Well, we all had a lot of laughs on Thursday, didn’t we? We fooled a few of you, but it was all in good fun. With that out of the way, I had some time yesterday to really sink my teeth into Just Cause 2. While the demo did give me some pause, I was willing to look past my reservations and give the game a go. It turns out that second guessing myself in this instance was a good call, because so far the game has been excellent. While the story is non-existent and the voice acting borders on offensive, the freedom that the game allows you is nothing short of revolutionary.
For those of you who haven’t picked the game up yet, you’re basically dropped into a massive island playground after a couple of requisite missions and you’re left to your own devices. When I say this island is huge, I’m not exaggerating. I stole a helicopter from a mountain top military base and flew it all the way into the capital city; all told, the trip took me twenty minutes. So, with a sandbox on such a massive scale, how does the game allow you to move around so easily?
The main hook of the travel system is the ability to use the player character’s grapple claw and parachute at any point. If you can see it, you can grapple it, and at any height above a few feet you can deploy your chute and glide away. This is something that Just Cause 2 does right that a fair few other open-world games fall short in. The ability to go anywhere quickly is essential to maintaining the player’s interest, and Just Cause 2 supplies it in spades.
We’ve talked about this before on GamerSushi, but Just Cause 2 was the first game to really make me appreciate the concession of freedom over realism. Far Cry 2, a game that was decent in most respects, quickly fell of my radar due to the horrible travel system. There was no fast travel option outside of a cross-country bus service that dropped you off in a random location, all of which happened to be far away from every mission. Considering that every quest involved driving through miles of treacherous African terrain while every militia-man with a gun and a brain cell tried to perforate your poor body, this can cause undue frustration. Not to hate on Far Cry 2 too much, but if you wanted to do the optional buddy side-quests that required even more driving.
While I appreciate UbiSoft’s commitment to realism (even if you can’t see your body when you look down), there are some occasions where you need to sacrifice some of your “vision” to make the game enjoyable. Sure, it isn’t realistic to have your character in Just Cause 2 grapple onto a mountain side and glide onto a 747 and hijack it, but dang if it isn’t fun. Another game that handles this sort of thing well is Infamous. No fall damage, the ability to grind on electric rails and later the ability to glide? Yes please.
Before I ramble on too much, what games have really captured your attention with the ease to move around? What games have caused you to abandon them due to the difficulty inherit with traveling? Are any of you plying Just Cause 2, and what do you think of it?