot above) gives you a vista rarely matched in games. What it needs is more variety, both in world and possibly in gameplay. There’s more you could do with the toolkit you’re given. And the stupidly escalating guards do take some of the fun out of the ‘chaos’ element of the game (to fix this, they should play some mercenaries 2 – not a good game per se, but one with some good ideas about managing the defences of an area, such as hijacking the vehicles of one faction to ”disguise’ yourself as that faction and get into dangerous areas. This then lets you wander around having fun/setting up explosives until you do something overtly suspicious or just lurk near too many guards for a bit. Also, the ‘radio man’ in that game who calls for the backup respawns. If you shoot him within 30s of him being highlighted, no backup arrives. Its small things like this that makes the infinite respawn loop of death more fun to play and manage in a game context).

    In short, I agree with everything above, both flaws and fun. And I’ve still put in a good 30 hours and completed the game. And still go back for 1/2 hour to clear another village, jump from cable cars,, grapple onto fighter jets on takeoff etc. (i doubt i will ever 100% the game though – it is massive, if nothing else!)

  18. Brumisator says:

    This is the only game I can remember playing on godmode from start to finish, it was just more fun that way.

    there’s also a LOT to do in the game, and even randomly blowing stuff up rewards you ingame as well.

  19. Grinnbarr says:

    As a slight aside, I bought the 8pack off steam because I thought I had some friends who would take the extra copies, but then they changed their minds (something about work or some bollocks). So I have 4 spare copies of Just Cause 2 which I would like to get rid of. The pricing of the 8pack means that it works out to £5 a copy – if you want one, post your steam name here and we can arrange something there (mine’s jag456)

    • Access says:

      I was feeling rather cool to about this game after some lackluster reviews, but after reading all these fun impressions that people are having, I definitely want to give a try now – if you could send an extra copy to “shizeet”, I’d much appreciate it.

    • chris says:

      ‘ninjacrat’ at Steam would love it if there was a cheap copy going.

    • Grinnbarr says:

      Ninjacrat doesn’t exist apparently – I need your logon name, not your chat name :)

  20. Meat Circus says:

    I approve of this post. Why? JUST ‘CAUSE.

    • AndrewC says:

      You know, all i do in this game is walk around the insides of buildings, looking at the furniture because, for me, this game is JUST DECORS.

    • Meat Circus says:

      What watery American beer do I drink whilst playing?

      JUST COORS.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      The only way to play the game is by listening to JUST THE CORRS.

    • AndrewC says:

      I always garnish the food I eat while playing this game with a sauce made from freshly squeezed Irish folk-pop bands called JUS D’CORRS.

      Edit: ah crap.

    • Jonathan says:

      Nothing to do with JC2 but I really dislike Asari JUSTICARS.

    • Chris D says:

      I’ve been trying to train my pet raven to say “Nevermore”. It’s not going well though, I try not to get my hopes up too much as I think I’m getting close but then it opens its beak and…… yeah, you know where this is going.

    • Alex Bakke says:

      I have a CHESTY COUGH

      I’ll get me’ coat.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      @ AndrewC: Blimey, there’s no need to parrot me! After all, we’re not JUST MACAWS.

      (to be fair yours was the better gag)

    • Meat Circus says:

      The last time I played this, I spent the afternoon swearing at a shark.

    • Legionary says:

      I played this game so much on console that I rubbed the skin off my hands. I cursed them at first but then I realised it could be worse; they were JUST SORES.

    • AndrewC says:

      Mixed up game sequel is a sticky pain in the bum (3,3,3)

  21. AndrewC says:

    I liked playing Just Cause 2!

  22. Hunam says:

    I mostly just wonder around blowing things up with the DLC weapons that cost bazillions from the black market. I wasn’t aware there was a normal game part to it.

  23. Arthur Barnhouse says:

    I’m a little surprised John said that the game was hard. I’m not trying to be that asshole who rolls his eyes and says “psh, that game was Sooo easy,” but there was only one time I can think of where I was seriously frustrated by the endless enemies. With most places you could roll in in a tank or helicopter with rockets and really take care of business.

    • oceanclub says:

      “I’m a little surprised John said that the game was hard”

      Without meaning to sound I AM 144T U R N00B, me neither. I found that your parachute always provided a handy getaway, and, even when you created enough heat that you had _three_ choppers attacking you, I still managed to get the hang of quickly grapping then hijacking them. I think at one point I was just grappling from chopper to chopper since, as soon as I’d hijacked one, it was about to explode anyway.

      Great days, Parkie, great days.

    • Mirdath says:

      The underground bases are pretty rough. I finally took to just dropping down to the bottom in a helicopter.

    • oceanclub says:

      Oh yeah, those bases are probably the toughest aspect alright. I find myself just grappling around the bottom floor hiding behind items (the guys up on catwalks shooting down at your are a bitch) then when I’m finally set off the countdown, trying to grapple the top-most catwalk to paraglide out of there.

      P.

  24. Lucas says:

    In the long term, JC2 is a game about repeatedly running away from endless swarms of angry helicopters. It really needs some better stealth play or counter-attack options (think Red Faction Guerrilla and Mercenaries), or a way to rapidly de-escalate the alarm levels.

    • Radiant says:

      This is it exactly.
      It really cried out for a “No! I motherfuck you” mechanic

    • Face says:

      Destroy the radio towers, broadcasting stations, and commanding officers. It makes a difference. I’m not sure what the system is, exactly, but the going gets easier when you take out some of the regional infrastructure.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I think Face has it, if you go around systematically destroying everything remotely military, they stop getting quite so kill-y. And is it really infinite troops? I’m sure by the end there was only a finite (but large) number in each base. The solution to that is pinching a minigun from the entrance and mowing down everything that moves, then anything that might provide cover for moving things, then every vehicle in sight, then anything moving, then some of the terrain just for the fuck of it. Then just spray madly for a laugh :)

      That’s basically this game in a nutshell, a complete riot of a laugh, so much so that I was driven to complete every single settlement in the game.

      Yes, there probably is something wrong with me, why are you looking at me like that? I’ll get you with my wire thing!

    • Face says:

      Every…settlement…?

      (Is in awe.)

  25. Jake says:

    I loved JC2, and I enjoyed the missions too, at least some of them. I found they generally let you have fun without forcing you to do something tedious (except the jet plane missions which sucked). For example there was a mission where you had to assassinate a guy, and after a while trying to snipe him I gave up and surfed a dustbin lorry into him while blasting away with a rocket launcher.

    I didn’t find it very hard either, there were a couple of escort type missions that got tricky when you had 3 or 4 helicopters on you, but the way to do it was just to hijack the copters and use one to shoot the other ones.

    I played it for 35 hours or so which is more than I play most games. No way was I going to try for 100% complete, it’s just a ridiculous amount of things to collect – far too many to be a reasonable goal. But then I know people that played it far more than me, and people that played it without ever doing a single mission, just tying two aeroplanes together so they wobble through the air like a crazy jet powered bola.

  26. Schaulustiger says:

    30 hours of really, really entertaining sandbox goodness: I can’t expect any more from a game and JC2 undoubtedly delivered.

    It is not my Game Of The Year, but I had a great time playing it.

  27. The Innocent says:

    This is my favorite open-world game of the year. The trick: play it on easy. Then the swarms of enemy helicopters and infantry don’t matter so much.

  28. Armante says:

    Damn it, after reading all that I’m sorry I missed it in the last Steam sale!
    Added to wishlist.. :)

  29. Alaphic says:

    I’m two for two so far on this list. So far it’s indeterminate as to whether I just have exceptional taste, or I spend too much time reading things here.

  30. Luke says:

    I love just cause to, so far 10 hours play time and I’m only 7% in. I rarely play sandboxy open world games, as I’m usually put of from the amount of bugs and glitches I here on the pc version.
    Yet JC2 runs amazing on my laptop (i3 4gb ram ati 5650HD). I invested in an xbox 360 controller for burnout paradise at the start of the year and I would definatly reccomend it for JC2 as it makes everything alot easier, and the force feedback helps enhance the immersion.

    The graphics might not be technicaly as good as crysis or farcry 2 but the smoothness and vastness of the world make it breath taking.

    I haven’t played much of the missions but I’ve found them to be quite fun and varied like being in a james bond film (a crazy one like die another day).

    Too tired to write any more. I LOVE THIS GAME!

  31. malkav11 says:

    Just Cause 2 has a far, far more varied and interesting world to explore than the original, which was a bunch of jungle with functionally identical settlements in it. Combine that with the ridiculous stunts and the gorgeous graphics and the wide open freedom of movement, and I had quite a time…for a while. But I’m with people above me – eventually, there’s got to be context. There’s got to be goals and structure, even loosely draped around it, more than just “wreck shit.” And there really isn’t, so I got bored and uninstalled it.

    • Thants says:

      The missions in the game are exactly that! They give you a over-the-top action set-piece to play, and tie it in to gaining influence with one of the rebel factions while increasing their area of control.

    • malkav11 says:

      The agency missions are, I suppose. The faction missions didn’t strike me as being substantially different from simply wreaking random mayhem. And there’s not many agency missions in the game and you have to do a lot of freeform stuff/faction missions to get to ’em.

  32. msn show says:

    The graphics might not be technicaly as good as crysis or farcry 2 but the smoothness and vastness of the world make it breath taking.

    • Thants says:

      I swear there’s some kind of insane black-magic involved with this game. It loads up in about 5 seconds and then you can go anywhere in this gigantic open-world, including in a jet-plane, with no loading screens or lag at all. They must have put some serious work into dynamic loading.

    • Face says:

      Yeah, what IS up with that? Could somebody do an in-depth interview on this subject? It loads faster than almost any other game I own and then streams relentlessly with no noticeable pop-in and no fog. Smooth as glass.

      Hey, you know what else? No bugs either. My weapons always work, my vehicles always work, the physics always work, the map is great… The AI’s smart, it drives and flies as well as I can, and it never gets hung up on the environment. In a world this big, with missions so complicated… It could have gone wrong in so many ways. In fact, this is one of the most immersive games I can think of. When you fast travel there’s a quick loading screen and you’re taken briefly out of character. Otherwise you’re always in Rico’s boots, and everything works like it’s supposed to work. You don’t have to make allowances for much “videogameyness”. Within the genre of “explosive action movie” (or, for some, extreme sports travelogue), everything just…works.

  33. Thants says:

    One thing this game doesn’t get enough credit for is its missions. I thought they did a good job of just giving you a big action-movie scene that you can complete in a bunch of different ways, set in this big open world.

  34. thebigJ_A says:

    I rented this from Gamefly for my 360 (yeah, yeah) And played it for a bit. Had some madcap fun. There were other games I wanted to play more, though, so I sent it back.

    I noticed it was one of the (sadly few) games on OnLive when I gave that a go last week. I didn’t think such a fast moving game would work on that service, but it ran fine when I played the timed demo they give you.

    The only major problem was, for the life of me I could not get the controls down. Maybe it’s because these sorts of games I’ve always played on a console, but trying to control everything with the keyboard and mouse was awkward.

    I have no problem playing things like Nehrim/Oblivion, Amnesia, Thief, etc. on pc. This game, though, I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just because you’re trying to do so much so quickly with so many different buttons. On a gamepad, I could easily sprint by an enemy, chuck a grenade, grapple him to something, leap off a cliff then open my ‘chute, all in quick succession. I just COULD NOT with the kb+mouse. Ah well.

    Pretty decent game, though.

  35. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I liked it more than you guys but I can’t deny that it falls short of greatness, like so many of this years games.

  36. PC_Gamer says:

    Finding items to complete an item quest via the “radar” bars is annoying as crap many a time.

    Infinite respawning militia means you never get a feeling of accomplishment of having “cleansed” an area of the opposing force, even if just for a brief time.
    I am aware this is not Jagged Alliance, but why can I not get at least something remotely resembling achievement?
    If I hang around to gun down 50+ people after blowing up the nearest main army base, WHY do I have to contend with an infinity of opponents?
    It’s just highly annoying and adds a feeling of futility/pointlessness instead of getting things done.

    Other than that, the game could have done with a bit more carmageddon explody-particle-throwy physics, because nothing is more fun than accelerating a car to 200 mp/h, aiming at oncoming traffic, and then parachuting out.
    Where is the fiery fireball to reward me for that, too?

    I want to be in game planning and design, this all needs to change and become more actual fun.