From the moment you hit the New Game button, Just Cause 3 delivers on the action. Why keep you waiting when there are structures to blow up, enemies to shoot, and choppers to hijack? For veterans of the series, you can still create devastation in your wake in the same fashion, albeit with some new features. For the newcomers, the islands of Medici is a large playground, where you’re free shoot and destroy almost anything in the world.
Through all the destruction and shooting, I can tell you the skeleton outline of the story. Just like in past games, Rico Rodriguez is once again tasked with taking down a ruthless dictator, General Di Ravello in this case. However, the undertaking is a bit more personal, as Di Ravello’s reign affects Rico’s home of Medici. Other than that, I really couldn’t tell you more about it. As soon as I went through the first few missions to learn the new mechanics of the game, I went off the beaten path and set to work on liberating territories, one city at a time.
For the most part, it’s the same routine: Destroy enemy assets, such as transformers, speakers, statues of Di Ravello, etc.; fight off enemies trying to shoot you in the process; and then take down the oppressing regime’s flag and raise it with the liberated Medici flag. As always, your trusty grappling hook and parachute are available, but the game also added a wingsuit, making freefall scenarios more than just falling straight down. Now, you can leap off a high point and fly into a town a few miles away if you don’t hit the ground. It’s definitely faster than using the parachute or driving a car.
Liberation, By Any Means
Although the liberation process is the same as previous Just Cause titles in terms of the big picture, there are various methods of taking down occupied towns. You can go on foot and just use the grappling hook, which can not only tether to the ground and attach to various objects, but can also drag certain structures down without the wire being attached to Rico’s arm. For me, this was the my modus operandi for most encounters. However, you can also take care of business from the air with an attack helicopter or plane. Just make sure to steer clear of, or disarm, the enemy surface-to-air missiles first. Either way, your screen is going to be full of explosions.
As you take on larger enemy bases, specifically command posts or expansive installations, you gain access to more powerful weapons and vehicles. However, I needed to upgrade my arsenal only once or twice, and I could still take down hordes of infantry units, helicopters and tanks.
Additional abilities, such as your grenades detonating on impact or a nitrous boost for your plane, can be unlocked by spending gears. These gears are earned throughout Medici in the form of various challenges, such as a simple dash from point A to B, or something more intense such as delivering a bomb-ridden car to an enemy base. Just like the weapons, I didn’t really need to get the extra mods to be effective in combat. Sure, a few of them helped out in a pinch, but in the grand scheme of things, they weren’t something I yearned to do throughout the game.
And that’s the beauty of Just Cause 3. You don’t need the most powerful weapon to take over enemy posts. Sure, it would make the process easier, but there’s nothing stopping you from sticking with the guns on your back to begin ousting the enemy from the towns and bases. If you do need a more powerful arsenal, you can order it as you go through Rebel Drops. Throw a flare on the ground with the supplies you requested, and you’ll soon see a large shipping crate drop from the sky. Once it hits the ground, it comically explodes in a fury of fireworks and confetti, revealing your weapons or a vehicle. (How they fit a twin-engine plane inside a shipping crate is beyond me.)
More often than not, it’s not the enemies that kill you, but rather your own explosives. On one occasion, I blew a large, spherical fuel tank, and it was the last structure I had to destroy to claim the small enemy outpost for my own. Thanks to Havok’s destruction engine, the final explosion was glorious, but I didn’t account for the fact that I only blew the tank off its supportive struts -- and it started to roll towards me, like the boulder chasing Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Gunfire came from all directions as I tried to outrun it, and I didn’t think to use my grappling hook to make a quick getaway. Obviously, I died, but there were countless times similar to this scenario that happened to me throughout my conquest of Medici.
A Few Hiccups
If there’s anything I would be frustrated at, it would be the fact that it’s made clear that this game really isn’t optimized for keyboard and mouse. Running around on foot and flying with your parachute is fine and all, but piloting a plane through hoops or navigating your wingsuit in tight stops is better with a controller. The lack of a mini-map is also a bit of concern, especially when taking out large areas. Sometimes, finding that last piece of equipment to destroy can be difficult, especially in the large areas. Of course, you can open the in-game menu to access the map from there, but it breaks the overall experience. A small map on any corner of the screen could easily show waypoints, important structures, and mission objectives. Instead, I have to pause all the action and open a menu.
Something also needs to be said about the loading screens, especially the one before the game’s main menu. I understand that it’s being used to load this huge, detailed map, but the waiting time is infuriating. This loading sequence features Rico sitting on a beach and toasting to an explosion in the distance, which I can only watch that so many times. On top of that, players have to endure another loading process before I even get to the main menu.
Less Talk, More Rock
It took only a few hours, but I was able to remove all the enemy bases on the starting island. After that, I went island-hopping, taking more enemy bases, trying out a few challenges, and maybe taking on one or two story-based missions. This cycle, as repetitive as it is, doesn’t damper the mood. Instead, I look forward to finding more statues to tear down with the grappling hook, and fuel tanks to explode with the heavy arsenal on Rico’s back. Even with its issues (I haven’t encountered any of the major technical glitches on my PC version), I’m eager to return to Medici and tear down Di Ravello’s empire piece by piece.
Rexly Peñaflorida II is a Contributor at Tom’s Hardware. He writes news on tech and hardware, but mostly focuses on gaming news. As a Chicagoan, he believes that deep dish pizza is real pizza and ketchup should never be on hot dogs. Ever. Also, Portillo’s is amazing.