Just Cause 3: Blowing stuff up and Admiring the View – A review from Scroo

Well as with everything fun and exciting, there must be an end. Just Cause 3 has been recently finished and it held its share of surprises. This was a fun one guys, read on for my thoughts on this crazy destruction sandbox game.

A quick run down for those who don't already know: Just Cause 3, is an open world action adventure game where you play as Dictator Removal Specialist, Rico Rodriguez. Your goal? To liberate the island Nation of Medici from an oppressive ruler by destroying all the government infrastructure you can see by any means you have at your disposal.big baseSo that's the plot in a nutshell. Though even with the very close similarities between all the games in this series, Just Cause 3 actually has a little deeper story. You'll just have to work a bit to see it told, as the games story missions only cover the necessary elements to get you through to the end. The rest of the finer details are found through collecting scraps of an audio diary told from the perspective of the dictator himself, Sebastiano Di Ravello. We even get to learn some of Rico's own history in this game. Now, this is certainly not story telling on the level of let's say The Witcher series, but for an action arcade, "being a badass" game Just Cause 3 is actually pretty interesting.

Even some of the characters in this title are a little more fleshed out and memorable. We meet Rico's childhood friend Mario Frigo, early on and he's a kind of sleezy, weasel of a guy but he's actually pretty likeable as well. He wants to be at the forefront of the action right along with Rico, but he possesses none of the skills so he tends to be the guy Rico looks after more than the guy he fights along side. But even though he's a bit of hindrance, Mario plays a lasting part in the story and is really a true friend to Rico. I don't want to go in too deep so I don't spoil it for anyone who's interested in the game. It's just nice to have relatable characters in a game where causing havoc with no regard to safety is the main goal. By the way the image below is not of Mario, just a couple more interesting folks.annikanteoSo back on day one of the release I mentioned things like long load screens and lots of cut scenes etc. that slow down the games movement and kind of break up the flow. Well, the good thing is that after the initial training and first couple of missions you're free to go about your business however you see fit. This helps to minimise load screens and it's pretty cool to be able to go anywhere at any time and even just skip the story mode if you choose to. There are only a few large military bases that pretty much have to be liberated by playing the story missions. Freedom of exploration has always been a big deal in this series and it's good that Just Cause 3 has kept that going.viewSomething else I mentioned in my first impression that I should revise here is that the main enemy in the game is the Di Ravello Militia. So the game has you literally fighting DRM. But when you start the game up it logs you in to your Square Enix account and makes you take part in leaderboard nonsense and what have you. One could argue as I did that is in fact drm in itself. However even with all the seemingly mandatory login stuff it's not actually mandatory. Here's why. So you start the game, and before you even get menu options, you're logged in. However if your login fails for some reason or you happen to lose your connection in game, it makes no difference. You're not kicked out to the main menu or removed from play, instead you just can't take part in the leaderboards until the connection is reestablished. So yes, drm in the fact that you have no choice in being connected or not, but not drm in the fact that if you do lose a connection you can still play in offline mode. The worst of it is that the game will pause while it tries to reconnect, this only takes a few moments and also only when you open your map which effectively pauses the game anyway so who cares. For PC at least, you'll even be able to go into offline mode through Steam and still play with the same results, just no leaderboards. So in my opinion this is in fact pretty well handled drm-ish material and has little to no effect on game play.

So, on to the fictional Island of Medici. This is a really pretty place guys. The landscape is beautiful and feels very natural. You'll see these really lovely cliffs and hills, fields dotted with ancient ruins and small charming Mediterranean coastal villages filled with people going about their every day lives. You'll see folks driving on the roads, working fields on tractors, tourists taking selfies and talking on cell phones it all feels very normal and work-a-day until you hear the propaganda being spouted by speakers mounted near buildings and on vans driving around town. You'll see billboards and statues dedicated to the vanity of Di Ravello. Militia will always be near by, armed and ready to strong arm anyone who steps out of line. This is a beautiful place idyllic in it's very nature, but everywhere you look there is a military presence. It really sets the mood, and puts you in the shoes of a guy who can make a difference.Helicopter waterpretty placeGraphically, this is a wonder. Just Cause 3 has a 400 square mile, seamless map. View distances are great, you can literally see for miles. The ocean surrounding Medici is one of the best and most real feeling I've seen in a game. You'll be able to see deep in to the water and watch the waves roll in. The further out you look you'll see white caps and larger swells. The lighting is wonderful and volumetric. Clouds and trees cast rays when the sun is behind them. When it rains everything gets wet and after the storm has passed you're left with puddles in the roads that dry slowly over time. Get in a helicopter and hover it close to the ground and you'll see dust fly and vegitation fluttering under the heavy wind it causes. Likewise with water. The UI is a little noisy, it makes sure to put everything right in your face so you can see it, but it's not too tough to tune out once you get used to it. Particle effects are of course amazing, because you can't give players the option to blow up everything from gas cans to fuel storage tanks to mega sized bucket wheel excavators without having excellent particle effects. The game runs great as well, very optimised. I experienced very few frame drops overall, which is saying a lot for a game with a map this big running at max settings.

My system is a few years old now with a couple of more modern upgrades but I'm running an AMD Phenom 2, 3.3gz 6 core 1100T processor coupled with an AMD XFX R9 280x GPU with 3 gigs on board video ram and 16gigs of 1600 mhz system ram. Also my games drive is a standard 7200 rpm, 2 terabyte HDD, so I don't even have the added access speed from an SSD. For those who can utilize it, this game also supports 4k resolution.excavatorsphere tankA side note here, the devs put in these cool tributes to loved ones. I just feel this is worth mentioning.tributeThere were some initial issues for us AMD users who had these crazy tears in the world due to some updates that came from the new Crimson graphics drivers themselves. I showed a screenshot of that back here. This wasn't Avalanche's fault everyone, leave them alone in that matter and keep in mind that a fix is in the works. For me and many others the latest beta driver updates from AMD fixed the issue. This wasn't case for everyone, but reverting to older drivers should fix that problem as well.

Sounds are also super good. Wind whips through your ears while you're parachuting or wingsuiting. Cars and boats have great engine noises, aircraft are loud and very realistic. You'll have the chance on many occasions to just stand there and listen to jet take off from a runway and I suggest doing it. Weapon noises and explosions sound pretty convincing as well. Overall there's a very visceral feeling to it all.

Gameplay itself is fun, even though there are really only a few things to do to progress in the game. It's a matter of how you go about doing those things that gives Just Cause 3 it's variety. You can choose to assault a base on foot with the good old run and gun up close and personal attitude, which works just fine and is a lot of fun. You can also assault that same base by jumping in a stolen military tank and firing cannon rounds at everything, also very satisfying. You can fly in with a helicopter and fire rockets or missiles, or swoop in on a bomber and crater the place. You can skydive from a cliff overlooking it all and just parachute in guns blazing, throwing grenades and liberate the whole place without ever touching the ground. These and many other ways to accomplish your goals will help remove some of the repetitiveness that can take place when the excitement of having an infinite parachute, a retractable grappling hook and access to pretty much any weapon and vehicle you want wears off.  I mean, honestly would you just walk up to an enemy and shoot them with your pistol to get the job done? Or would you instead take a liking to spearing them with a grappling hook then attaching the other end to a near by gas bottle so you can shoot that then sit back and watch the guy rocket hundreds of feet in the air ending in an explosion that happens to bring down an enemy helicopter that was flying too close? If you chose the first option then you're better off going back to Halo or something.

I never noticed the game to be particularly difficult. Most enemies aren't very tough, and Rico can take a lot of punishment. Even if you are defeated, your progress up to that point is saved so it means very little. I guess I'm saying if you're looking for a challenge, this isn't really going to scratch that itch. But if you want to have fun in a great and many times even humorous setting, this is your jam. infinite parachuteparachuteJust Cause 3 gives players a few more options than just liberating bases and towns. You'll unlock challenges that earn you points toward improving the effectiveness of your gear. There are daredevil jumps when the goal is to grab a car or motorcycle and drive super fast off a big ramp over a thousand foot drop and score points based on how cool you did it. There's also a bomb blast mode where you'll be given a vehicle with a big bomb that will explode if you drive to slow, but if you make it to your goal and bail out before it explodes it will just blow the absolute crap out of the enemy you're targeting. And... you can choose to drive that vehicle in to a military base if you wish and blow that up instead. There are wing suit courses, plane and helicopter courses and boat races. There's this really cool grappling hook trial where you're given a vehicle and what equates to a magnet. You attach the magnet to the vehicle and drive around collecting a mineral to drop in a pit while the military is trying to blast you away. The goal of all these challenges is to unlock things for your gear, I.E. stronger cables for your grappling hook, and different modes for your planted explosives etc. After you beat the game you can even revert towns and bases to their oppressed state so you can liberate them again. Awesome replay-ability.

I'd also Like to give props to the design teams. They actually made some original and really cool vehicles for this game. Plus if you can see it, you can drive it. Just bring it to a garage and Mario will chop it for you allowing the rebels to drop it wherever you may need it. This includes all vehicles: cars, motorcycles, boats, tanks, planes and helicopters. A rebel drop will also give you weapons and ammo if you so choose. To get a rebel drop you'll need to use a beacon that Rico throws on the ground. These beacons are refillable at various places throughout Medici.carracecarcarsSomething I just can't stand about the game though is a thing like, $25 dlc on day one of release. This of course spans more than just the Just Cause 3 game, it's a widespread problem. Xcom 2 will also have day one dlc, in fact it's on sale already and the game's now due out until February. This is just in general a bad way to release games. There's no reason why these skins and color changes shouldn't be unlocked through playing a game we've already purchased. Especially because if developers have the time to create dlc that goes on sale immediately, then they should be able to release a bug-free product (ahem, Bethesda). And what's with the prices guys? At least make the incentive to buy worth it.

Anyway, my play through took me around 60 hours. This is a pretty good play value in my opinion. The story itself is probably only worth about 12 to 15 hours of play time if you just skip the liberations and blow through story mode only. However this is a game about being awesome. Think of Rico as a character from the Expendables movies. Of course you're gonna blow shit up! This is rediculous fun that had me actually laughing and wide eyed through most of it.

Would I recommend Just Cause 3? Yes, I would certainly recommend it. If you're looking for mindless fun or a playable action movie this is your game. As well as the other Just Cause titles. I might suggest waiting for a sale only because if you've played the other games in the series then you've played this one as well. But I definitely liked Just Cause 3 and I'm sure you guys will too.

System requirements for Just Cause 3 are as follows.

OS: Vista SP2 / Windows 7.1 SP1 / Windows 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required)
Processor: Intel Core i5-2500k, 3.3GHz / AMD Phenom II X6 1075T 3GHz
Memory: 6 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 (2GB) / AMD Radeon HD 7870 (2GB)
Storage: 54 GB available space

OS: Vista SP2 / Windows 7.1 SP1 / Windows 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required)
Processor: Intel Core i7-3770, 3.4 GHz / AMD FX-8350, 4.0 GHz
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 (3GB) / AMD R9 290 (4GB)
Storage: 54 GB available space

Here are some more screens from Medici. Just stuff too cool not to share.

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