There have been some incredible sandbox games in the past. Most of us remember the more familiar, titles with “GTA” prefixing them – and most of us have played them for hours, just mucking about causing trouble and getting sidetracked before even discovering that there’s some sort of story and even missions to accompany it all.
Avalanche Studios have a new contender to the genre, however. One that promises greatness. One-thousand square kilometres of sandbox. Over a hundred unique vehicles. Almost four-hundred individual settlements.
Just Cause 2 has arrived to whet the appetites of the open-world gamer. Offering freedom and raw chaos, it attempts to take the crown for the genre.
We find ourselves in the South-East Asian island of “Panau”. Agency Agent Rico Rodriguez, the game’s main protagonist, has been dispatched to the region in order to oust Panau’s new dictator, “Baby Panay” from his oppressive and brutal regime. Additionally, Rico’s side mission is seeking out and killing Tom Sheldon, an agent suspected of going rogue during Panau’s regime change.
Much of Just Cause 2’s game play hinges around Rico’s arm-mounted grapple. This ability to grapple and winch to pretty much any solid surface makes getting around Panau’s massive environment a breeze. It also allows for a whole host of possibility. Being pursued by an army jeep? Grapple to their car and grapple the other end to the ground for spectacular stopping power. Need to make a quick escape? Grapple to an attacking helicopter, hijack it and make for the hills.
Couple this mechanic with Rico’s “reloadable” parachute, which can be deployed almost anywhere, at any time – at any speed faster than a crawl – and you can make some very quick escapes when the heat is on. Similarly, using the two in conjunction, grapple and parachute for a ‘slingshot’ ground effect makes travelling at low altitude a great and practical solution to replace lengthy walks between areas.
Of course, in a game world as big as Panau – with roughly 1000 square kilometres of usable area to explore and traverse, your trusty grapple and parachute are going to be vastly inadequate. There are over one hundred vehicles available in Just Cause 2, ranging from basic Scooters all the way up to super-sonic Jet Fighter planes. Panau’s major economic investment is military – and this is echoed in the majority of vehicles found throughout the land. Military jeeps, trucks, transporters, tanks, attack helicopters and bikes are in common occurrence and most importantly, easily stolen. There is nothing like circle strafing a Panay-controlled oil rig, showering it in minigun bullets in one of their very own attack choppers.
You have a good range of weapons at your disposal also. Rico is capable of carrying 3 weapons at a time on his person. There is an assortment of handguns, heavy machine guns and then your heavier weapons, such as the rocket launcher and grenade launcher. Smaller, one-handed weapons like the sub-machine gun can be dual wielded for extra punch. Ammo can be acquired from the corpses of fallen army soldiers, found in crates scattered throughout the world, or called in via the Black Market dealer.