Just Cause 4 Review PC
key review info
- Game: Just Cause 4
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Just Cause 4 is the perfect example of a game built around a concept or engine, which makes for a fun experience, without offering any depth or expectations.
Usually, game developers want to tell a story. There are some exceptions to this rule, but most of the time the backbone of any game is either the story, the characters or both. When one of these fails, you’re left with a game that’s technically a marvel, but doesn’t have anything to keep players engaged.
We have numerous examples for this problem, with titles such as Crysis or the more recent Mass Effect: Andromeda. Leaving aside bugs or other issues, both games essentially lacked a soul. The developers got sidetracked and built a world or engine, which they filled with content.
This is precisely how it feels to play Just Cause 4. It’s not a bad game, but it doesn’t seem to have a soul. You’re just running from one objective to another, and the only motivation is that you get to blow some stuff up along the way.
Players take on the role of Rico Rodriguez once more as he travels to the fictitious country of Solís, which is somewhere in South America. This time, he’s no longer a company man, and he says that he’s done with the CIA, especially after the events Just Cause 3.
Now, he’s taking on the Black Hand, the same powerful organization which he fought in the past. Solís is their main base of operations, so expect to find heavy resistance. And, just like it happens in each game, you will have to start a revolution, arm the people, destroy as much infrastructure as possible, and solve some family issue that makes the character’s journey somewhat personal.
The story, in itself, is bland, and there is no room for improvement. All the characters are forgettable, and you could simply fly around and destroy stuff across the island, and not miss much. In the end, it’s just a race towards the end.
The Black Hand, with Gabriel Morales at the top, are controlling a weather changing technology that both protects them and keeps the population in check. The ability to summon a tornado at will is not something to snicker at.
As I was saying at the start of the review, it feels like the story was put together just to justify the improvements made to the engine. That means that the gameplay is all that’s left to entertain the players, and at least that should be enough, at least for a decent experience.
The biggest difference that sets apart Just Cause 4 from the previous titles is that the destruction of the infrastructure doesn’t seem to be as important as before. Liberating villages and towns by eliminating all types of hardware used by the enemy, such as radar arrays, fuel depots, or transformers is no longer crucial.
Sure, you still need to destroy them in order to weaken the enemy position in certain areas, but it’s no longer a requirement. Once you go through a number of missions, liberate some towns and some people, you can push the enemy frontline by sending troops from the army you are now controlling.
It’s a simple idea, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to go through the story. In previous games, it was really annoying when a small transformer was hidden behind a small shack and you simply couldn't liberate the town until you destroyed it.
Now, players have to complete a few tasks, and they usually imply some sort of a stunt and/or other small mission. The only missions that feel like they have some weight are the main ones, although they get more ridiculous as you advance through the game.
Of course, the goal is to take down the weather machine and to kill the bad guy in charge. It’s as direct as it can be. The problem is that they only reason why people are playing this game is to use the insane grappling, parachute, and wingsuit mechanics.
In fact, we can simply enumerate the checklist of things this game needed to have before the developers actually made it. Just Cause 4 has a grappling hook with various attachments, parachute, wingsuit, explosions, and insane weather. These are all the features that you’ll find, or at least these are the ones that are working.
For Just Cause 4, Avalanche Studios built a new version of the Apex game engine, and it shows, at least in some areas. The explosions and the particle system are indeed better, but the overall quality of the textures seems to be down. Most likely, a compromise had to be made to keep the framerate up.
So, the developers basically had some new grappling mechanics and a new weather system, so they built something around that. Thus, Just Cause 4 was born.
As you might have noticed, a lot is missing from the checklist. The AI is incredibly terrible at its job. They don’t know how to drive or fly helicopters and planes, and the soldiers don’t pose any threat.
Also, Rico is almost like a Superman because he can take bullets and massive impacts, and still go on. In fact, I’m not even sure that the AI ever managed to kill me, not even once. I died lots of times, but usually after I crashed or killed myself. Players will never be afraid of dying or failing a mission, although that will sometimes happen due to the poor AI.
Finally, I need to mention the interface, which is atrocious, to say the least. The game itself has a ton of content, and that must be managed by the player. The problem is that there is too much stuff crammed in the menus, entries are not all that clear, and it takes time to figure out what you need to do.
While the developers might consider the graphics a plus or something to be admired, the fact that it’s so closely married to the gameplay and the story is ultimately a bad thing. Everything flows from the graphics and the gameplay gimmicks, and not other way around, which only hurts the story.
- Bigger and better explosions, and improved particle system
- Interesting weather effects
- Bad story
- Bad writing
- No motivation to keep playing
Unfortunately, this is where the praise for Just Cause 4 stops. The characters are bland, the story relatively uninteresting, the concept of weather manipulation is wasted. It could have been implemented way better, but it’s just a placeholder to showcase what the engine can do.
A game is not powered just by the graphics, and that should be evident for everyone, especially developers. If we add the fact that the game looks a little bit worse, in some respects, than the previous iteration, the result is not a good one.
Still, I have hope for the franchise, and I’m sure that it's going to be turned around at some point. Until then, we’re left with some mindless fun, and that’s about it.