The ‘Black Market’ is your gateway to new weapons, upgrades and specialist vehicles. Unlocked a short while into the game, you have the ability of calling in a transport helicopter and can order new weapons (or restock ammo by reordering your currently equipped weapon), and agency vehicles including armoured sports cars, tanks, attack helicopters and utility vehicles. Additionally, ‘extractions’ allow you quick transport between any discovered settlements in the game world.
Collectables are found throughout the world, falling into 4 major categories (vehicle parts, weapon parts, armour parts & cash). Vehicle parts and weapon parts can be used to upgrade your agency items, redeemable on the Black Market – increasing vehicle speed, fire-power, magazine size etc..
The three main ‘gangs’ or factions of Panau consist of the Roaches, Reapers, and Ular Boys. There are 49 Faction Missions available throughout Panau, with mission structure varying from escort, to assassination, to supply. While the Faction missions are nothing new to the world of gaming, their approach and setting in the Just Cause 2 world make them quite enjoyable.
Additionally, there are 7 “Agency” missions, specific tie ins to the main story line and unlocked as you earn more Chaos.
There are two main currencies in Just Cause 2, Cash (from the Collectables) and most importantly, ‘Chaos‘. Everything that can be destroyed in Panau, particularly structures and items controlled by Baby Panay’s oppressive Government, earn you Chaos upon demolition. Fuel storage tanks, pipelines, power generators, communication towers etc, all contribute to Chaos and unlocking new missions.
There are over 300 Settlements within Panau, scattered throughout the many islands. Everything from tiny, irrelevant villages, to sprawling mountainside military fortresses and air force bases. I’ve spent over 25 hours in Panau thus far, but I am still finding new, exciting facilities. I flew over a gigantic Satellite dish just recently. Ran a mission though a huge space station just before that. Encountered an International Airport. There’s even a floating blimp brothel. Just when you thought you’d seen it all, it manages to throw a new settlement in that completely blows you away.
Strongholds are scattered about the map as well, constituting facilities like Chemical Plants and Docks. Running specific stronghold missions for each of the factions of Panau increases their ‘area of influence’. Doing so unlocks special timed race challenges, new faction missions – as well as revealing the location of special Faction Collectables.
The sheer size of Panau is stunning. I honestly believe you could spend over 50 hours in this game and still not see half of it. And the amazing thing is that there’s always something to see. There aren’t massive barren areas like you had in games like San Andreas. There’s always a reason to go everywhere, whether it be for a mission, challenge, collectable or just sight-seeing, Settlements around Panau are always worth a look.
Just Cause 2 is a sandbox gamers wet dream. Throw in YouTube upload support, able to automatically record the last 30 seconds of your awesome accidental stunts – or up to 10 minutes of planned footage manually – and it truly is a special package.
Graphics & Sound
Avalanche Studios have produced one of the most glorious open-world, sandbox environments ever seen. Those who played the demo will know of the scale. Upon picking up the full release however, you are completely and utterly overwhelmed by what has been accomplished.