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"Your world... Your rules! In Just Cause, you are a field operative and specialist in regime change backed by a top US secret government agency who will overthrow the corrupt government of San Esperito. The rogue South American State is suspected of stockpiling Weapons of Mass Destruction, and it's your mission to negate the threat this poses to world peace. It could be to your advantage that the tropical paradise is about to implode as various factions vie for power - it just needs a gentle nudge in the right direction.
Just Cause offers the freedom to tackle your assignments however you want: playing the island's factions against one another, inciting a rebellion among the masses and building alliances with rebel forces and drug cartels. The action takes place in an incredibly detailed game world that consists of over 250,000 acres of mountains, jungles, beaches, cities and villages. The island can be explored by land, sea and air, as you will have at your disposal one of the most varied and exciting array of vehicles ever seen in a video game."
I recently purchased this game intrigued by the idea of tropical GTA; the game uses a similar free roaming landscape but much larger in size (too large by many accounts). You play Rico Rodriguez a CIA operative sent to the islands of San Esperito to overthrow a corrupt dictatorship. The game draws its premise (and name) from the real-life United States invasion of Panama, code-named "Operation Just Cause", which involved United States military action to overthrow military leader and drug lord believed to have weapons of mass destruction. In the game you will play through around 21 main story missions in attempt to assassinate the evil President Mendoza and restore peace to the fictional San Esperito.
The core gameplay consists of a variety of elements including a large proportion of third-person shooting (with a basic auto aiming target feature), a driving game with a large, open environment to move around in, although the roads are at times hard to stick to. On foot, the player's character is capable of walking, swimming, and jumping, as well as utilizing weapons and basic hand to hand combat. Players can take control of a variety of vehicles, including cars, boats, airplanes, helicopters, and motorcycles. Luckily if your stuck without a vehicle their is a useful PDA which includes maps and an innovative 'heavy drop' feature allowing the player to call a helicopter to drop a vehicle near by for your use.
Players to explore and choose how they wish to play the game. Although the storyline missions are necessary to progress through the game, you can complete them at their own leisure. When not taking on a storyline mission, players can free-roam and create havoc. However, doing so can attract unwanted and potentially fatal attention from the authorities. You can also have some fun earning the games possible 50 achievements and 1000 gamerscore; some are fun challenges like base jumping form a certain height and others are linear achievements from completing a certain proportion of the games story or side missions. Unfortunately the game offers no multiplayer offline or online and to date there are no Xbox Live expansions in existence or planned for the future. In terms of longevity I played for between 20 - 30 hours, I would guess that the 21 main story missions could be completed in around 8 - 10 hours. With over 300 side missions I was bored before I finished them so I spent an additional number of hours completing side missions and just generally exploring the game in hope to gain some achievements.
The main story missions are all reasonably fun and not too challenging in fact one minor gripe with the game is the general ease of play; it has been said that the gameplay lacks any real depth and this maybe true if compared to the likes of GTA etc. Players can partake in a variety of optional side missions. These are generally quite similar in intent but are necessary to gain points with certain factions and to gain all of the games 1000 gamerscore and complimentary achievements. At any time the free style of gameplay can leave you exploring the huge environment which is at times bleak and to be honest I would rather have a smaller game play area with more detail and things to do. Free roaming is fun but like any other sandbox game it will get boring, it was also take around 20 mins to diagonally cross the play area in an average speed helicopter or plane, which can be frustrating.
If your the type of person who complains about unrealistic situations in GTA then this game isn't for you, similar to GTA the whole game has a slight essence of cartoon. The physics are highly unrealistic you can perform comic book style stunts which involve base-jumping, jumping between moving vehicles and grappling moving helicopters amongst others. Luckily you have infinite parachutes which can be deployed from any altitude as your character can take damage form falling. Effects at times such as shooting and driving are far from realistic, bodies fade fast and blood effects are not impressive; the handling of vehicles seems very sensitive and this is often frustrating.
The graphics are in many ways the most appealing factor of the game, no other titles on the XBOX 360 look quite as beautiful, the landscapes are rendered with the Avalanche engine and from any high altitude in the game they are frankly stunning. Closer up at times such as the on foot gameplay is less impressive, effects on things such as Rico running are amusingly unsatisfying, the graphics are also a lot more grainy when your on the ground. The sound affects and music is less impressive to my knowledge the game has no licensed music tracks unlike its main Sandbox rivals GTA, Saints Row, Crackdown etc. There seems to be a few music tracks which play over the top of the whole game which have an appealing tropical feel to them but they get very repetitive. The sound is a bit disappointing as well, the engine sounds, gunfire and explosions all seem a little inadequate.
On the whole the game received good critical acclaim which can be seen from the slightly over the top 9/10 received from the '360 Gamer Magazine UK' which can sometimes be boasted on a sticker on the games case. In addition Just Cause topped the UK charts for several weeks.
Publisher - Eidos Interactive Developer - Avalanche Studios Engine - Avalanche Release date: September 22, 2006 (UK) Genre/Mode: Single player Third-person shooter/Action adventure Rating: Mature (M)