First things first, this game is truly epic. Completely open from the beginning of the game, there are 400, yes 400 square miles to explore. From snowy mountains and towering sky scrapers, to secret bases and tranquil beaches, the game has it all. There are tons of different vehicles for land, sea and air and literally hundreds of activities to perform from mountain climbing to sabotaging gas pipes on military bases. Rico's grappling hook and parachute have to be the games best features though, as you never get bored of finding things to do with them. Tethering a high speed enemy jeep to a nearby building during a chase and watching it beome a fireball has to be a favorite.
It all sounds fantastic, and believe me if I had written this review a week ago it would have gotten five stars.
Why the sudden change of heart? Let me explain. The game opens fantastically, throwing you straight into a Goldeneye style mission on a mountain base. It is something worthy of a Bond film, and leaves you wanting for the next mission. However, these epic story missions are not readily available until you have caused enough chaos on the island. To cause chaos you must run amok destroying enemy bases while working undercover for three rebel factions under the name Scorpio.
The idea is that you work undercover for these factions doing missions for them until you have earned enough chaos points to progress the story. Once you have, your contact tells you that they have discovered some new info and a new story mission becomes available on the map. This system keeps you playing toward an objective, while at the same time leaving you free to explore and cause mayhem at will.
Now for the vital flaw. The developers have made the game so big that they have only had time to create a pitiful 7 story missions. With only 25% of the game world complete I finished the game. I couldn't believe it as the credits rolled as barely anything had happened in the story at all. After the credits the game informs you that you have unlocked Mercenary Mode which sees you back in the game completing it to 100%, only this time with no objective. You can still do the faction missions, but they now seem a bit pointless. Where is the logic in a government agent working undercover for criminal gangs when there is nothing to be gained from doing so?
Frankly the game has now lost its shine. And while still undoubtedly an epic sandbox title with spectacular graphics, I can quite honestly say I have not touched it again since finishing the story.
Another let down is the complete absence of any online play which probably could have saved it from the dust gathering pile. The annoying save system also has to be at the top of my hate list. Unless on a mission, when you save or die in the game you always restart at the nearest taken over base. The problem with this is that until you have unlocked new bases, it can see you respawning miles away making it a pain to get back to where you were (usually seconds from victory). This is only made worse by the hundreds of place names all looking very similar.
Overall the game is fun while it lasts but there seems little need to return to it now. Like FarCry 2 and indeed the first Just Cause, it favours a massive game world over important aspects like story that keep you coming back for more. More isn't always better in my opinion, especially when it comes at the expense of other things. Movies with a bad or lack of story don't work so why should games be any different. People moaned at how GTA4 was scaled down compared to San Andreas. Just Cause 2 is an example of why. Loads to do but no purpose for doing it. A real shame because I was really enjoying it.