Most locations have a set number of speakers to blow up, as well as a statue and a couple of billboards to topple, alongside a police station that must be taken over. The latter is accomplished by killing repetitive guards and calling in rebel support when possible. Police stations are also where you’ll usually find some of your objectives, such as fuel tanks and electrical transformers.
This would have all been more fun if the gameplay was better than it is, the enemies were more intelligent and less of a needle in a haystack approach was utilized, but it is what it is. The gunplay offers explosive options and lots of different bullet-based means, plus a supply of detonatable explosives that never seems to run out, but it’s mechanically dated. The same is true of the driving, which is half-decent and serves its purpose, but is lacking overall.
The most frustrating part of Just Cause 2 also returns in Just Cause 3, that being the need to destroy and take over things in order to unlock new story missions. I get that it’s a tough balancing act, because you want players to explore the island and feel like they’re making a difference by freeing people, but as you progress you need to do more and more, and that can become repetitive. Simply unlocking the second last mission in the first act tasked me with liberating two full provinces, which took me more than two hours to do.
You may have noticed that I haven’t talked about the story much, but Just Cause 3 isn’t a game that advertises its plot over its spectacles. The story itself is set up with the hero returning home to save the day from a caricatured general whose oppression is destroying a beautiful place and its once happy inhabitants. You’ll meet old friends and supporting characters, and will find things to enjoy, but this isn’t an Oscar-worthy narrative that you’ll find yourself remembering for its written merits. Thankfully, though, the game’s missions are set-up in acts, and there are more than just a mere several story missions to be found. Some are short and not so memorable, but that’s not uncommon in these types of games and the effort is appreciated.
Honestly, before its release I considered this to be a potential Game of the Year candidate due to my own personal tastes and how much I loved its predecessor up until it became overly repetitive. However, the final product didn’t end up being as amazing as I’d hoped it would be, or as great as some of its pre-release materials promised. That’s not to say that it’s bad, because it’s most definitely not; it’s just not all that it could have been, and the overly ambitious nature of its production has lead to some marring technical and visual problems that make me wish it’d been given more time in the proverbial oven.
For starters, Just Cause 3 features some rather dated-looking visual assets and textures that don’t look like they belong in a current-gen game. In darkened tunnels, things can look jarring, but when you’re out and about and take everything in together it’s tougher to see these imperfections due to the colourful world around you. When they’re more noticeable during close-ups and cutscenes, these flaws take away from what is an otherwise colourful and visceral experience. Outside of that, the text is overly small in menus, which will bother those who sit far away from their TV while gaming.
Employing dated textures isn’t the worst performance flaw that Just Cause 3 exhibits, though, because it’s also marred by long loading times and frame rate problems that appear all too often during explosions or when there’s lots going on. These problems persist despite the day one patch having been downloaded, and they really affect a game such as this, where explosions are rampant. It’s really too bad, because I don’t remember Just Cause 2 having such problems and can see people avoiding this sequel because of them.
The audio, on the other hand, is as you’d expect. It’s cheesy, raucous and, for lack of a better term, explosive. It’s your typical mix of bullets, grenades and overacting, and that’s not a bad thing. Rico also seems to have a different voice actor, who does his best Antonio Banderas impersonation. All in all, it fits the tone of the experience and is tough to really complain about.
At the end of the day, Just Cause 3 is a rather fun experience, but a disappointment nonetheless. It’s big and loud and presents a lot of different gameplay options, but none of them are handled incredibly well. Technical problems also mar the experience and make its best asset — that being its explosive nature — tougher to enjoy. As a result, I have to give it a lower score than I was hoping to.
This review is based on the physical Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
Just Cause 3 can be a very fun game, but it's not the sequel we were hoping for. There are some very impressive things to be found within its large-scale and explosive quest, and on its insanely large world of Medici, but technical problems and dated mechanics hold it back from living up to its potential.