Thursday, April 26, 2018

Just Cause 3 XL Edition Review (PS4, XONE)

When Just Cause 3 launched in December 2015 it was a game people wanted to love because it was massive and generally fun, but an abysmal framerate and lengthy load times killed the joy a bit. Fast forward to 2018, though, when the game can regularly be found on sale complete with all of its DLC for dirt-cheap and suddenly all of those issues sort of fade away. If you love giant sandbox games that let you just goof off and have fun, and you have $12 to spare, there is no reason not to play Just Cause 3. Continue reading for our full review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Square Enix     
  • Developer: Avalanche Studios
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: Action
  • Pros: Incredibly fun gameplay; intuitive controls; tons of content; nice visuals
  • Cons: Exceedingly poor performance; a bit repetitive
  • MSRP: $45* (buy it on sale for much less!)
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I’ll start this off by saying that I gave the original release of Just Cause 3 a lower score back when I reviewed the Xbox One version for That was back when it was $60, though, and things change as time goes on and prices go down. These days the Just Cause 3 XL Edition, which comes with the base game plus three huge DLC expansions that add things like mechs and other cool stuff, is on sale on Xbox Live and PSN pretty regularly for about $12. I wouldn’t buy it for more than that, but for $12 you are getting an incredibly good deal on, and I’m not over-exaggerating, 100+ hours of content. It still does have some problems, which I’ll detail below, but for $12 you’ll definitely get your money’s worth and have a good time.

Since the game is a few years old at this point, I won’t get into the nitty gritty details too much. You play as Rico Rodriguez, a special agent who is essentially a professional match that lights the powder keg of revolution against brutal dictatorships around the world. In Just Cause 3 it’s personal, however, as he returns to his home country to free his people.

The way Rico leads rebellions is by blowing up pretty much everything he sees that carries the distinctive red paint job of the enemy. With a combination of explosive weapons, grenades, and remote mines, as well as standards machine guns and shotguns and stuff, he takes over military bases and liberates towns and villages. You spend about 90% of your time freely exploring and playing in the (massive) open world attacking bases, freeing towns, finding hidden collectibles, and completing challenges (that give you new abilities and upgrades) and about 10% doing story missions. The story missions are tightly scripted and like an epic action movie while what you do in the open world is totally up to you.

What makes the Just Cause series so fun is that traversal around the huge maps is effortless and easy thanks to the fact that Rico has a Spider-Man-esque tether he can swing around on as well as an infinite parachute he can use to fly all over. Just Cause 3 makes it even better thanks to smoother and easier controls and the addition of a wingsuit so you can just glide all over the place. You can also use the tether to tie things together as well, such as tying cars together, tying a soldier to a propane tank that flies up in the air and explodes, you can tie a helicopter to the ground and reel it in until it makes impact and blows up – pretty much anything you can imagine doing, you can do in Just Cause 3. It’s freaking awesome.

You’re totally free to do whatever you want and you can accomplish it pretty much whenever and however you wish. You can approach every military base and every encounter differently and do different crazy stuff and it always works, and it’s always fun. With that said, it’s all maybe a little too big. You can play for hours and hours and feel like you’re accomplishing a ton of stuff only to have a huge chunk of the map left untouched. The game can start to feel a bit repetitive after a while because attacking bases – all with identical fuel tanks and radio towers and other stuff – and liberating towns – by blowing up identical speaker systems and statues of the dictator – does start to get old after a while. As long as you don’t just grind away at the same objectives over and over, however, and make sure to go do some other stuff in between, it’s not so bad, though.

Of course, the elephant in the room whenever you talk about Just Cause 3 is still the long load times and poor overall performance and, unfortunately, not much has changed since launch. The initial load time when you start the game is much shorter than it used to be, thankfully, but other load times such as when you die or want to restart a challenge are still pretty lengthy. The overall performance is still pretty abysmal, though, with framerates regularly dropping into the single digits whenever you do, well, pretty much anything. It can be argued that blowing stuff up looks cooler in slo-mo, which it does, but the game just crawls along at some points.

Another issue is that the game, for whatever reason, has extensive online integration so it can keep track of everything you do and update it to leaderboards. This is sort of cool, but Square Enix’s servers suck and constantly disconnect you. Then the game tries to connect again and it always takes ridiculously longer than it should. This was a problem back in 2015 on Xbox and is still a problem in 2018 on PS4 (which I’m playing it on currently). Even when you select to play in offline mode, the game still constantly tries to connect. They really should just turn the online features off.

Even with these still lingering issues, however, Just Cause 3 is a ton of fun and the XL Edition is an absolute steal if you wait to buy it on sale. Blowing stuff up is awesome and moving around the world just feels freaking great. The wide variety of activities you can do and the huge amount of toys the game gives you to play with is unmatched. Just Cause 3 is janky and runs like a pig, but dang is it fun. Don’t hesitate to buy it for cheap.