A just cause to just cause mayhem.
Let’s just cut right to the chase: parachutes and a grappling hook. That’s all you really need to know about Just Cause 2
and just how preposterous, yet somehow fluid and intense, action sequences can get just by adding these two tools in your arsenal.
Standing upon a cliff on a clay-red mountain, you can survey the tropical island landscape of Panau with its sandy rolling plains and thick-leaved foliage inspired by real-life locales like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and The Philippines… before leaping off and diving head first into the air, aiming at the rebel storage facilities below, deploying your parachute two hundred feet above ground, whipping out an assault rifle in mid-flight and shooting enemy soldiers in a watchtower, landing on a moving enemy jeep, cartwheeling onto the jeep’s back bumper, shooting the driver in the head with dual-wielding pistols, whipping out your grappling hook and firing it at the roof of a nearby building, and as you’re pulling yourself into the air, carrying the forward momentum by deploying your parachute once more to wreak more bullet-laden havoc from the sky. (And it doesn’t have to stop there.)
The possibilities of stringing death-defying leaps, badass stunts, and gun-toting acrobatics together are endless with the parachute, which you can deploy at any time in the air and direct (almost magically) in any direction you wish, and the all-purpose grappling hook, which conjures up blissful memories of the infamous hookshot
from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
. There, it could take you to any distant nook and cranny with a wooden target and also be used as a ranged weapon, especially against those annoying fire keese; here, it’s much, much more than that.
In fact, the more appropriate term for the grappling hook would be a "grappling tether”. Not only can you use it to knock out some poor soldier on patrol or pull you out of a deep underground well in a heartbeat, but it can tie two objects together like some sort of reusable spring-rope. Tether a soldier on a rooftop to the floor next to the ledge and the soldier will be sent flying into the inescapable pit known as gravity. Rope two mercenaries together, and if you blast one of them into the air, the other will follow (accompanied by a death scream). Tie a poor sap to the back of your car, helicopter, or rocket, and well, you can imagine the rest.
The story (after all that, do you really need one?) runs with the “blow paradise up” rat pack that includes Far Cry 2
and Mercenaries 2
. Following the plot from the first Just Cause
, you play the role of “the Agency’s most dangerous weapon” Rico Rodriguez (not to be confused with the ska and reggae trombonist), who looks like a long-lost cousin to Nathan Drake
, at least from the back with his short haircut and shoulder holster. Your friend and mentor Tom Sheldon has gone missing with some top-secret intel and suitcases full of the Agency’s cash, and seems to be hiding somewhere in the island nation of Panau. Your job is to infiltrate the island by becoming a double agent (or triple or quadruple agent) for rebel factions that might just give the information you need in exchange for destroying military depots and just making lots of explosions.
Like other open-world titles, the 10-hour story missions pale in comparison to the actual length of the game if you are willing to explore the entire extent of the island. And why wouldn’t you? Missing race challenges, side missions, and destructible property means banking less money, and there are upgrade parts for vehicles and weapons scattered all over the place. Present these items to the black market vendor and you’ll receive better gear and a pair of wings - a helicopter and even a jet.
With an exceedingly forgiving health system, Just Cause 2
encourages you to get your hands dirty. If you take too many hits, your maximum health will decrease along with your current health, but there are plenty of med kits around to mend your wounds, and taking cover for a few seconds will regenerate your health like Wolverine's troll cousin. But even if you raise the heat level, which acts like Grand Theft Auto’s star system
for enemy aggressiveness, and are overwhelmed by the onslaught of military grunts, all you have to do is return to the game. Everything you have destroyed before your death remains destroyed, so death doesn't impede progress much at all.
One surprising feature of Just Cause 2
is that it reminds me of my childhood, not just because it’s all about action-based fun, but because one of the rebel leaders is a fierce woman who loves to bark orders in English with a thick Malaysian accent. One moment, I felt like an international super spy who could sabotage an entire country, and the next, I was eleven-years old again with my aunties scolding me for doing, well, something
; I was often unsure why I was in trouble. But I still did it anyway. And this time, I get to do it with a lot more firepower.