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Game review: Just Cause 4 on PC
Mon, 10th Dec 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

One-man army and scourge of dictators the world over, Rico Rodriguez, returns to wreak over-the-top havoc for a fourth time. This time the island nation of Solís is our hero's sandbox, ripe for destruction.

Just Cause 4 allows players to live out their most direct-to-video action movie fantasies. This third-person shooter gives you all the tools, trucks, tanks, cars, boats, planes and helicopters you need to unleash unadulterated carnage, take on the forces of the Black Hand and find out more about your father's secret.

As with previous entries, Just Cause 4's story is puddle deep. You have the familiar island nation, ruthless leader, rebel fighters, exotic and heavily accented female resistance leader, etc, etc. Yep, it's basically the same as before. The plot is only there to serve up missions that reward you with more equipment which you can use to cause more mayhem.

The star of the show is the incredible physics simulation and environment that the guys at Avalanche Studios have created for you to play in. And what a destructive playground it is.

Solís is packed full of enemy bases and outposts each with plenty of red-painted objects ready to be blown into pieces. No game has explosions as over-the-top as these. Stand too close and they'll knock Rico off his feet.

Upping the ante, this time we also have destructive elemental effects to avoid/play with/send enemies into. The weather controlling installation at the centre of the island is protected by a deadly lightning storm, whereas the desert's sandstorms will completely obscure your visibility.

The pièce de résistance is a tornado that carves its way across the landscape, taking buildings, vehicles, people and even livestock and sucking them into the vortex. The tornado makes for some great parachuting and wingsuit antics. There's a lot of fun to be had in this game.

Yep, once again, Rico has his gravity-defying wingsuit and parachute to get about in style. This time, his trusty grapple has been upgraded and can be customised with almost limitless combinations of unlockable mods. You are given three combinations which can be adjusted to trigger tethers, balloons, and boosters. You can adjust the intensity, the trigger and many other mods as they unlock.

Just as the developers have outdone themselves with the game's physics simulation, the island nation of Solís looks amazing. The jungle is lush, the desert hot (with a great heat haze effect) and the snow-covered mountains, picturesque. The landscape is pepper with interesting features like waterfalls, ravines, valleys and mountain. It's a great place to explore and all those highly combustible enemy outposts make things all the more interesting.

90% of the game's fun is derived from just messing about with it - blowing stuff up, tying balloons to cows and making booster propelled vehicles. As grand as that is, all this great stuff shows up the comparatively lacklustre mission system.

Each region has a hub that consists of a main mission. Once the main mission is complete; the rebels gain control of the region and player gets a new item that can be delivered via an airdrop.

Most locations also have a series of air, land and sea challenges. Carrying out these challenges unlock the side missions that reward Rico with new mods for his grapple.

For the most part the main missions are more of an annoying chore, required only to grant the player more destructive toys to play with.  They are all very similar, involving flipping circuit breakers and pressing different console buttons scattered across enemy bases.

I played the PC version of the game and, sadly, performance-wise, it's not without its faults. On a machine equipped with an Intel 8700K, 32GB of DDR-3200 memory and graphics powered by a state-of-the-art GeForce 2080Ti GPU, I'd expect great performance. When the action heats up on the screen, the game regularly pauses, not something that I'd expect from a AAA title like this. Hopefully this will be sorted out in a patch, but right now it is an annoyance.

If you enjoy wanton destruction, as well as access to hundreds of weapons, cars, boats and aircraft in order maximise the carnage, Just Cause 4 delivers and then some. If you like repetitive missions involving circuit breakers and pressing buttons, you are in for a treat. If, however, you want a deep gameplay experience and interesting plot, you may be left wanting.

Just Cause 4 is a game that is a lot of fun to mess with, but progressing with the missions is a chore. The racing and side activities make good use of the amazing landscape and certainly break up the cookie-cutter mission-system. It is, however, gaming's greatest destructive sandbox yet. The over-the-top lunacy almost makes up for the game's lack of depth. Yes, the missions are a bit lame, but it's still a fun game to play. Fun, but rather dumb.

Verdict: 8.0/10