Just Cause 3 has the potential to be a Minecraft for adults. The destructible playground it presents, makes you feel like anything is possible in its world. As Rico Rodriguez, you are a one man Expendables, killing and destroying an evil regime in the most imaginative ways possible. Unfortunately, some hefty technical glitches continue to ruin the experience, even weeks after release.
I bought the game as a fan of the previous two, and being released on Black Friday, the price was too good to be true. Unfortunately, it was too good. Reports quickly surfaced of terrible loading times and glitches. As a result, I waited until the Xbox One patch 1.02 was out. To be honest, if this is a vast improvement, I’m glad I waited.
Right from the off the loading times are horrendous, having previously played and loved Avalanche Studios Mad Max I was confident that the game world would be stable and well realised. In reality, the game world is well realised and ambitious. Unfortunately, the stability can be called into question. You start the game with a long 90-second black loading screen. This is then interrupted by the opening credits set to a nice version of the Prodigy’s Firestarter. Just when you are ready to begin the game throws another minute long screen in. Luckily, this time, there is text and hints on the screen, so you know the game hasn’t frozen. When it eventually starts you are riding on the back of a plane, firing missiles at SAM turrets as you crash land onto the fictional island of Medici. Think an isolated Cuba mixed with the feel of Netflix series Narcos and you get the vibe. As you crash land and get ready to start your adventure, a loading screen hits again.
The main issue with the loading screens is the timing. The cutscene that precedes each one, has the camera circling around to the ‘gaming angle’ behind Rico. Naturally, you then assume you are ready to begin. When this is interrupted with even a short 30-second wait, you are pulled out of the whole experience. For a game with such a large seamless map, a loading screen at this point seems unusual, however, I’m not a developer so if it is necessary then so be it. Luckily the game is still very playable. I am just being overly harsh as the improvements made were meant to be drastic. You only need to search online for the original horror stories. Twenty-minute loading screens etc. The game is now playable if a little frustrating. On a positive, the only reason you are so frustrated is because the action when it gets going is fantastic. This is a game for your inner Schwarzenegger.
Literally, the island is your playground. Once the initial load is over you are free to explore on boats, planes, cars, motorcycles and more importantly, your grappling hook/parachute/wingsuit combo. Some people would pay for a game that let you wingsuit as seamlessly as this. Hop in a helicopter and take it up into the atmosphere, then just drop and all your wingsuit dreams come true. You can soar and fly with perfect precision. Online videos show people hitting some crazy gaps in the scenery. Best of all when it goes wrong the game is very forgiving with its death states. You literally have to smack into a wall from space to be killed by falling. While a little unrealistic it keeps you away from the dreaded loading screens.
The grapple parachute combo is a little harder to master than I remember in previous games, yet is still effective in getting around the map with no vehicle. It can leave you stranded if you misfire the hook. Still, with practice, these episodes become few and far between. By completing challenges around the world you can level up the power and speed of your hook, making this traversal much easier. The challenges themselves are usually, simple point to point checkpoints. There is the new bomb vehicle challenge. Like a small version of speed, you keep the speed above a certain level until you can bail off and let it career into the target building. By their nature, these challenges require restarts and here the loading screen returns. Live with this and you will go far.
The real star of the show is the tether. By holding lb you fire on hook off in one direction and hook a target. Then when you aim and let go of lb you fire the other end. After this is mastered the possibilities are endless. The first to try is the rocketman. Hit an enemy soldier with the tether, preferably on the foot, they stand stunned while you connect the other end to a gas tank. If you are quick you can shoot the bottom of the gas tank and send it into space with the explosion, towing the helpless rocketeer behind. Achievement unlocked and devious mind now open to trying more.
The destruction this can cause is monumental. Attach one end to a pillar and the other to a helicopter and watch as the chopper destroys the pillar or depending on the momentum the chopper crashes and burns. When objects are tethered holding the left trigger brings the two together. So attach one large structure to another and tighten the rope. Hopefully, they will rip into each other with a fiery explosion. Or the rope will snap until it is levelled up. Early tasks even involve you using the tether as a tow rope to help people who have ran out of fuel get to a petrol station. These random encounters can be some of the most fun in the game.
The main missions themselves range from simple destruction tasks to liberate areas of the map, to defined missions where you begin to topple the evil dictator and free Medici. In my opinion, this is secondary to the sheer amount of destruction and fun on offer. Hopefully, the developer continues to patch this and make it the AAA title it should be. For now, you may wish to wait for the winter sales.