The RPS Advent Calendar, Dec 20th: Just Cause 3

What is the best action game of 2015? The RPS Advent Calendar highlights our favourite games from throughout the year, and behind today’s door is…

Just Cause 3!

John: I’m concerned people have forgotten what fun’s for. I played Just Cause 3 for a week before the game came out, in isolation of others’ opinions, and had such a wonderful time. There were some buggy issues with the prerelease code, and the load times were abysmal, yet the crazed fun entirely overwhelmed all this. It was the familiar JC formula – free access to an enormous playground of destruction, with a concurrent story mission to play through. But this time, as well as being much larger, it made none of the mistakes that had plagued the first two games.

Both games had let the game get in the way of the fun. The farther you got in, the more ludicrous the game’s response to your actions, and the less fun you’d have as a consequence. JC3 masters this, allowing the escalation of enemy responses to be manageable by you, putting the control in the player’s hands, meaning you could let things get completely out of hand, or make sensible escapes to deescalate the insanity. On top of that, gone was the half-arsed attempt at a narrative, and in came one of the most entertaining game stories since Saints Row 4. Hilarious cutscenes, convincing pathos, good enough to motivate you to want to carry on down the mission chain, even if it was yet another escort job.

And yet blimey, some of the other reviews are so negative! It’s impossible to comprehend, but there were people sitting in front of this sandbox of silliness, and saying to themselves, “This is too like previous Just Cause games.” If only the industry were capable of this thought when it came to every other bloody series of identikit annual releases, eh? But when it came to a game that so wonderfully perfected a format that it hadn’t gotten right previously, this was cause for complaint?

Ignore such rubbish, and trust me, because I’m RIGHT. Just Cause 3 is glorious fun, beautifully presented (so long as you can get around AMD’s royal arsing up of their drivers), and a proper treat. This is the fun games should be offering us all the damned time.

Alec: I haven’t had the chance to play much Just Cause 3 yet, but in the couple of hours I did spend with it I flying kicked a goat, tied a VW beetle to a tower block, caused an entire base to explode by throwing one barrel at a tower and made two men zipline into each other so fast that their instant corpses slumped into a lovers’ embrace. So I guess I’m all for it being in here.

More importantly, I immediately beat half of John Walker’s times and records on the in-game leaderboard even though he’s played it for a hundred million hours.

On the other hand, the story and characters it’s shown me so far made me want to scream, alternately in boredom and in irritation, and I’m really not sure how much of that I could stomach. But I imagine I get to ignore most of it almost straight away, right? Tell me I do.

Graham: You do!

Go here for more of our picks for the best PC games of 2015.

41 Comments

  1. 0positivo says:

    I’m so confused about this game. Half my friend praise it to high heaven, citing it as their potential or even actual game of the year, while the other half of them denounce it as a broken mess that gets boring fast

    • Stellar Duck says:

      It seems like it’s much the same as with the second game.

      It’s not a bad game and I had a lot of fun for some hours but at some point I just felt that entertainment of blowing up yet another red silo or what have you had worn off.

      Not bad games. Just… empty? Shallow?

      Didn’t help that the story was actively awful and hurt my soul.

      I don’t begrudge the people who like the games but I can’t understand how they don’t get bored.

      And yes, yes, I know it’s all about imagination and what not. The thing is, I have plenty of that. The game just gives me no tools aside from blow this up or attach the rope. At some point I’ve done every conceivable combination of the two.

      • magogjack says:

        Can we get open world games with likeable characters?

        • Stellar Duck says:

          I liked Ezio from AssCreed 2 a lot. Especially as they stuck with him in AssBro. He grew a lot and it actually made me very fond of him.

          He also grew into a better person. I thought that was very interesting and I was actually sad to see him go in AssRev. I’d spent a lot of time with the old guy.

          But you’re right. I spend a moment thinking and likeable game protagonists are few and far between, open world or not.

          • magogjack says:

            Yeah Ezio was decent in AC2, I have to play brotherhood (I picked it up but never got around to playing it).

        • Turkey says:

          Not for a while. AAA just figured out about using revenge as the motivational factor for the protagonist just a few years ago.

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          Considering “open world” usually means “playground for impulsively and violently expressing my id”, it kind of makes sense to have a sociopathic protagonist.

          That was one of the big problems with Fallout 4’s protagonist. The game lets me play a mass-murdering drug addict cannibal- but when it comes to dialogue, I’m still Nate the Amiable Dad.

      • johnweythek says:

        It’s a fantastic game with a fairly crap story. Fortunately the story is almost COMPLETELY ignorable whilst destroying anything that dares to bare the color red. Unfortunately, if your gfx card bares the color red you should also destroy it. I still laugh out loud; literally, no LOL BS here, when i attach rocket explosives to some things, or when I get in WAY over my head in some crazy military base. Game of the Year is no understatement with this game.

      • mukuste says:

        You say it “gives you no tools” and don’t even mention the glorious grappling hook + parachute combo? Once I had mastered those, I could spend hours just traversing the landscape without ever touching the ground, then dropping onto a motorbike, speeding over some ramp or hill, popping the parachute at the apex of the jump and taking flight again, and so on endlessly.

        “Blowing stuff up” wasn’t even the main attraction of JC2 for me, the greatest things were the beautiful environments, exploration and exhilarating movement.

        • mukuste says:

          To clarify, this was all in reference to what was said about JC2, haven’t played 3 yet. The movement looks even greater in that though.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s pretty much what John said – it’s JC2 but with some things fixed. And unfortunately massive technical issues with AMD cards that make it basically unplayable for me. I felt that JC2 was ultimately hollow and I have no doubt that 3 will get there as well, but 2 really accelerated the process by impeding the part that was fun, which was going around doing ludicrous stunts and blowing things up in spectacular fashion. JC3 does not, or at least not to nearly the same degree.

      It’s weird to me that so many critics seem down on this one for exactly the same flaws that 2 had and they ignored at the time.

    • brucethemoose says:

      It doesn’t work on the first AMD Crimson drivers, and it just doesn’t run well on potato rigs or laptops. I. Think that’s why the reviews are mixed… You basically need a desktop-class graphics card, an SSD, at least 8GB of RAM (more if your system isn’t clean), and you need to be competent enough to correctly install beta drivers, which is a lot to ask.

      • Fataleer says:

        I would say even if your system is clean. This year I bulit sensible Hadron Colider(read best single processor option) and on my super clean system (has to be for acutal work) JC3 easily eats up to 7-8GB of system memory… Of course on highest detail options possible.

        To the topic – GOTY no. But super enjoable toybox of destruction. It is a game I come back for half hour doses of cleaning up the map or just basejumping and scaling 10km of distance using my hook.

        GOTY, for me – mind you, has to have more depth and this is where MGS, Binding of Isaac or Witcher. Or Dirt Rally.

        But still. For 25Eur I found JC3 it is a must have.

  2. Yachmenev says:

    I’m not concerned about the technical issues, I’m fairly confident that those that exists have been or will be fixed.

    I’m more concerned about what I hear about too many gameplay mechanics being locked in a silly progression system, with repetitive tasks. That, if anything, sounds like a game getting itself in the way of the fun.

    It’s possible that it won’t feel like an issue when I play it, but when a lot of people are saying the same thing, you do suspect that there might be a problem.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Yeah, they are right. You have to complete challenges to upgrade your abilities. The most annoying one being your grappling hook. I generally don’t care about challenges and in this game where my biggest draw is liberating the islands it feels like the game is limiting my enjoyment because I’m basically stuck with the base toolset.

      • Tacroy says:

        just wait for the “unlock everything” trainer, like the “infinite cash” and “infinite health” and “max heat is level 3” ones for JC2

        • ikehaiku says:

          Oh God, if someone still a Max Heat mod for JC2, you’ll make my holidays season. Did not not saved it back in the days, and now all the links are broken.

          • ikehaiku says:

            “still has a Max Heat mod” – damn you, no edit button!

  3. anHorse says:

    It’s an amazing game, the challenges are even fun!.

    I really don’t get the backlash to this, Just Cause has had one game per console generation and each one has made huge improvements over the last. Yet it’s this series that gets all of the ire for being similar to past games, why?

    The movement alone is absolutely incredible, once you learn how to grapple with the wingsuit for momentum it becomes incredibly fun just to fly around.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Why?

      Just Cause 2 was released nearly six years ago. Open world games have come on in leaps and bounds. GTA V.

      Performance is pretty terrible.

      • anHorse says:

        The same GTA V that has less single player features than San Andreas?

        There are leaps and bounds worth of improvements in JC3, unfortunately it seems like these are all being ignored in favour of just saying the game has explosions again.

        And the performance is fine for me, I can’t speak to your performance but I meet the recommended specs (my CPU might actually be below I don’t know how to read CPU specs) and it runs fine.

        The major issues reported seem to stem from AMD drivers, is that not something we should be blaming on AMD rather than the game?

    • LacSlyer says:

      The problem is that market is now riddled with these open world games with progression locks and it’s becoming dull. I’m sure they’ve improved upon the game a lot, but the timing is extremely poor to release yet another open world game that doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

  4. magogjack says:

    The irony of John being worried that people have forgotten what fun is lol.

    Also am I the only one that feels like a giant piece of crap when playing these games? Feel like the title should be Just Cause 3: American Foreign Policy Electric Boogaloo.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Seems like he’s right though.

    • meepmeep says:

      At least it’s a fictional location, unlike Far Cry 4 which chose to make light of the very real, very brutal, and very recent Nepali civil war.

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      It’s kinda supposed to be. The title is often mentioned as being a pun between “A just cause” and “Just ’cause”. However, operation “Just Cause” was also the propoganda name for the invasion of Panama for dubious reasons. The pentagon named it thus because “even our severest critics would have to utter ‘Just Cause’ while denouncing us.”

      I haven’t played JC3 yet, but in JC2 the main char comments on the moral dubiosity of the situation more or less constantly and eventually nukes the oil field the major powers (including the US) turned out to be fighting over. The game’s plot entirely revolves around lampshading the CiA’s regime change practices.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      First of all, if you’ve got an insult in mind, do make it rather than rather poorly alluding toward it.

      Secondly, the main character is FROM the island he’s liberating. The American involvement is presented as highly suspect and potentially on the wrong side. So, er, huh?

      • Premium User Badge

        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        I think he is more referring to how collateral damage is a non issue in the game (except when the story decides it is.)

  5. Cronstintein says:

    It just seems too easy.

    I’m not strictly against playground-style games but the opponents seem like moving targets to put grappling hooks on, producing no sense of threat/tension.

    I don’t really like protagonists that can eat a dozen bullets with no repercussions. I had to mod that out of MGSV and I guess I would have to do the same here.

    • Darloth says:

      Try JC2? It had lots of (in my opinion slightly annoying) realism features like regenerating health that only regenerated a bit then stopped, and no wingsuit with a glide ratio somewhat above that of a gull wing glider…

  6. LimEJET says:

    It was way too short. I 100%’ed JC2 in about 120 hours (installing a mod along the way that allowed me to blow up a water tower that spawns below ground otherwise), and I still had fun with it after that. Total time around 300 hours now if you count the multiplayer mod which I still dip into occasionally.

    I finished JC3 after about 25 hours. Blew up every base, got every collectible, unlocked all the monasteries, collected all the vehicles, did every challenge (not 5 gears in every one though because how the hell am I supposed to blow shit up in a vehicle with no guns if I can’t use the grapple?), went 20 km in the soap box car, planed from a train rocked out to DJ Santosi, all of it.

    And now there’s nothing left.
    I’ve played for about 35 hours total now, and I’m currently sitting at 96% completion. When I get in-game thogun, I don’t try to take those last four percent. I mostly just flop around, I don’t really really do anything. I can’t look at the gorgeous scenery either since I’m running everything on minimum on my GTX 760 and barely hit 30fps.

    I don’t really know why I wrote this. It’s just… I thought there’d be more. I’m not disappointed, I’m just… a bit confused.

    • Velko says:

      I have about 30 hours in it now, and I’m barely halfway done.

    • oWn4g3 says:

      The game needs something like a New Game+.
      Just put all the bases and chaos objects back, make the bases harderor put even more stuff into them and let the player take another go.

      By the end of the game you become so damn powerful but there is barely anything left to destroy anymore.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      I suspect you’re probably lying. The game is enormous, and I’m fairly sure it would be physically impossible to do half of that in 25 hours. Let alone a really sad way to play a game that’s at its most fun when just arsing about.

      • LimEJET says:

        Believe me, I’m not. After so many hours of JC2, I went at it with the same mindset I had with that game: Faff around randomly, and if I see something red, blow it up. I proceeded through the story first, so that’d be out of the way (I expected a spectacularly stupid ending like in JC2 and was gravely disappointed), and as I went through that more outposts opened up on the map. I thin tried to blow those outposts up in new and creative ways every time.

        I’ve done my share of stupidity, like grappling two jets together to form a jet-bolas, riding the mine dumper head-first into an oncoming train, blown up bridges just to admire the physics (and literal) trainwreck, hooked the secret stealth boat to the biggest helicopter and let go so I could ride it down a mountainside, flown slalom between bridge-pillars, et cetera.

        As I said, I’m not disappointed. I love arsing about, and I love the look of the world, It was just over a lot faster than I expected it to. I wanted to try everything once, and now I’ve done that, there’s not much reasone to stay.

        It definitely has something to do with it running really badly. I’d wager I’ll probably get back into it when I get a PC that can handle it at max. I spent loads of time in JC2 ust admiring the scenery, but here it’s all low-res and blurry so there was no reason for me to stop for a while and look around.

  7. Xantonze says:

    I wanted to like it but it’s so samey… nothing new since JC2 with the mods, and I milked that one to death.
    I felt empty inside after 2 hours playing it. + it’s not as pretty as the screens made it to be.
    I guess buying it on a sale would be the way to go… Wish I would have been more patient. ;(

  8. Velko says:

    Shun the non-believers! Shunnnnn!

    JC3 is pure, distilled FUN. I’ve been waiting for a better JC2 for years, and I now got it. Best action game of 2015? Best action game of 201X.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Qazinsky says:

    After reading this blog post with comments, I get a feeling that there is two distinct sides of what makes games fun, Total player freedom vs narrative. One side love for the game to give them tools and then get out of the way and the other side wants a goal to strive for and then do their best to reach that goal their way. One side cannot understand why the others can’t see how FUN grappling and building and superman flying is, whereas the other side cannot find the motivation to do these things and thus find it not so fun.

    The comments reads like two sides using the same word (fun) but have different definitions and not realizing it.

    I don’t really have a point here, I am just thinking aloud.

  10. Conundrummer says:

    And indeed it is. If you could spend hours para-grappling in JC2, imagine how many days you can spend wingsuit-grappling with really tight controls. It’s like being both Batman and Spider-Man with the screams of an extremely-angry Stan Lee slowly disappearing behind you.

    The game isn’t perfect, but it certainly achieves a sort of zen-cum-destruction that no other series has even come close to.