What do you think about when you hear the words ‘action movie’? Charming protagonists with a quip for every occasion? A metric ton of explosions? A main character that can survive anything? Perhaps a villain who monologues their plan or their precious little backstory so the hero can make their daring escape? Whatever the case, most action movies sooner or later devolve into the usual cliches. And Just Cause 3 feels like an action movie that got turned into a game, to middling results.
Just Cause 3 takes place on the fictional island of Medici, where the ruler, General Di Ravello, rules with an iron fist. You play as the protagonist, Rico Rodriguez, a CIA agent who overthrows tyrannous regimes. Your friends in the game are basic caricatures. You have the stereotypical Texan government type, Sheldon, the oddball doctor, Dimah, and the obnoxious best friend, Mario. They’re all just kinda… there, as Rico takes front and center the whole way through. Nobody gets a chance to shine, and it’s a shame, as they all seem like they could be a great set of characters.
The graphics in the game are decent. The island and its many provinces have enough variety to keep it interesting. For example, you could be on a snowy province one second, and two minutes later, you’re on a beach. It’s a very strange design choice, but it looks cool, so I don’t mind.
The action within the game does not flow well at all. What’s the one thing you would love to do in an action game? Cause explosions and just generally cause chaos, right? Well, on many occasions, the game will slow to a crawl during explosions, with a frame rate that I feel I can safely say went down to single digits. In a game that thrives on causing chaos, it’s pathetic to see a frame rate that low. And even when the frame rate isn’t a slow mess, the action feels lifeless. Every province you liberate feels the same. Fight a few soldiers, destroy some speakers, raise the flag, call it a day. It gets old incredibly quickly, and that’s not something you ever wanna say about an action game.
There are very few guns in the game, and I usually found myself using the basic kit I was given at the start of the game. In a game with destruction being a core element in its gameplay, it’s weird for me to be able to say that there were more cars than guns in the game. Ammo is way too easy to come by, possibly to make up for the fact that the soldiers you face off against are absolute bullet sponges. There’s no aim mechanic either (unless you want to take the time to play a glorified minigame to get that ability), so you essentially have to rely on ‘spray and pray’ for the entire game, which is immensely frustrating.
The helicopters are frankly some of the worst I’ve ever flown in a game. There are plenty of times in the game where you need to avoid SAM missiles whilst taking over enemy bases, and the helicopter flies about as well as a pigeon with one wing, where it always feels slow and, no pun intended, choppy.. The planes fly alright, and that’s about all I have to say about them, other than the fact that they have some weird takeoff controls. The cars are, well, cars. They drive okay, and take an absurd amount of damage before being taken out of commission.
One of the key additions to the game is the wingsuit. I found myself using it a lot, because frankly, it felt like the most fluid mode of transportation. You could definitely tell that a lot of time was put into that one mechanic, and it worked really well. The grappling hook is just kinda there. It’s definitely got a lot of uses, sure. You can use it as a tether to cause chaos, you can use it as transport, you can use it to go up mountains, walls, whatever, but it feels overshadowed by the wingsuit on the transportation front, leaving it to just be another tool of destruction.
The game also feels incredibly empty. The game provides plenty and plenty of miles of land and buildings and this and that, but it never feels like anyone’s really living on the island. I mean, sure, you see cars on your trips from island to island, and the occasional passerby, but there’s never any real liveliness. Outside of the action, the game is usually quiet, which sucks, as I’d at least like some music to accompany those long trips from island to island when I’m out of flares to fast travel with.
There’s also no real story to the game. I mean, sure, there is a story, but it’s essentially what you would expect from a game like this. There’s an evil dictator that the CIA has been assisting that you need to stop, so do that. I essentially just summarized the entire game’s plot in one sentence. I’m not complaining either. The developers know what we’re here for. Nobody buys this game wanting to see ‘Spec Ops: The Line’ tier writing. They want an action game, through and through, but they couldn’t even provide that particularly well.
In essence, ‘Just Cause 3’ has the elements of a good action game. It has the excuse plot, it has the mayhem, it has the characters. Unfortunately, the game is stuck in between being mediocre and good, which frustrates me, as I really wanted more from it. Everything was set in place and it just didn’t deliver.
I give Just Cause 3 a 5/10.