There are times when you want a complex narrative, thoughtful, emotionally affecting and decision-driven gameplay. And there are times when you want to completely wreck your environment and cackle in glee as one ridiculously awesome stunt after another succeeds (or fails), leading to several memorable moments. Just Cause 3 is a gleeful, unabashed testament to the power of creating a destructible open-world and just letting players loose within it. There are some glitches here and there, but they’re minor annoyances in what is ultimately a triumphant sandbox extravaganza.
There’s a plot here, and it is as follows. You play as Rico Rodriguez, a rogue who’s found his way into a land oppressed by a dictator. Your job? To blow things up and foil the evil dictator’s plans. The story is really an excuse for the game to put you in situations where you get to blow things up creatively. The protagonist is an amalgamation of several badass action heroes. He’s ridiculously nimble and durable, which makes it great fun to use grappling hooks, wingsuits and parachutes in combination with other stuff in the environment to create destruction that would make Michael Bay proud.
Do take a little time to get used to. But once you get the hang of things, you’ll be able to execute death-defying stunts as easily as finishing your morning box of cereal. You’ll leap from ungodly heights, latch on to something in your environment, and slingshot back into the air. From here, you can deploy your parachute and cruise around, looking for new things to destroy. And there are plenty of things to destroy. You’ll blow helicopters out of the air. You’ll use grenade launchers and wingsuits to rain death on your enemies from above, like a vengeful god.
But the fun doesn’t stop here. Just Cause 3 features an extensive array of weapons and vehicles that you can use. Whether you’re on land, in the air or in the water, the game always has something you can pilot to your next objective. Using your grappling hook in increasingly outlandish ways in these situations never gets old. You can upgrade your grappling hook to fire two hooks at separate objects, and then reel them together. Yes, you guessed it right. You can fling an enemy into a stack of explosives or drag a helicopter into a building filled with unsuspecting enemies. If that wasn’t enough, you can fling yourself to a helicopter, send the pilot hurtling to an untimely end, and then take over the reins yourself. Just Cause 3 has a lot of guns, but you won’t rely on them as much as you normally would.
What makes this game special is the freedom it allows you to execute within the universe. You can use any permutation and combination of your tools. You could think of something outrageous in the moment and begin executing a sequence that you’d think is impossible. And several seconds later, you won’t be able to wipe the grin off your face after you’ve created your own action movie moment. The dual grappling hook tether introduces a new dynamic into a world already brimming with possibilities.
Just when you think jumping from one helicopter to the next and blowing up enemies might get old, developers Avalanche Studios mix things up. As you go around the map liberating territories, different missions will pop up. You can take part in races, fly your wingsuit competitively and rack up high scores in machine gun matches. These challenges also allow you to access new mods for your gear, making them a worthwhile pursuit. Some of these modifications will allow you to carry more ammunition and drive faster, while others will alter your weapons in more interesting ways. For example, one of the modifications for your rocket mines lends a massive knockback quality to the explosions. This means you can create more explosions that send things flying into other things. Good times.
There’s a method to all the madness. Just Cause 3 allows you the freedom to experiment while giving you more missions to play through depending on which part of the map you’re on. Sometimes, it will abandon this open-world structure for some scripted story events, which are easily the weakest part of the game. Game developers still haven’t figured out how to do escort missions well, and Just Cause 3 suffers as a result. You’ll be tailing a boat or a plane only to realize that events often unfold randomly, making the success of your mission less likely. There are other minor bugs and glitches that detract from the joy of playing Just Cause 3. Objects will disappear into thin air, parachutes will open and close at inopportune moments and enemy behavior will render completing a certain mission impossible until you make some changes.
When Just Cause 3 shines, it becomes a wildly entertaining symphony of over-the-top destruction. You’ll spend several hours thinking of inventive ways to blow things up.