- Game: Just Cause 4
- Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Avalanche Studios
A Just Cause 4 review code was provided by the publisher.
Avalanche Studios has mastered the art of open-world mayhem. When it comes to wild explosions, creative uses for a grappling hook, and flying gracefully through the air after blowing up a base, the studio’s Just Cause series has all of it in spades. The last entry in the franchise signaled the debut of the series on current-gen consoles, which made for a sequel that used the power of those machines to magnify its physics systems and explosive mechanics. Just Cause 4 does more of what worked before by sticking to the basic structure it hangs its hat on. While this tried and true approach provides a few hours of introductory fun, it quickly wears thin even with the added gimmick of cataclysmic weather and more varied settings.
Rico Rodriguez, the rough and gruff revolutionary who wouldn’t be out of place in an 80’s action film, has returned to do some liberating. Fresh off of his time spent in his homeland of Medici, Rico sets his sights on a new organization that also rules over its region with an iron fist. The opposition that sets Rico on a new course are the Black Hand, a private army that once served under the direction of the dictators Rico once opposed.
Once he finds a connection between his father and the Black Hand, Rico takes a trip to the South American nation of Solís. Along his new journey, Rico runs into new freedom fighters and old faces (some welcome, some obviously unwelcome). The plot won’t win any awards for originality or creativity – it sticks to the themes Just Cause is known for and evokes memories of B-movie action fare, which is okay.
Just Cause 4 delivers its thrills in familiar ways. Rico must once again take down the well-defended forts and propaganda vehicles that navigate the skies. He also embarks upon missions that call on him to eliminate Black Hand spies, accomplish side missions with supporters to his cause, and take on a myriad of vehicle-assisted stunts. The first few hours provide plenty of thrills as you liberate different parts of the island setting and expand your liberation army. Picking up a rocket launcher to blast a pair of helicopters out of the sky and zipping right into soldiers with a dropkick soon after is all a part of the fun. The stories behind these opening missions aren’t all too enthralling – Rico’s merry band of followers don’t have much personality to spare like their fearless leader. You’ll mostly be propelled to take on your next main mission and liberate new regions with the hopes of unlocking new methods of destruction and transportation.
As you venture deeper into new locales and encounter new climate patterns, Just Cause 4’s newest gimmick comes into play. The game’s best missions employ the usage of extreme weather events, such as threatening sandstorms, tropical storms, and vicious tornados. It’s clear that Avalanche Studios put a lot of work into making sure these weather happenings provided the most fun throughout the game. It’s just too bad that these outlandish moments don’t spring up more often when you’re outside of those main missions. The more and more you’re thrown into Region Strikes and other assorted missions, the more you’ll find yourself growing a bit bored of your overall campaign. Playing around with the physics-based systems and blowing everything up in sight gets a bit old when you’re thrown into yet another base liberation mission. And repeatedly traveling through rings in your wingsuit and taking on road challenges both become pretty tiresome over time.
Another negative element that springs up the more you play are the unintentionally hilarious bugs and glitches. Hot air balloons that must be taken down randomly disappear out of thin air as you approach them. Motorcycles and other types of automobiles sink into the ground like quicksand. Enemy AI is spotty at times. And a few of the characters’ faces look a bit too glossy next to their iffy body movements at times.
With such a huge open-world put in place, these types of issues were bound to turn into a regular occurrence. Avalanche Studios’ grand open-world ambitions are sullied by the presence of such immersion breaking errors. Even with those issues present, the huge island and its many climate changes all look amazing. Soaring through the air above the island to get a better look at its varied villages, denizens, and landmarks is always an awe-inspiring experience.
Just Cause 4 Takeways
Just Cause 4 doesn’t stray too far away from what brought it to the race in the first place. It wears its B-movie action flick themes on its sleeve, regularly puts you into explosive situations, and pushes you to free the people from a totalitarian force. Rico is still a badass and it feels amazing to test his fun unique gadget loadout against bases full of soldiers and extreme weather patterns. There’s a lot of fun to be had during the first few hours of fiery mayhem.
The longer you play through it though, the more you’ll start to notice its cracks. The repetitive mission structure, bugs/glitches, and the lack of those fun weather moments during non-main campaign tasks are sadly noticeable. Just Cause 4 is a bit shoddy in some areas and is one of those releases whose fun factor depletes over time. It still provides a slew of entertaining moments, but not enough interesting takes on the types of themes that are starting to feel a bit played out.