I have never played a Just Cause game before this. They just never looked particularly interesting to me. There are dozens of similar open world GTA-type games out there and most of the time they don’t look different enough from each other to be worth the heavy time investment. The wonderfully inventive and nice looking destruction in Just Cause 3 was enough to catch my attention this time though.
The wonderfully wacky parachute/grapple/wingsuit mechanic that lets you zip all over the place like Spider-Man on drugs with guns and the over the top, mass destruction of every enemy structure in sight is where this game really excels. That and the potential for horribly mistreating the poor, poor civilians that you’re fighting so hard for.
What you’re really trying to do is free the land of a cartoonishly evil dictator and blah blah blah revolution, but THIS stuff is what the game is REALLY all about.
It’s good that it does these things so well too, because in many other ways this game is very flawed. For instance, the story and characters are absolute shit. JC3 has about the single most generic and uninteresting plot I’ve seen in probably the last decade. The characters are pointless caricatures and referring to them as one dimensional may even be giving them too much credit.
The game seems to be kind of a reverse version of the usual open world system in that way too. Usually the main story missions in a game like this are the most polished and exciting and everything else around is just repetitive filler, and I suppose the “everything else” in this is technically just filler too, but here it is ridiculously fun and explosively unpredictable filler, whereas the main story missions try to do interesting scripted set-pieces, but usually just end up feeling too restricted and often, more than a little shoddy.
It was always more fun to just run around re-taking territory and performing horrible experiments on the local civilians and wildlife.
There are also many secrets and collectibles to be found, which unlock some extra special vehicles and weapons. There are also the challenge missions. Oh fuck, the challenge missions. These things are the worst. I absolutely do not believe that most of these were tested in any way before release. Many of them are buggy and broken and an unbelievable amount of them are not only unbeatable with the given default vehicle or weapon, but some are not beatable at all with ANY type of vehicle/weapon that the challenge is named for.
For example, there may be a Boat Frenzy Challenge, where you need to get use a boat to destroy as many objects as possible before the time runs out and meet a point requirement. This can only be done by maintaining a constant string of destruction to maintain a constant combo multiplier, which starts dropping after a few quick seconds, but…you can’t move and shoot at the same time in boats. The only guns on boats are turrets on the sides, so you have to move the boat to a new target-filled location, get out of the driver’s seat (and sit through the animation of that), and get to a gun, or try to zip around to a different boat way across the way, but it doesn’t matter because neither way can be done in less than the 2-3 seconds it takes for the combo meter to start dropping, and the point requirement is so strict that if your combo meter drops at all, you cannot win all 5 stars.
The only way to get the most points is to ignore the rules and use various exploits. Find trucks with guns and place them in strategic positions beforehand and then just use the trucks, or sometimes the challenges are broken more in your favor, like when you need to do an impossible rocket launcher challenge, but oh look there’s an armed helicopter sitting RIGHT THERE, so why would you even bother trying to do it on foot? Such a mess.
I actually got up to 99% completion of the game at the end and ended up just giving up and finishing because I just couldn’t bring myself to spend hours and hours practicing and/or trying to get lucky on the last few ultra-sadistic/broken challenges. It’s just not worth the time or stress. Usually in these games I don’t even bother trying to get max ranks on the challenge missions, I just finish them once and move on with whatever rank I got, but unfortunately, the challenges are tied to the ability system, so you cannot unlock or upgrade abilities without doing a pretty high amount of them. Thanks, guys. Fucking awesome design decision.
Overall it was still an enjoyable experience though. I would recommend only doing the minimal amount of effort needed for upgrades on the challenges and not expecting a single thing from the story, and the rest is just ridiculously fun mayhem that goes on for a surprisingly long time without getting boring.