Explosions are Liberating
Rico Rodriguez is a professional dictator remover (no really, it’s on his business card) who is armed with a rifle, a special weapon (I was partial to the RPG launcher), dual hand pistols, an infinite supply of C4, and a grappling hook. The man doesn’t know how to do anything without causing chaos. He’s freed other countries in the previous games, but now he has returned home to the Mediterranean island collective of Medici to dethrone yet another dictator. There is already a rebel presence, but for whatever reason, they need the one-man run-and-gun show of Rico to turn the tide for them.
As previously mentioned, this game really isn’t played for the story, and there’s barely one present. The story is essentially there to give both Rico and the player a reason to find the most creative ways possible to killing soldiers and taking down bases. The story missions simply exist to unlock new equipment and abilities and break up a bit of the monotony from liberating provinces. Without the story missions, you won’t get a chance to see Rico grapple and surf on a missile. That right there tells you virtually everything you need to know about the story.
Just Cause 3 Review - Things That Make You Go Boom (PS4) - PlayStation LifeStyle
Clearing out each province is both a highlight and a beating, depending on how you personally prefer your open world games. If you dig the style of inFamous, Mad Max, or Assassin’s Creed, then chances are you will have just as much fun doing this, especially if you like blowing up everything under the Mediterranean sun. To liberate a province, Rico has to liberate each settlement within the province. Rico liberates a settlement by tearing down all of General di Ravello’s various methods of holding down a village with his thumb. If the settlement is a village, then Rico destroys the local police station, tears down the General’s statue and his billboards, demolishes all propaganda machines, and then raises a flag to show that it is free. If the settlement is a military base, then Rico wreaks havoc upon everything marked red, like a giant target that says, “Blow me up! Please!” It’s the same everywhere you go, which can get monotonous unless you actively look for creative ways to keep doing the same thing, such as tethering gas cans to helicopters and reeling it in for an explosive delivery.
The monotony worsens when you realize there are multiple provinces on each region of islands. Just when you think you’re making good progress, all it takes is a quick zoom out on the map to see how little you’ve actually accomplished. The map is massive and extremely overwhelming, to say the least.
Challenges can also break up the monotony, which appear after a settlement has been liberated. The Challenges are similar to what one might find in a Saint’s Row game, but here they’re all 100% optional. By completing Challenges, Rico can earn Gears to buy MODs for weapons and vehicles, but none are needed to get through the game. If you’re as terrible as gliding in the wingsuit as I am, you can ignore all of the wingsuit challenges and never fear that it will negatively impact your experience. Many of the MODs are nice, but Rico can obtain some of their uses on his own. For example, by earning Gears in the airplane races, Rico can get more flares to use for summoning Fast Travel, which is highly needed across this monstrosity of a world. However, Rico can also Fast Travel without flares from any province that has been liberated.
Load Times are Not Liberating.
When I first heard that the load times for Just Cause 3 were abysmal, I laughed it off and asked how bad could they be? Oh they are so, so bad. So very bad.
When I first started the game, I watched a lovely scene of Rico enjoying what must be a Corona on a beach looking out at an island burning in the distance. A button prompt appeared, so I pressed X and the game loaded. And loaded. And yeah, it’s still loading. I timed it once because I couldn’t believe how long I was sitting, and the load time was nearly 10 minutes. When it finishes loading, the title screen appears, asking if the player wants to continue or load a new game. At least the game doesn’t have a load time when entering a settlement, and the load times between starting new missions and fast traveling are very short.
Dying or restarting a Challenge, though? It’s almost as bad as the initial load of the game. I timed one Challenge restart, and the load took over 3 minutes. I’ve never had so much motivation not to die in a game before. The auto-saving is fantastic if I was killed during a settlement liberation, in that I never had to repeat my destruction; whatever I destroyed before my untimely death stayed destroyed upon respawn. Rico even respawned close to the settlement. But waiting for him to reappear was nearly excruciating. I suppose I could thank Avalanche Studios for these long load times, as they were opportune times for bathroom breaks and sandwich making.
Medici is Liberating
Just Cause 3 is hardly game of the year material, and it knows it. The game constantly makes fun of itself, Rico has plenty of cheesy yet hilarious one-liners he likes to throw out while watching his exploding handiwork, and the NPCs constantly ask him how he does what he does. The game isn’t meant to be deep or perplexing; it’s meant to be fun and tap into that inner madman who just wants to make things go boom, and Just Cause 3 succeeds in doing just that.
Review copy for Just Cause 3 provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.