Editor’s Note, Nov. 15, 2018: The following review is posted for archival purposes only. It is shown in its original form, and may not meet our current editorial standards.
Just Cause 3 is a near perfect sand box game that offers endless hours of fun, but suffers from poor performance on consoles.
- Insane Level of Destruction
- Open to Player Creativity
- Addicting Gameplay
- Massive Map With Tons of Activities
- Gorgeous Graphics
- Performance Issues on Console
- Bad Story-Telling, But Story Mission Gameplay is Fun
You know something? Blowing stuff up is really freakin’ fun. Really freaking fun. The more stuff that can explode the better and, in Just Cause 3, everything can explode. The level of destructive environments is incredible. Pretty much everything except for towns’ buildings can be blown up. And when you’re not too busy explodin’ shit, Just Cause 3 also has an enormous open-world map full of activities to do and stuff to see. While it suffers from poor performance issues on the Playstation 4, and it doesn’t offer the most compelling story, Just Cause 3 offers something that many games these days don’t: pure, over-the-top, silly fun that gives players almost total control in how they overcome an obstacle or complete an objective.
The main thing you do in Just Cause 3 is liberate towns and outposts that are under control of the oppressive General Di Ravello. You can liberate any of the outposts at any time, as long as you have first discovered their location by exploring the map. Once you’re inside, you usually have to fight off the enemies within the area while at the same time destroy fundamental parts of the base, such as radars, generators, satellites, and towers. If you are liberating a town, you must also raise a flag in the town square after everything else is destroyed. Some outposts may also have special objectives as well. Once you’ve found and liberated all settlements in a province, the entire province becomes liberated, and enemies are no longer present. Once you free all provinces in a region, the entire region becomes liberated, and so on until the entire map is out of the control of Di Ravello.
The great thing about liberating outposts (and really the game in general) is that, because Just Cause 3 offers so many ways of doing things, you truly get to control how you approach the outpost. If you wanna grapple onto the bottom of a flying helicopter upside down and shoot enemies from above, you can. If you want to blow a hole into the wall of the base and go straight in guns-blazin’, well you can do that too. The game is completely open to you finding new and creative ways to demolish entire buildings and blow stuff up. Liberating outposts was a blast throughout the game, and they never got as repetitive as they can get in other games.
Apart from liberating outposts, a large chunk of your time in Just Cause 3 is spent doing story missions, which are unlocked by completing activities such as liberating outposts or completing previous story missions. I can’t really go into detail as to the story itself, because honestly I didn’t pay much attention to it. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in the story, at least not at first, but the game simply didn’t do a good job of telling it at times. The pacing could’ve been better, and important dialog would often play in the middle of a mission which made it hard to pay attention or hear under all the explosions. This caused disinterest for me and I eventually just stopped paying attention completely. There is a story there, and Just Cause 3 does tell it in a mostly competent manner from what I can tell, but it just didn’t click for me. The story doesn’t feel like it’s the main focus of this game anyway, and if you just get the gist of it you’ll be fine.
The actual gameplay of the story missions wasn’t quite as bad as the story itself. Again, like outposts, you can approach the objectives any way you want for the most part, the only difference being that the game may give you a starting vehicle or weapon, which in most cases you can abandon during the course of the mission if you wished to. The only thing that matters in a story mission is that the main objective gets completed, the game generally doesn’t care how that gets done. Instead the game leaves it in the control of the player, and allows the player to come up with their own solution. Again, it’s incredibly satisfying to know that, when you’ve completed a mission, you did so on your own terms using your own creativity. Overall the missions are pretty fun, even if they don’t actually tell a compelling story, and at the very least offer you more stuff to shoot and destroy.
Just Cause 3 is set on a huge open-world island (the fictional island of Medici, to be exact) packed with stuff to do alongside the story missions and the outpost liberations. The game’s map is huge. Words cannot describe just how big of a map is in Just Cause 3 (check out the video below to see for yourself). You can spend hours just flying around in your wing suit taking in the landscape and scenery. I spent my first 12 hours or so on the starting island alone, not even leaving it to explore the rest of the world. Apart from exploring, the game also offers “challenges” that are spread all about the world. These are unlocked by completing outpost liberations, and when completed they earn you “gears” which are used to upgrade your equipment. The challenges are categorized by the type of gear they help you upgrade; for example, the race challenges unlock car upgrades and the wing suit challenges unlock wing suit upgrades. There are also random events that appear on your map, and they consist of things like helping citizens tow their vehicles or kidnapping important people.
The game does have a few technical issues that can cause frustrating moments. While the game has high graphical fidelity, and the world looks gorgeous, the game suffers very noticeable performance issues on the Playstation 4. For the most part the game stayed at a decent frame rate of 30 frames per second, but there were many times where the frame rate would drop dramatically, such as when multiple things are exploding or otherwise being destroyed all at once. Obviously, in a game where the point is to blow up stuff, this became an issue. I consistently encountered frame rate drops to the mid to low 20s while liberating bases and towns, and sometimes even entering towns or outposts would be enough the slow the frame rate. Players on Xbox One are reporting even worse drops. While I personally didn’t consider these drops to be game breaking, they were noticeable and they were annoying at times. Another problem I ran into was constantly being disconnected from “online services.” More frustrating than that was that when I opted to go into “offline mode,” the game would still try to connect, making me wait for up to one minute. Other issues include long loading times and game crashes.
Overall, Just Cause 3 is just silly, stupid fun. If you want to shoot or blow shit up, this is the game for you. And underneath the action-packed craziness is actually a really compelling open world game with lots to do, see, and explore. On top of that there is a story to play too, and though it’s not the most imaginative or creative, I don’t think it’s meant to be. The game is just an excuse to see explosions, and it delivers on those expectations. Just Cause 3 is pure, unfiltered fun, and is the ideal sandbox/open-world game, giving players almost total control of their game. If not for the few technical issues, it would be a perfect game.