A worthy Cause

WRECK-IT RICO: Cool guys don't look at explosions, least of all one-man-army Rodriguez. Just Cause 3 boasts 1,036 sq km of gorgeous Mediterranean scenery and exhilarating physics-based gameplay but is marred by technical issues.


    Jan 22, 2016

    A worthy Cause

    NOBODY likes a bully - and for the unfortunate citizens of Medici, General Sebastiano Di Ravello is as bad as they come.

    Luckily for them, you are "dictator removal specialist" Rico Rodriguez, a man on his third and most personal mission yet: to liberate his homeland from the despot's junta in the third-person, action-adventure game Just Cause 3.

    To do this, you need to take back "oppressed" towns and military bases - coloured in red on the map - by laying waste to the general's statues, propaganda speakers, billboards and radar dishes, among other things.

    Some of these combustibles are thoughtfully painted in red and white livery and all are detailed in checklists on the map.

    Turn all of Medici's 1,036 sq km blue, your rebel force's colour, and the Mediterranean archipelago is free.

    That is the premise of Avalanche Studios' open-world sandbox title in a nutshell. But wreaking havoc takes planning, and that's where your character's new toys come in.

    Rodriguez is armed with more prosaic weapons like dual-wield pistols, rifles and bazookas. However, much of the game's entertainment is derived from his upgraded grappling hook and new wingsuit.

    Like in his previous outing, Just Cause 2, he can use the grappling hook to winch himself towards objects and people, to whom he delivers a flying kick.

    Rodriguez can also tether objects together.

    But unlike the previous instalment, which automatically reels the items together, he can cause items to collide at his discretion by manually increasing the wire's tension. Also, he has more tether wires at his disposal - up to six, compared to the earlier game's one.

    With the enhanced grappling hook, there are now more ways to destroy entire enemy bases and convoys without firing a single bullet.

    It also allows for some hilarious scenarios: One time, I leashed a goat to a gas cylinder, shot the latter and watched as the canister rocketed skywards, pulling the hapless animal into the distance.

    On another occasion, I tethered a passer-by's hand to his face and tightened the wire, making him slap himself.

    Yes, friendly fire is enabled so you can harm non-player characters (NPCs), although killing mission-critical ones is an instant game over.

    Then, there's the wingsuit, which enables you to glide through the air in a slow descent. This, combined with the earlier instalments' parachute and grappling hook, allows you to travel huge distances quickly, sometimes much faster than if you were to drive.

    The vehicles are a disappointment - they are unresponsive, especially the motorbikes.

    If you leap out of or off a moving vehicle and it hits something, it blows up.

    This feature is amusing and can be used to take out enemy groups but sometimes bailing too late can be fatal.

    For all the scorching gameplay, the story fizzles out with cookie-cutter characters and corny dialogue. Some of the campaign missions are tedious escort ones, and babysitting dumb-as-a-rock NPCs isn't fun when they walk into your line of fire or fall to their deaths.

    I played the Xbox One version of the game, which suffered from stuttering frame rates during more busy moments, environmental pop-in issues and long loading times.

    The game has no multiplayer but it has a live leaderboard that tracks your personal best in various achievements and compares them with those of other players.

    Just Cause 3, like its hero protagonist, is comfortable in its own skin. Sure, it doesn't have a clever storyline and is a little rough around the edges.

    But when you're flying over an azure ocean as yet another petrol station erupts into a magnificent fireball behind you, it's easy to overlook these faults.

    I guess you can say men are blind in their own cause.

    Just Cause 3 is out in stores for $79.90 on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and $59.90 on the PC.