Just Cause 3

Sometimes I just want a game I can have up while I’m listening to a podcast or YouTube, and I’ve found my Steam library lacking in this respect. Mini Metro and Cities Skylines were good options, but I thought explosions were in order.

So I bought myself Just Cause 3.

I barely played Just Cause 2 and gave up on it because my last save starts on an escort mission with barely enough ammo to make it through. The intro was fun, what could be better than single-handedly assaulting a military base and then grappling up a skyscraper because shut up, do it, that’s why. But maybe I should’ve carried on playing on that high, instead of whatever turned up.

Nevertheless, Just Cause 3 is a brilliant replacement for that need of EXPLOSIONS in my life.

I’m gonna liberate this town so hard

First off, the game looks incredible – it’s colourful, the grass is green, the sky is blue and the water is reflective, and it’s just amazing to look at from every angle; on foot, handbraking around a corner or plummeting into it from a wingsuit. It really does feel like a beautiful, nameless Mediterranean paradise.

Combat is simple and effective – point, shoot, that thing blows up. Perfect. I wish there were some better melee options (maybe I’m just missing something here), but sometimes an elbow to the jaw is enough. I especially like that when you’re riddled with bullets with the structural integrity of Swiss cheese, the camera fades to greyscale and just the enemy soldiers are in colour.

Something that I hadn’t really noticed at first, but soon picked up on when I started hijacking missile launching vehicles, was just how much of the terrain was destructible. If not by straight up blowing it up, you can shoot down the legs of a sniper tower and watch the whole thing come crashing down.

The HUD is minimal, at best. There’s at most 4 different icons on screen at a time; grenades (which I have forgotten how to throw), ammo, grapples and the leaderboard (which I’ll get to in a minute). It’s great to just have a screen full of pretty scenery, explosions and Rico Rodriguez.

Don’t die, don’t die, don’t DIE… (I died)

That isn’t to say it doesn’t have it’s issues. Just Cause 3 does seem to chug along sometimes, and not always because of a huge battle going on. Driving seems to be particularly bad for me, with frame rate drops and a general sense of the game dragging itself behind. I’ve not got a particularly monstrous battlestation and I’ve tweaked my settings down a notch, but it still feels like a slog.

Avalanche did release a patch last week (1.021) that offered “improved memory management” and general stability fixes, amongst other things. I assume this has been applied on my game, but I haven’t seen any difference.

Another aspect that’s been particularly grating in my experience has been the connectivity issues. As you can see in the (totally not staged) screenshot below, there is a leaderboard on the right hand side. Just Cause 3 has an online component that basically pops up when you’ve broken a silly record (longest drift, most explosions caused, longest time not spent smashing face into road) and pits you against random people online – or your friends, I guess, but I don’t have any.

During the first week of playing, this was constantly disconnecting and reconnecting, stopping everything for up to 5 minutes while it tried to reconnect and then giving me “option” to go into Offline Mode. This would have been fine, if it hadn’t immediately tried to go back online when I paused next, stopping me from doing anything for another 5 minutes.

The online connectivity has been disabled for the time being, while they try to fix the issue, but I do hope they put an actual, working Offline mode in the next patch.

Cool guys don’t look at explosions

Overall, I don’t regret this purchase – even if the cons do seem to go on forever there. It does look fantastic and it’s a joy to liberate these towns, blowing everything up as I go along. Hopefully Avalanche get the remaining issues ironed out soon, so I don’t have to grumble quite so much, but it’s a pretty decent game right now.


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